All posts tagged: spoiler-free

Review: This is Water by David Foster Wallace

There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over the other and goes, “What the hell is water?” Once upon a time, David Foster Wallace was invited to speak to the 2005 graduating class of Kenyon College on a subject of his choosing. This book is his speech; perfect to read over a cuppa and a great reminder about self-awareness and the choice of compassion. In bite-sized morsels, David Foster Wallace gives a lesson in the importance of choosing how to think, and keeping our educated adult brains from a 24/7 autopilot function, from a lifetime of slavery to the unconscious. It’s short and sweet, but so well-constructed you know David Foster Wallace could have fleshed this out into a full-length novel and you’d want to read it. The man knew what he was talking about, …

Review: The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel

Once upon a time, a man called Christopher Knight got into his car and drove. He drove although he didn’t know where he was going, and he didn’t stop until he reached the woods. He abandoned his car, never to see it again, and there he lived for nearly 30 years, away from everything he ever knew. In this true story, Michael Finkel explores the life of “the last true hermit”. And though I didn’t love it, the book certainly gave me a lot to think about. I picked this book because I have a slightly unhealthy obsession with survivalist literature, and a tentative curiosity about hermits. I mean, who hasn’t contemplated giving it all up and becoming a social outcast? We’ve all had that kind of day where we’ve just felt so fed up with the world – and with people ugh – that we feel so monumentally tempted to just sell our shit and fuck off to Tibet forever. It sounds so fun for a while, so freeing. But then of course the …

Review: A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled by Ruby Wax

“Well, I have spent most of my waking hours (and some of the sleeping ones) in the Land of Frazzledom, so I feel qualified to act as an expert tourist guide, pointing out some of the more notable swamplands of confusion and self-doubt. Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone in these lands. I’ve come to the conclusion that we all in this together: many reside in the Land of Frazzledom and we all trying to find some kind of exit route. I’ve also decided that rather than spending all time complaining, or pointing a finger at problems outside in the world for making us feel so unhinged, we need to learn to navigate those sharp rocks of uncertainty and bewilderment. In this book, I’ll give you some recommendations for the best holiday destinations to rest and refuel.” The land of Frazzledom is probably familiar territory for the best of us. Everyday stresses are a constant companion, and In this semi-autobiography slash self-help guide, Ruby Wax attempts help us de-frazzle with an introduction …

Review: The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

Jon Ronson is an accessible and relateable investigative journalist with some interesting books. Possibly his most famous, The Psychopath Test, was the one I was the most drawn to: an unassuming jaunt into the mind of the world’s most mentally ill? Yes please. Psychopathy is absurdly fascinating and I certainly don’t know enough about it. I just wish I could say I knew more after finishing this book. Ronson writes well of his foray into the dangerous world of psychopaths, and what little information he gives us is brilliantly harrowing and educational at the same time. He tells of the Hare PCL-R Checklist, which is used to diagnose psychopathy, and the man who invented it, leading the reader to immediately start trying to diagnose every person they’ve ever met. He takes the reader with him on his visits to psychiatric hospital to meet the most dangerous people alive and leaves us to wonder how on earth anyone can truly function as they do… “She showed him a picture of a frightened face and asked him …

Review: Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day by Seanan McGuire

I’ve grown to really enjoy Seanan McGuire; her novel concepts are stellar, though her execution sometimes falls a bit short (as in the case of Every Heart a Doorway). I was excited to pick up her latest novella, a speculative take on ghosts and the concept of the Afterlife. Anyone who knows me will agree that ghosts are totally my jam. Protagonist Jenny, bit of a Mary Sue but nonetheless lovable, has an unhealthy obsession with her sister Patty. When it is discovered that Patty has died by her own hand, Jenny feels somehow responsible, and in her grief runs out of the house into a raging storm, killing herself in the process. Forty years later, Jenny is “living” in New York as a ghost. Having become fully aware that every soul is granted a specific time on earth, Jenny must continue to exist on this plane until she reaches the end of her allotted time. In McGuire’s world, ghosts are able to take time from the living, moving themselves closer to their deathday while …