Books

September Book Reviews | 5 books I’ve read

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” ― Charles W. Eliot

Book of the Month : Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A raw, heartwarming collection of real stories from Lori’s patients – each with their own set of struggles and coping mechanism as well as her own experience of going to a Therapist, after an unexpected end in a relationship. The book is structured in a non linear fashion, with conversations between the different patients – piping with Psychotherapy theories and examination of their responses; between Lori’s own therapy sessions and her past, revealing much of herself in an authentic way that reminds us that Therapists are people too.

The book was relatively light hearted at the start but from the mid point onwards, I have to say I have teared a couple of times reading it. Not only because I sympthatise but because I emphatise, I relate. Truly a ‘self help’ book without actually preaching self help – sometimes the best we can truly learn about ourselves is through the stories of others.

Some notable quotes:

  • Whatever the problem, it generally ‘presents’ because the person has reached an inflection point in life. Do I turn left or right? Do I try to preserve the status quo or move into unchartered territory?
  • Pscychoanalyst Erich Fromm :’Modern man thinks he loses something – time – when he does not do things quickly; yet he does not known what to do with the time he gains, except kill it’
  • Children, bound by parental rule are really free only in one respect – emotionally. They can cry, laugh… have big dreams and unedited desires. Like many people my age, I don’t feel free because I’ve lost touch with that emotional freedom, and that’s what I’m doing here in therapy – trying to free myself emotionally again.
  • He won’t change, so she’ll have to.
  • Forgiveness is a tricky thing – are you apologising because it makes you feel better or because it will make the other person feel better?

Non- Fiction

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Rating: 4 out of 5.

One of the OG books on habits and productivity, the book is principle based – mainly focuses on the paradigm shifts we must have in our lives, in order to be truly effective. Comparing this to a book like Atomic Habits, I’d say that this book focuses more on the theory while James Clear not only tackles the theory but details out the actionable steps we can truly take.

Covey posits that we must first start out with Private Victories – being proactive, beginning with the end in mind, putting first things first – before we can claim our Public Victories – to think win/win, seek first to understand and to synergize. And Finally to sharpen the saw, to continuously improve. I really liked the way he explains the concepts – one of my faves being on the emotional bank and time management matrix. There are lots of gems in the book; a great first book for those looking to boost their productivity in life.

Numbers Don’t Lie : 71 Stories to Help Us Understand the Modern World by Vaclav Smil

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I first picked up this book because it was part of Bill Gate’s book recommendations and I thought the premise is quite interesting. However because it’s a relatively short book with so many broad topics to cover – it’s natural that the topics are relatively touch and go. The book is split into People, Countries, Machines and Designs, Fuels and Electricity, Transport, Food and Environment. I must say that I found some topics more dry than others and not necessarily ground breaking/memorable. There were some pretty interesting points that was brought up such as : Reasons of food wastage between developing (due to poor storage) vs developed countries (excessive production), how clean energies are still pretty reliant on fossil fuels (eg. EVs being charged with electricity generated by fossil fuels, how wind and solar energy uses fossil fuels to transport all of its raw materials).

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Miguel Ruiz

Rating: 3 out of 5.

This book is a short and simple book on the Four Agreements we should have in our lives, basing it on ancient Toltec Wisdom. The Agreements here are the beliefs/rules that we should abide by to prevent suffering in our lives. The way it is written, it definitely leans towards the more spiritual side of things and gives me ‘The Secret’-esque type of undertones. So if you enjoyed The Secret – this book is likely your cup of tea. The beliefs are that we should never take anything personally, be impeccable with your word, don’t make assumptions and always do your best. However, because the Four Agreements are principles that are widely shared already in the Self Help world – I find that there are limited additional insights. It’s an easy read if you are feeling a bit down, and just need a reminder on the things that matter in life.

Fiction

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A beautifully written book about a tale of a mentally disabled man, Charlie who undergoes a science experiment to boost his intelligence – similar to that which was experimented on Algernon, a super smart lab mouse. The book is narrated through Charlie’s perspective – where we can evidently see his progress, his state of mind through his journal logs. Through his experience, we can see how oblivious he previously was to ridicule – where he thinks everyone is laughing with him, not at him, until his intelligence surpasses the scientist responsible for the experiment – he becomes a tormented genius.

The book also poses many deep questions, we as a reader have to contend with such as the value we place on intelligence, the way we as a society treats the mentally disabled – is a person less human because he is less intelligent? and how emotional maturity may not equal that of intelligence. The book is equally heart wrenching and heart warming all at the same time. Highly recommended!

Year-To-Date Books read: 48

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