Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

Intrigued by tidying consultant Marie Kondo's method of uncluttering and organizing - she has a 3 month waiting period in Japan - I was looking forward to learning more about the KonMari Method.  Accordingly, we should only keep belongings that we really need and most importantly, an item should "sparks joy."  Since our living environment affects us both emotionally and physically, it is beneficial to unclutter our space and keep only belongings that we relish.
Kondo advises readers to organize by category, starting with clothes, then books, paper and move to mementos last as we tend to attach feelings to sentimental items and linger in deciding to keep them or not.  Don't worry; there is a section on letting go.  Kondo claims that the conventional way of tidying room by room is faulty.  Her method involves lots of purging and simplifying and that we should do it quickly and get it done.  I learned a new way to fold clothes and store them upright in a drawer!  It was interesting to have a different perspective on tidying.

Girl Underwater A Novel by Claire Kells

     I really enjoyed this book. It's all about Avery, a young college girl who has always loved swimming. She is attending college in California and is traveling home to Massachusetts for Thanksgiving. Two of her swim team mates are on the same flight.
     Suddenly the plane is in trouble. It goes down in a lake in the Rockies. Avery is one of five survivors, along with Colin Shea and three young boys. Colin is swimmer she admires but has avoided since the first day of school. This is due to the fact that he challenges her to push for her dreams and instead she has just settled for whatever the coach wanted her to do.
     She and Colin are forced to use their survival skills to brave the elements and provide for Tim, Liam, and Aayu. For five days they meet various dangers and trials, nearly dying. After rescue, Avery struggles to return to normal. She now has trouble surviving everyday life.
     As you read about Avery's slow emotional recovery, you are encouraged that even when we are in the depths of human misery and failure, we can, with help, enjoy the beauties of life once more.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Dead Wake by Erik Larson

     On May 1, 1915, the Cunard’s flagship oceanliner, the Lusitania, set off from New York, bound for Liverpool.  WWI was 10 months old, but America was still neutral.  Gentlemanly warfare rules dictated that passenger vessels were safe from attack, but Germany was about to change that.  Circumstances—a dense fog, mandated slower speeds for Cunard liners, lack of an expected military escort, and more—resulted in the Lusitania being sunk by 1 torpedo from a German U-boat.  Larson is an adept historical writer, drawing you into life aboard the Lusitania, the U-20, the British military machine, and the White House.  This is a fascinating read!

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Sculptor by Scott McCloud

To change things up a bit, this month I thought I would try a graphic novel, one which is specifically intended for adults.  Graphic novelists write in a “comic book” style, however the illustrations tend to be even more detailed and are specifically designed to advance the plot along with the text.  This novel revolves around David Smith, a down-on-his-luck sculptor who makes a deal with the devil to become a world-famous artist.  However, as part of the agreement, David has only 200 days in which to use his gift before he dies.  David thinks all will be according to plan until, quite by accident, he falls in love and begins to regret his choice. This graphic novel covers adult themes and is definitely NOT a book for children or teens.  However, with that said, it’s an excellent example of what can be done when the traditional definitions of the novel are broken.  I recommend it if you want something different.