Category Archives: Diving Into A Sea of Books

Highly subjective book reviews

Correction to Diving Into A Sea of Books–Rambler–A family pushes through the fog of mental illness

In my original book review of Rambler, I believe I referred to NAMI as the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. I also indicated the group is a support group for patients and their loved ones.

Please note NAMI actually stands for: National Alliance on Mental Illness. While the group is a support group, it also involves health-care providers, and researchers. Local chapters of NAMI offer educational classes and support of various kinds. I made these corrections in the original post as well.

I thought I checked the facts before posting the book review, but obviously not well enough! My apologies to NAMI and to the author of Rambler, Linda Schmitmeyer.

For more info.: You can contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness at www.nami.org. Linda’s website is: www.lindaschmitmeyer.com.

P. Booher

Leave a comment

Filed under Diving Into A Sea of Books

Diving Into A Sea of Books–Rambler–A family pushes through the fog of mental illness

Photo Credit: Pexels.com

As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”–one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “meh”.

Caution: Possible Triggers

Last Christmas Eve I drove the four miles to church in a fog so thick everything was a whitish-gray. Familiar landmarks disappeared, swallowed up in the enveloping fog. I went off the road once.

Reading Rambler, Linda K. Schmitmeyer’s memoir of her family’s struggle with her husband’s mental illness, reminded me of that scary experience. The landmarks of family routine and roles shifted like the images at a carnival fun-house and the bonds of love were tested as her husband’s mind grew unstable in the swirling, thickening fog of mental illness. As the illness manifested itself, Steve, who had a bachelor’s degree in engineering, couldn’t concentrate on his work enough to be the chief breadwinner. He couldn’t do things that formally he had no problem with. He acted in ways far out of character. At times, Steve drove hundreds of miles away from home without telling anyone. Other times, he threatened suicide. The illness thwarted his ability to be the husband and father he wanted to be.

Linda was thrust into the new role of head of the household, while working everyday, trying to understand her husband’s condition, helping the three children understand, and grieving the life that was slipping away. In the early days, she was frustrated by Steve’s behavior, believing that he could control it. Gradually she realized her husband was not in full control of his mind.

Eventually, through months and then years of treatment, doctors diagnosed Steve as schizoaffective, after an original diagnosis of manic-depression (as bi-polar was called in the 1990’s).

Told in topical format, rather than chronologically, Rambler gives a first-hand account of a family’s life in the midst of mental illness, of trying to hold it together when it feels as though the ground underneath is sliding away.

Because of the subject matter, Rambler can be a painful read at times. Ultimately, it is instructive and life-affirming.

It is instructive because the book points out a correct diagnosis takes time, as does finding the appropriate medication and dosage. Any medication has side effects, and those must be dealt with.

The book shows the approach that doesn’t help: insisting that the person can beat this, if he tries. Mental illness doesn’t result from a lack of willpower. Nor is it a character flaw. More and more research proves it is the result of processes in the brain which go awry.

Rambler also illustrates the approach that does help the patient and the family: a listening, caring heart, one that does not judge the person or family. Linda found the support of several people, especially her sister, Nancy, absolutely essential to helping her and her family make it through those tough days.

The book is life-affirming because the family didn’t give up. Steve and Linda continued to support their children’s activities, even through the hard times. Steve committed himself to getting better: he went to weekly therapy, and participated in clinical studies. He and Linda became active in NAMI–the National Alliance on Mental Illness–a support group for patients and their families, which also involves researchers and health-care providers. They remain active today. Steve and Linda’s three children–John, Luke, and Elly–are grown and say the experience, hard as it was, deepened their compassion for people who are struggling in various ways.

Rambler shows that mental illness doesn’t have to define a person; the person is so much more than the illness. Steve’s life shows a person can go on, as the three hundred fifty-five mile bike trip Steve, Linda, and Nancy took proves.

Note: Discussion questions appear in the back of the book.

For further info.: http://www.lindaschmitmeyer.com. You can also follow her on Twitter@LKSchm.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author, for purpose of review. This is an honest review.

P. Booher


Leave a comment

Filed under Diving Into A Sea of Books, Life Issues

Diving Into a Sea of Books–The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice To Writers

divers-underwater-ocean-swim-68767.jpeg

Photo Credit: Pexels.com

As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”—one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice To Writers by Betsy Lerner, appears on suggested reading lists of different blogs about writing. The author, with years of experience as writer, editor, and now, literary agent, is well-qualified to write this helpful book.

In Part I, “Writing”, the author talks about traits of writers she knew, worked with, or read about. She points out the things writers are known for—introversion, perfectionism, working in solitude—have their downsides. This part of the book dragged for me, I have to admit, but her compassionate tone for writers was evident early on, and my interest in the book shot up when I started reading the second part of the book, “Publishing”.

Part II gives writers a valuable insider’s perspective on editing and traditional publishing. The author addresses questions such as: “Why is it taking so long for my editor to get back to me?” and “What is my publicist doing?” She emphasizes the importance of patience and politeness in the writer’s dealings with the various people involved in bringing the writer’s creation to the outside world. Ms. Lerner describes the many steps involved in a book’s publication, from the time a writer turns in the final draft of the manuscript to the time the book hits the bookshelves or appears online. Among other topics, she writes about dealing with rejection, what an author can do if the publisher doesn’t have much of a publicity effort going, and the reasons a book may not do as well in the marketplace as the writer hoped. Part II sounds like the advice and empathy you might find at a writers’ conference.

Language Alert: for readers who find certain words/phrases offensive (aka “adult language”), a few of those appear.

©P. Booher

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Diving Into A Sea of Books, Writing

Diving Into A Sea of Books–Million Dollar Dilemma

divers-underwater-ocean-swim-68767.jpeg

Photo Credit: Pexels.com

As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration, or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”—one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

Million Dollar Dilemma by Judy Baer is a novel about a single woman who wins part of a multi-million dollar lottery drawing. She thinks she’s putting her money in the office kitty for another co-worker. The collection is really for a lottery drawing. The office wins, big time.

Most people probably would be extremely happy to win millions of dollars. Cassia Carr, however, considers it a huge aggravation. She tries to find a church to give it to, but runs into another problem with that idea.

As the novel unwinds, Cassia becomes increasingly attracted to the new neighbor with the feisty cat. She isn’t quite sure if he feels the same, and if he does, why does he? She still has the problem of what to do with all that money, and life seems more uncertain than it did before.

Her problems and questions are resolved in a surprising, satisfying way.

Note: Million Dollar Dilemma is in a genre known in publishing circles as Christian chick-lit. It is a romance, but “clean” in matters of romantic relationships and language. At least one of the main characters has a strong or growing faith in God, and that faith is central to how the character approaches life.

Million Dollar Dilemma is a fun read. Most of the time I don’t care for reading romance; this story has enough of a mystery in it to make it enjoyable for me. It’s a book I’ll read again.

©P. Booher

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Diving Into A Sea of Books

Diving Into A Sea of Books–Cat About Town

divers-underwater-ocean-swim-68767.jpeg

Photo Credit: Pexels.com

As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration, or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”–one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

Cat About Town by Cate Conte is an entertaining cozy mystery, first in the Cat Café Mystery series.

Main character Maddie James returns to the island town of her childhood for her grandmother’s funeral. Soon she’s “adopted” by a stray orange tabby cat. Maddie intends to go back to California, but after “Orange Guy” finds a dead body, Maddie keeps finding reasons to stay in town–among them an ex-boyfriend and a handsome newcomer.

Maddie finds townspeople she’s known all her life have their secrets. She realizes the town itself is changing, and not everyone is happy about it. These underlying factors heighten the sense of mystery in this story of a small town facing murders possibly committed by residents. As time goes on, Maddie discovers an increasing number of suspects, each with motive, and she puts herself in increasing danger.

Comment: I came across this book on the local library’s “for sale” shelves and couldn’t resist–mostly, I admit, due to the jaunty orange-striped cat on the cover. One day, in need of a mental getaway, I picked up the book and soon was caught up in the story. Maddie and “Orange Guy” are memorable characters and while Maddie is a bit on the impulsive side, “Orange Guy” (who gets a name change later)  acts as you’d expect a cat to. Cate Conte paints a realistic picture of small-town life where everybody knows everybody else, and the town itself almost becomes a character in the story, rather than just the setting. The author keeps the plot moving, with the pacing of a good movie. While a couple threads in the story toward the end were a little hard to follow, overall this was fun to read. I plan to look for the other books in the series.

©P. Booher

Leave a comment

Filed under Diving Into A Sea of Books

Diving Into A Sea of Books–How to Live in Fear–Mastering the Art of Freaking Out

divers-underwater-ocean-swim-68767.jpeg

Photo credit: Pexels.com

As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”–one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

I first came across How to Live in Fear–Mastering the Art of Freaking Out in a Christian bookstore. I thought that was a little strange, with a title like that. “Fear” and “Christian”  don’t go together. But the longer I leafed through the pages, the more I realized the title fit perfectly with the theme: being able to live with faith in God while having anxiety/panic attacks.

Pastor Lance Hahn has experienced severe anxiety attacks since boyhood. For a few years the attacks left, then they came roaring back into his life. He describes what it’s like to be a Christian, and the senior pastor of a large church–a pastor who suffers from panic attacks. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Diving Into A Sea of Books, Faith Matters, Life Issues

Diving Into A Sea of Books–Deeper Waters–Immersed in the Life-Changing Truth of God’s Word

divers-underwater-ocean-swim-68767.jpeg

Photo Credit: Pexels.com

As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”–one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

Deeper Waters–Immersed in the Life-Changing Truth of God’s Word by Denise J. Hughes is a guide to Bible study unlike any other I’ve read, mainly because of the honesty of the writer. Denise is a Bible study teacher and at the time of the writing of the book, an adjunct professor at Azusa Pacific University. She admits the doubts she faced in her relationship with God as she grew up due to heart-wrenching difficulties that hit her family. She doesn’t give any of the phrases Christians often say, such as “Have faith in God”, which sounds good, but when rough times hit, don’t offer anything to hold onto. She does write about how God brought her back to Himself.

Denise takes the life of Ezra, a scribe who lived hundreds of years before Christ, as the pattern for the kind of Bible study she sets forth in Deeper Waters. As scribe, Ezra copied and wrote records. Denise emphasizes the importance of writing down Bible verses–ones that speak to you.

One thing that bothered me was the way her family’s story was scattered throughout the book. Although Denise probably did this to illustrate the particular point she wanted to make in that chapter, writing this way threw me off a bit.

To her credit, the author never takes a self-righteous, patronizing tone. Instead she writes as a guide who’s been through turbulent times.

If you want a guide to Bible study which also acknowledges that life and the walk of faith is not always smooth and easy, read Deeper Waters.

©P. Booher

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Diving Into A Sea of Books, Faith Matters, Life Issues

Diving Into A Sea of Books–How to be an Imperfectionist

divers-underwater-ocean-swim-68767.jpeg

Photo Credit: Pexels.com

As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”–one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

How to be an Imperfectionist by Stephen Guise goes much deeper into perfectionism than I thought it would. Mr. Guise refers to studies by researchers about what perfectionism is vs. what it is not. The trait is hard for even scientists to pin down, which is probably why some believe not all perfectionism is bad, while others believe it’s all bad–that what’s called “healthy” perfectionism isn’t perfectionism, but rather striving to do the best a person can.

Mr. Guise writes as one who had a tendency towards perfectionism–and found it stifling for the growth of the mind and spirit. In How to be an Imperfectionist he gives ways to free yourself from that mindset, live with more joy and peace, less anxiety, and gain improved physical health as well.

Although the author writes about various studies, this book doesn’t come off as a “textbook”, which is a big plus for me. Mr. Guise gives examples from his own life, as to what worked for him and what didn’t. His tone is as a friend giving a heads-up to another friend.

Comment: This book is a keeper for me. Before I was a teenager, I decided I would avoid mistakes, and so made one of the biggest of my life in going down an unhealthy perfectionist road that only leads to more and more problems. How to be an Imperfectionist opens up a better, much healthier way of thinking.

©P. Booher

1 Comment

Filed under Diving Into A Sea of Books, Life Issues, Life Lessons, Tips to Avoid Stress

Diving Into A Sea of Books–The Perfectionist’s Handbook

divers-underwater-ocean-swim-68767.jpeg

Photo Credit: Pexels.com

As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”–one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

The Perfectionist’s Handbook, subtitled Take Risks, Invite Criticism, and Make the Most of Your Mistakes by Jeff Szymanski, PhD, a self-described perfectionist and clinical psychologist specializing in anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), is mainly for people who think their perfectionism generally works well for them, but want to know  when it may drift into unhealthy territory, and how to cope with any tendencies perfectionism brings that they don’t want to have.

Dr. Szymanski describes differences between “healthy” and “unhealthy” perfectionism. He gives the pros and the cons of perfectionism. When serving the person, perfectionism can be good, but taken to the extreme, this mindset can quickly become the master of the person, resulting in serious problems.

I like the way the author uses stories from his life to illustrate what he means. He never “talks down” to the reader. He does refer to a lot of studies, which to this layperson, grew tiresome to read. However, it shows he did his research.

To me, the author generally takes an optimistic view of perfectionism. For differing views of perfectionism, check out How to be an Imperfectionist by Stephen Guise and the BBC Future article, “The dangerous downsides of perfectionism” http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20180219-toxic-perfectionism-is-on-the-rise). The article links the mindset to OCD, anxiety, self-mutilation, depression, and other problems, with the worst being early mortality and suicide.

As a person realizing the damage I allowed perfectionism to do, I didn’t find The Perfectionist’s Handbook as helpful as I thought it would be.  For my part, I see perfectionism as an enemy; it brings on low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. Striving for excellence is good; beating myself up when I don’t reach my standards is not.

©P. Booher

Leave a comment

Filed under Diving Into A Sea of Books, Life Issues

Diving Into A Sea of Books–You Don’t Need A Title To Be A Leader

divers-underwater-ocean-swim-68767.jpeg

Photo Credit: Pexels.com

As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”–one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

You Don’t Need A Title To Be A Leader, subtitled: How Anyone, Anywhere, Can Make a Positive Difference by Mark Sanborn, grabbed me as soon as I saw the title, because I agree that a person can be a leader regardless of his or her official position. I worked with people who didn’t have a title yet clearly had knowledge, responsibility, and the ability to teach me what I needed to know to do my job. Some of those people, in fact, most of the individuals, had more of an eye for what was going on in the business than those who had official titles. So I was eager to read this book, to see what it could teach me.

However, I was disappointed in the examples Mr. Sanborn gave. The people certainly made a positive difference. But they became leaders and made a difference in their work or communities because they already had the respect and recognition of their potential leadership skills from people in positions of authority who were willing and able to give them a lot of support. The people didn’t do it alone; mentors stood by to give them advice, help them untangle red tape, donate money or time, or mention their names to other people who could help.

To me, this book showed that anyone can make a positive difference–the qualifiers being: if the person works for people who respect and value anybody’s ideas, regardless of his or her job, or if the person has a powerful mentor willing to step up to the plate.

I’m sure this book has value for many people. For me, it doesn’t, so it’s going in the donation pile.

©P. Booher

Leave a comment

Filed under Diving Into A Sea of Books