LET FREEDOM RING: Review of NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT: FINDING FREEDOM, LOVE, AND JOY RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE

LET FREEDOM RING: Review of NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT: FINDING FREEDOM, LOVE, AND JOY RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE

No Time Like the Present values responding over reacting, creating space to understand and contextualize feelings. Its tone is wondering, compassionate, encouraging, and kind. It is also slyly political. Kornfield writes, “Politicians and media feed our fears…Yes, there are big problems…If you only worry, you’ll feel overwhelmed. What is indisputable is that you are here, now, and you can contribute…You are free to contribute to this world—every moment, every day.”  This call to action is the charge that all the drumbeats of the book seem to herald. Yet as Kornfield points out, “hatred never ceases by hatred, but by love alone is healed.”

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ASK, AND YE SHALL RECEIVE: Review of LOVING WHAT IS: FOUR QUESTIONS THAT CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE

ASK, AND YE SHALL RECEIVE: Review of LOVING WHAT IS: FOUR QUESTIONS THAT CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE

The real mystery of Loving What Is is not its methodology, but its author. Who is Byron Katie? She was (and sometimes still is) a heavy smoker, calls people she doesn’t know “sweetheart” and “honey,” and sometimes writes and talks in a tone marked by exasperation: “Peace is who you already are, without a story. Can you just live it?”

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HOT TOWN, SUMMER IN THE CITY: Review of DANCER FROM THE DANCE

HOT TOWN, SUMMER IN THE CITY: Review of DANCER FROM THE DANCE

Andrew Holleran’s 1978 novel, Dancer From the Dance, is about gay men in 1970s New York looking for love—and falling for the city itself. The romantic, elegiac tone has much in common with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s. All three of these stories meditate on the power of beauty, mystery, doom, glamour, summer, and romance. All three are narrated by characters that stand outside the main action, and all three feature New York City as a central character. The city as it’s depicted here is more than a place: it’s an idea, often a romantic ideal, and sometimes a trap.

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EBONY AND IVORY: Review of DOG YEARS: A MEMOIR

EBONY AND IVORY: Review of DOG YEARS: A MEMOIR

“To choose to live with a dog,” Mark Doty writes at the start of Dog Years: A Memoir, “is to agree to participate in a long process of interpretation—a mutual agreement, though the human being holds most of the cards.” In moving but restrained prose, Doty reveals the cards held closest to his chest: his feelings about loving and losing his canine companions, Arden and Beau.

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READING WITH A PENCIL: Review of BETWEEN YOU & ME: CONFESSIONS OF A COMMA QUEEN

READING WITH A PENCIL: Review of BETWEEN YOU & ME: CONFESSIONS OF A COMMA QUEEN

Copy editor Mary Norris investigates grammar—its usage and history—and frequently digresses. These tangents are the heart and soul of this quirky book. Many of them relate to her investigation of the English language, some are deeply personal, and others concern her work at the influential weekly magazine, The New Yorker.

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MUSIC APPRECIATION: Review of LEONARD BERNSTEIN: AN AMERICAN MUSICIAN

MUSIC APPRECIATION: Review of LEONARD BERNSTEIN: AN AMERICAN MUSICIAN

By offering an informed, rigorous, sensitive, nuanced, and compassionate evaluation of Bernstein’s creative output, Shawn, a teacher of composition and music history at Bennington College, achieves a remarkable feat: he gives a master class in biography as music appreciation.

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A HOME-STYLE TASTE OF PARIS: Review of PARISIAN HOME COOKING

A HOME-STYLE TASTE OF PARIS: Review of PARISIAN HOME COOKING

Part of the pleasure for me in discovering and reading this book was remembering a world of the “armchair traveler,” when imagination made the only pictures the mind saw of a trip. This book was published in 1999, pre-European Union. This was before the heyday of the internet, and the age of global tourism, when for many people Paris wasn’t a place, but an idea.

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TURN AND FACE THE STRANGE: Review of CHANGING

TURN AND FACE THE STRANGE: Review of CHANGING

Reading a celebrity memoir, one is naturally curious about how that person became famous. If the book isn’t well-written, everything comes across as cliché. If it lingers too long in the time before success, the reader gets impatient to get to “their big break.” (I would argue this is because their fame is “where we know them,” so to speak.) Reading about a celebrity who isn’t well known to you, you’re either bored, or looking for clues to solve a mystery: what makes this person special? Liv Ullman, the author of Changing, was one of director Ingmar Bergman’s leading ladies and the mother of one of his children. I’ve seen only a few of her films. Things about Changing perplexed me, but I was never bored.

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"NOTHING HAS CHANGED:" Review of NOT YOUR MOTHER'S RULES: THE NEW SECRETS FOR DATING

"NOTHING HAS CHANGED:" Review of NOT YOUR MOTHER'S RULES: THE NEW SECRETS FOR DATING

I was watching a lot of the old Hammer Horror Dracula movies at the same time I was reading this, and I think there are a lot of similarities. Facing something scary and possibly unknown, you want to arm yourself with knowledge and weapons, however regressive they may be. Vampires hate sunlight, garlic, the sign of the cross, and holy water. Guys like a girl who looks “hot, hot, hot. Not slutty—sexy!” Guys like a chase.

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WAKE UP ALONE: Review of PICASSO AND DORA: A PERSONAL MEMOIR

WAKE UP ALONE: Review of PICASSO AND DORA: A PERSONAL MEMOIR

Picasso and Dora strikes me as a faithful account, but admirably it’s not to James’s own vanity. He comes across as the worst of the lot. Even his own mother remarks at one point, “‘I’m sure it’s very interesting for you to have met these famous people, but I can’t help wondering what it is they see in you.’”

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"MINDSET INFLUENCES MORTALITY": Review of HOW HEALING WORKS: GET WELL AND STAY WELL USING YOUR HIDDEN POWER TO HEAL

"MINDSET INFLUENCES MORTALITY": Review of HOW HEALING WORKS: GET WELL AND STAY WELL USING YOUR HIDDEN POWER TO HEAL

In How Healing Works: Get Well and Stay Well Using Your Hidden Power to Heal, author Dr. Wayne Jonas traces the decline of our health care system. He sees it as “a triple oxymoron—it produces only about 20% of the public’s health, it is difficult for those working in it to deliver compassionate care, and it is not an integrated system. No health, no care, and not a system!”

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MANDATORY READING: Review of ZERO WASTE HOME: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SIMPLIFYING YOUR LIFE BY REDUCING YOUR WASTE

MANDATORY READING: Review of ZERO WASTE HOME: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SIMPLIFYING YOUR LIFE BY REDUCING YOUR WASTE

Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste by Bea Johnson should be mandatory reading for every single person on Earth. This is a book about values that forces us to examine our own. The focus is on our consumption habits and the role they play in the destruction of this planet we all share. “Statistics and hard data are not my expertise,“ Johnson warns, “this is a practical guide based on my experience.”

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FIERCE COMPANY: Review of PAULINE KAEL: A LIFE IN THE DARK

FIERCE COMPANY: Review of PAULINE KAEL: A LIFE IN THE DARK

Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark examines the personal life and career of Kael, who established herself, largely through her writing at The New Yorker, as the preeminent voice of 20th Century movie criticism. The book is well-written, well-researched, and Kellow does a good job of staying out of the way. What comes through is Kael’s voice.

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