Bipolar books; When We Collided, An Unquiet Mind | Book Review

This is basically me doing two reviews in one, with an intro.

Do you every just realize that you don’t know enough about a group of people’s situation? That’s me after bipolar disorder is a thing that has popped up with a question mark among multiple friends more recently. It makes sense; there’s a lot that will show first signs of bipolar in their early twenties, I’ve started at university where people are under a lot of stress, people are separated from their families and more open because they need support. There’s a whole list of causes.

Read a webmd page on what bipolar is on your own, I’m not going to oversimplify it and then obviously get it wrong. I think An Unquiet Mind’s description of it and constantly using manic-depressive instead makes more sense for people unfamiliar, if not for the actual researchers.

I think I knew more about bipolar than most going into this tiny project, but that’s just because the bar is low. I love this podcast especially by sickboy, called My little blue devil and I where a girl Siobhan talks very openly and with humor about her experiences living with bipolar type 2.

As someone who has other illnesses; what I think is most important to keep in mind is that if you’re reading an account of one person’s experience, that’s that one single person. It might give you better insight into what they’re dealing with, but you can’t apply that to everyone else in that category, which makes sense logically, but people seem to completely forget it when it comes to physical and mental illnesses.

When We Collided by Emery Lord

This is a contemporary young adult with a bit of romance. It has such great characters who form a big chosen family type of bond (though many are siblings so … actual family) with their different problems. The main character Vivi is new in town & has bipolar disorder and is definitely the best written of them. It brings all the summer feelings of a romance, along with all the messiness of someone not stable, but naturally so extroverted and fierce that at the beginning it’s hard to tell for those she interacts with. I’m so mad about reviews that call her a manic pixie dream girl because 1) didn’t someone write a long article about never using that description again and we all agreed and 2) she’s literally manic and you can obviously see the switch. Is there anything I’ve learned in the past couple months it’s that a symptom of manic state is that people don’t have the same risk calculation ability.

4/5 stars. I didn’t enjoy every part as I read it, but it’s stuck in my head, especially Vivi, for a month now.

An Unquiet Mind by Kay. R. Jamison

Trigger warning for suicidal and suicide attempt.

This is a memoir from someone who knows what she’s talking about, having bipolar in her family, struggling with it through her university days, eventually researching bipolar disorder and then getting the diagnosis.

I decided early in graduate school that I needed to do something about my moods. It quickly came down to a choice between seeing a psychiatrist or buying a horse. Since almost everyone I knew was seeing a psychiatrist, and since I had an absolute belief that I should be able to handle my own problems, I naturally bought a horse.

That quote sounds about right. Reminds me a lot of;

Anyway, she eventually sells the horse and gets a psychiatrist and Lithium basically saves her life, as she describes it. Along with the amazing descriptions of living with bipolar, the part where she questions her intentions and her career really got to me. She’s got to face the concept that her disorder might make her a bad psychologist, then she goes through all the reasons why that’s wrong. And the checks she has in place if she were to go suddenly into mania (though unlikely). She instead uses that drive and passion to be a better researcher on her own disorder, which was really inspiring.

But I compare myself with my former self, not with others. Not only that, I tend to compare my current self with the best I have been, which is when I have been mildly manic. When I am my present “normal” self, I am far removed from when I have been my liveliest, most productive, most intense, most outgoing and effervescent. In short, for myself, I am a hard act to follow.

They all seemed very related to one another at the time. Not only did they seem related, but they seemed together to contain some essential key to the grandiosely tizzied view of the universe that my mind was beginning to spin.

5/5 stars. It’s beautifully written, so honest and I’m honestly impressed about the courage to publish (in 1995) for someone who is very aware about the risks of having her career as a clinical psychologist questioned afterwards.

Spring TBR!

I didn’t think I would create a TBR because who knows when I’d get time to read because of university. And then it all went to hell and I need more structure in my life so here we gooo – a Spring TBR it is.

  • By grand central station I sat down and wept by Elizabeth Smart
  • The stranger by Albert Camus
  • All the lonely people by David Owen
  • The picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  • On earth we’re briefly gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
  • Permanent record by Edward Snowden
  • To the lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  • Notes from underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • The incendiaries by R. O. Kwon
  • Red, white and royal blue by Casey McQuiston
  • The serpent king by Jeff Zentner
  • Catch and kill by Ronan Farrow
  • So far so good by Ursula Le Guin
  • Hermosa and Tesoro by Yesika Salgado
  • The bell jar by Sylvia Plath

A Woman in the Polar Night by Christiane Ritter | Book Review

A new book on the list of all-time favourites.

Genre: nonfiction, memoir, travel to the Arctic

Pages: 224

Synopsis

In 1934, the painter Christiane Ritter leaves her comfortable life in Austria and travels to the remote Arctic island of Spitsbergen, to spend a year there with her husband. She thinks it will be a relaxing trip, a chance to “read thick books in the remote quiet and, not least, sleep to my heart’s content”, but when Christiane arrives she is shocked to realize that they are to live in a tiny ramshackle hut on the shores of a lonely fjord, hundreds of miles from the nearest settlement, battling the elements every day, just to survive.

At first, Christiane is horrified by the freezing cold, the bleak landscape the lack of equipment and supplies… But as time passes, after encounters with bears and seals, long treks over the ice and months on end of perpetual night, she finds herself falling in love with the Arctic’s harsh, otherworldly beauty, gaining a great sense of inner peace and a new appreciation for the sanctity of life.

This rediscovered classic memoir tells the incredible tale of a woman defying society’s expectations to find freedom and peace in the adventure of a lifetime. 

My thoughts

Rating out of five: five stars

Reading this book was an experience, one that made me actually want to take a trip further north than Norway, to experience the Arctic for myself. Which sounds both dumb and unrealistic, but truly read this book if you want to understand why.

This book is special because of many reasons. It’s a memoir from 1934 by a german woman, the painter Christiane Ritter. Her husband has already fallen in love with the Arctic, and she decided to uproot her comfortable and rich life and see what it’s all about herself. He warns her about how isolated it really is, but it’s almost as if he’s forgotten the big change from normal city life already, becoming used to having to fend for himself, to have no one to turn to when the hut gets covered in snow, and travelling great distances to search for a better stove to cook on.

It’s obvious that it’s written in another time from Christiane Ritter’s position in life, but the emotion she conveys through very sparce wording was really breathtaking. I know enough about the cold emptiness of certain landscapes that I felt I could recognize it, and the feelings the vastness brings after you get over its overwhelming fear of isolation.

Everyone should give this book a chance, it won’t be for everyone’s taste, but it earns its place among my favourite books of all time because of its uniqueness. Why did I feel like this contains lessons in writing as well. I really wanted to add some quotes, but I left the beautiful book filled with markings at home by the university, and as its closed for now, this will have to do.

My feelings reading this book: fear on Christiane’s behalf, then impressed & mindblown. I really loved the third person with them most of the time, the Norwegian, who Christiane talks about the strange customs of. He represented my norwegian heart too well.

Book Haul #2

I rarely buy books, compared to a lot of book blogs. But finally I’ve gathered enough recent buys. Also I just bullet-pointed the interesting parts to me of those synopsis because some make them way too long.

These shallow graves by Jennifer Donnelly

  • Mystery; main character’s dad is murdered and she investigates

A brief history of time by Stephen King

  • Physics <3<3

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

  • I love Murakami’s writing usually
  • Magical realism ❤
  • Set in Tokyo
  • I cannot decipher everything that the synopsis says happen in this book, only that it follows a lot of people, including a writer, a cult, a private investigator, a bodyguard and a women’s shelter?? Is that right? Sounds like Murakami

The body in pain by Elaine Scarry

  • One of my goals of 2019 was to find out how to describe pain, which might sound strange, but makes sense I promise. This was the place to start, according to a lot of sources.

Ebooks:

In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad #1) by Tana French

  • Set in Dublin
  • Murder investigation following a detective
  • Promising lots of mystery

Demons Lie (A Girl’s Guide To Witchcraft And Demon Hunting #1) by Sherry D. Ficklin

  • Main character out for revenge on mother’s murder
  • Killing demons
  • High school graduation a big thing??
  • Hinting at main character turning darker

A very large expanse of sea by Tahereh Mafi

  • Main character is a muslim girl who’s sixteen living in the US after 9/11 dealing with harassment

NetGalley:

Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II by Robert Matzen

  • About Audrey Hepburn during the Nazi occupation in Netherlands, which I’ve never considered
  • Parents was pro-nazi from what I see from the synopsis
  • Story of how she suceeded as a ballerina

How to Fracture a Fairy Tale by Jane Yolen

  • Rewritten fairy tales

Have you read any of these books? Or bought any other books you’re excited about?

Six Easy Pieces by Richard Feynman | Book Review

Genre: physics, nonfiction

Pages: 140

About the book

Richard Feynman is a well-known physicist, he was awarded the Nobel Prize of physics in 1965 for his developments to the quantum field theory. This book isn’t lying when it claims he’s one of the most brilliant physics teachers as well, particularly well-known for this introduction series of lectures from Caltech university in 1964, that this book is based on.

My thoughts

Rating out of five: four

My background going into this book: one and a half year into physics classes. I read this book a while ago and just now decided to post the review, the day after I sent my application for a physics bachelor at university!

The only reason this isn’t getting five stars are that the lectures are older. This book was first released in 1994, it’s an abbreviated form of the 1964 Feynman Lectures, which has been edited later. I just feel as an introduction this should have more side-notes on later development (just a couple words) and where to find more information on them, because it’s meant as an introduction.

The way Feynman talks about physics de-mystifies it, and makes it accessible. As someone who is going into physics, I’ve already learnt to love formulas. They say so much in so few sentences! It’s like abreviations, but you got to have an understanding of what they mean. Feynman is so aware of this, and instead put physics concepts into words, very elegantly. I really do get why he’s so looked up to. He’s up there with Stephen Hawking, in the quality of his writing. I’ve read parts of Einstein’s biography, and while he was a incredible scientist, his lectures were known from the beginning for jumping straight to the top-level difficult problems, leaving most of his students behind. I think Feynman explains really well concepts of physics, that we look at the universe and create certain rules or theories through observations and experiments that explain what we see. But also gets into more specifics, where my favourite parts were comparing physics to other science fields, the history of finding particles that everything in the world is made of, about the strangeness of fluid physics (especially turbulent fluids, Smarter Every Day made a great video about it that I’ll link to down below) and conservation of energy as a great intro to the concept of energy that everyone hears so much about, but usually don’t understand.

What I felt reading this book: not so weird for loving physics, and that more people would if this was the type of intro they got

A great bit of info on the questions around laminar and turbulent flow (fluid physics) with some nice fontains)

It’s All Too Much by Peter Walsh

An easy plan for living a richer life with less stuff

Pages: 230

Genre: organizing

Synopsis

When you think of what it will take to clean your house, are you so overwhelmed you throw up your hands and cry “It’s all too much”? Do you dream of having a closet where your clothes aren’t crammed in so tightly that you can actually get to them? Is your basement filled with boxes of precious family mementos you haven’t opened in ten years but are too afraid to toss? Are your kitchen counters overrun with appliances you’ve never used? Do your kids play in the living room because there’s no room left in their playroom? If somewhere along the way you’ve simply lost the ability to keep your home organized and clutter-free, then It’s All Too Much has the solution you’ve been searching for.

My thoughts

Rating out of five: three

I heard somewhere that this book was the more practical over “spiritual” approach to organizing in comparison to the popular tidying and organizing book by Marie Kondo. That sounded like what I needed, but I think I’ll pick up her book too, to see if there is more advice.

Because this book had some good tips, the problem is that it’s not 230 PAGES of it. It got quite boring, saying the same thing over and over. Also personally, considering I don’t have a family to take care of, what I needed from this book could’ve been summed up in an article.

So if you’re a single young person, without a household and family to consider, here’s probably all you need from this book:

  • Imagine the life you want, physically and emotionally, and consider if the items you own contribute to that future?
  • How do you feel and compare it to how you want to feel when entering your home. What function do you want each room to have? Organize from that perspective
  • “Ask yourself these questions as you encounter each piece of clutter: Do I use this? How long has it been since I’ve used it? Will I use it again? Is it worth the space it takes up in my house?
  • If you’re tempted to keep something because it’s expensive, remind yourself of the difference of value and cost – how much space and energy does it take up and is it worth it?
  • When trying to encourage another person to organize, change the questions to about their feeling attached to the object. Like “Why is this important to you? What does this item remind you of? What do you feel after spending time in this room?”

Short reviews: aliens & feminism

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Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A short book packed with useful and practical advice to how to raise a girl to have complete self-worth and make them prepared, without setting unreachable standards for how to raise a kid. It’s very matter of fact and inclusive, a modern view and setting for feminism and a woman’s place in society (which is everywhere – you just got to get your children to believe it). Wholeheartedly recommend it to every adult who in any part participate in raising a kid. 5/5 stars. 

aliebn.jpg

everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too by jomny sun

This book is so special, it’s a graphic novel in very simplistic style, about a lonely alien that’s sent to earth to observe humans and instead meets a lot of different animals and tries to learn from them. It’s just a wonderful, wholesome, calming read with a alien feeling alien to other aliens and then finding friends in strange places. When ur too tired to read anymore you can just sit there and colour in the illustrations, like I absolutely did. 4/5 stars.

 

 

 

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg | Review

 

Pages: 375

Genre: nonfiction, psychology

 

Synopsis

The official synopsis of this book should be reworked, it makes it sound three times more boring than the book actually is. So here it is in short –

There’s many areas in your life habits show themselves. It’s shown that people that changed patterns, habits, in their lives for the better also fudementally changed patterns in their brain. Marketing people study people’s habits and use psychology to sell new or more effective products and develop advertising, manipulating you. Habits at work and how to make more effective and safer employers. In general people bettering something by focusing on the patterns that shape every aspect of our lives – transforming habits. Why is some able to change more easily than others? What parts do habits play in Olympic successes, social movements and CEO’s? What are unhealthy habits and what effects can they have?

“In The Power of Habit, award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. With penetrating intelligence and an ability to distill vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives, Duhigg brings to life a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential for transformation.”

The Audiobook

The narrator’s voice is a bit annoying, something about the ups and downs as he talks. I played it at 1.2 to 1.5x speed and it went fine. The biggest downside is that there’s a lot of passages and tips in here that you’re going to want to mark down, which is more diffcult without any visual copy.

My thoughts

“Once people learned how to believe in something, that skill started spilling over to other parts of their lives, until they started believing they could change. Belief was the ingredient that made a reworked habit loop into a permanent behavior.”

Rating out of five: four

fire

I’ve read some bullshit productivity book, but not many good ones, which I realized a couple chapters into this one. In short, this book gave me a different view of habits, even though I had put some research into them already. In the beginning I was a bit disheartened, as it was mostly things I knew, but then it picked up and got more in depth.

Not everything in this book is equally compelling. I thought first that it might be my stage in life – I’m a student, not a business-owner – but it seems like more reviewers agree to this. My biggest issue with the writing is that the author wants to turn everything into a habit to justify the title and theme. Why couldn’t he just reconcile with some of the things he’s discussing being different types of behaviour and spare me from automatically counting the amount of “habits” said in a chapter. It’s a part of the bigger picture in that the author needs to always be painfully clear and repeats things like he’s certain the reader is dumb.

It’s a lot of good things and lessons in here, and I’ll get to that later promise, but I also want people to be critical reading this. I’m going to look further into willpower because I know there’s been discussion and questions around of the fact given here that willpower can be used up in the span of a day. Also, I’m not sure if I agree with the views on how social movements and social habits are made and upkept, he’s giving a lot of different components needed, but it sounds off to me.

This book is meant introductory, to make people think about their habits in a different way, that they’re something under their control if they pay them enough attention and work on them. Which is very positive, so of course I recommend this book. I got a couple lessons from it, along with simpler ways to explain what I’ve been knowing already.

A couple things I liked and took from this book:

  • “Rather, to change a habit, you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine.” 
  • His take on the marketing campaigns of big brands and supermarkets and how they dig into and use people’s habits was really interesting – that it has been funded so much it’s almost become its own science
  • Importance of organizational habits
  • The monkey experiments on how cravings are built, watching his brain respond to a task and the reward he got after. And after time when the habit had become ingrained the scans show the reward happens right after the cue (the task), but before the actual reward – he’s anticipating it, which creates a craving for the reward and keeps the habit strong.
  • The story about institutionalized unhealthy habits. In particular hospitals and other high risk jobs where they make checklists because everything needs to be done in order, and how giving nurses the authority to speak up when finding mistakes is important for cutting deaths under operation.
  • Learn from crisis and if the aftermath use them to make sure it doesn’t happen again
  • If you want to go down in weight, generally it helps to make a list of what you eat because it makes you more aware of your habits surrounding it

Back to School: Nonfiction Books | Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl to bring bookish friends together. A new topic is posted each week.

 

Nonfiction I Like

10 Steps to Earning Awesome Grades. A must-read if you’re a student, I’m serious.

Six Easy Pieces by Richard Feynman. If you’re into physics. I’m actually currently reading this, I’ve taken it on vacation, to the beach, everywhere. It has sand stuck to it, but it was worth it.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. To get a reminder of why you shouldn’t drop out of school and run live in the woods, at least without a lot of preparation (and then you might as well study). Just kidding, it’s a good story, here’s my full review.

We Have No Idea: A Guide to the Unknown Universe by Jorge Cham. Also if you’re into physics. It’s not meant to learn you as much as Six Easy Pieces, more to make you curious. A bit of humor and very nice illustrations, I’m currently reading this book as well.

 

Nonfiction on my TBR:

 

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong. Biology, I guess. I’m very interested in microbes and our immune system because mine isn’t working properly (autoimmune disease).

The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World by Elaine Scarry. Pain is weird, describing pain is weird, I want to learn more about it.

A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science by Barbara Oakley. I like math, but my frustrations overpower that interest with every test (we had a weird teacher last year, you would never know what difficulty one test would be based on the last one, or if it was in the curriculum). Trying to get that interest back, it’s difficult.

The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking. I’ve read a few physics books, but never any by Stephen Hawking (I’m cringing writing this). I had this book in my hands this summer, started to read it and then it disappeared on vacation.

Three Physics Youtube Channels I Recommend:

  • Simon Clark studies physics and had a series of vlogs from his PhD in atmospheric physics or something at Exeter Uni. Also his current profile picture makes him seem like an evil mastermind.
  • Alicedoesphysics is starting her third year in physics at Lancaster Uni and has a really good and informative channel.
  • Andrew Dotson just moved to New Mexico for to get his master in physics and has daily uploads which are great and very varied, from tips to vlogging to lectures.
  • I just realized I’m way more into physics than any other science. Huh.

Review: 10 Steps to Earning Awesome Grades (While Studying Less) by Thomas Frank

Genre: 160

Pages: nonfiction, productivity

book review

My thoughts

Rating out of five: five

fem

I’ve followed Thomas Frank and his youtube channel and podcast “college info geek” for a few years and picked this book up before the new schoolyear, my last year before university. You know that guilt you feel when you’re not prepared enough? I picked up this book wanting to get tips on a better school – life balance, but honestly I was not expecting a lot of new information. I’ve gone down the rabbit hole of productivity resources out there more than most my age. Even though I’ve seen a fair share of College Info Geek youtube videos, I think I’ve gotten A LOT out of this book! It’s obvious that there’s a lot of research behind it, this book is truly like a summary of ten main things you can improve, giving me valuable details. When the topic becomes too in-depth he refers to a couple videos of his or what you can further research or other books on the topic. I am definitely watching the videos on note taking in the next week, along with trying to figure out what’s the most effective way for spaced out repetition.

Some of the many steps that I found valuable to me: tips for organization, a more systematic way to resolving problems and asking for help, tips for actively reading text books, different ways to take notes, recipe on how to write essays. There were also some that were just comforting, like how to learn math and agreeing on how bad group projects are. I took notes while reading it, to have for later in the semester as well, and hope to implement some changes one after the other and see what works for me. I really how Thomas Frank gives different alternatives to do a thing and that it’s easy to focus on one or two steps and bettering your productivity and create habits in that area. Whether you’ve already been interested in productivity or just want to get better grades, reading this book is a good first step.

I paid one dollar on amazon, beut you can also get it for free here: https://collegeinfogeek.com/get-better-grades/