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The Book Blog

04/25/2022
profile-icon Dr. Brittnee Fisher

I don’t necessarily care for the romance genre, but I do love a good love story. I’m talking about a slow burn, an epic romance, or a historical fiction page-turner with a charismatic couple on a never-ending adventure. After reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, I also recently realized that I love a complicated, unconventional love story

This book has been getting a lot of hype since its release in 2017. It has been resting comfortably on my TBR list until recently, when I noticed a couple of close friends praising it online. My curiosity is always peaked when a reviewer says, “this book has really impacted me,” or “I can’t wait for others to read this so we can talk about it.” And having finished the book, I can concur- you can’t really talk about it too much without spoiling it, but it leaves you REALLY WANTING TO TALK ABOUT IT! 

This book left me with a lot of complicated feelings. I found the overall sentiment to be quite beautiful. It truly captures the complexity of human emotion throughout a life and how the interactions and relationships of one person can create connections that we can never imagine. I loved the unpredictability of this story. Throughout the book, the author does a fantastic job of developing the main character, Evelyn Hugo. It’s hard to believe that she was a fictional character and not an old Hollywood icon. 

The most impactful thing about this book was the reminder that true love can come in many different forms. And that one person can truly love in multiple capacities throughout their lifetime. The acts of love in this story know no boundaries, and it was a delight to be reminded of the many beautiful ways love can take form. Be prepared to become emotionally invested and maybe shed a tear as you read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. 

 

“Never let anyone make you feel ordinary.”
― 
Taylor Jenkins Reid, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo


“That is the fastest way to ruin a woman’s reputation, after all—to imply that she has not adequately threaded the needle that is being sexually satisfying without ever appearing to desire sexual satisfaction.”
― 
Taylor Jenkins Reid, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

 

Cover ArtThe Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Call Number: Palatka Popular Fiction PS3618.E5478 S48 2017
ISBN: 9781501139239
Publication Date: 2017-06-13
No Subjects
04/18/2022
profile-icon Michael Ramey

One genre I want to explore further is the autobiography. In the past I had resisted reading them because I felt they were nothing more than ego-centric projects that were nothing more than self-promotion. As I have branched out, I realized this thought process was flawed. Being able to read how someone describes their own life and career provides valuable insight into one’s mind and personality since they are making specific choices about how they frame their story.

One of my favorite autobiographies is Miles Davis: The Autobiography. Miles Davis was one of the leading trumpeters and band leaders in American jazz music. His career spanned from the 1940s until his death in 1991 in which he constantly pushed the boundaries of what was musically possible. While musically creative, Davis’ personality was famously abrasive and confrontational; many musicians and others in his orbit found him insufferable and arrogant.

To Davis’ credit, he does not try to sanitize his personality for the book. Davis collaborated with journalist Quincy Troupe who captured the jazz trumpeter’s authentic voice. The result is the work feels like an informal interview or a casual conversation. Davis’ voice, which was frequently insensitive and littered with curses, is preserved as he reminisces about his life and career. He provides valuable insight on the American jazz scene and the personalities involved. Many of his views on race and gender are reprehensible by today’s standards, but it is important to understand the assumptions and attitudes of his time. While these rough edges give the account stylistic authenticity, it is not for the faint of heart.

While an engaging and fast read, it is still worth asking whether autobiographies are reliable sources. It is tempting to hang onto every anecdote, every observation as objective truth, but autobiographies are seldom written to present a factual account. They are written to show the subject in the best possible light, to promote a brand, and to make money. In Davis’ case, he wanted to make a case about where he stood among the jazz greats and popular music – he was never above self-promotion.

With that said, it does not mean autobiographies have little value and are all cynical endeavors. Readers will not be able to find the types of personal insights and recollections found in an autobiography anywhere else.

Cover ArtMiles by Miles Davis
Call Number: ML419.D39 A3 2011
ISBN: 9781451643183
Publication Date: 2011-09-20
No Subjects
04/14/2022
profile-icon Dr. Brittnee Fisher

I can’t lie to you, dear readers. I really didn’t have a ton of knowledge about His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu before reading this book. And to be even more transparent, my understanding of these men is still limited even after reading the book. I’ve realized since reading the book that all you really need to understand is a general sense of the struggles and adversities that they’ve individually faced. That shaped them into who they’ve become and what they represent. But this book isn’t about them. This book is about joy.

Going into this book was overwhelming because I couldn’t really define what joy is. Not only that, but how will I know when I have it? The idea of being joyful is complicated. Do we all want to be joyful? Yes, probably. But that seems easier said than done in a world seemingly always on the brink of chaos and tragedy. There were a few key things I hoped to find answers to by reading this book: 1) What is joy? 2) What can I do to find joy in my everyday life? 3) How can I bring joy to others without involving material things (i.e., gifts)? And to be clear, I went into this looking for concrete answers to these questions. I didn’t want anything too abstract or philosophical. Make this real for me, guys!

I don’t want to give too much away if you decide to read it, but yes, the book answered my three questions. It was refreshing to see an entire section dedicated to “Joy Practices.” This section was seemingly written with my second and third critical needs in mind. It was refreshing to see actual activities that I could do to bring joy into my life rather than just an abstract discussion of the idea of joy. The activities are given context by explaining how it relates directly to the principles of joy discussed by His Holiness and the Archbishop.

I want to leave you with a few quotes from the book that I found moving, and I hope these words inspire you to take the time to read this book. Reading the comments of these two leaders was an act of joy for me, and I hope you find some peace and comfort from their thoughts on joy.

  • Page 3: “Joy is much bigger than happiness. While happiness is often seen as being dependent on external circumstances, joy is not.”
  • Page 212: “So many people,” the Dalai Lama said, “seem to struggle with being kind to themselves. This is really sad. You see, if you don’t have genuine love and kindness toward yourself, how can you extend these to others? We must remind people, as the Archbishop has said, that basic human nature is good, is positive, so this can give us some courage and self-confidence. As we said, too much focus on yourself leads to fear, insecurity, and anxiety. Remember, you are not alone. You are part of a whole generation that is the future of humanity. Then you will get a sense of courage and purpose in life.”

AND THERE IS A MOVIE!

Mission: Joy is the documentary inspired by The Book of Joy which showcases the exchange between these two Nobel Peace Prize winners that led to that book. SJR State students, faculty, and staff can watch this inspiring film via our Alexander Street database.

https://search.alexanderstreet.com/view/work/bibliographic_entity%7Cvideo_work%7C5142120?account_id=45774&usage_group_id=43847

 

Cover ArtThe Book of Joy by Dalai Lama; Desmond Tutu; Douglas Carlton Abrams
Call Number: Palatka Circulation BL65.H36 B78 2016
ISBN: 9780399185045
Publication Date: 2016-09-20
No Subjects
04/06/2022
profile-icon Dr. Brittnee Fisher

In 2013, I read a book that I haven't stopped thinking about since. That book was Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach. Seriously, I think about this book all the time. I recommend it several times each year to others with curious minds. I made a significant life choice about my human remains because of this book. I'm not kidding- it made an impact on me!

Stiff opened my eyes to death beyond what I mainly learned from mass media. She made it less scary by helping me understand what happens to the human body once we die. She opened my eyes to the vast possibilities of ways to honor my remains beyond the well-known burial and cremation options. In fact, one option from this book appealed to me so much that I committed to it. It's unconventional but appeals to my need to help others. Honestly, I had no idea that there were options!

Roach is a very remarkable author. She writes about science in a way that is approachable and understandable. She makes it gross. She makes it fun. She makes it interesting. She makes you think, and she leaves you wanting more. Mary doesn't just write about dead people's science. She also writes about sex science, space science, and ghost science, among other things. If you want to try nonfiction that's easy to read, I think Mary would be an excellent choice for you.

And, of course, Mary isn't the only author writing about death. Some of you might recognize Caitlin Doughty from her YouTube fame. She's made an entire career educating us about death and advocating for the positive death movement. She's a very remarkable woman, and I encourage you to read more about her. I've only had the opportunity to read one of her books Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? And other Questions about Dead Bodies, but I intend to get through all her books (if it kills me! Ha!).  

The SJR State Library has books from both authors. Give us a call to reserve a copy!

 

“Death. It doesn't have to be boring.”
 Mary Roach, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

 

 

Cover ArtSmoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty
Call Number: Orange Park Circulation RA622.7.D68 A3 2015b
ISBN: 9781594138799
Publication Date: 2015-10-19
No Subjects