Book Review: The Happiness Hypothesis – Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom

Book Cover of The Happiness Hypothesis

The Happiness Hypothesis
by Jonathan Haidt

Choosing This Book

Following my resurgence after a self-imposed 15-month lockdown, I experienced an internal need to improve my life. I wouldn’t say I was unhappy, but I knew I could be better. And for a while, I had finished my studies and started working while postponing the question of what am I meant to do with my life? In a world of pandemic and uncertainties, it did not feel immediate. However, it is now time to dig deep and if possible, find an answer.

I’ve been always inclined to intellectual discussion, and although social interaction could provide that, an internal dialogue is something I engage in more willingly. Books are an optimal source of fuel for such dialogue. I sought some books on positive psychology, particularly to change my outlook on life, and The Happiness Hypothesis ended up seeming a perfect fit for what I wanted.

The Happiness Hypothesis

The full title of the book is The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, and is authored by Jonathan Haidt, a social and positive psychologist. Published in 2006, the book refers to Ten Great Ideas, with ancient wisdom taking from several sources, such as from Buddha or biblical passages. As the title suggests, the premise is to tackle common ancient wisdom, provide modern scientific proof and apply these to our current lives.

Does the book hold its promise? In all honesty, for something released in 2006, I would still say not completely. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great read. But perhaps, I was expecting the science and truths to not be primarily based on the early 1950-1970 psychology that most of us have already learnt about in schools or pretty much common videos online. It lacks the freshness, except for titbits of the author’s own experiences. This made the book, at times, boring.

However, it was not a let down. It was still an insightful book, and although most of the chapters did feel unnecessarily longer than they should’ve been, they do bridge the gap between ancient wisdom and modern life. Undeniably, science and early psychology may be too focused on hard truths, which is disassociated from actual life. The author manages to brige these two well enough.

Ultrasocial Humans

Perhaps one of my main mistakes looking into positive psychology and self-improvement is to assume it all relates to the self. The book does, in the beginning, tackle concepts like the negativity bias or the problem of evil. The more I delved into the book, the more insight how we belong in a society and how most of our feelings are in relation to others. There is a constant analysis of the play in the spectrum of humans as completely selfish to completely altruistic. Despite us not being as altruistic in the sense that ants or bees are in their colonies, we are far more group-oriented than a lot of us individualists like to think.

And this is not to say that our meaning in life or our happiness derives from helping others – far from it. However, there is a positive feeling, at least personally, when I do something that I enjoy but also feels productive. For instance, writing these book reviews or publishing poems – I enjoy the writing myself and in many ways, it is selfish. But if one person reads these and enjoys what I write, or takes some value, than I am also contributing to society in some form, which enhances my experience. Coincidentally, in my last post The Transformative Experience of an Open Mic, I spoke how I do not live in a social vacuum, and that attending an open mic perhaps felt incredible, to share my poems with others. Perhaps I can attribute the book to have pushed me into not being afraid of such social interactions.

So, What is Happiness?

I think, as you might expect, there is no straight answer to happiness. I am in a temporary happy state as I write this and I don’t have an urge to look for much change in my life. In the hedonic sense, which is based on neurological pleasure, a clear answer is to indulge in food and sex, and perhaps despite not being actual happiness, it is also important to not feel ashamed and not denying myself such pleasures.

The second lesson, which I do need to apply, is to focus more on love and productivity. I have been alienated from the rest of the world, and the sense of productivity I get from publishing content (whether writing or gaming livestream/videos) is fulfilling. By nature, these activities occur in a community, and perhaps the connection with others is what is the source of me feeling good. In the future, I look forward to engage more directly in the community, particularly with workshops and more open mics.

Final Review

Although not the most exciting read and nowhere near fresh as expected, the book still manages to provide insight that I have found motivating. Compared to when I started reading the book, I am already in a much better place (okay, it is not solely based on the book, but it did contribute). On that aspect, I would still recommend this read, although I would expect that there other books out there in the same field that might do this job better.


Poetry Book Review: ‘Tempest’ by Ryan Meyer

Tempest

Tempest is Ryan Meyer‘s second publication in which the author challenges himself to be more personal. In these poems, Ryan dances eloquently around the eye of the storm, not shying away from the darkest of thoughts. I commend his open vulnerability – a vulnerability that has allowed me, the reader, to connect with the author and experience the poems through his eyes.

Setting the Narrative of a Mundane Life

The first poem of a collection sets the tone for the book, and in Flamingo, Ryan just does that. In this poem, Ryan travels between the mundane and monotous life and a fantasy of a vacation, laying on the beach – a dichotomy between reality and desire. The transition of imagery is smooth and genius:

A blaring horn pulls you back to shore
Your surfboard cursor
Bobs along the surface

(Flamingo, p. 1)

The phrases of beach-related words with office life, such as “surfboard cursor”, blur the lines so much that these two worlds become one. And on a deeper level, perhaps that is a scarier truth; to need to dream. Without such fantasy, the author does not show any motivation for his life. I think Flamingo was the perfect poem to open us into the storm of emotions that Tempest holds.

A Lonely Search for Hope

The following poems carry on a similar tone where the author searches for hope, for growth, for a better future. I appreciate that each poem still had its own voice, imagery and length. As I read the poems Somewhere Else, Can’t Fly Forever, and On Evolution, I had gotten heavily invested in where Ryan is taking us, and I could not stop reading. Is the process of life similar to a caterpillar’s metaphorsis; a stagnant cocoon?

I hope growing wings
Doesn’t have to hurt.

(On Evolution, p.8)

Reaching The Eye of the Storm

It doesn’t take Ryan long to arrive at “the place where they say Death resides”. The poems has slowly led us to a place of metaphysical darkness that requires our silence as we watch. This darkness has an intense grip on us as it takes over the mood. But in Ryan there is a hope, a fire that burns despite the hopelessness that led us to the stage. Out of the hostility of the accumulation of negativity, the author’s inner spirit resurges, perhaps in an unexpected yet very real way:

It makes me yearn for life’s monotony, …

… I want to scrub
Clean the bathtub in my childhood home

(Threshold, p.12)

In contrast to the previous poems, the monotonous life we were escaping primarily has become the sought prize; a refound appreciation for the smallest things in life. And this is what courage is in real life; fighting the most intrustive of thoughts to find a way to survive, to want to be a alive. One does not need to break barriers and accomplish achievements – no, the true change starts from wanting to live, no matter the reality.

Emerging from the Existential Crisis

After Threshold, we continue to struggle with existentialism, at which point Ryan starts reminiscing about childhood and teen years. What was just a lone shell of thoughts, the shell started to crack, shedding light into a past, and a life where it is not just the self versus the world. There were family, there were friends – doesn’t mean it was all sunshine and rainbows:

We were young: fooling around,
Downing cheap vodka,
And smoking stale cigarettes
From our mothers’ purses.

(Unsteady, p.33)

As Ryan lives back through his past, he starts pulling himself out of the present darkness and grounds himself into the world where a person has not only past, but also a future. As the collection goes along, I witnessed the author experience self-growth. And while life may still not be perfect, Ryan’s mindset has changed. I can feel it as I read through, a perhaps unapologetic tone of being oneself, of being okay with not being okay without the resignation that led us originally to the Tempest. The soil is still wet from the aftermath, but the Tempest has definitely calmed

Summary

In the preface, Ryan stated that in this publication, he wanted to go deeper and be more personal. I feel like he successfully achieved being vulnerable with the reader while still retaining the genius of imagery he used throughout, blurring the lines of reality, imagery and fantasy. There were a few poems here and there where I wished to be taken deeper, but alas, as a collection, I was compelled to read it without pause (more than once). I would definitely recommend poetry readers to pick up this book as I would easily give it a 4.5/5 rating, and I have high expectations for whatever future work Ryan Meyer publishes. Make sure to check out Ryan Meyer on nothingpeak.com


Disclaimer: I have received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Links

Poetry Book Review: Your Heart is the Sea (Nikita Gill)

Your Heart is the Sea is divided into eight sections; each a stage of an emotional journey. The presentation is well thought out as the author gives us a story to follow, through the emotions evoked within the poems of a section. However, it almost feels a little too thought out, as I became detached to emotional content of filler poems, used to repeat a pattern or attempting to be ‘smart’ that it creates a barrier. This especially happens in the abstract or almost clichés, usually occurring in second-person poems more than others:

“But what you must remember
is every time you crash downwards,
you learn to stitch your spirit
back faster.”
(The Fall, p. 45)

Rewording the saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” doesn’t make a verse in any way exciting, unless the new image is extremely effective, which in this case, I don’t feel like it was.

Having said that, where the collection lacks in creative imagery, it makes up for it in honest, heartfelt verses. And at times, she does this beautifully. One of my favourite verses is the following:

“I crave loneliness so much
I do not want it at all.
Wanting someone’s touch
whilst not wanting any other soul.
Needing another voice to say my name
whilst cringing when I am actually called.
There is an empty attic in my head
with a secret chasm where I fall.”
 (A Ghost Called Depression, p. 23) 

I love paradoxes, especially when they are so human and logical, even in their conflict. And the examples are relatable, ones that readers can easily understand. Unfortunately, Nikita often ends up explaining the poem or the more creative verses in either the first or the last lines, which slows down the reader and dilutes the most effective of verses.

All in all, the book has a solid story-line, which I appreciate in poetry collections. However, I did not have the strongest of connections with these poems, and at 200 pages long, half of the book feels like filler poems. Is it worth buying? Possibly, but not for myself. Personally, I’d rather have more focus on the individual poems, rather than have a great outline for a collection and centering a publication around that idea, rather than putting together sets of poems. To each his own.


I have received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Check out the book in one of the following links:

Book: https://thoughtcatalog.com/book/your-heart-is-the-sea/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42630586-your-heart-is-the-sea


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Book Review: The Murmur of Bees

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The Murmur of Bees by Sofía Segovia

When Amazon put a couple of international novels for free, I was one of those readers who was ecstatic about this opportunity. The Murmur of Bees was the one that intrigued me most, both because of the beautiful cover and the title — who doesn’t love bees? Fortunately, the quality of the book satisfied the excitement I had to read it.

From the start, we are greeted with prose that is beautifully written; vivid and poetic. Here’s a description of Nana Reja:

“All those years on the rocking chair caused the townspeople to forget her story and her humanity: she had become part of the scenery, put roots down into the earth she rocked upon. Her flesh had become wood and her skin a hard, dark, furrowed bark.”

Once I read that, I was sold. I would read the whole novel, and I’m glad I did. It did take me a couple of chapters to completely grasp the setting and the story, as there is a bit of a time jump and a change in POV between one chapter and another. I usually have my reservations about this type of narration, because I often find it confusing, but I found that Sofía Segovia did it in a way which was clear when and where each chapter took place from their first paragraph.

The novel is mainly historical fiction with some manipulated elements to break the realism. It takes place in the early 1900s in Northern Mexico, and I believe it is inspired by a lot of real events. I became quite invested in each of the characters, perhaps because that is the strongest suit of this novel. You know how in some stories you just want to know what the resolution is, or how the protagonist solves the problem, or just how the book/series ends? I didn’t have the feeling with this novel. No, I wanted to read about this family. I wanted to follow them through their lives, the ups and the downs. And I dreaded the ending, because I want more of them.

The author is am impeccable storyteller, and I could feel the suspense coming when they wanted to do so. No part of the novel disappoints, and I am low-key obsessed with this book. It’s something that I don’t have to think about twice to rate 5 stars. It deserves it. I keep thinking about the characters every now and then, because they have permeated into my mind. And by living vicariously through them, I have learnt a lot. This book is such a great reading experience, that I truly recommend others to read it.


Links

Goodreads: The Murmur of Bees

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Poetry Book Review: Forgiveness, by Chelsea Bunn

Forgiveness by Chelsea Bunn (Finishing Line Press, 2019)

In Forgiveness, Chelsea Bunn struggles with forgiving herself. In this book, you could peel layers upon layers of vulnerability, penned ever so delicately. I have been struggling to translate my reading experience into words, and have been rewriting this book review for a couple of weeks. The poetry was so intimate that I almost want to keep it for myself, a private dialogue between the words and I.

To show you a clearer idea of what the chapbook entails, I selected two extracts. “These Stories Are True” is an erasure poem in which Chelsea adapted from the statements of men accused of sexual misconduct. The following lines are an erasure of Senator Al Franken’s statement:

“The first thing is the most
important thing.

Only you care—
I don’t.”

These Stories Are True (p. 3)

Isn’t this the most genius thing I’ve ever read? To take words of the accused and form the implied reality. I was stricken by both the idea and the delivery of the poem.

Later on in the book, I was completely blown away by “The Meeting”, both due to its emotional strength and its craft. The writing appears to be like a ramble, backtracking at every few lines, giving us pieces of the story in a way that, although disjointed in time, is understood by the reader. Chelsea writes about attending a meeting in which, finally, she has finally found others who understand her drinking. She writes,

“I was there because that is all I ever wanted—
for someone to see exactly
and entirely what I felt
and what I had done and to tell me
that it wasn’t my fault”

The Meeting (p. 12)

I thought the overall poem was beautiful, and perhaps the extract doesn’t do justice to the context. I have highlighted several other lines, but for the same reason of being water down outside their context, I decided not to show them here. There is a wholeness to each poem and to the collection as it is presented.

On a critical note, I may have not completely liked certain forms used, but enjoyed others. It is one of my pet peeves that indentations and line breaks should help the reading process. Each reader is an individual, and I acknowledge that it is perhaps an issue with how I read, but I felt interrupted (in a non-productive way) with some of the forms, as if the choice was aesthetic but not functional.

Having said that, it does not take away from the solid writing and the emotional delivery of the chapbook. I have reread this four times by now, and each time is like the first, and perhaps that is a testament to the poetry. I am left haunted by some of Chelsea’s poems and the need for forgiveness.

Forgiveness is available to pre-order and will be published on 21st June, 2019.


I received an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for an honest review.


Links:

Book: Forgiveness by Chelsea Bunn (Finishing Line Press, 2019)

Would you like me to review more books? Support me on Patreon or donate directly to my PayPal. For a list of my published works, take a look at Publications.

Book Review: Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

Months ago, a friend of mine recommended me Jeanette Winterson, and as much as Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit seemed interesting, I was attracted to her memoir Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal? With a title like that, I knew I had to give it a read.

I don’t recall having read a memoir before, so I went in without much expectations. In some passages, I wasn’t even sure if I was reading fiction or non-fiction, partly because of the eccentricity of Jeanette’s mother, Mrs Winterson, and partly because the prose is written so beautifully.

The memoir takes us on a journey and exploration of happiness. Much of the book is dedicated to growing up in Accrington, specifically focusing on the author’s relationship with her adoptive mother. Jeanette was a feisty kid from the likes of it, and this has often led her mother to say that the devil led them to the wrong crib. Feeling unwanted is one of the worst things a child can feel when growing up.

Jeanette lets us into her darkest thoughts and does not keep secrets when it comes to her emotions. It’s such vulnerability that makes the memoir so compelling. From the exterior, perhaps to her teachers and family, Jeanette seemed very angry and rebellious. But what child wouldn’t be when you put them in that kind of life?

I find it also important to discuss queer issues especially when they centre so much on one’s destination in life. When it was discovered that Jeanette was seeing a girl, her mother led her into an exorcism. I can only begin to fathom how traumatic that was. Jeanette writes about her past in a somewhat distant and detached way, letting us observe what happened without drowning us in her emotions. This event might have happened decades ago, but the truth is that queer people still suffer from these experiences, and part of our duty is to talk about it and raise awareness. Nobody deserves to go through that, and I think it’s useful that there are people like Jeanette Winterson who discuss and show us these awful experiences.

Towards the second half, we are taken into her adulthood, briefly through her writing career and to where she is now. Overall, it is a story of inspiration on multiple factors. Firstly, because she is self-made, making it out of Accrington as a very successful author. Secondly, because there is paramount honesty about the self and how her trajectory isn’t linear, but it is continuous and the seek for happiness and personal growth does not end with success.


Link: Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

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Poetry Book Review: If My Body Could Speak

I couldn’t quite put “If My Body Could Speak” down, but I couldn’t finish it in one sitting because each poem tore me apart (it was intense beauty). Baird writes about anorexia, being queer, sexual assault, misogyny, and much more. In each of these topics, she writes from a place of honesty, of hurt — it demands the reader to listen, to feel the pain she goes through.

Right off the bat, she starts with the poem “When the Fat Girl Gets Skinny,” which had gone viral when Baird performed it. I was struck by several stanzas, but perhaps my favourite lines are the ending:

when I was little,
someone asked me

what I wanted to be
when I grow up

and I said,

small

When the Fat Girl Gets Skinny

Even when taken out of the context of the poem, these lines are thunderous. I was struck with how Baird was able to take these small words and create something big. She didn’t have to bring out some crazy vocabulary, but rather use language that reflects the core innocence of childhood and how terrible it is for a child to feel these things.

Baird doesn’t miss a beat with the consequent poems, each one taking my breath away. In a way, it’s difficult to review the collection without being able to divulge in each poem. “Girl Code 101” stood out to me more than the others:

13,
the year dad says wearing short skirts in the city
is like driving without a seatbelt.

Girl Code 101

The comparison shows not only the danger but the messed-up mentality of putting the responsibility on the [potential] victim. The tone is nonchalant, showing how normalised it is for a thirteen-year-old girl to be ‘taught’ to behave in certain ways. It is her delivery of this tone that makes the writing so heavy-hitting and poetic. I loved the use of Biblical imagery to discuss the roots of misogyny in religion. In the same poem, Baird writes:

Give me one accomplishment of Mary’s
that did not involve her vagina.

Girl Code 101

This was so fucking bold, but yet fitting. It speaks volumes of how society (and religion) have been consistently tools of the patriarchy which dictate the value of a woman related to her procreativity and other feminine standards. She doesn’t hide behind words in delivering this.

On a similar note, “Pocket-Sized Feminism” is another banging poem:

Once, my dad informed me sexism is dead
and reminded me to always carry pepper spray

Pocket-Sized Feminism

The paradox comes out effortlessly, partly because this is a widespread belief. These line should also be taken into the context of the poem — Baird shows us how it is like to be constantly harassed and to made feel guilty and responsible for not putting an end to it. There’s the delicate dance where standing up for yourself or for other woman will risk her losing friends and get harassed for it (and this would be especially true during teenager years). It’s a lose-lose situation which amplifies the pain expressed throughout.

I found both “The Way I Was Taught to Love” and “An Invitation” to be heart wrenching and realistic queer poems — I could relate quite personally to these. The former of these is about the intense relationship with her mother during the coming out period, and frankly, if I had to quote a line, I’d quote the whole poem. In the latter, she also writes about her mother:

She hates my selective memory.
            She says, You only ever
remember the slammed doors,
            But why don’t you
ever write about how I used
            to sing to you before
bed every single night?

An Invitation

I’ve had similar conversations with my mother, and seeing these lines written caught me off-guard. The mother knows how she nurtured her daughter for so long and remembers all the sweet things she done, and this is contrasted with the pain where Baird focuses on the painful events. These poems are not only important because they tell the poet’s story, but also because many queer people can relate and understand their relationships better.

As the collection progresses, the poetry becomes even more emotional and strong as sexual assault becomes the pivotal topic. Baird writes:

To live in the body of a survivor
is to never be able to leave
the scene of the crime.

To live in the body of a survivor

The simile is powerful because in reality, it is not a simile — it is the truth. We’re ordered to avoid crime scenes; they are closed from public access. Trust me, if you ever experienced something negative, most likely, you would avoid that place, partly to avoid future instances, and partly because of triggers and flashbacks. As assault survivors, we don’t have that luxury. You get to see the victim every time you look in the mirror. You get to experience the whole ordeal when your mind ‘goes there’. This also has implications for one’s identity: the ‘I’ tends to become depersonalised and is disconnected from the body — the crime scene. This is shown in the use of ‘the’ in the title, “To Live in the Body of a Survivor.”

Towards the end, Baird presents “Yet Another Rape Poem”, which is exactly what it claims to be. It’s aimed at the criticism that she writes too much about rape:

“I know you are threatened
because I am
a thunderstorm of a woman.”

Yet Another Rape Poem

Baird has a voice that commands attention. Poetry was a safe place for her to share her story. It not only takes talent to create masterpiece poems like these, but a poet also needs to be as brave as Baird is in sharing them. Even to be honest with oneself is difficult, let alone to read these poems in public and print them in books. As a reader, I felt mightily empowered by this poem and how Baird refuses to be silenced. Truly, I’ve only got praise for her.

Throughout the collection, I was vulnerable and connected intimately to Baird’s words. The rhythm flowed effortlessly, almost in a tone of a bedtime story in which all that should be shocking is normalised. We’re not given any punch lines or twists, but constantly gut-wrenching pain. This style also reflects the reality of millions of people, of how harassment and assaults aren’t a one-time event but are repetitive, occurring daily and how we suffer the consequences without pause. Amidst the hurt of it all, I found comfort in Baird’s brave poems that left me feeling that I am not alone, that we are stronger together.


I received an Advanced Review Copy from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.


Sources and Links:

Book: If My Body Could Speak (Button Poetry, 2019)
Book Cover: Goodreads

Do you like what I post? Support me on Patreon or donate directly to my PayPal. For a list of my published works, take a look at Publications and consider getting a copy of my full-length collection, Welcome to the Sombre Days.

Poetry Book Review: He Tried to Drown the Ocean, I waved


He Tried to Drown the Ocean, I Waved
Kai Naima Williams

I must admit, there’s an indescribable difficulty in reviewing this chapbook. I read the collection three times and I’ve enjoyed it each time. It is evident that Kai Naima Williams is a spoken word poet, as is reflected in the work, but this doesn’t take anything away from the written word.

This chapbook is a personal, self-empowering anthem, as is the first poem called, “Anthem”. In this, the poet established her voice and hooked me in; I wanted to hear what she wanted to say. Immediately after, we are taken into a vulnerable place:

“she tells me we cannot move backwards
her fingers return to the ridge of her scar”


(allegory of the cave, p. 3)

There’s a uniqueness to Kai Naima Williams’ writing. Yes, she uses well-thought metaphors and pleasant imagery, but what I like most is how she subtly weaves them into her poetry. As in the two lines above, we are shown the unsaid.

The chapbook explores the author’s identity and ends with the strongest poem, “the black woman is god/the back woman is not god.” I loved the elements of holiness and royalty, and how love is contrasted with worship. In a series of hard-hitting images, she portrays this:

“He said, you are as unconquerable to man as the ocean
I said that doesn’t mean I can’t be drained”


(the black woman is god/the back woman is not god, p. 33)

I am enamoured with this section of the poem; it’s a beautiful way of owning her own worth without forsaking her from vulnerability and humanness. I felt her pain when she described it. It shows that one can be valued and idolised while still being excluded and lonely, and if that’s not the story of my life, I don’t know what is. I’m honestly astounded with how she managed to convey such a feeling through words (although as a poet, I should never be so surprised, should I?)

Overall, albeit difficult to summarise and review, I truly liked this book. I’m a sucker for poetry that explores the poet’s identity. Even though it is relatively personal, it is still valuable for the reader, and probably even more for readers that can relate better to these experiences.


Hyacinth Girl Press sent me a free copy in exchange for an honest review. I must praise them for sending me a beautiful product! It’s the kind of love every collection deserves from its publishing press. Get the book here.

Book Review: The Silver Linings Playbook

I am a huge fan of the film, and having watched it numerous times, I felt it was time I read the novel that it is based upon. To my surprise, there were quite a number of differences throughout, and not just the ending. The characters not only have much more depth, but they’re presented differently and more authentic to the experience they’re put in.

The premise of the story is that Pat, who is put into a mental facility for an indeterminate amount, is taken out to live with his parents. He’s doing his best to win back his estranged wife, Nikki, who he hasn’t seen since the incident that he doesn’t remember. He works out most of the day to get back into shape and spends a lot of time reading English literature — specifically the books Nikki teaches to her students. At the same time, he does his best to win back his father’s approval and gain back a relationship with his brother Jake.

I love this book because Pat’s point-of-view is written well; we are able to understand his reasoning as much as he does, and much better than those around him. The main difference between the film and the book, without giving much spoilers, is that the film is much more based on romance, as to what I remember, where this is more personal and about Pat’s recovery. It always has been — but the book shows is much more.

Society may have a generalised view on mental health, and I think this book portrays it so realistically. A lot of the suffering may come from not from mental illness itself, but rather how others, especially close family and friends, treat others differently. One of my favourite aspects is not that Pat is mentally ill and everyone else is stable; but really, everyone has their flaws and issues. It becomes evident in Pat’s friendship with Tiffany, in which they bond in unusual activities (running all day without talking) and how they’re both treated similarly by their family. Pat’s household doesn’t come short on this aspect ­— his father avoids speaking with him and has had experience of angry outburst; his mother is constantly crying and upset. These elements are what makes living with mental health so real; they don’t necessarily need labels or stereotypical symptoms, but they interweave themselves in the intricacies of daily life and social relationships.

The story follows a similar outline to the film and is quite pleasant to follow. Reading the book, I was expecting to know the story, and I was still enjoying it on a new level. However, I discovered so many differences, especially with how the last quarter of the book progresses, that it’s almost a novel experience; I had no idea what would happen. This elevated my experience and I recommend this book to be read. There’s not much lost if you’ve previously watched the film. I’m sure I’ll keep on remembering this novel as one of my favourite stories that I’ve ever read or watched.


Sources and Links:

Book: The Silver Linings Playbook
Book Cover: Goodreads
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Book Review: The Rosie Result


Review

I’m a huge fan of the Don Tillman series, having read and loved the previous books (The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect). Unsurprisingly, this book lived up to my high expectations. The story continues around eleven years later, with Don and Rosie’s child, Hudson, no longer a newborn.

The Rosie Result brings a fresh angle to the series, with Don Tillman now being a father facing career trouble due to public outrage. Don is seen through a lens of autism due to the particular way he does things and he’s pressured by others to identify himself as autistic. Moreover, his son is facing issues at school, with the threat of being rejecting from high school due to the frequent meltdowns.

What’s great about this book is that it provides an authentic, autistic perspective. In this case, the narrator (i.e. Don, the father) can identify with the son and understand the issues that he encounters at school. They both experience the pressure from the neurotypical majority to fit in and change their behaviour. This shifts the focus from the neurotypical perspective that autistic people are abnormal to the genuine experience of how autistic minds work, and how the neurotypical majority create a hostile environment, requiring others to fit in.

In the book, Don says something that struck me:

“Neurotypicals criticised autistic people for lacking empathy — towards them — but seldom made any effort to improve their empathy towards autistic people.”

This book celebrates neurodiversity and is a great learning tool for parents, educators, psychologists and the likes. It brings awareness that what neurotypicals is best might be counterproductive. As an autistic person, it gave me a lot to think about, to process about how frequently I feel like I don’t belong, and that after all, I am not the problem — society’s lack of flexibility is.

Apart from the autistic aspect, the story is extremely engaging, and has Don’s charm written all over it. I enjoyed it even more than the previous two books — which I had rated as five-stars each. The writing is well-researched and there are multitudes of personalities and characters that grow and change so well across time. They are quite representational and include am impeccable variety of characters, such as Gary the homeopath who refuses to immunise his children. There’s a warm sensation in how Don looks at the world and how he assumes honesty from others and adds to the narrational charm he possesses.

There are several reasons why I’d recommend this book. It’s a great fictional and literary work. The representation is genuine. Characters are well-developed. And, I believe, one doesn’t need to have read the previous two books to follow this story, although I would obviously suggest reading at least The Rosie Project as it helps us fall deeper in love with Don’s charisma.


I have received an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for an honest review. The book will be published in the UK on 4th April 2019, and can be preordered here: The Rosie Result


Sources and Links:

Book: The Rosie Result
Book Cover: Goodreads
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