In times of crisis, people tend to read “lighter,” beach-type novels or crime stories to take their minds off the situation they are dealing with. Happily for me, I began reading Miranda Seymour’s enchanting biography, Robert Graves: Life on the edge, without the slightest idea what fate was about to toss my way. Continue reading
Anybody who knows me knows that I love books. I felt nostalgic when I looked at a gigantic pile of paperbacks and hard covers, new and used, scattered on the ﬂoor. Every book did not just contain valuable information within its pages, but also carried with it a baggage of experiences—my experiences. Read more at DotComplicated
“Enchantment” is the first word that comes to mind when I think of Anna Badkhen‘s account of living in an Afghan village for a whole year. The book’s title itself is intriguing: “The world is a carpet: Four seasons in an Afghan village.” The world? and the carpet? How can you really equate the two? And yet, in Badkhen’s narrative you can do that very easily, since the family’s life revolves around weaving a beautiful carpet and selling it to the carpet dealers. There are many other beautifully woven stories that explain the comparison of the world to the carpet, but since I have not finished reading the book, this is perhaps not the place do discuss them. Continue reading
I was recently a guest blogger at trulymadlydeeplyhappy.com hosted by the wonderful Julie Zommers. Here’s the beginning of my book review in which I argue that we learn from stories, not theories.
“There are probably millions of books written about happiness. They are usually available in the self-help or the psychology sections of bookstores. However, when I want to learn about happiness–what is and how to achieve it–I avoid these two sections and head straight to biographies and memoirs. I believe that no theory can truly make us happy and that we learn from stories, not theories. As doctoral students, my classmate and I reveled in critiquing all sorts of theories and could find fault with all of them. They are not universal and not applicable to the beautiful and superbly unique beings that we are. Theories always include caveats and exclude context-specific circumstances and unforeseen events. So reading a book about someone who reveals their life story of overcoming adverse circumstances, of personal growth, and achieving their full potential is what makes me happy and inspired.”Read more
There are images and metaphors that have inhabited my mind long after I finish reading a book. Such is the case with Sandor Marai’s “Embers.” Throughout his beautifully written, lyrical novel, he conjures the image of memories that have not been talked about for many years and thus have gathered dust and overgrown the living space like a fungus. Here is a sample: Continue reading
So Victor and I just finished reading a wonderful book by Andrea Pitzer, entitled “The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov,” which actually traced the lives of Nabokov and Alexander Solzhenitsyn, two Russian writers and emigrants whose names and books became famous all over the world. Continue reading
|In her brilliant novel “Museum of Abandoned Secrets,” Oksana Zabuzhko describes a game that girls play: they wrap things that they deem precious (like stones, colorful candy wrappers, etc), dig a whole in the ground, and bury their treasures. The place and content of the buried treasures is a secret shared only between the girls who dug up the hole.|
Silence is not nothingness. Silence is the safe haven where feelings and ideas that cannot be spoken are sheltered. Unspoken, they are expressed in paintings, in gestures, in facial expressions.
This is the quote from Breaking the Silence: A Story in Paintings, my novel about gay relationships and art censorship in the post war, communist Poland. I felt the quote was necessary in the preface to acknowledge the centuries-old process of hiding and unearthing taboos, and of the omnipresence of taboos even in the depth of silence. Continue reading
|Women’s Ways of Knowing
by Mary Field Belenky at al
In grad school, I had to read a book called Women’s Ways of Knowing. Crazy and too feminist, I thought before I picked it up. Once I began reading, I fell in love with it. The authors explored various ways in which, due to cultural and social expectations, women gain their knowledge and understanding of the world. The book turned out to be very empowering, since the authors showed how over time, women consciously chose the way they perceived and responded to the world. For instance, they could have began their journey with so-called received knowledge (they learned the information they were given without questioning it), but then could, because of a transformative experience, question authority and assert more of their own knowledge. They would become more self-reliant and independent. Continue reading
|Robert Jay Lifton’s “Witness to an
It is always hard to choose only one book that made the biggest impression on me over the course of one year, but then the greater the difficulty of choice, the bigger the challenge. So, after long deliberations and questioning myself, I settled on Robert Jay Lifton’s “Witness to an Extreme Century: A Memoir.” Continue reading