Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tuesday Thingers (on Wednesday; getting better!)

This week's topic: Discussion groups. Do you belong to any (besides Early Reviewers)? Approximately how many? Are there any in particular that you participate in more avidly? How often do you check?

Answer: I used to belong to a book discussion group (I can't even remember the name of it) and I found it pretty unsatisfying. Plus it's hard to follow, remember to check, and all that.

I belong to several list-serv type discussions for psychotherapists -- one for therapists in the East Bay Area (California) and one for those practicing Emotionally Focused Therapy. Every once in awhile we have a pretty divisive discussion, and I've actually decided to pretty much stop participating. It's amazing how mean therapists can be to each other!! (I know, that's not what you want to hear, is it?)

I am also a member of a yoga forum in which I keep a blog and we have various discussions. However, since I decided to open a yoga studio, I don't have much time for talking (or doing yoga for that matter!)

I follow about 100 blogs using Bloglines, and comment often, but that's not really a discussion group.

So not too many, maybe none by strict definition.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Book Review: House of Meetings by Martin Amis

I swear I got smarter while I was reading this book. Seriously, though, this is some intense fiction. I revisited a common complaint of mine, which is that the author makes the assumption that one knows something about his subject; in this case modern Russian history. Half the time I had no idea what he was talking about! I know relatively nothing about Stalin, post WWII Russia, the Gulag and all that. I know about relationships, though - oppression, lust, hatred - this book has it all.

I never even considered putting this book down; it almost makes me want to go check out a book on Russia and learn more. That's the impact of the book. Add to that Martin Amis' beautiful, stunning writing and you've really got a winner. Here's a brief quote from the book that doesn't give anything away:

Let me tell you what I loved about August 4, 1953, when we stood arm in arm. When we stood and faced the state and its whirlwind of iron. I had reached the end of philosophy: I knew how to die. And men don't know how to do that. It might even be that all the really staggering male exertions, both great and base, are brought on by this single incapacity. No other animal is asked to form an attitude to its own extinction. This is horribly difficult for us, and may be thought to mitigate our general notoriety...You need mass emotion - to know how to die.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Tuesday Thing (on Saturday)

Ok, ok, so I'm a little late; you'll understand shortly.

I'm in a group of Early Reviewers on Library Thing and we are going to have a blogring on Tuesdays where we talk about what's new with us. Last Tuesday being the first time, we were supposed to introduce ourselves.

My name is Lisa and I'll be turning 40 this year. I spent 11 years as an Air Traffic Controller before I had kids and had to quit because of the schedule. Then I went back to school and am now a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in California, counseling about 12-15 couples a week. Recently I decided to open a yoga studio with my yoga instructor and we open ONE WEEK from today!!! (now you know why I'm doing this so late!)

I have an angel of a husband, and two kids - 7 and 3, both boys.

I'm totally exhausted.

But I simply cannot live without books, nor can I stop reading, no matter how busy I get.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Review: Happiness Sold Separately by Lolly Winston

I finished this book some time ago, but waited to review it because my book club discussed it last night! I've just joined a brand new book club after not having one for several years. This time, I joined a group of strangers on craigslist, and in doing so, hope to avoid gossip sessions in lieu of book discussions. We'll see. I was dubious when several of the people said "I don't really read much; I joined this club hoping it would inspire me to read". For years now, I've wanted a serious book club where we really do discuss the book.

Because I didn't know how dedicated people were, I picked this book as our first selection. I knew it wasn't real intellectual, but I wanted to see how the discussion would go to ascertain whether we could go more serious or not.

Everyone hated it. I actually like it more than most people, and I was a little surprised at the negative response. Truly, it's basically "chick lit", with not a huge amount of seriousness required. Still, being a marriage counselor, I thought it was a pretty good introduction to how the experience of infertility can impact a marriage. Still, people thought that the characters were undeveloped and it was overly stereotypical.

I was appalled at the marriage counseling that took place in the book, and wanted to know if that's what people thought marriage counseling would be like!! Thank goodness, everyone realized that it was pure fiction and a bad portrayal of counseling and its effectiveness.

I'd still recommend the book. It's a quick read and I like her writing. True, you're not going to stretch yourself or necessarily learn anything by the reading, but if you just want an quick, easy read, it's good.