This morning I went to a fascinating workshop/seminar on based on the Social Styles model for working with other people in a community leadership setting. The talk was thought provoking, and at times uncomfortably close to home. I agree that we all have our own personalities, and we have dominant modes of thinking and relating, but I also think we all have aspects of the other types, and we can learn to channel them, or perhaps life has taught us to channel them (or not). There are other systems as well, and although they are all useful, I always want to be careful about over simplification. But smart people don't oversimplify their persepctives on other people, do they? Anyway it was interesting and I gained insight into myself and the way I relate to others. I could clearly see how there have been occasions where my own particular defensive responses have been absolutely the worst approach with particular people. I could have done better; I can do better.
Then I went to McKay's, the local second-hand book store, to sell a big box of books and, yes, come home with a bag of books as well. I did not come home with nearly as many books as I sold which is a good thing. There are days I can walk around McKays and find nothing that interests me, and then there are days, like today, where books seem to be jumping into the cart. The only solution is simply to stop looking.
Now I am tired, not quite mind-numbingly tired, but close, so this will hopefully be a short post. Since I was at a bookstore and since I also bought books, it seemed like an appropriate time for another book update. Luckily, I've only read three books since my last post.
Final Gifts is a book about communicating with the dying. It was recommended to me and lent to me, and I put off reading it longer than I should have before passing it on to the next person. It is a good book, and I wish more people who are faced with the loss of a loved one could and would read it before finding themselves in that situation. Many times we are frustrated by a sense of helplessness and loss of control when faced with the loss of someone we love, and we fear for ourselves and for them. This book helps one in learning to listen to what the dying person is saying, not just hearing them, but actually listening, and as such it is warm and wise and uplifting.
Moving Day is a thriller, a psychological thriller, about a theif who likes to annihilate his victims and what happens when he accidently choses as his next victim a man who refuses to accept his fate, a man psychologically driven by forces he himself can't fully comprehend, to fight annihilation with all of his being. This was the book I should have chosen as my Kindle First choice for May. It is a good book, as it explores the way the theft of all his worldy goods sends Stanley Peke, a man who literally arrived in this country as a boy with nothing after losing everything to the Nazis, a man who made a very successful life for himself, on a path into his past and parts of his psyche that he has suppressed for decades. I thought it was compelling and for the most part well-done. I am not informed enough about psychology to know how accurately Peek is portrayed, but many parts of his story resonated with me in a way that I could see as true, at least for some people. The use of sentence fragments could at times be moving, as Peek came to terms with bits or fragments, of memory, but the author fell back on this technique far too often, so that over time, what seemed filled with meaning became simply annoying. Still I enjoyed the book, and was driven to finish. I would be surprised however if this book stood up to a second reading.
Freud's Mistress is a novel about an affair between Sigmund Freud and his wife's sister, Minna, who lived with the Freuds for 42 years. The main characters actually existed. Minna actually lived with her sister's family, and there is a large archive of letters between Sigmund and Minna which seem to indicate that she was highly intelligent and progressive for her time. However there is no concrete evidence that an affair took place although there have been speculations. There is also a five year period where there are no letters between the two. The novel uses the general speculation about the affair, and the absense of letters, in order to explore the possibility of an affair, an opportunity to explore an idea of the lives of these characters. I found it entertaining and well-written, and I think Minna was very well drawn. The author did a good job exploring Minna's conflicting emotions, and also with placing Minna thoroughly in her time and constrained by her class and the mores of her upbringing and the society in which she lived. In short she was a smart and enlightened woman for her time, but she is not portrayed as an entirely modern woman, and this may in some ways make her a little more difficult to understand today.
One of the things I particularly liked about the book were the conversations between Freud and Minna, not just about Freud's ideas, but also about literature and philosophy. These conversatons are brimming with that excitement I recall from my own youth: of the joy of intellectual discovery and new ideas, sometimes brash, sometimes completely wrong-headed but brimming with confidence, with the seductions of the mind and the world of ideas as an escape from mundane reality. And of course, the seductions of the mind, of feeling needed and wanted, can lead to other seductions as well as disappointments.
social style matrix from here.
All book cover photos from Amazon.