Category Archives: Book Reviews

The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition

Review of The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition

Curling up in a cozy chair with great fantasy on a cold rainy day feels like heaven. I bought The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition as a special treat for myself because the stories of the wizard Ged working magic by knowing the names of things and sailing his world in search of answers was on my mind. More books added to the collection since I last read them.

The first book was written for teens. And it breaks the rules for its time. Our hero is brown-skinned, and dragons are complex wild beings who will talk to some people.

The journey is an exploration of the soul, not a war story.

One of LeGuin’s strengths is her ability to conjure the world of Earthsea in living color. Her characters are likable or interesting or twisted. And we get to know them as they untangle the mystery of what is destroying their world because of the damage that has been done with the misuse of magic.

The series develops complex ideas about life and death and continues to break rules by creating female heroes and exploring power, ingrained male supremacy, and our identity in relation to all this. In the later books, there are even elderly heroes! All characters are thoroughly explored. Same as well as God, Heaven, and Hell.

I enjoyed reading the essays included in Ursula’s process as a writer, and her response to interpretations of her work. It was inspiring to get in the head of a favorite author. And the ending of each book was made less painful by her lovely comments which followed them.

The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition is a beautifully illustrated book. Charles Vess worked closely with the author to realize her visions. It’s a big heavy collectors edition, a little awkward at times, but worth it for the wealth of enjoyment found within. 

I recommend this to the whole family!

I loved it as a teen, and as an adult found it even more riveting than before. It had me thinking deeply about our world, our roles, and personal power, and I emerged from the journey both wiser and more compassionate.

The Secret Life of Water

“The water flowing within us is part of the water flowing through nature and part of the rhythm of life being played out throughout the universe”

Book Review: The Secret Life of Water by Masuru Emoto

I love it. If you believe, as modern physicists tell us, that matter and energy are the same stuff (see E = MC 2) then you might like to discover what Masuru Emoto is experimenting with.

This book is a description of the techniques used to create ice crystals from water and photograph them. The samples come from water that is, for example, polluted, been prayed for, or come from a pure mountain stream.

The purpose of this is to determine if our thoughts can affect water. Do our thoughts have energy? How could they not? These are profound ideas. Ancient healing practices and modern alternatives and compliments to allopathic medicine make use of the effect thoughts have on our bodies and mind.

This book is simple and clearly outlines the steps he and his associates took to get the photographs. It includes these photos and an explanation of how he chose them to represent each case study.

It is full of thought gems: ” If you have been offended, forgive the offender. And if you feel oppressed for your own offenses against others, forgive yourself. Forgiveness opens up the path for you to naturally and freely flow toward your future.” (Like water)

Some of these observations are very new to me. Consider this, that life is not possible on earth without water, and that we humans are 70% water, and our brains are more like 80% water. Emoto’s remarkable observation: “Human beings are essentially crystals formed upon this earth. and that is why we have the responsibility to protect the earth by protecting our water”.

Amen!

Frances Adamson teaches yoga in Durham Region:

279 Central Park Blvd. North

Phone: 289-928-7292

Contact Here

The Invitation: Surviving and Thriving

Book Review: The Invitation by Oriah

This book is built around a poem. Oriah calls it a declaration, a manifesto, and it was written at a time of personal tragedy when everything she believed was tested. When your life goes up in flames, do you arise like a Pheonix from the ashes? Oriah’s survival and her growth and transformation are supported by the spiritual teachings of the Twisted Hair Nation: an inclusive group that shares ancient shamanistic teachings.

Each chapter almost stands alone: The Longing, The Fear, The Sorrow… they are very poetic and succinct musing and insights. The tragedy weaves throughout, and this is no sugar-coated examination of our worldview and darkest places. Bad things can happen, even to good and positive thinking people, and Oriah delves deep and acknowledges the darkness to set herself free.

In a time when new age spirituality can be as automatically trite as any religion we have cast aside, it is moving and honest and, in offering us an examined life, invites us to examine our own….”It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow if you have been opened up by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain”

The Invitation, by Oriah. Harper Collins 2006

Frances Adamson teaches yoga in Durham Region:

279 Central Park Blvd. North

Phone: 289-928-7292

Contact Here

Happiness by Design

Change what you do, not what you think

by Paul Dolan PhD

Book Review by Frances Adamson

I was attracted to this boo13555727_10154218993650126_18376885_ok because of the tag line- change what you do, not what you think. Nothing gets my goat more than when someone suggests we ‘stay in the present moment’. Why? Because in my experience that is not something we humans do easily, and instead of making us happy, we just feel bad that we can’t actually do it. So I love it when someone suggests taking action, rather than changing what we think.

This read is interesting if you wonder how researchers have come to some conclusions about happiness, for instance, that volunteering will make you feel good. Dolan carefully explains just how easily one might misinterpret data, and even ask the wrong questions. He points out the differences between what people think will make them happy, and what actually appears to do so. The big takeaway though is that happiness is not just a product of pleasure, but also a purpose.

He recommends that we take into consideration purpose, and our contribution to others, perhaps society, and even our own lives in our choices. Shameless plug- like if we do yoga, and some days we would rather sleep in, or miss class, but we remember the purpose, improving our health, reducing stress, relieving chronic pain, or whatever the reason is, and know our happiness will increase, then we take action and follow through. Of course, many people, I included, get a lot of pleasure from doing yoga. It is finding a balance between purpose and pleasure that seems to optimize joy and contentment.

But he promises us that there are practical steps to take, and using the example above, these might be leaving your yoga mat where you can see it in the morning, building a routine and committing to small steps, like 10 minutes a day. Having a buddy you meet for a class or have a tea with before or after. An important point he makes is that most of us believe we don’t have time for these things. Dolan argues that we have much more discretionary time than we believe and that we may be more likely to act if we understand what really makes us happy and go for it.

Although Dolan never once mentions meditation or yoga, many of his conclusions are very similar to what I have been taught. Particularly the idea that what we pay attention to makes or breaks our experience of life, and how happy we consider ourselves to be. This explains why gratitude, hands down, seems to be something that joy experts agree is an excellent tool to feel happier. When we practice gratitude we focus on positive experiences and circumstances. Two people experiencing similar events will evaluate them differently depending on whether they focus on the negative aspect or the positive.

For example, I recently completed a government-funded business course. Out of 60 participants, 25 were chosen to go forward to an event in which they pitched their business, and only 10 won a grant of $5000. We were coached throughout to focus on the value of the training and not the prize. We were encouraged, especially near the end, to be proud of our efforts; to remember why we participated, which was to develop our business idea and to be confident that we had formulated a business plan that was viable. Those of us who were able to do so felt pretty good about ourselves and optimistic. Anyone who became preoccupied with the money was pretty disappointed if they didn’t win it.

Throughout this book, there is a very relevant thread, that unlike money, happiness is not something you can put away for a rainy day. The time we spend unhappy is never recoverable. Paul Dolan shows us a few common, mistaken beliefs about what actually makes us happy, and some ways in which we evaluate our life satisfaction, that may be incorrect. He backs this up with not just the data, but a clear discussion and analysis of the difficulties in quantifying Joy and his methods used.

Take away: it is worth spending some time to consider how the experience of our daily lives contributes to our overall happiness. Then we can take some steps to build happy experiences into our lives, and get on with it.

Frances Adamson teaches yoga in Oshawa- 279 Central Park Blvd. North

Phone: 289-928-7292

Contact Here

The Leader Who Had No Title by Robin Sharma

Here’s a book was written by the consultant to Fortune 500 companies. I have to say, in reading personal development books, I do not look for the ones on how to make a lot of money. And I tend to get irritated when I’m told to put out the incredible effort because it will bring me phenomenal success. My mindset is to honor the role I have within my family first, which means super-anything is not on my radar. But is it possible to stay within our comfort zone and achieve big goals?

With this book, I pushed through my irri13045483_10154050568350126_1442639317_ntation at being asked to take aim outside of what I was sure I could accomplish, and I’m glad I did. What he advocates is not to work yourself to death, but to organize yourself to make small steps every day and watch how that will add up over time. I am a big fan of that. I’ve seen the results of doing a yoga practice every day, so I have the experience to back up his advice.

One of the definitions of yoga is step by step. It’s been my favorite one for years. Robin Sharma advocates for creating a routine, but always looking for ways to improve it. He makes a good case for having big goals, even impossible ones, and working steadily towards them. Another yogic goal is to see clearly, and it is one of the ideas he explores. Although I always maintain that regular practice is the way to do that.

How do the ideas figure in the lives of moms and small business owners, gardeners and caretakers? The book is set up as a dialogue between the main character and a few teachers who each give him a lesson. It’s kind of a corny setup, but it’s an easy read. The message clearly is to aspire to greatness in your life, regardless of where you are and let success be the reward- not the goal. We can choose to take a firm stand on our deepest values and morals and be a warrior in our lives, for ourselves and for the ones we love.

Without paraphrasing everything Robin Sharma has to say, let me just tell you about how I have been inspired. Whether reading this just came at the right time or propelled me forward, I have greater confidence in myself and the will to be available to opportunity and success. I can see more clearly how I set up limitations for myself, especially around money, and how to let go of that to aspire for greater prosperity and success. It has affirmed for me the small steps I take each day that has added up to great things and encouraged me to add other small steps and achieve more.

This is a book I will continue to go back to, especially the 4 instant action steps to help one move forward creating habits and improving them. I recommend it if you want straight forward lessons in achieving your dreams.

Frances Adamson teaches yoga in Oshawa- 279 Central Park Blvd. North

Phone: 289-928-7292

Contact Here