Month: March 2018

Braving the Wilderness

Author: Brené Brown  (Bio) | Expected Publication:September 12, 2017 by Random House | Series: N/A | Length: 208 pages | Genre: Self-Help, Relationships| ISBN:9780812995848 |Source: Amazon | Book: Amazon (here)

“True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are.” Social scientist Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW, has sparked a global conversation about the experiences that bring meaning to our lives—experiences of courage, vulnerability, love, belonging, shame, and empathy. In Braving the Wilderness, Brown redefines what it means to truly belong in an age of increased polarization. With her trademark mix of research, storytelling, and honesty, Brown will again change the cultural conversation while mapping a clear path to true belonging.
Brown argues that we’re experiencing a spiritual crisis of disconnection, and introduces four practices of true belonging that challenge everything we believe about ourselves and each other. She writes, “True belonging requires us to believe in and belong to ourselves so fully that we can find sacredness both in being a part of something and in standing alone when necessary. But in a culture that’s rife with perfectionism and pleasing, and with the erosion of civility, it’s easy to stay quiet, hide in our ideological bunkers, or fit in rather than show up as our true selves and brave the wilderness of uncertainty and criticism. But true belonging is not something we negotiate or accomplish with others; it’s a daily practice that demands integrity and authenticity. It’s a personal commitment that we carry in our hearts.” Brown offers us the clarity and courage we need to find our way back to ourselves and to each other. And that path cuts right through the wilderness. Brown writes, “The wilderness is an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching. It is a place as dangerous as it is breathtaking, a place as sought after as it is feared. But it turns out to be the place of true belonging, and it’s the bravest and most sacred place you will ever stand.”

This book took me way longer to read (over a month) then it really should have. I found myself struggling to stayed consistently engaged which concerned me more than anything else. I immediately began to doubt the research of Dr. Brown and started to form my scathing review of how lacking her book was. As I am not one to not finish a book no matter how terrible it is I persisted, and I can say it was one of the best choices I’ve made recently. While the beginning is slow to start and in some areas Dr. Brown drones on, I began to feel the genuine parts of her spirit that she poured into her writing. I realized that as she wrote she is not seeking attention nor acceptance, but is simply making herself vulnerable in order to offer herself on the path less traveled.

As I’m mentioned in previous reviews I am not a sucker for self-help books, yet lately I’ve been drawn to a distinct selection of books meant to empower the human spirit. I can say for sure that Dr. Brown does this here. While she challenged some of my notions for how the world is, she also opened my eyes to be willing to accept a certain level of responsibility for the way I choose to interact with the world around me. Dr. Brown offers four unique approaches to walk in the wilderness:

  • People Are Hard to Hate Close Up. Move In
  • Speak Truth to Bullshit. Be Civil
  • Hold Hands. With Strangers
  • Strong Back. Soft Front. Wild Heart

I won’t spoil the approaches because Dr. Brown takes the time to paint such a unique and effective picture in explaining each of these. My only advice is to read her book with an open mind and be ready to have your way of thinking challenged. I did not agree with every point she made, but I did understand the perspective and angle she was writing from. This is the first book I have read of her’s but I do intend to read her others.

Thank you Dr. Brown for your work and continue to be one who blazes a path in the wilderness. While we each need to walk our own path it allows us to take heart that someone has been there and is offering to be a guide on the path.

I rated this book a 3/5.

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Author:J. K. Rowling (Bio) | Publication:July 8 1999 by Scholastic Inc | Series: Harry Potter Series #3 | Length: 435 pages | Genre: Young Adult/Teen, Fiction, Magic, | ISBN:9780439655484 |Source: Barnes and Noble | Book: Amazon (here)

Harry Potter’s third year at Hogwarts is full of new dangers. A convicted murderer, Sirius Black, has broken out of Azkaban prison, and it seems he’s after Harry. Now Hogwarts is being patrolled by the dementors, the Azkaban guards who are hunting Sirius. But Harry can’t imagine that Sirius or, for that matter, the evil Lord Voldemort could be more frightening than the dementors themselves, who have the terrible power to fill anyone they come across with aching loneliness and despair. Meanwhile, life continues as usual at Hogwarts. A top-of-the-line broom takes Harry’s success at Quidditch, the sport of the Wizarding world, to new heights. A cute fourth-year student catches his eye. And he becomes close with the new Defense of the Dark Arts teacher, who was a childhood friend of his father. Yet despite the relative safety of life at Hogwarts and the best efforts of the dementors, the threat of Sirius Black grows ever closer. But if Harry has learned anything from his education in wizardry, it is that things are often not what they seem. Tragic revelations, heartwarming surprises, and high-stakes magical adventures await the boy wizard in this funny and poignant third installment of the beloved series.

Harry is once again barely managing to get by when home for the summer holidays with the Dursleys. After a nasty run in with Vernon’s sister Marge and a rash choice to run away from home, Harry finds himself in front of the Minister for Magic who is just happy to see Harry safe and in one piece. On his own for the rest of the holidays and confined to Diagon Alley, Harry is for once blissfully happy until finding out that a dangerous convict by the name of Sirius Black is after him for defeating Lord Voldemort 12 years prior. Harry finds out that Black is his godfather and was his parents best friend before handing them over to Lord Voldemort. Harry operates under the intention to make Black pay until he learns the truth for himself. Ron’s rat is really Peter Pettigrew the Potter’s secret keeper who betrayed them to the Dark Lord. While Harry did manage to prevent Sirius from being executed by the Dementors of Azkaban, Pettigrew was allowed to escape.

This is without a doubt my favorite book in the Harry Potter series. First and foremost it’s the only book in the series that does not complete revolve around a plot to kill Harry. It also gives the first glimpse into the deep rooted lack of trust between even friends that the presence of Voldemort had cultivated. This book definitely has a darker tone at times than it’s predecessors due to it revolving completely around the betrayal of Harry’s parents and the cause of his miserable life with the Dursleys. Personally I love Sirius! His mysterious introduction is perfect and although he’s not your conventional parenting figure, he is still presented to deeply care about Harry. I am also a huge Lupin fan! He’s gentle, yet prepared to protect Harry while avenging his best friend. I was rather displeased that J.K. chose to have his condition revealed forcing him to resign from his post. I completely understand the necessity of the choice, but Lupin is one of the best characters introduced thus far.

As with the previous two reviews this was my first time listening to the Stephen Fry version of this book and he makes the story not only engaging, but too thrilling to even put down. I listened to this particular book twice because I love every moment of it especially when Sirius finally is on the scene.

Harry’s back, back again, tell a friend…okay terrible joke, but he really is back in another adventure that as with any Harry Potter book leaves more questions than answers. As if you need anyone more reason to go out and pick up the third book in this enticing series.

As I’ve mentioned a few times and feel no remorse in doing so again, this is definitely my favorite Harry Potter book in the series.  There is a link to the author’s bio account at the top of the page. Thank you J.K for the third book in the series. On to the fourth.

I rated this book a 5/5.