Friday, February 22, 2013

Life of Pi

Author: Yann Martel
Pages: 319
Rating: PG-13 (I know the movie is only rated PG, but in the book, the tiger rips apart several animals and another human, and the descriptions are quite graphic. They must have glossed over these parts in the movie.)

Summary: After the sinking of a cargo ship, a solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild blue Pacific. The only survivors from the wreck are a sixteen-year-old boy named Pi, a hyena, a wounded zebra, an orangutan—and a 450-pound royal bengal tiger. The scene is set for one of the most extraordinary and beloved works of fiction in recent years.

My Thoughts: It was definitely an addicting read. And I'm not normally one for solitary survival stories. There are three parts to the book: before, during, and after Pi's lifeboat experience. The before part is really interesting. It tells all about Pi's life in India, and about how his dad owned a zoo, giving Pi the informational resources he needed to survive for almost a year in a lifeboat with a tiger. It also talks about how Pi really loved religions, and became a practicing Christian, Hindu, and Muslim, much to the chagrin of the leaders of each of these faiths in his area, and his parents. I thought that part was really comical. And it was a fascinating commentary on the good that can be found in all religions.

Like I said at the beginning, I would not recommend this to young readers because the killings that take place are rather graphic. There is no language, just violent deaths, be it of animals or in one case, a human. I didn't find myself changed by this book really, but it was definitely a good book. You keep waiting to find out how in the world this kid managed to survive. And it's written in such a way that the author makes you believe it's actually a true story (which it is not).

I can't wait to see the movie now. Although I suspect they will change some key moments in the book, just to make everything more dramatic.

Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become

Author: Barbara L. Fredrickson, PH.D.
Pages: 195
Rating: G

Summary:We all know love matters, but in this groundbreaking book positive emotions expert Barbara Fredrickson shows us how much. Even more than happiness and optimism, love holds the key to improving our mental and physical health as well as lengthening our lives.

Using research from her own lab, Fredrickson redefines love not as a stable behemoth, but as micro-moments of connection between people—even strangers. She demonstrates that our capacity for experiencing love can be measured and strengthened in ways that improve our health and longevity. Finally, she introduces us to informal and formal practices to unlock love in our lives, generate compassion, and even self-soothe.

Rare in its scope and ambitious in its message, Love 2.0 will reinvent how you look at and experience our most powerful emotion.

My Thoughts: I highly recommend this one, especially if you see yourself as an anti-social person, or you just have difficulty connecting with others (like I do). As the summary stated, Frerickson redefines love as small moments of connection that you experience with random people you interact with throughout the day. The more positive connections you have each day, the healthier you will become, physically and mentally.

I found this to be a fascinating premise, especially because it really links to everything you learn through religion, that focusing on others and their needs, wishing them well, and hoping for the best, being compassionate to others in their times of distress, will actually bring you greater peace and happiness. Fredrickson also tackles the idea of self-love, but not in a narcissistic or "self-esteem" type of way. Her definition of self-love is just being able to accept yourself for who you are and where you are currently at in your personal development. It just means accepting yourself and being ok with however life is going for you at the moment. It's not beating yourself up for not living up to your expectations, but it also doesn't gloss over your imperfections and puff you up with prideful thoughts. I really liked it.

The book has two parts. The first part is the scientific explanation and proof for all of this, which I found sort of difficult to get through. The language is not quite as easy to understand as I would have liked. I found myself a bit lost quite often. However, if you don't really care about all that stuff, part two of the book is where you should start. In part two, the author delves into practical day to day activities that you can start using that will help you experience more loving moments every day. This is what I love about the book. Instead of just telling us to do it, and telling us why having these positive moments work, Fredrickson actually gives us a manual of HOW to make this happen in your life.

I actually have to return the book to the library because it is overdue, but I plan to reserve it again so I can start working on some of her ideas that were outlined in part two. I highly recommend this book! (By the way, all the exercises are very simple and don't take a lot of time out of your day.) Also...there is a website, and it has some guided meditations on it, if you want to go the meditation route. There are supposed to be other tools that will help you as well, but this part of the website is not up yet.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Love, Stargirl

Author: Jerry Spinelli
Pages: 274
Rating: G

Love, Stargirl picks up a year after Stargirl ends and reveals the new life of the beloved character who moved away so suddenly at the end of Stargirl. The novel takes the form of "the world's longest letter," in diary form, going from date to date through a little more than a year's time. In her writing, Stargirl mixes memories of her bittersweet time in Mica, Arizona, with involvements with new people in her life.

In Love, Stargirl, we hear the voice of Stargirl herself as she reflects on time, life, Leo, andof courselove.

My Thoughts: I didn't like this book as much as I enjoyed Stargirl. It's nice to know that Stargirl is actually real and that she lives on in another place, still thinking of Leo all the time, but the book just didn't really do it for me. She seems so much more mystical in the first book, so much more vibrant and exciting and different. This book normalizes her. There are some pretty interesting characters, such as the little girl, Dootsie, who becomes Stargirl's best friend (she is pretty hilarious) and a lady named Betty Lou, who is afraid to leave her house. It was a cute book, but not lifechanging for sure.