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I love to read, as well as write.  I’ve taken a few good fiction books to the little library box down the block.  I can’t recall who wrote “Tiger Hills”, but it was a great read.  It also taught me about narcissism, because the protagonist, Devi, infuriated me.  I looked up the definition of narcissist online the next day.  Narcissism: a distorted self-image – the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one’s own attributes – only listens to herself – lacks empathy – who changes the topic, gets defensive, or gets mad at you when you try to talk about difficulties you’ve been experiencing.  The desire to sustain a relationship can quickly fade.  1. unilateral listening  2. it’s all about me   3. the rules don’t apply to me  4. your concerns are really criticisms of me  and I hate being criticized  5. I’m right.  You’re wrong.  So when things are wrong between us it’s always your fault.

How well a person listens is a primary indicator of mental health or narcissism.  Disparaging or ignoring others’ input suggests narcissistic patterns.  Excessive altruism invites co-dependency and enabling behaviours.  The ability to hear both oneself and the other is bi-lateral listening.  That’s healthy.

I copies this from my journal, written on May 3rd.  I find that writing about the books I read is a great way to remember them.


This book by Bernard Cornwell describes an uneasy peace between Northumbria’s Vikings and Mercia’s Saxons.  Uhtred of Bebbanburg plans how to recapture his birthright home from his uncle and cousin who usurped his land in a previous battle.  Uhtred has leaned the skills of war fighting throughout Britain, and his reputation inspires and scares others.  This is a fast-moving historical fiction read, full of lusty passionate people, and offers a glimpse into life as it was. Bernard Cornwell has written several novels that describe ancient times, and this doesn’t disappoint his readers who expect fast action, brave heroes, and compelling challenges.


This book, written by Diana Jones, tells the story of a stretcher-bearer in World War I.  It contains detailed information about the region of Picardie, France, and helps us experience the days and nights before the battle of the Somme.  Inspired by tales from her grandfather, who was a stretcher-bearer in WWI, Diana has researched and expanded the story into a tale of fiction.  Since I have known Diana for several years I have heard about the many revisions to her manuscript.  I had no idea she was a skilled writer as well as a thoughtful wise woman!  I am thrilled to have a personalized copy of her book, which I have recommended to many others.  The Bearer’s Burden may be fiction, but it could be true.  Historical fiction that grips the reader, and makes me want to read more about the European men and women of the last century.


This book, by W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear, is another of their historical books about the First Nations people of North America.  This book tells the stories of people who lived 7000 years ago.  Major climatic change was ushering in a 3500 year drought, A young dreamer and a courageous woman from another tribe united to lead their people to a new destiny.  As usual, the authors, who are archaeologists and anthropologists, teach as well as inspire, as they show how people lived during a tumultuous dangerous time.  They have the same emotions and thought processes that we have today, so despite their way of life, the decisions made resonate with us still.


This book by Madeleine Thien won the Giller prize this year, so I was anxious to read it.  I watched Madeleine Thien receive the award, when the Giller prize was announced, and she impressed me as a speaker.  Reading her book later impressed me by her writing and her wisdom.  She tells the story of an extended family in China during years that I knew about slightly through Canadian media.  However, this book shows the rich humanity and passion of the individuals, over years and generations.  Sad.  Sobering.  I cried, and I learned.  I wanted these people to live, and live well, and reconnect.  I wished I played piano and had experienced Goldberg and Brahms and Glenn Gould.  I have only a smattering of knowledge to bring to these pages, so I received much more in return.


This book, by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett, describes Amanda’s life and her early years as a reporter/photographer.  I remember when she was captured in Somalia and followed her story through Canadian media.  I have read her articles in the United Church Observer, so I knew she had been released.  However, reading about her imprisonment, and how she managed to survive the years of deprivation and torment, has been fascinating to me.  She didn’t give up.  She persevered.  She has a phenomenal memory, and her descriptions of attempts taken and lost mesmerized me.  She found ways to cope, and eventually envisioned living in a house in the sky that sustained her.  At times I was frustrated by her early naivety and her youthful confidence, but I realize that’s because I am old and hesitant to risk.  She wasn’t.  She paid a huge price.    I


I have been reading this book off & on for about a month.  It is very detailed, and I am learning a lot!  However, the small print and many unfamiliar names frequently slow me down, and as non-fiction it challenges me and teaches me.  I lived through the years that Mandela was in prison, and thought I knew his life, but this book shows me that I understood little.  I have learned how long it takes to become an activist, and how one must stay true to one’s convictions and beliefs despite set-back and lack of support and imprisonment.  It is written by Anthony Sampson.  I shall continue to read it, between easier books of fiction and escapism.  Many events described in this book make me think of Canada’s indigenous people.  I continue to learn to understand colonialism, and racism, and the need for perseverance in the face of injustice.

 


After I read ‘Away’ by Jane Urquhart I phoned my friend Carolyn Pogue to see if she had read it.  Not yet, but she suggested her latest read, ‘Confessions of a Pagan Nun’; by  Kate Horsley.  She teased that the central character seemed similar to her and I, so I was intrigued.  Fortunately the library had a copy available, so I have read it.  Perfect!  It follows a woman through her life living in Ireland at the time of the transition from Druids to Christians, so it’s dark ages, historical, full of impoverished hungry people and dramatic changes.  A sobering read, and makes me realize anew all the horror stories about the Christian doctrine, including the stupid practice of celibacy for priests and nuns.  What a sad history.  Well-intentioned, but inadequate to meet human needs.   Ever thus, I fear.

 


I continue to read, as well as write.  The more recent books have been by Jane Urquhart, who wrote ‘Away’ about 15 years ago.  It was new to me, but after I raved about her writing to a friend, I borrowed two more books by her. “The Stone Carvers’ was lovely, and since I was reading it the same weekend as the 100th Anniversary of Vimy Ridge, very appropriate.

I have just looked at the pile of books beside the sofa, and found ten that I haven’t written about, so I’ll add these to future blogs.

I have written another play, and it’s gone through 5 revisions so far.  Who knows if it ever will be produced?

 


Still Reading Books….

So many books, too many to recall them all.  When we go to the Thrift stores, my partner checks for vintage pottery and I look at books.  What do I remember?  Which ones are still in my mind?

Elizabeth George – 3 mystery books, featuring Scotland Yard favourites

Russka, by Edward Rutherford

People of the Lakes, by Kathleen Oneil Gear & Richard Gear

The Lake House, by Kate Morton (my current escape)

Mindsight, by Daniel Siegel

The Brain’s Way of Healing, by Norman Doidge

Full Catastrophe Living, by Jon Kabat-Zinn

The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert

One Story, One Song, by Richard Wagamese

Energetic Boundaries, by Cyndi Dale

A Place Called Freedom, by Ken Follett

Ann’s House of Dreams, by L.M. Montgomery

I think there were more books between last February and now, as it’s only 12 books in 6 months.  I realize I am a slow reader, but there were others I’m sure.  Funny how the fictional books are forgettable, but not the non-fiction.