Monthly Archives: January 2014

Self Helpless?

Oh the allure of a siren’s promise to fix me just by reading a book… My shelves hold titles that seem to promise a healthier, happier, more organized, and better paid life – if only I read them and applied their message.

Not only do I already own many unread self-help books, I also regularly check them out from the library, usually in large groups on a single subject. Most recently I decided I only need more willpower to make everything right. A little searching (started at Amazon but quickly had so many books in my cart that I knew it was time to go to the library website and put some on hold to try before buying).

I started with Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy, at only 128 small pages, it’s a great length for a self-help book. The idea of concrete steps to improvement is promising – and the title is great. But by Rule 3 (Apply the 80/20 rule to everything), I was reading stuff I already know and remembered, I don’t need to know WHAT to do, I need to know HOW to make myself do it, which took me to:

Why Don’t I Do the Things I Know are Good For Me?: Taking Small Steps Toward Improving the Big Picture by BJ Gallagher. The first chapter instructs me to begin by noticing when I most struggle with I Should vs. I Want To. I’ve set the book aside to take the time to do that noticing. Which doesn’t make sense because I’ve been noticing this for years! It’s when I should be working but want to play Words of Wonder (forget Words With Friends, waiting on people to take their turn doesn’t work for me, and simply refuse to get entrapped by Candy Crush so I can continue to scoff at those who do) or when I should be going to bed but want to watch a little more mindless television. Knowing this, I suppose it is time to move to the second chapter? Quit procrastinating and eat the frog already?

Also waiting for my attention before they have to be returned to the library:
White Bears and Other Unwanted Thoughts: Suppression, Obsession, and the Psychology of Mental Control by Daniel M. Wegner.

We Have Met the Enemy: Self Control in an Age of Excess by Daniel Akst. Described as A witty and wide-ranging investigation of the central problem of our time: how to save ourselves from what we want and starting with a quote from Camus. What’s not to love? But why was it re-released 11 months after its original publication date retitled Temptation: Self Control in an Age of Excess? And why does one have a picture of a donut-bomb and the other a cat eyeing a bird in a cage? Aren’t those two totally different messages?

Maybe I should stick with my original search:
The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It by Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D. instructor of the acclaimed Stanford University Course The Science of Willpower.


Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength: Willpower by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney. Apparently Mr. Baumeister if a pioneering research psychologist and Mr. Tierney is a New York Times science writer and together the have collaborated to “revolutionize our understanding of the most coveted human virtue: self control.”

Search the word Willpower on Amazon and you’ll find many more equally fantastic titles. Maybe after I give up on these I’ll try Willpower: The Owner’s Manual – 12 Tools for Doing the Right Thing by Frank Martela, Ph.D., especially since I just bought it for my Kindle (it’s was $2.99, has 10 reviews that average 4.8 stars, and is only 111 pages – what more could I ask?).

Maybe I should I add to my earlier list that when I Should be reading the books I already have, I Want To shop (to purchase or check out) new titles.


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Filed under For The Love of Books

The Color of Water

I think I’m meant to read this book: The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride

First it was mentioned as a possible book group choice for this year, and now, less than a week later, someone wrote to a magazine that this is the book that taught her an important lesson about love. I enjoy a moment of kismet, and choose to respect the story placed in my path twice in less than a week (when it’s an older book, that is!).

Of course, with the length of my Books to Read list, it may be many weeks before I actually do read it! But adding it is the first step.

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Filed under Books To Live Long Enough To Read

What Do We Want To Read?

At today’s meeting of the Brooklyn Street Book Group, we’ll be choosing books for the upcoming year and everyone has been asked to bring ideas.

I am bringing four:

The summary of Patron Saint of Liars sounds so familiar I wonder if I’ve already read it, but reading the first few pages does not trigger a memory. That doesn’t sound like a great selling point for the rest of the group, I should probably come up with some other explanation.

Bel Canto, Ann Patchett’s other title on my list, has had rave reviews from everyone I know, but that might include the rest of the group and they might not want to reread it.

My sister is a great fan of David Sedaris and his book Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim so I’ve been meaning to read it.

Finally, Olive Kitteridge, and its author, Elizabeth Stout, have had rave reviews and this book is on my personal list to read.

All four are books I plan to read whether or not they are on the group’s list, all four are books I already own.

Really need to work on my sales pitch!

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Filed under Book Club Book Ideas, Book Club Reading List

January Book: The History of Love

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

4:00pm at Bettie’s on January 12

I just finished reading The History of Love and have decided the perfect book group would be the one that magically appeared to discuss the story as you read the last word. And then again in a few days when you’ve had time to let it roll around in your brain.

I pulled a list of discussion questions but none of them address whether what Leo said about Bruno at the end was true.

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Filed under Book Club Reading List