We Need To Talk

Headlee, Celeste. We Need To Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter. Harper, 2017.

Reason read: a colleague came back from a conference with a bunch of books. What’s better than free books?

This is a great little book full of common sense advice about how to be a better conversationalist. It is not necessarily geared towards getting ahead in the corporate world, but it is helpful. Written by a “human nature expert” Headlee offers practical tips for listening and speaking with meaning. I appreciated the reminders about repeating oneself and using negative language. Even though she did not provide much information I haven’t heard before I would like to check out her TED talk. Out of all of the self help books on communication I’ve read, We Need to Talk was the most enjoyable.

Author fact: Headlee is cohost of a PBS television show called Retro Report.

Book trivia: Headless includes some tips on meditation.

Playlist: Barenaked Ladies, Michael Jackson, Verdi, Pucci, Mozart, and Wagner.

Always Eat Left Handed

Bhargava, Rohit. Always Eat Left Handed:… and Other Secrets for Killing It at Work and In Real Life. IdeaPress, 2018.

Reason read: this was a work recommendation. Maybe because I am left handed?

Chapter titles are catchy like “Start Smoking.” He doesn’t literally mean start an unhealthy habit to get ahead in your career (although he started smoking for just that reason). He means be willing to take risks. He reminded me of the headmaster at my boarding school. His mantra was Take Risks, Take Risks. That has always stuck with me although I suck at heeding that advice. What if I am a healthy mix of taking and abstaining?
Chapters are punctuated with white illustrations on a black background. They are simple drawings on even simpler objects: an airplane window, a watch, toast with butter, an ipod playing music, a CV, Sharpie, jeans pocket, cauliflower, a high-heeled shoe, a pair of lips, a violin, a pile of books, a suitcase, cigarette, Lego, heart, eye crying, a string tied around a finger, Maybe this is a spoiler, but here are the corresponding lessons: choose your destiny, read books like choosing music for a playlist, read only what is important to you, take risks (did I already mention that?), and so on.

Playlist: Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran,

Chair Yoga

Chapshaw. Chair Yoga: Gently Build Strength, Flexibility, Energy, and Mental Fitness in Just Two Weeks to Improve Your Quality of Life and Grow Old Gracefully. Chapshaw Publications, 2022.

Reason read: as a member of LibraryThing I am a member of the Early Review Program and I occasionally review books (mostly nonfiction). This is one such book.

Before I started reading Chair Yoga my mind was not really open to all of the different possibilities a chair could bring. I could only think of seating poses like neck rolls, ear to shoulder moves, and spinal twists. Starting with examples of elders who have used chairs in their yoga practice helped set the tone of the rest of the book. Further validation came in the form of illustrating more complicated poses like warriors one and two. Advice concerning different areas of ailment like osteoporosis. sciatica, and hypertension took Chair Yoga from a basic starter yoga book to a more solid reference.
Offhand comments: Can I just say this book had me at David Bowie? To open Chair Yoga with a quote from this musical legend was brilliant.
Maybe I am too biased on the subject of yoga, but I am not sure how anyone can think of yoga at any age as “too woo-woo”…whatever that means.
I am enamored with the idea of eight limbs of yoga. I think of an octopus every time.
It is a shame to say you don’t have to read chapter one and you need only to skim chapter two. Are you saying the words therein are pointless and not worth the reader’s time? Like any good syllabus, Chair Yoga maps out learning objectives for each chapter. There is even homework for assessment. While Chapter nine offers the two week plan read everything leading up to it. It is worth your while.

Book trivia: Illustrations to go with the text are helpful.

Raised Bed and Container Gardening

Andrews, Emma. Raised Bed and Container Gardening: 9 Practical Steps For Turning Your Backyard or Balcony into Your First Successful Vegetable Garden. SNK, 2022.

Reason read: As a member of the Early Review Program for LibraryThing, I review books from time to time.

Confessional: I read Raised Bed and Container Gardening on a desktop using the Google doc Andrews supplied. In this format it was challenging to read. The spacing issues, oddly misplaced page numbers and mispelled words were a distraction from the content. Example: Questionstohelpyouplan all as one word took an extra second to decipher, not something I was planning to encounter.
Raised Bed and Container Gardening is a great starter book for those wanting to explore growing gardens in tight spaces. She has a boatload of information, both unique and common sense. It is nearing winter so I will table any report on how well her advice and instruction worked until next year. ūüôā
As an aside, in this age of acknowledging diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging it was nice to see Andrews consideration for people with mobility issues.

Second confessional. It is coming on winter, as the song says. I can’t apply any advice or instruction from Andrews until next spring.

Black Country Music

Royster, Francesca T. Black Country Music: Listening for Revolutions. University of Texas, Austin, 2022.

Reason read: I am a member of the Early Review Program for LibraryThing. Every once in a while I review something.
On the surface, Royster will give you musical biographies of Tina Turner, Darius Rucker, Charlie Pride, Beyonce, Valarie June, Rhiannon Giddens, and Lil Nas X. Delving deeper, Royster takes you behind the curtain and into the dark heart of country music. A place where some songs sung by white people are most likely referring to slavery, the KKK, or white supremacy. The Black country community is singing about much the same things, but from a different and more significant reality. Royster’s research in Black Country Music is thorough. She makes mention of more musicians than I have ever heard of. A near complete list is at the end of this review. The analysis of mistrel traditions was fascinating. Royster’s self-prescribed goal of writing Black Country Music was to capture the heart and emotion of Black country music and, in my opinion, she succeeded in finding that revolution for which she was listening.
In all honesty, Royster gave me more questions to ponder. As a musician, does the sound you chose to create identify you as a person? Do you have to “be” country music or heavy metal in order to perform that particular sound or can you go where the money is? Can you “be” pop if that is what sells? What about if you “cross over” or collaborate with someone outside your prescribed genre? Are you defined by the instruments you use or the tenor of your voice?

As an aside, I questioned the meaning behind the kiss between Wllie Nelson and Charlie Pride. I have never thought about Willie or Charlie in a bromance kind of way, so it was an interesting slant to question the nature of a gesture fraught with potential intimacy. Another aside: I watched the video for “Wagon Wheel” and I got a completely different take than Royster. While, yes, there is one part where Darius is kept from entering a bar, but I felt it was because he wasn’t paying the cover and the bouncer had no idea Darious was the entertainment for the night. That happens all the time. Royster also makes frequent mention of the women Darius’s videos being pale skinned. Surely she has seen his wife? The women in both “Wagon Wheel” and “If I Told You” videos look a lot like his partner, Beth.

Confessional: I have always believed the power of music can make statements, move emotions, and mobilize a revolution. I am a lyrics junkie. I love picking apart what people say in music. I am not a fan of “ooh baby, baby” or a great deal of repetition. How many times can you hear “little pink houses” in one four minute song? So, when Royston talked about Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” my eyes were opened wide to a different side of the story. Much like how for years have tried to figure out what Phil Collins was trying to say in “In the Air Tonight”, I couldn’t wrap my brain around Lynrd Skynyrd. To be fair, their music is not high on my list of pleasurable listening so it’s not like I listened closely or sought them out to solve the mystery.
Another confessional: I had never heard of the subgenre of Atlanta-based trap drums.

Playlist: Aaron Neville, Alice Randall, Amythyst Kiah’s “Black Myself” and “I’ll Fly Away”, , Al Green’s “For the Good times”, Al Jolson, Allison Russell’s “You Are Not Alone”, Anderson.Paak’s “Lockdown”, Ariana Grande, Beatles’s “Get Back”, Bela Fleck, Bessie Smith, Beyonce’s “Daddy Lessons” “Sorry”, “Hold Up” “Black Parade”, and “All Night”, Billy Ocean’s “Suddenly”, Billy Ray Cyrus’s “Achy Breaky Heart”, Billy Whitlock, Birds of Chicago, Blanco Brown’s “The Git Up”, Bob Dylan, Bobby Womack, Boyz to Men, Brad Paisley, Breland’s “My Trusk”, , Brittany Howard, “Brown Girl in the Ring”, “Brown Sugar”, BT’s “RM”, Cameo’s “Word Up”, and “She’s Strange”, Cardi B., Carla Thomas’s “Call Me a Fool”, Carolina Chocolate Drops’s “Leaving Eden”, “One Dollar Bill”, and “Texas Easy Street”, the Carter Family, Charlie Daniels Band, Charley Pride, Chase Rise, the Chicks’s “Long Time Gone” and “Goodbye Earl”, Childish Gambino, Chris Stapleton, Clint Black, “Country Honk”, Commodores, Cowboy Troy, “Cripple Creek”. Con Funk Shun, Crystal Gayle, Cupcake, Da Butt, Daddy Yankee, Dan Emmett, Darious Rucker’s “It Won’t Be Like This for Long”, “Wagon Wheel”, “Homegrown Honey”, “Southern Style”, “If I Told You”, “Going to Hell”, “Drinkin’ and Dialin'”, “Beer and Sunshine”, “Why Things Happen”, “History in the Making”, “Alright”, and “Don’t Think I Don’t Know About It”, DeFord Bailey’s “Fox Chase”, DeLila Black, Diana Ross, Diplo, Dolly Parton, Dom Flemons, Don Gibson’s “I Can’t Stop Loving You”, Drake, Eagles’s “Desperado”, Earth, Wind and Fire, “Electric Slide”, Elizabeth Cotten, Elvie Thomas, Elvis Costello, Elvis Presley, Emmett Miller, Etta Baker’s “Railroad Bill”, and “Carolina Breakdown”, Fiddlin’ John Carson, Francesco Turrisi, Freddy Fender’s “Before the Next Teardrop Falls”, Garth Brooks’s “Rodeo”, Geeshie Wiley, “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It”, George Jones, George Wallace, Glen Campbell, Grace Jones, Gus Cannon, Hank Snow, Hank Williams’s “Lovesick Blues”, Harry Belafonte, Hootie and the Blowfish’s “Let Her Cry”, “I Just Want to Be With You”, and “Hold My Hand”, Horace Weston, Howlin’ Wolf, Ike Turner, Isley Brothers’s “Shout”, Jake Blount, James Brown, James Taylor, Jay-Z, Jeannie C. Riley’s “Harper Valley P.T.A.”, Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Jett Holden, Jim Reeve’s “This World Is Not My Home (I’m Just Passing Through)”, Jimmie Allen, Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing”, Jimmie Rogers, Joe Thompson, Johnny Cash, Jump Jim Crow, Justin Bieber, Kara Kater, Kamara Thomas’s “My Kentucky”, Kansas, Kanye West’s “Spaceship”, “Keeping it on the One”, Keith Richards, Kendrick Lemar, Kenny Rogers, Khalid’s “Talk”, Kid Rock, Kris Kristopherson, the Kronos Quartet, “Lady Marmalade”, Laura Love, Leadbelly, Lewis Capaldi’s “Somebody You Loved”, Leyla Hathaway, Leyla McCalla’s “I Knew I Could Fly”, , Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road”, “Monero (Call Me By Your Name)”, and “That’s What I Want”, Lil Wayne, Lilli Lewis, “The Loco Motion”, “Lil’ Liza Jane”, Linda Martell’s “Color Him Father” and “Bad Case of the Blues”, Lionel Richie’s “Stuck on You”, “Little Sally Walker”, Lizzo’s “Juice”, Lynette Williams, Lynryd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama”, Ma Rainey, Mac Davis, Madonna, Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear’s “Down in Mississippi”, “Mama’s Been Cryin’ Long”, Mariah Carey, Marty Robbins, Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?”, Mason Ramsey, Master Juba, Mavis Staples, Megan Thee Stallion, Mel Tillis, Merle Haggard, “Merry Mack”, Merry Clayton, Mick Jagger, Mickey Guyton, Mills Brother’s “If I Don’t Care”, Miko Marks’s “Freeway Bound”, Miley Cyrus’s “Slide Away”, Millie Jackson, “Moon Meets the Sun”, Muddy Waters, Mumford and Sons, Nas, Neil Young’s “Southern Man”, Nelly, Nina Simone, Nine Inch Nails, Oakridge Boys’s “Elvira”, Odetta, Our Native Daughters, Parliment Funkadelic’s “Mothership Connect”, Patsy Cline, Patti Labelle, P.J. Morse’s “Bayou Song”, Phil Spector’s “River Deep – Mountain high”, Polly Johnson’s “The Three Maids”, Porter Wagoner, Prince, Queen Esther, Ray Charles, Radney Baker, Reverend Gary Davis, Rhiannon Giddens’s “Mama’s Crying Long”, Rick James, Rico Nasty, Rissi Palmer’s “Country Girl”, Rita Coolidge, RMR, Robert Johnson, “Rock Lobster”, Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May”, Rolling Stones’s “Honky Tonk Women”, Ronnie Van Zant, Roy Clark, Roy Orbison, Shawn Mendez and Camilla Cabello’s “Senorita”, “Shortnin’ Bread”, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Solange Knowles’s “Almeda” and “Binz”, Star De Azlan, Stevie Wonder, Styx, Sule Greg Wilson, Swamp Dogg, Taj Mahal’s “Colored Aristocracy”, Tammy Wynett, T.I., Tina Turner’s “Nutbush City Limits”, “Help Me Make It Through the Night”, “A Fool in Love”, “Private Dancer”, “Proud Mary”, and “Funky Worm”, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue”, Tom T. Hall, Toots Thieleman, Toshi Reagan, Tracy Chapman, Valerie June’s “Shotgun”, “The No Draws Blues”. “Workin’ Woman Blues”, “Tennessee Time”, “Astral Weeks”, “Somebody to Love”, and “Organic Moonshine Riots Music”, Vince Staples, Virginia Minstrels, “Watch Me [Whip/Nae Nae]”, Waylon Jennings, Whitney Houston’s “You Give Good Love” Willie Nelson, Woody Guthrie, Yo Yo Ma, Yola, “You are My Sunshine”, “You Don’t Know Me”, Young Thug, and “Your Cheating Heart”.

Organizational Behavior Essentials You Always Wanted to Know

Self Learning Management Series. Organizational Behavior Essentials You always Wanted to Know: Master Organizational Behavior Concepts with This Self-Study Book and Become a Leader of Better Management Practices. Vibrant Publishers, 2021.

Reason read: As a member of LibraryThing’s Early Review Program, I requested this book in exchange for an honest review.

I have to say, right off the bat, it is off-putting to have two pages of advertising followed by four pages of what the experts say at the beginning of any book. In total there are fourteen pages wasted before you get to any actual text.
What follows is a historical overview of organizational behavior, including global perspectives. Buzzwords like diversity and inclusion are thrown in along with the concept of shared services (been there, done that). I did appreciate the idea of virtual cross functional learning and the emphasis on diversity to allow for varying perspectives and opinions. There was more a focus on global than I expected and while I appreciated the concept of a reward system that not only looks at monetary incentives but a reward of a sense of belonging there was no clear example of how to reward when the practice of making employees feel like they belong should be the norm.
Everyone is all abuzz about assessments these days and Organizational Behavior is no different. The book includes quizzes but unfortunately the numbering was full of typos. Question #9 was missing option C (and, you guessed it, C was the correct answer). Another complaint was the lack of authorship. How does one critique authority when there isn’t an author to review? One last complaint was how difficult it was to download my copy. I was told I needed to read it on a Kindle. Guess what? I don’t have one of those…

Day Hikes in Washington State

Scarmuzzi, Don J. Day Hikes in Washington State: 90 Favorite Trails, Loops and Summit Scrambles.

Reason read: I am a member of the Early Review program for LibraryThing.

Day Hikes in Washington State is a follow up to Day Hikes in the Pacific Northwest. Having not read the Pacific Northwest guide I had no idea what to expect from the Washington State guide. Even more so, since I am on the East Coast and have never been to Washington State, this seems like an odd book to request as an Early Review. I am an avid hiker and wanted to review a book based solely on its information. I feel I would review a guide differently if I was intimately familiar with the area.
In truth, I can only find one thing to criticize. Scarmuzzi is uber current by talking about social distancing. Hopefully we won’t always be in this Covid predicament and that information will become obsolete. The good news is I can imagine this book dog-eared, sun-faded, and well-read in the back of some car’s back window. There is a good deal of valuable information and all of it is incredibly organized. The photography is gorgeous. The maps are clear. What is unique about Scarmuzzi’s book is each trail is intimately detailed all along the route. He includes more turn by turn descriptions than your standard guide book, going beyond just stating level of difficulty and elevation.
I enjoyed this guide so much I may have to make a trip to Washington just to hike the trails, loops and summit scrambles Scarmuzzi recommends. In the meantime, I urge him to visit Monhegan Island and write a book about their coastal trails. It would be fantastic!

Book trivia: This book is a little oversized to be carried in one’s day pack. It would have be awesome if it had smaller dimensions to allow for portability.

Author fact: Scarmuzzi has three books to his name according to LibraryThing’s catalog.

Personal Finance QuickStart Guide

Rochard, Morgen. Personal Finance QuickStart Guide: the Simplified Beginner’s Guide to Eliminating Financial Stress, Building Wealth, and Achieving Financial Freedom. ClydeBank Media, 2020.

Reason read: as a member of the Early Review program for LibraryThing, I was chosen to receive this e-book in exchange for an honest review.

Honestly, from the moment I downloaded this book I was rubbed the wrong way. I am not a big fan of “gotcha” moments. The first thing I was confronted with when starting to read Personal Finance QuickStart Guide was the words “Free Digital Assets” followed by “must be a first time Audible user; $15/mo. easy cancel anytime.” I read that to mean there was free content available to the reader, but said reader had to sign up for Audible (new subscribers only!) and a credit card would automatically be charged $15 every month unless one remembered to cancel the subscription in time. And! And. And, when they have to say “easy” cancel anytime, I’m thinking maybe it’s not all that easy. So. There’s that. Back to the review:

Rochard organized Personal Finance into two parts: Part 1 is an attempt to jump start personal finance improvement and learn how to navigate the financial world so that investment options become easier to understand. Part 2 is to confront financial problems and overcome them with confidence.
To fully review this book I had wanted to put into practice all of the advice and suggestions Rochard put out there – just to say what worked and what didn’t. I didn’t have time. For the most part, it all seemed like common sense. For example, take the very first scenario in the book: if you are going to drop down to one income and not change your expenses, you most definitely are headed for disaster. I did take note of the resources Rochard cited and do plan to read them for further information. [As an aside, when I lost my job for five months in the early stages of Covid my husband and I immediately suspended some luxuries, looked into every cost saving measure we could; even considered making hard decisions about retirement plans. It seemed like the right thing to do. Actually, it was the only thing to do at the time.]

Maximize 365

Sherry, Kristin A. Maximize 365: A Year of Actionable Tips to Transform Your Life. Texas: Black Rose, 2021

Reason read: chosen for the Early Review Program for LibraryThing.

Inspired by a combination of the works of Bob Sager and Zig Ziglar Kristin Sherry has come up with her own five forms of life-wealth: Health and Wellness, Spirituality, Relationships, Career, and Finances. Each chapter is dedicated to themes surrounding the five forms of life-health and each theme is only a page long. Sherry’s book is chock full of great advice although not all of it is hers. She has curated dozens of websites, YouTube videos, Tedx Talks, quotes, articles and books from other experts and compiled them in Maximize 365. I thought of her book as more of an encyclopedia for the learners and the curious; anyone interested in self-development but too busy and overwhelmed to find each resource individually.
There is truth to the information Sherry shares in Maximize 365. My favorite example would be something my husband and I started doing early in the pandemic: taking hikes in the woods. Described by the Japanese as Shinrin-yoku, or “taking in the forest” Sherry reports taking twenty-minute walks through nature several times a week as a way to stave off depression. It works.
Another element of Maximize 365 I could relate to was when Sherry describes being busy as a “status symbol.” That may be true, but it is also a generational thing. My mother and father worked seven days a week. Sitting and reading a book was seen as indulgent or lazy. Always doing something constructive was preferred. Books and sitting still were saved for bad weather or illness. To this day my mother cannot sit in one place for very long. I have inherited her sense of constant motion.

My biggest pet peeve: sometimes Sherry will refer to a book but not give the author credit.

Confessional: I skipped the religious piece because what if I am not a practicing Christian? What if my belief does not have a capital G god? What if my book of faith is not the Bible?
Another way to make Maximize 365 more inclusive is to remove the word ‚Äúmarriage‚ÄĚ and call it life relationships or intimate partnerships. Some people cannot get married because of their sexual orientation or ethnic differences. What if someone wanted to work on their relationship skills as a parent?

Teaching Empathy

Henshon, Suzanne E. Teaching Empathy: Strategies for building Emotional Intelligence in Today’s Students. Texas: Prufrock Press, 2019.

Reason read: As apart of the Early Review program for LibraryThing.

The thought I kept returning to over and over again while reading Henshon’s book, Teaching Empathy, is everything she says seems like it should be common sense. I’ve come to the conclusion she gives deceptively simple advice in a very short book (less than 150 pages). Yes, we should be aware of the differences in our society. We should be taking that awareness and creating action that makes a strong and lasting impact. We know this and yet instead, we live in a society which places blame on outsiders. We are given permission to hate any and everyone we cannot understand. Our current administration encourages us to act intolerant and is completely dismissive of our ignorance. Henshon’s book is deceptively simple because in our heart of hearts we know we should be practicing empathy as well as teaching it to our children. Her book is timely, but is it too late?

Here’s what I wish I could have seen in Henshon’s book. I get hung up on how interchangeable some words can be. It seems as though people use sympathy and empathy to mean the same thing. Kindness and thoughtfulness. Concern and caring. All of these things are signs of emotional intelligence but have different meanings attached to them. What they mean to Henshon on a personal and intellectual level would have been next level.

Author fact: Henshon has written numerous books.

Open Water

Rosen, Mikael. Open Water: the History and Technique of Swimming. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2019.

Reason read: part of the Early review program for LibraryThing.

Open Water is everything and anything you need to know about the sport of swimming; or dare I say the art of swimming; the obsession of swimming? Rosen’s book is practically an encyclopedia of swimming facts as well as biography of famous swimmers and a how-to for improving your own technique in the water. It’s a well laid out, beautiful to look at book complete with maps, photographs and more. Fascinating.

As an aside, I have heard many, many stories about how my maternal grandmother used to be a beautiful swimmer. Just recently my aunt reminisced about watching her mother cut through the water with such powerful grace it brought tears to her eyes. I would have liked to have seen that. My maternal died of cancer long before I was born when my own mother was thirteen.

Confessional: Until recently I hoarded my early review books knowing I couldn’t sell them or really donate them anywhere. I tried giving some away but that wasn’t really successful either, so in my basement they languish (still). Open Water will be my first and only gift to Natalie Merchant. She is an avid swimmer and I feel she might, just might, find it interesting. What else am I going to do with it?
Postscript to the confessional: I gave the book to her tour manager. I will probably never know if she liked it.

Gardening Under Lights

Halleck, Leslie F. Gardening Under Lights: the Complete Guide for Indoor Growers. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, 2018.

Reason read: this book was sent as an Early Review for the LibraryThing program.

Right away, the first thing to notice about¬†Gardening Under Lights is how gorgeous is the physical book. The colors, fonts and photographs are beautiful. The second thing to notice is Halleck’s humor and easy going language. The information is a mix of Let Me Break This Down For You and technical and expert information. The first chapter, Why Plants Need Light, offers a simple explanation for the premise of the entire book. From there, the information is thorough and detailed. Every aspect of growing plants is covered, from growing conditions to containers; from diseases to how deep to dig; from selecting the right lighting bulbs to sowing, watering, culling, cutting, rooting, transplanting, harvesting, and propagating. My favorite section was in the middle about edible plants like herbs (I struggle with cilantro bolting)¬† and vegetables, but the section on diseases was a close second.

As an aside, I plan to loan this book to a friend and I have a suspicion I won’t get it back!

Code of the Extraordinary Mind

Lakhiani, Vishen. The Code of the Extraordinary Mind: Ten Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life & Succeed on Your Own Terms. New York: Rodale, 2016.

Reason read: I learned about it from a running magazine, so you know I just had to read it.

From just the introduction Code of the Extraordinary Mind is intriguing. Lakhiani shares that he was born “…with a mind that loved learning how to hack life…” (p xvi). His book gives the reader permission to dare to question perception as well as reality. This may be considered a self-help book but I also consider it part memoir. Lakhiani shares a bit of himself through the book. He is not shy about unveiling past personal failures or triumphs. I found his methods of parenting enlightening, and even though I don’t have children I want others to apply his techniques! Is that rude of me to say? Seriously, when he asks his child what do you love about yourself or what are you grateful for, my heart melted.

Quotes that grabbed me: “It’s time to uninstall what isn’t working” (p 32) and “Our definition of what is normal is nothing more than what is programmed into us” (p 56). I would add to this last quote by saying I believe our definition of normal is also defined by commonality. If everyone had three heads the idea of just one would be foreign. You believe what you know.

My only pet peeve. I am not a fan of repetitiveness and I found Lakhiani mentioning MindValley (his company) too often. It began to sound like a sales pitch after awhile, especially when he promised “more information” on that site.

Author fact: Not only does Lakhiani have his own website, he actually has three. Look ’em up.

Book trivia: Lakhiani includes “napkin” drawings. Kinda cool.

 

Toronto

Charles Rawlings-Way and Natalie Karneef. Toronto: City Guide. Melbourne: Lonely Planet, 2007.

This travel guide of Toronto is mostly black and white; a no nonsense kind of guide. It doesn’t need to show off with lots of glossy photos and trivial details. Only eight pages are dedicated to artistic shots around town and, in fact, is the only section that isn’t all that informative. The contents of the guide are well organized into various activities. If you are in town on business and only have time for finding restaurants, page 91 is where you want to start. I appreciated the little blue boxes with extra tidbits of information. In the History section (p 38) you will find a box that talks about the ghosts that haunt the Elgin Theatre and Old City Hall. Sign me up! The only drawback to this guide is the map section. Instead of a fold-out map showing the entire city, the maps are page by page like an atlas. There is overlap between downtown north and downtown south so that you can make the necessary connections but it would have been easier to have the map all on one page. But, to be fair, with everyone having gps on their smartphones, I doubt a printed map really matters anymore.

Reason read: Natalie Merchant performing in Toronto in May 2015.

Book trivia: I really enjoyed the inclusion of the subway map. Very cool.

 

Off the Tourist Trail

Off the Tourist Trail: 1, 000 Unexpected Travel Alternatives. New York: Dorsling Kindersley, 2009.

What a gorgeous, gorgeous book! The photography alone makes this book amazing. From the moment it arrived on my doorstep I couldn’t wait to start turning pages and ogle all the great pictures. The¬†concept of Off the Tourist Trail is brilliant. A team of experts searched cheaper alternatives to the well-known, sometimes more expensive travel destinations around the world. The chapters are broken up by interest: historical, beaches, sports, and cultural to name a few. Every destination has a paragraph dedicated to practical information such as how to get there, places to stay and budget. The “Need to Know” paragraphs are filled with¬†location, maximum height and average daytime temperatures. Probably the most interesting spin¬†to all the information is the “Forget” section. Each comparison adds a¬†build-up and letdown component¬†for the better known destination. For example, in the “Architectural Marvels” chapter the ever-popular New York City is compared with with the lesser-traveled Chicago. New¬†York’s letdown¬†(architecturally) is¬†the fact that its architecture is spread out over several miles and at times, difficult to view.¬†¬†

An added bonus is the forward by Bill Bryson. I love the way he writes. The only drawback to Off the Tourist Trail is that it isn’t portable. Oversized and heavy, this is a book you can’t take in your carry-on. Do your research at home and save room in your bags for souvenirs.