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Archive for October, 2014

This is another Nora Roberts gem. The protagonists are interesting and likable, the love interests builds slowly enough that it’s believable, the murder mystery holds water (mostly). The pace could be a bit better – I found the build up of the suspense as to who the murderer was a bit too long, but that also depends on my mood 🙂 . The secondary characters are interesting for their own sake. Also, the descriptions of life in Alaska are very interesting, and made me want to visit Alaska myself 😉 4.5 stars

Northern Lights. Taken from theguardian.com. Photograph: Daniel J Cox/Corbis

The only jarring note is Roberts’ attitude to psychiatric illness. There was something similar in Angels Fall, but here it’s even more pronounced: “[Medicines] make me edgy or jumpy or out of myself. I can’t do the job on meds…” or “pills he’d stopped taking because they made him feel less of who he was than the depression or anxiety or insomnia“. It has now been my privilege to know four people who took psychiatric medicines, and I found the exact opposite was true: The anxiety and depression made them less themselves, and the medicine made them more themselves. If your pills make you edgy or jumpy or out of yourself, you’ve got the wrong medicine or the wrong dosage. If her characters pull out of depression because they fell in love or went on a trip alone they probably weren’t clinically depressed anymore, as depressed people are simply not capable of these actions. Like suggesting that someone suffering from double pneumonia should just apply willpower and get going right now to a warmer climate. First take the medicines and get better; then you can spend some convalescence time in the sun.

OK, rant done.

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Return: Daily Inspiration for the Days of AweEvery year I try to read something meaningful in preparation for the days of awe. In addition, I try to join at least one lesson live in WebYeshiva (My personal favorite teacher is Rabbi Yehoshua Geller, check him out!). This year I found myself on Rosh Hashana without anything new to read. So I thought I’d reread Rabbi Soloveitchik’s On Repentance, which is an excellent book, if a bit long to manage in 10 days. But then I found this gem that I bought last book week and forgot about: Erica Brown’s Return: Daily inspiration for the days of awe (in English, even though it’s at the Hebrew book week 🙂 ). This is divided into 10 chapters, one for each of the Days of Awe, so excellent for starting late (yet better late than never 😉 ). It’s thought-provoking, yet each chapter is short enough to read in half an hour. In addition, each chapter has “life homework” with concrete things you can do or decide to make you a better person this year. Each chapter also has some additional study material from the sages with some questions for your own personal study.

I found this book absolutely amazing. It showed me different ways of looking over the past year, and helped me enormously in my own private introspection and resolutions. It brings ideas from the bible, modern psychology, modern literature, and day-to-day life. It never talks down to you, yet is very scholarly. It brought me closer to Judaism and closer to true repentance. I’m going to read this during the year to refresh myself on what is really important; and I recommended to all people who are interested in looking over their lives, Jewish or not, during the Days of Awe or not. It captured, in 10 chapters (+ prologue and epilogue) the struggle we are all going through, our hope and fear of changing, and our imagination. I’ll be looking for more books by Erica Brown. 5 stars.

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