Book Review: The Power of Others by Michael Bond

I saw the bright yellow copy of The Power of Others sitting on a shelf of new releases at the library. I didn’t recognize the title, but I hoped that it was on a topic I am very interested in right now, how individuals have influence over one another, our actions, and our ideas. Sure enough, the subtitle assured me that I had found what I was looking for; it read:  Peer Pressure, Groupthink, and How the People Around Us Shape Everything We Do.

As I’m beginning a new concentration of studies on Creativity and Innovation, I’m finding that the concept of social psychology keeps popping up. 22750380Yes, there are some individuals who are perceived as being more creative or innovative than others, but why? Is it something specific within the individual? Something specific that they do? Is it the way the individual reacts to those around them that they become more creative? Is it the way the individual is perceived by others that makes them seem be innovative?

For anyone looking to better understand social psychology and the impact we have on one another, The Power of Others by Michael Bond is a perfect read. Bond discusses various aspects of social psychology by using personal interviews and research along with explorations of well-known events in recent history to outline associated behaviors and motivating factors. He addresses how we can begin to feel emotions expressed by those around us, how our individual behavior changes when we are in crowds, factors that can contribute to one person harming another, our concept of what a hero is, how our shared experiences create bonds, why our differences and commonalities can bring us together or pull us apart, and what can happen if we are without others altogether.

Though I don’t yet have all of the answers to my questions, this book has helped me better understand the concept of social psychology and reinforce the idea that there is most definitely a strong connection between our ideas and the power of others.

~Melissa

Book Review: Paper Towns by John Green

Yesterday, someone asked me if Paper Towns is a love story, and my immediate reaction was, “No, not at all.”

They responded with, “Well, the movie looks like it’s about a love story,” and I realized that I might have thought so too, if I had read the book any earlier than I did6442769.

It’s been said that things often fall into place when they are meant to, not a moment before or after, and I believe this to be true about my reading Paper Towns. I would have certainly enjoyed the writing style and characters if I read it earlier, but I think I would have missed out on the more important aspects of the book.

Today, I am much more aware of and interested in social psychology and the individual as a part of a larger group. I am fascinated by how ideas are generated and by creative thinkers and what makes them so. To me, this story is much more about our ongoing struggle to separate who we are from who our groups make us out to be, and our need to truly understand who the people that we think we know really are.

For example, in Paper Towns, we meet a character who overcompensates his confidence because he feels rejected and another character who distances himself from those he likes the most because he his afraid of their rejection. We watch a character who has shied away from attention or conflict most of his life suddenly embrace and seek it out on his own because he is influenced by those similar actions in another character. We get to know a character who is revered (or despised) by others for her ideas and learn that those very ideas are a direct result of how those people have made her feel and believed her to be.

John Green uses Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and “Song of Myself” to help weave these characters in and out of one another’s lives and help us learn, throughout the book, the depths of their interconnectedness. We learn that these characters’ actions and feelings are all connected to and with one another. There are many moments when the characters themselves have glimpses of these same insights, especially at the end, but, just like in real life, they never fully seem to figure it out.

quote-generator-poster-because-its-kind-of-great-being-an-idea-that-everybody-likes-but-i-could-nevePaper Towns really isn’t a love story in the classic sense; it is a testament to what we each mean to one another, what we all do for and because of one another, and what we must try to do so that we can better understand one another and ourselves.

~Melissa

Choosing Sixty Books

The books we choose to read, and the reasons we select them, are as individual as we each are. That’s part of what makes Sixty Books so exciting. Sixty Books isn’t about a certain set of books; it’s about making any book you want to read a regular part of your routine.

Sometimes we choose to read books that are of a common genre, style, or theme and other times we choose books for their variety. We may choose to read books because they support our ideas or we choose books that will challenge quote-generator-poster-so-many-books-so-little-timeour ideas. We can opt to read books that are bestsellers and popular or we may choose books for their obscurity.

Every book you choose to read shapes your personal Sixty Books and, in turn, shapes you.

If you are ever stuck on choosing a new book to read, try choosing a book from any of these suggested categories:

  1. Read a book you always wanted to read as a child but never did.
  2. Re-read a book you read and loved as a child.
  3. Re-read a book you hated in high school or college.
  4. Re-read a book you read last year.
  5. Read a book to a child.
  6. Read a book with an elderly person.
  7. Read the book at the top of the New York Times Best Sellers list.
  8. Read the book at the bottom of the New York Times Best Sellers list.
  9. Read the book at the top of the New York Times Best Sellers list the day you were born.
  10. Read the book your boss is currently reading.
  11. Read the book your best friend is currently reading.
  12. Read a book your librarian recommends.
  13. Read a book that Goodreads suggests for you.
  14. Read a book from your local high school’s required summer reading list.
  15. Read a self-published book.
  16. Read a cookbook.
  17. Read a book of poetry.
  18. Read a collection of short stories.
  19. Read a book of plays.
  20. Read a book about history.
  21. Read a book on business.
  22. Read a book on finance.
  23. Read a book about psychology.
  24. Read a book about religion.
  25. Read a book on race relations.
  26. Read a book on art.
  27. Read a how-to book.
  28. Read a book about health or nutrition.
  29. Read a professional development or self-help book.
  30. Read a biography.
  31. Read an autobiography or memoir.
  32. Read some realistic fiction.
  33. Read fantasy.
  34. Read science fiction.
  35. Read a romance novel.
  36. Read historical fiction.
  37. Read a murder mystery.
  38. Read a classic.
  39. Read another classic.
  40. Read some Shakespeare.
  41. Read a banned book.
  42. Read an award winning book.
  43. Read a seasonal or holiday book.
  44. Read a book by an author of a different gender than your own.
  45. Read a book by an author of a different ethnicity than your own.
  46. Read a book by an author of a different faith than your own.
  47. Read a book by an author of a different generation than your own.
  48. Read a book by an author of a different sexual orientation than your own.
  49. Read a book by an author of a different nationality than your own.
  50. Read a book by an author of a different political party than your own.
  51. Read a second (or third or fourth) book by an author you’ve read before.
  52. Read a book translated from another language.
  53. Read a book with illustrations or photographs.
  54. Read a book with interesting cover art.
  55. Read a book with more than 400 pages.
  56. Read a book with less than 100 pages.
  57. Read a book that became a motion picture.
  58. Read a book that was given to you as a gift.
  59. Read an ebook if you only read print or a print book if you only read ebooks.
  60. Listen to an audio book.

Are there other ways you choose your Sixty Books? Let us know in the comment section below or on Twitter using the hashtag #SixtyBooks.

~Melissa

Hot Summer Days and Silver Linings

It’s been hot this summer, like really hot, like immediately-melt-the-ice-in-your-drink hot. We’re talking humid, stifling, 90-degree temperatures for the last few days.

And our air conditioner is not working. (We’re in the process of fixing it. It seems like it is only in need of a small repair, not actually “broken.” At least, we hope.) So, over the last few days the coolest place in our home has been, well, outside.

It’s easy to “lose your cool” in uncomfortable situations like these, so it is really important to remember that they are temporary, fixable, and only uncomfortable, nothing more.

It isn’t always easy to do.

I was delighted (and distracted) when, while we were sitting outside trying to keep cool, Jonathan and I saw these stormy clouds roll in:

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The air had already cooled down a bit by then (outside, not inside the house!) and sitting outside, talking to each other and reading books (and writing a little for me), we were relaxed and enjoying our evening. I LOVE rain — and especially love rain in the summer, so the idea of a rainstorm helped me completely forget all about our air conditioner trouble.

But it didn’t rain.

Instead, this happened:

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And this:

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We looked at one another, and we knew that had our air conditioner been working properly, we would have been sealed up inside our house, missing all of this beautiful evening sky. We kept watching.

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The shapes of the clouds shifted. The colors became more intense, muted, they brightened and darkened, and danced across the sky.

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And if you look really closely, you can even see the silver linings.

~Melissa

Day 20 of CampNaNoWriMo and still at 14,342 words

I came across this on Pinterest and it reminded me of this project. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/194640015121419009/

FORWARD IS FORWARD, NO MATTER HOW SLOW
It’s Day 20 and my novel is currently 14,342 words. You might think that I would be frustrated or discouraged with my progress. You might think that I should be worried.

I am not.

I actually still feel pretty good about it.

My novel has taken a few turns since I started to draft. I recognize this as a good thing. The characters are telling me where to go, not the other way around. It’s their story. I am following their lead. It is all coming together.

Instead of spending the last few days drafting, as I had intended, I’ve been reorganizing. I’ve been adjusting some of the plot lines and changing the nature of some of the relationships. A few new characters have presented themselves in the process.

The novel is already a different novel than the one I set out to write at the beginning of the month. This one is better. It’s stronger. It’s on its way.

~Melissa

Sixty Books Is Not A Number

IT’S NOT ABOUT THE NUMBER
Sixty Books a journey, not a destination; it’s a mindset, not a competition.

Each person may actually have a different number of books that he or she reads in a year, and the number can vary from year to year. Thirty books can be “sixty books” and so can forty-five, or seventy, or one hundred and fifteen. It’s not about the number.

Sixty Books is an idea that incorporates reading as a fundamental and non-negotiable part of our routine and encourages lifelong learning.

WHY SIXTY, THEN?
If someone reads a book each week, they are already at fifty-two books. sixtySixty is a nice way to round it up.

It’s also an attainable and realistic goal for most of us. Maybe not at first, especially when one isn’t accustomed to reading regularly, but it can be achieved through practice.

Even the busiest individuals have time to read about twenty pages a day. At that pace, considering books at about three hundred pages, a person would finish reading a book in about two weeks. By doubling the effort and making time to read forty pages a day, a person can finish the book in just one week.

Anything more might be too much. Not that it isn’t possible to read more, and to enjoy reading more books, but is it really possible to reflect on it all when we read that much? Sixty Books is not just about reading for enjoyment, it’s about enjoying reading for growth.

And, sometimes thinking in terms of numbers simply helps us better understand abstract thought. The term Sixty Books helps establish a common vocabulary with which we can discuss and explore the idea further.

THE SIXTY BOOKS MINDSET
Whether fiction or nonfiction, contemporary works or classics, we learn something from everything we read.

We learn facts.

We learn about the world.

We learn compassion.

We learn about ourselves.

We find examples and non-examples.

We are inspired.

Sixty Books, therefore, is about absorbing ideas and lessons from each of the books we read and applying them into our own lives. Sixty Books is about growing as an individual and evolving, innovating, updating on a regular basis. Sixty Books is about sharing ideas and learning from one another.

How many books are in your #SixtyBooks? Continue the conversation here in the comments section below or on Twitter.

~Melissa

Book Review: Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky

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My relaxing reading material on the beautiful Horseshoe Bay Beach in Bermuda.
A few weeks before our recent trip to Bermuda, my husband gave me a paperback novel, Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky. Outside, the cover is nearly all wild lavender plants (an absolute favorite of mine); inside, the story is about two old friends, both writers, who reconnect after a long time apart. (I love to read any story about writers and the process of writing!) In addition, much of the story takes place during the summer months on an island off the coast of Maine. All of these things (combined with its light weight and compact size) made it seem like the perfect book to stow away in my suitcase and bring with us on our trip.

These friends who have lost touch over the last ten years, are reunited to work on a cookbook together. The women research and write about recipes and locally grown ingredients — as well as the islanders to whom they belong. As they work on writing the book and meeting their deadline, they reminisce about old times and catch up on the last ten years of their lives. The longer that the friends are together, the tougher it is for them to hold back the secrets that distance has helped them keep. Pride, envy, guilt, and embarrassment have kept them both from being honest with each other, but when dire new circumstances make it impossible to hide the truth any longer, their friendship is forever changed.

This novel is full of twists and turns and complicated characters. Delinsky flavors this book with the right amount of the wishes and goals of the characters, the events and consequences of their respective pasts, and the traditions and lore of the mystical island. The ingredients combine for an enjoyable and relaxing read, perfect for an afternoon on the backyard hammock — or trip to the beach in Bermuda.

After finishing the book, my only wish was that Delinsky gave us some of the actual island recipes the writers include in their cookbook. They sounded delicious!

~Melissa