Maybe You Should Talk To Someone

This is the second book I’ve read by Lori Gottlieb. I liked it for all the wrong reasons. Based on the first one I read, “Marry Him, The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough” I thought I would be reading something completely different. “Marry Him” is about her long lasting journey on dating sites where she passes judgment on perfectly acceptable men for the most picayune of reasons. As a result she ends up a single mom in her 40’s trying to find “Mr. Good Enough”.

This book started out in that vein but quickly turned. She is a therapist, (I did not know that) who needs to find a therapist because her fiance breaks up with her because she has a young child.

You quickly get an idea of why she could be so picky about men. She worked as a consultant on the television shows Friends and ER. That is where she found her passion for helping people and decided to go to med school and eventually she becomes a famous therapist and author. Plus she has a thriving career in journalism on the side.

The chapters follow her sessions with her talking with her new therapist about “Boyfriend” and also follows clients of her own. Do not read this book if you fear your therapist is judging you. Because they are. She talks about being open and non-judgemental but she drops in some pretty harsh criticisms of her clients, I think without realizing she does it. Also she gets together with her colleagues once a week for wine and cheese where they gossip and pass judgement on their clients. It seems if therapy turns out well it is because of good work by the therapist but if it goes badly it is the client’s fault for not putting the work in. (Not always true, trust me)

She figures out it is not Boyfriend she is really fretting over and also learns some lessons that help in her own practice. The book actually made me cry unexpectedly, which is not normal for me to do while reading. It took a bad turn with no prelude.

About the author. I wonder how she got into being a therapist based on her own behavior. Mostly based on her internet stalking of people. In “Marry Him” she does it to weed out the potential dating partners and also to gather information for her book. I still think she went a little further than needed to write a book. The surprise is how in depth she got stalking her own therapist. I understand wanting to know a little about them to see if you think you would be a good mix. She goes deep down a rabbit hole. She studies his family, his extended family, cousins he knew as a child. She looks them up on LinkedIn and finds out what they do for work and how much money they make. She goes on Zillow with the addresses she finds and knows how much their homes are worth. I think she is a bit obsessive to say the least. I don’t think she would be good as my therapist. I would be afraid she was google stalking me. Although there is not much to find out.

I’m not sure how much she embellishes because of so many coincidences. For example, her practice is in Los Angeles, a very large city but she keeps running into clients in random places around the city. She wraps up the book by claiming success of her abilities of helping her clients lives be tied into neat little packages but blames the one client for being the reason therapy didn’t work.

I recommend this book even if you have never been in therapy. There is a lot to learn and it kept me reading. She is an excellent writer. I plan to read another book by her, “Stick Figure”, even though I have no idea what it is about at the moment. She is a very interesting person.

Marry Him

THE CASE FOR SETTLING FOR MR. GOOD ENOUGH. By Lori Gottlieb. This book should have been called, THE BIGGER, BETTER DEAL! Because that is what she has been searching for her whole life. This book would be fun for anyone who has spent any time dating sites and wondered why they had no fun. The writer has spent many years online dating with the intent to get married. I can never understand that but I never wanted to get married. When I did I wasn’t out searching for it. I just met my wife and it happened. There was more than that but marriage was the furthest thing from my mind when I met my wife. Maybe she has scared a lot of men away by announcing she is looking to get married. I figured out early in the book that her problem isn’t she can’t find anyone good enough, it’s that she is always looking for the Bigger, Better, Deal. As my friends and I used to say. I’ll start by saying she is completely out of my league. She makes a ton of money, she’s good looking, well educated, funny, and she writes for The Atlantic, so she is high profile. I know she could afford to be picky but she took it to the extreme. The book starts with her list of qualities she is looking for in her ideal mate. The list is exhaustive and very particularly specific and detailed. And she wants all of it!

I’ll give you an example. I know most women are looking for someone taller than them. A lot of women say you have to be 6 feet or more, which leaves me coming up short. But she is very specific as I mentioned. She wants a man from 5’10” to 6’0″. A 2 inch range! And she is strict. When she is scrolling through dating site profiles looking at height, 5’9″ or 6’1″ gets you tossed. She wouldn’t even consider it. Forget about having the wrong hair color. Or worse, bald!

She has a good sense of humor. I don’t know how funny she meant this book to be but it is hilarious. It gets even funnier when she tells you she got tired of waiting to meet Mr. Right and went to a sperm bank and had a kid and went right back to looking for marriage. But by now she is 40 with a 2 year old and her marketability is way down. Please don’t peg me as a chauvinist for using the word “marketability” to describe a woman on a dating site. She does a whole chapter on it and it is a word given to her by her dating coach and she agreed with him.

For the book she sees everyone from psychologists to clergy to matchmakers to her dating coach. She does a lot of research because it is her job working at the Atlantic. Another funny part of the book is she met a man when she was younger who had all the major qualities she was looking for but she couldn’t date him because of his first name! It was “too nerdy.” There was no shortage of guys who were perfectly eligible. She was just too damn picky. The funny part is when she reaches the dating coach he convinces her to start dating another man who only meets her most basic requirements on paper. She dates him for 2 months. He is 5’6″ and bald and he has the same nerdy last name!

Another funny thing is she internet stalks these guys she turned down for silly reasons, like their first name or she didn’t immediately “feel it” in their first phone conversation so she didn’t give them a first date. That’s right. She ditched them and then she is googleing and Facebooking them years later and finding out they are happily married with 3 kids. And she would contact them and ask how that worked! I guess she wouldn’t have had much of a book without interviews from the unacceptable men but this is a thing she did before she had the idea of writing a book. Another good one is after her dating coach told her she wasn’t such a hot item anymore she finds a man she is very interested in online. She reaches out to him only to find out that 5 years previous he had reached out to her and she turned him down for another picayune reason. He wasn’t interested in her anymore. She had one of her perfect men 5 years ago but he still wasn’t good enough.

I’ll give away a lot of this book because I don’t think any of you will actually read it. You would think the funniest part is at the end after she tells her audience (younger single women, not older men like me) to “settle” at an earlier age you find out she doesn’t get married by the end of the book. I’ll tell you what I found to be the funniest thing. I found Lori Gottlieb because I am waiting on her 2nd book so I searched her and found this one. I read a sample of the 2nd book and in it her fiance cancels the marriage because she has an 8 year old and he doesn’t think he can go through the years of a young child after his kids are already grown. It’s not really funny but it was to me because all the time I read about her dating machinations I knew in the back of my head she writes a 2nd book and she is still not married 6 years later.

Don’t get me wrong. This is a very good book. It is filled with good advice but even if you aren’t looking to date anyone the stories are entertaining. She has much more to say than I even mention. I listened to this book through my library app. (Libby, by Overdrive). Now that I think of it she rejected a man without even talking to him because his profile said he likes to listen to books rather than read them. She didn’t think he would be intellectual enough. After she lowered her standards she internet stalked him and found out he knows about her from reading The Atlantic. (Wow! he’s intellectual) But now again he is not interested in her. By the way, I like to listen to books now because since my brain injury I have trouble focusing on written words. I still understand them.

I am going to read her next book when it becomes available to me. It is not about dating at all. It is about her being a therapist who ends up needing a therapist. Another true story.

Take Your Breath Away

From the little I know about this man I guessed that he bought copies of his own book to get on the bestseller list. I can’t understand the hysteria. My library app is weird because it has a limited number of copies of certain books. So you have to put them on hold if they are popular. The estimated wait time on this one was 4 months! I got it in 2 months. I guess a lot of people returned it early like I did. I couldn’t finish it even though it was an audio and I could have just left it on in the background. I couldn’t do it. It was that offensive.

He tells you he was born with a V shaped palate which pushed into his nasal cavity and has caused him breathing problems most of his life. He then projects his deformity onto all of humanity, going back to when man first started farming and eating soft food which caused this “de-evolution” of the face muscles. This gave me pause but I gave the book a chance because I was still interested in the subject of breathing and the effects it can have on the mind and body.

He says he spent ten years on this book. It shows. It is very well researched. The problem for me was he mixed the science with pseudoscience and anecdotal evidence in a flashback form of writing. All of which left me confused and angry.

He started by talking about free divers breathing which made sense because they practice to expand their lungs to take in more air and air is our fuel so we are healthier. That sounds like a good way to breathe. Then he got weird with his math and the perfect breathing being 5.5 seconds per breath, 5.5 times per minute. The numbers worked but I think he went backwards. I think he did the math first and then said it was the perfect way to breathe. He wasn’t very clear on that. Then he had the 3rd perfect way to breathe. This was most unseemly. He says we have to starve our bodies of oxygen to get our carbon dioxide levels up because everyone is actually suffering from a CO2 deficiency! He ended up giving himself a runner’s high in a matter of minutes and almost passing out. He took that as proof of his theory.

I”m saving the best part of the book for last. He used it in the beginning. It seems he and his buddy each paid a college $6K of their own money to be in a “study” on breathing. They plugged up their noses and only breathed through their mouths for ten days to see if it was a bad idea. What do you think? Do you think we even need our noses for anything?

I put “study” in quotes because I don’t believe there was a “study.” I think they spent their money testing supplies for blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen levels, etc… And renting a studio apartment in San Francisco for the duration. They never mentioned any practitioners visiting them in their home where all this took place and they even had to make many different attempts finding the right way to block their noses. I think a lot of this book was fiction disguised as non fiction.

I got so angry about halfway through I stopped the book and returned it to the library so I wouldn’t have to listen to another word. Then the next day I rode my bike 20 miles, only breathing through my nose and I didn’t gasp for air or even break a sweat. I was pushing hard the whole time. This was something he claimed no ordinary human could do. It should have left me delirious on the side of the road. Because I hadn’t been trained in his specialized breathing techniques.

If you can figure out which bestselling book this is I would advise you to skip on to another.

But What If We’re Wrong?

“But What If We’re Wrong” by Chuck Klosterman. In this book the author posits we may be wrong about all the science we now accept as fact. He bases this on the notion that we have been wrong about science throughout our history. From a brick resting on the ground because that is it’s natural place to rest to the Earth being the center of the universe. But what if in another 500 years a scientist comes up with a theory that turns our concept of gravity and time on it’s head and we find out we were wrong again?

Klosterman is a science journalist and a contrarian. He writes the book to give a differing view on accepted reality. He is not a physicist so he doesn’t get too bogged down but the book is well researched which I like.

The book covers other topics such as which music and arts have lasted the ages and why and which current art may be around for years. Why the U.S. Constitution may not be such a good idea and why American football is so popular. (It’s not why you might think.)

This was a good book to pull me out of my reading funk. It was interesting enough to keep me coming back for more and was broken into short sections so I could take frequent breaks. I also like him because he doesn’t take himself too seriousely and like me, he has experience pre and post internet. Yes, he has written in paper and ink print magazines and newspapers. Anybody remember those?

That Which won’t Speak it’s Name

I listened to 2 chapters of a book that was so extreme and unbelievable I’m not going to name it. The book was about the 5 major things our bodies need to survive and thrive. The first two chapters were about food and water, which made sense. In the food chapter I heard a lot I already knew or which made practical sense. It was when he spelled out exactly what we are supposed to eat where it got ridiculous.

He claims to get the variety of foods we need we have to eat at least 100 different organic AND locally grown items. Only fruits and vegetables. I don’t even think I could find 100 different food items in my area, never mind organic and locally grown. How much time would I have to spend driving all around my state to collect them? How much would it cost? Is he going to loan me some money from the proceeds of his book? What am I supposed to do in the winter when our growing season comes to a halt. I learned that I am going to live a short and horrible life if I don’t find a solution to all these problems.

I lied, I did not finish the second chapter on water. It started out innocently enough like the first chapter on food but quickly got out of hand. He really did his research for this book and makes a lot of salient points but when he got to extremes I started to wonder who these sources were he was quoting. According to him I am drinking more than enough water per day. But I am drinking the wrong kind of water. I drink tap water which is going to kill me, probably tomorrow.

But apparently even natural spring water isn’t safe to drink. It has to be distilled water. He didn’t offer to come transport 14 gallons of distilled water per week to my house so I guess I am on my own constantly walking the 2 miles to the grocery store to buy it. Even then, the distilled water at the store is not safe because it has touched plastic. No, he suggests I buy my own stove top still to turn my natural spring water into the best of distilled water. What if I have a family of 5? Am I going to make it a full time job distilling water? Won’t that cut into my time collecting my 100 food items for the week?

The book was interesting and held my attention but for the wrong reasons. He finally lost me when he said the best way to get your water was with a machine costing thousands of dollars that extracts moisture from the air and filters out the most minute particles. I listened for a few more minutes but had to finally stop when he got to sprinkling salt into the water to get you electrolytes. Silly me, I thought sodium chloride was sodium chloride, but no, I have to buy the most expensive salt on earth from the Himalayas.

I was done at that point. The next chapter was on oxygen and I was afraid to find out I would have to move to a different part of the world to breathe the right kind of oxygen that wouldn’t kill me in a few years.

I can give you the name of the book if you want to email me. I just didn’t want to name it and shame it here. It was interesting and filled with pertinent information, I just couldn’t believe his ideas on how to live the longest and healthiest life. And none of it was proven because he was the only person in the world who seemed to be living this way. But he claimed it was the only way.

Educated

If you only thought of Idaho as a place potatoes come from, then you should read this book, “Educated” by Tara Westover. It follows her life as she pulls herself out of virtual isolation to finding her way into college and writing this book. She started out being home schooled by a Mormon family prepping for the end of days. She was only allowed to read books approved by the church and her strict father. That didn’t leave much to choose from as her father didn’t really like the church because the people there weren’t devout enough about the religion.

I remember at the beginning of the book thinking how alien life in Idaho is until I got to the part where she escapes and thinks how alien life outside of Idaho is to her family. I’m not giving anything away here because you know she survives to write about it in the book.

The book has a lot of scenes where women are mistreated and she also goes into detail describing the gory details of accidents she has witnessed. If you think that would bother you I would stay away from this book.

She had other siblings who went to college before her but I was pulling for her because it seemed a matter of life and death. It wasn’t until she got to school and learned about bipolar disorder that she fit the diagnosis to her father. It is that coupled with his strict Mormonism that was as likely to hurt his family while trying to keep them safe from the outside world.

I found this book by accident while I was waiting on my reader app to give me another. Luckily I liked it. It is one of those “right place at the right time” books for me. I would recommend it if you think you can get around the violence. She has a good writing style which makes it an easy read.

The Hidden Life of Trees

Peter Wohlleben knows more about trees than you or I would ever need to know. He has worked in forestry for most of his life. I liked this book, “The Hidden Life of Trees” because I spent a lot of my childhood in the woods. He explains all the things I saw in the forest but had never studied. He also explains the processes going on beneath the ground that I couldn’t see. There is a lot going on in the forest that I had never even imagined.

He goes into detail about how trees compete with each other for sunlight and water above ground while at the same time helping each other below ground. Older larger tree share nutrients with smaller trees that don’t get enough sun or food. They do this through complex, symbiotic relationships with trillions of fungi in the ground. There are miles upon miles of fungi networks connecting trees in old growth forests. They work together to keep each other alive throughout trees long, slow motion lives.

Trees also have senses like animals. When one tree is attacked by insects it sends chemicals into the air that other trees “taste” and “smell” causing them to create their own insecticides in their leaves and keep the infestation contained. They also have a sense of touch which tells the roots where to grow with the least resistance and to stop spreading their crowns when their leaves touch another tree.

Those are just a few examples of what we have learned about trees over the years. The book contains a ton of science but it is written in a conversational style. He has a way with imagery through words. Illustrating the complex lifestyles of trees.

I don’t want to ruin too much here. This is a good book to read if you are into life sciences but also want a quick read without getting bogged down like you might with a textbook. It is written in common language. It’s a short book but it is filled with information. I think I read it in a few hours but now I know more about trees than anyone really needs to know.

I found this book on Hoopla Digital app. It is free to use, all you need is a device to read on and a library card. You can also read on your desktop or laptop or borrow a movie and stream it to your television. I won’t do that but you could.

Not another book review?

I really tried to get through this book. “Just Kids” by Patti Smith. I pushed myself 3 times but only managed to get halfway through. It’s a memoir and I just couldn’t get past all the lucky breaks she had when she was younger. She could have easily slipped through the cracks of history. Don’t get me wrong. She is a great writer and tells a good story.

If Robert Maplethorpe hadn’t scooped on her when she was homeless in NYC, there is a good chance nobody would know her name. Maplethorpe opened the doors to people who helped her career immensely. He got her into “The Factory” and also to many famous or soon to be famous musicians. It was the musicians who wanted to get into her pants who told her she should be a singer. Even though they had never heard her sing and she herself had no desire to sing in a band. I also wonder if she would have ever been published if she hadn’t had an affair with Sam Shepard, a famous playwright at the time. Even Bruce Springsteen wrote her most well known song.

Maplethorpe asked her to write this book to tell the story of their early love for each other. If you like memoirs or autobiographies or even like Patti Smith, you will probably have more luck with this book than I had.

Maybe it is sour grapes on my part but I just couldn’t see past the amazing coincidences that made her life story. I liked her latest book, “Year of the Monkey” better than this one. In fact, that book was the one that made me want to read more Patti Smith books. Now I think I am going to move on to something else. I would recommend this book if you are a fan of her music or her other writings. She still has great style as an author. The only reason I couldn’t finish the book was my personal problem. Don’t let that stop you. Her life is quite interesting and the list of who’s who she met in her lifetime is endless.

Calypso

“Calypso” by David Sedaris is the latest book I’ve read in text format. I’ve just recently been able to concentrate on reading again so I am lucky it came in at under 300 pages. Sedaris is one of my favorite authors because he is funny and I have kind of grown up with him, reading his books over the last 20 years. He is the only writer I remember who has made me laugh so much I had to put the book down to recover.

When he was just a young gay man with severe symptoms of OCD he was considered extremely odd. Now that he is a successful writer he is just seen as “eccentric”. What makes him such a good writer is he is very observant and is an incessant journal writer. He writes what he knows, which is his own life experiences and spending time with his large family who are also a group of very funny people.

I have a trigger warning. He goes into detail about the circumstances of his sister’s suicide, so if you think you would be bothered by that I would stay away from this book. The funny thing about this sister is the family doesn’t get along with her because she is bipolar and not very nice to them but she doesn’t like her family because she thinks they are all “crazy.” In all his previous books he only wrote one chapter about her and it is one of the funniest.

If you think he sounds interesting I would recommend reading his books in the order they were written as it is just one long journal of his life. You can skip the Squirrel seeks Chipmunk one, it is out of character for him and I didn’t think it made much sense.

I only have one more book to read by him but I have to wait for it to become available for free. I found “Calypso” on Libby, by Overdrive. This is a completely free app that works with your library card.

Hello, is there anybody out there?

I recently listened to the audio book, “The Copernicus Complex: Our Cosmic Significance in a Universe of Planets and Probabilities” by Caleb Scharf. If you find yourself interested in this book I would go for the audio version as it is a heavy lift with a 10 hour reading time. The book was written in 2014 which is light years in physics but I am a science nerd and I still heard a lot of facts that were new to me.

Scharf is an astro-physicist and professor of astro-biology at Columbia University. The book is about the possibility of life on other planets. Not UFO’s or little green men. Right now the probability is low because we only know of life occurring on one planet; Earth.

He explains complex concepts in an easily digestible form without dumbing it down. It starts with a brief history of scientific discovery but quickly gets to explaining the title of the book. He is well versed in both the macro and micro universe and uses both to illustrate his points. He describes his ideas in a way that you can easily picture what he is talking about.

In this book he carries you through some mind blowing thought experiments both scientific and philosophical. It is always interesting and I felt focused on the topics all the way through unlike the first audio book I listened to which almost turned me off completely.

One concept he kept returning to was we don’t have to look for the “Goldilocks zone” on other planets to find the perfect circumstances for life to develop. This comes from the various forms of life that have developed in extreme conditions right here on Earth. From complex ecosystems based on sulphur compounds released by hydrothermal vents in the deepest parts of our oceans to organisms living beneath thousands of feet of glacial ice.

I’m also fascinated by the way we can deduce the workings of the distant universe with the scant evidence available to us.

If you have enjoyed books by Hawkings and Tyson then I am sure you will like this one. He does tend to keep you entertained by his ideas rather than his sense of humor though.

Scharf has books that are more recent which I want to read but I am limited to books I can find on the Hoopla, Digital app that works for free with my library card. If you can afford it I would recommend buying other books by him in the same vein.