Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Book Review - Wild, Wicked and Don't Sweat the Small Stuff.

It's been a while since I wrote a book review! I suppose this has mainly to do with the fact that I haven't really been reading many books except for textbooks, so that put a huge damper on my reviewing status. But, I have completed 3 books in the past couple of months, which is a pretty decent haul for me at the moment considering my schedule these days.

 1) Don't Sweat the Small Stuff --- and it's all small stuff. Written by Richard Carlson, PH.DThis book came onto the scene 15 years ago and I came across it while organizing some boxes of Jaime's which were in my closet. This book is a guide of things that everyone can do to de-stress, unwind, reevaluate and appreciate the life we are given, and the life that we create for ourselves. The changes that Dr. Carlson suggests to make to put things into perspective, slow down the stressful lives we live and establish a more calming effect on the every day events which occur, are really not all that complicated in the least.

Some examples of the suggestions he makes are:
- Make Peace with Imperfection
- Become a Better Listener
- Allow Yourself to be Bored
- Let Others be "Right" Most of the Time
- Practice Random Acts of Kindness
- See the Innocence
- Become a Less Aggressive Driver
- Get Comfortable Not Knowing
- Give Up the Idea That "More Is Better"
- Look Beyond the Behaviour... and there are dozens and dozens more.

My personal favourites are:
- Don't Interrupt Others or Finish Their Sentences. I challenge everyone who reads this to take a step back from any conversation that they have in the near future and take a full breath before answering or commenting on what the person opposite you just said. We interrupt the people we speak with SO MUCH! It's unbelievable. We are so anxious to say what we want to say about the topic that we cut off the other person's sentence just to get the words in. Why do we do this? I am definitely guilty of this and I know that most of the population is as well. I have become very aware of this and am working so hard to slow down my side of the conversation by stopping my brain, listening to what the other person is saying and waiting my turn to speak. Sometimes it is really difficult when I'm excited to share my side, but I am truly trying my best.

- Do Something Nice for Someone Else - And Don't Tell Anyone About It. I love this one because I do it quite frequently and it is a really great feeling that overcomes me when I do it. Feeling the need to share with others just how awesome we are is really not necessary and it releases the positive feelings that we get from doing the good deed. We don't need to prove that we are good people by telling others of the nice things that we do.

- Read Articles and Books with Entirely Different Points of View from Your Own and Try to Learn Something. Basically, find a book that goes against your beliefs, read it and try to see the information through the eyes of the writer. Look at a different perspective than the one that is in your own head. If you're a Christian, read about Atheism. If you're Pro-Choice, read about Pro-Life. If you think that Elvis is dead, read books about the conspiracy of his fake death. Open your mind. Be less rigid. Consider new ideas. He's not telling you to change your ideals or points-of-view; just be willing to learn more about the opposite side of things.

I really enjoyed this book and I recommend it to anyone who is on the verge of having a mental breakdown due to stress (Gill??). The ideas and concepts that Dr. Carlson speaks about are simple and do not create drastic life changes. Even by just doing one at a time, your world can become a bit less stressful and a bit more fulfilling. I promise.

2) Wicked. The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. Written by Gregory Maguire. It's hard to believe that this book first came onto the scene in 1996 because the story is so very much a part of our current society (meaning the huge and ongoing Broadway success). This book was created to give the readers the chance to see the perspective of the land of Oz (Wizard of Oz) through the eyes of the "Wicked Witch of the West" also known as Elphaba Thropp. She is the misunderstood, unsocial, green-skinned girl who is terrified of water, loves biology, knowledge, and wants to protect Animals from being sent back to the farms.

I did not expect this book to be what it was. I know the story of the Wizard of Oz very well and truly knew nothing about this book when I borrowed it from a friend. In no time I learned that this book was nothing like the Wizard of Oz. The Wizard of Oz is so bright, cheery and innocent. Yes it some dark and somewhat scary parts, but overall the impression it gives off is NOTHING like this book. This book is dark and twisted, full of sex, drinking, drugs and swearing, plus it has a crazy huge vocabulary to get used to. I had to look up the meaning of words on many occasions while reading this book and sometimes I would read certain parts and just have no idea what I had just read.

Overall the book is...alright. Definitely not for everyone. I am glad I read it because it was entertaining, if not slightly confusing as well, but it was interesting to read about the life of this person in a way that we never get to see through the original story. There were many parts of the book that were not well explained and I would have appreciated some insight into some rather important topics (such as, why is she green? Why did the water kill her? What is with that strange sex club that all of the boys at the school went to and what actually happened there?) So many questions. Not enough information. But the concept of the book is great and I wish that it could be re-written in a way that made a bit more sense. At least to me.

3) Wild. Written by Cheryl Strayed. This is a memoir about a woman who, after dealing with some harsh realities of the brutal world we live in (death of her mother, family falling apart, adultery, divorce, drugs), at the age of 26 she decided to take a 3 month long hike on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) from California to Washington State, all by herself. She had no experience with any kind of hike such as this, apart from what she learned in her manual about the PCT, but set off on this adventure anyway in hopes of finding something to make her feel human again.

Once again, I knew nothing about this book when I picked it up at Chapters. I read the back, thought it looked interesting and decided to take it home (paying first of course). Apparently this book is a pretty big deal? I haven't been paying much attention to the Best Seller's List these days.

I love this book. I was sad to finish it last night because I didn't want the journey to end. She struggled from everything to boots that were too tight (many toenails were lost), filtering water, an enormously heavy back pack, weather, animals, hikers, plus all of the emotional baggage that she carried along the entire trek as well. The book is humourous, sad, exciting, adventurous and brutally honest. She is a great writer and while I read her words, I could picture the mountains around her, appreciate how amazing a shower would have felt and taste just how sensational that Snapple Lemonade must have tasted after those hundreds of miles she hiked.

I think my favourite part is second to last page in which she is talking to the attorney outside of the drive-in where she ordered an ice cream cone. I don't want to say what happened but I just loved it. It's such a simple couple of lines that really struck me and made me think about the lives we live, the luxuries we take for granted and the appreciation that is lost until we have found it once again.

Great book. I will definitely be reading this one again.

1 comment:

  1. I find it interesting that you and I have such different tastes in books! Now there are so many more I want you to read so I can get your perspective.

    And BTW, I need Wicked back before we move... ;-)