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Original Essays | April 11, 2014

Paul Laudiero: IMG Shit Rough Draft

I was sitting in a British and Irish romantic drama class my last semester in college when the idea for Shit Rough Drafts hit me. I was working... Continue »
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peter in port has commented on (72) products.

The Secret Life of Sleep by Kat Duff
The Secret Life of Sleep

peter in port, March 28, 2014

I love to read non-fiction and I am a sucker for books which explain science in an easy to understand fashion. I am also a sucker for books which explore a single topic and attack it from different directions and disciplines. I have read books about Salt, Codfish, Pigeons, and other subjects, all in that genre. So I assumed this book about sleep would be right up my alley. But it is a little different. This is a much more personal book. It contains essays about different aspects of sleep, interwoven with quotations from ancient writers, scientists, psychologists, etc., but the author also allows us to glimpse into her own life. Kat Duff, who tells us early on she does not believe in a God who protects us, lives in northern New Mexico (sounds nice!) has a friend who is an herbalist, has a young step-daughter, and has had her own crises, gives us quite a few clues as to who she is personally. I found that more interesting ultimately than the scientific popularization. Kat Duff is someone who is obviously quite well read. I personally could do with a little less of the Edgar Cayce stuff, but one of the points of the book is that sleep is something we should be cherishing more, and is not something we can just dispose of and compartmentalize. And oddly enough, since I picked up the book, I've been sleeping better myself.
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Fail Fast, Fail Often: How Losing Can Help You Win by Ryan Babineaux
Fail Fast, Fail Often: How Losing Can Help You Win

peter in port, March 19, 2014

I read a lot of self-help books. Actually, I start a lot of self-help books, and put them down because so many of them are the same. Fail Fast, Fail Often: How Losing Can Help You Win, by Ryan Babineaux, is a cut above the average self-help book, because it has some very good ideas, which are expressed simply and without undue repetition. The basic premise is we all have fear of failure, but failure is actually a good thing, because you learn from it. Sounds simple, but Babineaux also gives concrete examples of how to apply this principal to get results. It has lifted me off the floor when the job market worries had me down. I have found it to be helpful in my career quest.
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The Joys of Walking: Essays by Hilaire Belloc, Charles Dickens, Henry David Thoreau, and Others by Edwin Valentine Mitchell
The Joys of Walking: Essays by Hilaire Belloc, Charles Dickens, Henry David Thoreau, and Others

peter in port, January 25, 2014

This book was first published in the 1930s but is still an excellent read today. A collection of essays about walking, all short, all really well written from some well known masters, Dickens and Thoreau, and some lesser known, William Hazlitt and Christopher Morley.
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The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human by Jonathan Gottschall
The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human

peter in port, October 26, 2013

As a habit, I read many more non-fiction books than fiction. My reasoning is that there is so much that is fascinating in the world, in science, history, biography and politics that reading about imaginary lives is a waste of time. Jonathan Gottschall, a professor of English at a liberal arts college, has convinced me that my reasoning is wrong. We are wired to need and love storytelling, even though it may not seem very useful. Gottschall explores how small children love fairytales, even though they are, if taken at face value absolutely terrifying. He examines the roots of religion as being storytelling. And, he explains how stories are often the best way to express moral values. Gottschall will change my reading habits. This is a great find.
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(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
The Five People You Meet in Heaven

peter in port, September 19, 2013

I did not care for this book. My kid had to read The Five People for school, and I thought it would be a good idea to pick it up. The Five People just didn't do it for me. Many people write about what an afterlife will be. This same territory has been covered by others much more skillfully. The message is similar to that of the film It's A Wonderful Life, but not delivered in nearly as effective a manner. For me, a much more stimulating book was The Inevitable, a collection of essays about death.
The protagonist in the Five People, Eddie, an amusement park worker, lives his whole life in a Coney Island like area. Those kinds of places never fascinated me. The writing is meant to be nostalgic in a "Water for Elephants" way, but I just didn't perceive the descriptions as all that entertaining or comforting. Mush. But it is a fast read.
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