Sunday, 22 January 2012

And Now For Something Completly Different!

I have been reading a lot of non-fiction lately (well, a lot for me!) and have had the opportunity to read some really fantastic books.  First up was The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  I had seen this book everywhere and the concept for the book was one that really interested me.  Rubin tells the reader upfront that while she is considers herself to be a fairly happy person she felt that she wasn't meeting her full potential and that there were simple things she could do in her day to day life that would increase her happiness; as she puts it so perfectly, in order to change her life she doesn't have to change her life.  She manages to do this by making changes that are actually attainable and almost seem like not very life changing things at all.  Like smiling more, singing in the morning, being silly, and remembering birthdays.  So many time while reading this book, I found myself pausing and going 'huh...that doesn't sound so hard.  I bet I could do that'.  I almost found myself becoming happier the more I read; I was inspired by how an everyday person can do things that seem so small yet make such a big impact on your wellbeing.  I have taken many of Gretchen's tips and put them to good use, one in particular is the One Minute Rule (if it can be accomplished in under a minute they just do it now, don't put it off!).  A wonderfully inspiring book.

I also recently picked up Amy Chua's biography Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and got so hooked that I finished it within 24 hours.  This is the story of Chua and her decision to raise her daughters in the Chinese Way, something that is totally at odds with the Western parental style.  Here is a snipet from the book:

"A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such sterotypically successful kids.  They wonder what these parent do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it's like inside the family, and wheter they could do it too.  Well, I can tell them, because I've done it.  Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Lousia, were never allowed to do:
* attend a sleepover
*have a playdate
*be in a school play
*complain about not being in a school play
*watch tv or play computer games
*choose their own extracurricualar activities
*get any grade less than an A
*not be the #1 student in any subject except gym and drama
*play any instrument other than the pizno or violin
*not play the piazno or violin
Chinese parenting is one of the most difficult things I can think of.  You have to be hated sometimes by someone you love and who hopefully loves you, and there's just no letting up, no point at which it suddently becomes easy.  Just the opposite, Chinese parenting - at least if your'e trying to do it in America, where all odds are against you - is a never-ending uphill battle, requiring at 24-7 time commitment, resilence, and guile."

I was so fasinated by this book because it is something that I have never experienced and really did not know a lot about.  It was sometimes hard to keep an open mind about Chua's parenting style and I was often wondering if she had gone to far (for example, when she threatens to burn all her daughters stuffed animals if she doesn't go practice the piano), but all in all I feel like I learned a lot about a culture that I was unfamilar with.  A really interesting, humourous, and heartrbreaking read and one that I would definetly recommend.

Two great non-fictions books in a row! We will have to see if I can go for three!


  1. I've been eyeing this book as well. In part owing to the fact that 'Tiger' is in the title and that is so hot right now :) John Vaillant's non-fiction narrative The Tiger, Margaux Fragoso's unsettling memoir about her 15-year relationship with a pedophile Tiger, Tiger and Tea Obrecht's award-winning novel The Tiger's Wife all made the news over the past two years and made it on to my bed-stand. I'll have to add Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother to the pile as well.

    1. I have really been wanting to read John Vaillant's book! It sounds really interesting; I'm going to have to add it to my ever growing non-fiction book pile! I keep picking up The Tiger's Wife at book stores but can never seem to get super excited about it...have you read it and, if so, what did you think?


“Most of the time, there is no truth, only various levels of interpretation. Fact is a construct we provide to the public.”

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