Squeezing in three quick reviews of recent non-fiction reads –
The Examined Life by Stephen Grosz
This is a deceptively simple book but elegantly written. Grosz uses a variety of case studies from his decades as a psychoanalyst to explore the beginnings and endings of relationships, honesty and love. He finds a beautiful balance between telling the stories and providing insights that are useful for every reader (without feeling as if he’s lecturing).
The Brain’s Way of Healing by Norman Doidge
Disappointed. This book lacks the curiosity of his first (The Brain that Changes Itself) and the case studies are less varied. As a result, it feels like Doidge is ramming the information down your throat and sometimes that info doesn’t seem scientifically robust (again, a contrast to the first book). The focus of this book is on Parkinson’s Disease, dementia, Feldenkrais and light/ laser therapy – I’m open to alternative therapies but only in conjunction with science, not at the cost of it.
Anyway, I’ve had to put the hand-brake on my neuroplastity reading – I was getting to the point that every time I had pins and needles (which is rare) I thought it was the start of MS and then I’d be thinking about the process of having to rewire my brain… so yeah, I’ll stick to reading about therapy and personality disorders for a bit!
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown
I rarely pick a book from the self-help shelf – too often I find them preachy – but I came by Brown because of her extensive work on shame, which is something I’ve been doing a bit of reading on lately. This book is not about shame, it’s about letting go of what you are ‘supposed’ to do and be and enjoying simply ‘being’. Needless to say, that’s hard for a lot of people.
There’s so much in this book that it demands multiple reads. I particularly liked the sections on intuition and letting go of the need for certainty. The chapter on authenticity was also interesting and many of the things that Brown talked about, reminded me of Gretchen Rubin’s approach to finding happiness. Exercises relating to resilience and gratitude seemed old but given that the book was published in 2010, they were no doubt ground-breaking at the time. I wasn’t a fan of Brown’s ‘dig deep’ jargon but undeniably this book is packed with sensible suggestions for living more authentically.
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