MY YEAR WITH ELEANOR

NOELLE HANCOCK

After loosing her fast-pased celebrity blog job Noelle was in a serious rut. A slump of extreme proportions. Until one day she notices a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, “Do one thing every day that scares you.”   This becomes her raison d’etre for the next year using Eleanor Roosevelt’s writings as a guide. Another guide is her psychiatrist — does everyone who lives in New York see a psychiatrist? She does tries all manner of challenges from trapeze and tap lessons to parachuting and climbing Mount  Kilimanjaro. The funniest scene is when she describes doing standup comedy at a New York Comedy Club fundraiser.

This book reminded me of the book  Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers.

A touching must read. On the lines of Julie and Julia. Needed a better cover.

ENJOY EVERY SANDWICH: Living Each Day As If It Were Your Last

LEE LIPSENTHAL, M.D.

This book is an awe inspiring must read. The review is borrowed from Spiritual Practice.

Lee Lipsenthal was the medical director of Dean Ornish’s Preventive Medicine Research Institute for a decade and also served as president of the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine. In this spiritually rewarding memoir, he recalls having trouble swallowing a sandwich on July 19, 2009. After going to a doctor and having tests, he learned he had esophageal cancer.

Lipsenthal did some research and found that there was a 90 percent chance of dying within five years. His wife Kathy was stunned by the news and even more taken aback that her husband was accepting his imminent death. He wanted to be with the cancer but not fight it. This, of course, also ran counter to the philosophy of his medical friends.

Lipsenthal, at the age of 52, had a gratitude practice in place that helped him approach life a little differently than others. He was in agreement with the Native American teaching that “today should be a good day to die.” And he had long been calming himself down with meditation and yoga. He writes: “Fear can be a nasty little prison to live in. Meditation can be the key that unlocks the prison door.” From yoga he ponders the corpse pose — savasana — that involves lying flat on the floor with palms raised in a position of surrender. It also signifies the act of letting go.

Also contributing to Lipsenthal’s lack of fear about dying were some past-life recollections that came over him. Although they remained mysterious, he was able to see that life did not begin or end with this one. Death is just part of the ride. The most remarkable aspect ofEnjoy Every Sandwich is Lipsenthal’s ability to use a host of spiritual resources to live with cancer and not be enslaved to a fear of death. He models for us a death with dignity.

GREG HERREN

Eric wakes up in the hospital with no memory of how he got there or who he is or who that strange woman is who is crying. He doesn’t even remember who his mother is. Total amnesia. He doesn’t remember that there was another boy, Sean, in his car who died of gunshot wound before the crash. That is the mystery, who killed Sean and why and what was he doing with Eric?As memories start to return he finds that he doesn’t like the person who he was: a gay bashing bully. He wonders why he was like that.

One weak theme in the novel that never went anywhere was when Eric came out of his coma he had some psychic abilities. He could see the future in dreams and he could read people’s minds when their hands touched. The novel would have been better without this especially since it wasn’t explained but just left dangling.

A most interesting point of view.

THE DORD, THE DIGLOT AND AN AVOCADO OR TWO: the Hidden Lives and Strange Origins of Common and Not-So-Common Words

ANU GARG

If you love language and cherish your own rich and interesting vocabulary, you’ve got to read this book. It is full of fascinating, odd and wonderful words, that you may be able to work into a sentence or two or maybe even a conversation. In a world in which words are shrinking, and where text-messaging is creating a whole new vocabulary of non-words, this book is a breath of fresh air.  Words and their origins can be the source of a lot of fun. Garg provides clever word puzzles and word histories filled with fascinating details, humor, and irony.

Example:  “Dord: The word density had a short-lived synonym: dord . . . While the second edition of Webster’s New International Dictionary was under way, an editor received an entry ‘D or d,’ which was defined as density, where the uppercase D and the lowercase d were abbreviations for the word density. The editor conflated the letters as dord and a new word was born.”

You can sign up for Garg’s word of the day newsletter at WordSmith.org.

SCHOOLED

GORDON KORMAN

Schooled is a truly entertaining and moving novel written for the young adult market but can be enjoyed by all. Capricorn has been raised all his thirteen years on a back to the land, hippy commune called Garland. Completely isolated from the outside world, Cap has been home schooled by his Grandmother, Rain. Rain has taught Cap how full of evil the world is: competition, violence, capitalism, greed, hunger, cities etc. But when Rain falls and breaks her hip, Cap drives her to the hospital. Rain taught him to drive when he was eight. Rain needs to be hospitalized for several weeks for rehabilitation so social services needs to find a place for Cal. The social worker, Flora, had spent her formative years in Garland also so as soon as she saw Cap she knew what was going down. Flora elects to keep Cal in her home in order to better protect him.

At school, the students always pick the biggest looser to be the class president as a year long humiliation. This year it  was to be Hugh. That is until Cal showed up.

A definite must read despite its week ending. Also read Korman’s SON OF THE MOB. It is funnier than Schooled.

MONEY BOY

PAUL YEE

On the surface Ray Liu appears to be living a normal immigrant life: learning English, going to school, working in the family business. School is difficult for for Ray. Despite how much his father pushes him, Ray can’t keep up to his stepbrother who is the family favourite. When his father finds gay oriented websites in his browser history he kicks Ray out of the house. The few possessions that he takes are soon stolen. Not knowing what else to do Ray turns to prostitution. “In China boys who sell sex to men are called money boys, while those who offer services to women are called ducks.”

Well worth the read.

Mice

GORDON REECE

Shelly was being bullied at school by her former best friends; she never told, mice don’t complain. “Mice are never rude. Mice are never assertive”  Her mother also a mouse was bullied at work and at home before and during the divorce. Her mother caved in to every unreasonable demand from her husband, Shelley’s father, who left her for a twenty-something girl. “Mum” signed away all right to alimony and a share of her husband’s pension, and she even returned some of the gifts he’d given her during their marriage. When the school bullies almost killed Shelly, the mother and daughter moved out of town to a cottage at the end of a road where no one would bother them. They rejoiced in their privacy: gardening, reading, playing and listening to classical music. Shelly did not go to school rather tutors came to her. They felt their life was an ideal life for mice. On the eve of Shelly’s 16th birthday their pastoral, idyllic lifestyle is destroyed when a  cat burglar enters their home and they stop being mice.

There were times that I skimmed parts of this novel but I still recommend it. A good read.

LITTLE PRINCES: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal

CONOR GRENNAN

Grennan agreed to volunteer at Little Princes, an orphanage in Nepal, for three months before touring the world because it sounded less selfish than stating he was taking a year off to tour the world. He didn’t realize just how much these 18 children would mean to him, how they would work their way into his heart, and how he would be unable to get the injustice of human trafficking out of his mind. When he first arrive at Little Princes the kids climbed all over him craving adult contact and attention and Grennan loved it. The history of these children and their families is a sad topic but Grennan’s humour and the children’s loveable spirits shine through making the story informative, insightful, and stunningly beautiful. All of this is set in the midst of a civil war, poverty and despair. The story of a child trafficker tricking families into relinquishing their children to him and paying him masses of money when he promised he would provide them with a better life and then treating them like slaves, starving them and selling them is heartbreaking. From a three month commitment Grennan ends up spends up sending years in Nepal and building his own organization, Next Generation Nepal.

An inspiring book. Read and donate.

 

http://www.nextgenerationnepal.org/