Thursday, April 28, 2016

My Review of "Simply Calligraphy"

Simply Calligraphy: A Beginner's Guide to Elegant Lettering by Judy Detrick is a beautiful guide for those who want to learn to write with art, that is, to write with calligraphy.  Simply calligraphy teaches you the basics so you can add beautiful handwriting to your day to day notes along with wedding invitations, and hand-label envelopes.  The instructions that are included in this book make it easy to create calligraphy with just a pencil.  After learning the basic letters, this book presents an open invitation -- and a bit of inspiration -- to make calligraphy one's own with just a pen or pencil.  There's even a page for helping to write with the appropriate line sizes that can be reproduced.

I received a free copy of this book as part of the Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review here.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

My Review of "Spiritual Sobriety"

Elizabeth Ester's Spiritual Sobriety:  Stumbling Back to Faith When Good Religion Goes Bad is a second memoir, in the tradition of her Girl at the End of the World.  In it, Ester probes one important question:  "Can a person have a persistent, compulsive dependence on religion?"

And the answer is "Yes".

Drawing from personal experience, as well as the stories of others, Esther writes extensively about the characteristics of religious addiction and its impact on faith communities, specifically Christianity.  Her own childhood taught her all the ways to prove her devout faith to others and receive approval, everything from singing hymns with her eyes closed instead of open to preaching on street corners with her family.  "I was consuming God.  I didn't have access to chemical substances -- we were intensely devout, conservative Christians -- so I used what was available:  religious beliefs.  I habitually 'used' God and all things church to numb pain and feel good" (page 3).  By the time she left the cult at the age of twenty-five, Esther was chronically depressed and suffering from PTSD.  Addiction recovery programs became part of her healing process and eventually led her to the pursuit of spiritual sobriety.

This is an important book for all those who've experienced God in unhealthy ways through unhealthy, obsessive religious practices.

I received a free copy of this book as part of the Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

My Review of "The Sleep Revolution"

Arianna Huffington's The Sleep Revolution is an account of Huffington's journey as a "sleep amateur" to become "a sleep pro".  In it, she looks at our society's widespread sleep deprivation and argues that our various social ills -- from weight gain to Alzheimer's -- are partially due to that deprivation.

There's plenty of wisdom here about practical matters, including chapters on how to fall asleep (and how not to fall asleep).  But the book is also, more broadly, a survey of how we became a culture that treats sleep as optional and valorizes those who can do without, and a prescription for how we can course correct.  The Sleep Revolution probes history, and discovers that "our collective delusion that overwork and burnout are the price we must pay in order to succeed" derives from the first Industrial Revolution.

But Huffington is ultimately optimistic about a turn toward better sleep hygiene.  Technology, while it is one of the culprits for keeping us constantly wired (and awake), can also become a tool for valuing human creativity and fostering rest in order to make that creativity possible.

I expect that anyone who reads this book will find themselves convicted and convinced that our sleep habits can use a thorough critique -- a loving critique -- like The Sleep Revolution.

I received a free copy of this book as part of the Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review here.