The Art of Holistic Well-Being Book Reviews

A.R.T. = Acceptance + Reflection + Transformation

The Art Matrix Magazine The Art of Living Book Reviews features books under the umbrella theme of holistic well-being.

Book Reviews and extended Book Talk Posts are added on a daily basis:)

Acceptance

Radical Acceptance, attitudes of gratitude
Dayenu–it would have been enough

Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase, ‘each other’
doesn’t make any sense.

–Rumi

Nonfiction

Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach

Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach is an illuminating book looking at overcoming constricted and unfulfilled lives.

For many of us, feelings of deficiency are right around the corner. It doesn’t take much–just hearing of someone else’s accomplishments, being criticized, getting into an argument, making a mistake at work–to make us feel that we are not okay. Beginning to understand how our lives have become ensnared in this trance of unworthiness is our first step toward reconnecting with who we really are and what it means to live fully. 
—from Radical Acceptance

Reveries of the Solitary Walker by Jean-Jacque Rousseau

“The Reveries of the Solitary Walker” is an unfinished work, one of the last composed in Rousseau’s lifetime. The book is composed of ten chapters, called “walks.” Walks eight and nine were never revised, and the tenth walk is incomplete.

Meditative, amusing and lyrical, this is a fascinating exploration of Rousseau’s thought as he looks back over his life, searching to justify his actions, to defend himself against his critics and to elaborate upon his philosophy.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Stayed

I was alone. I was barefoot… an actual stray, a stranger had observed a couple of weeks before, when I’d told him my name and explained how very loose I was in the world. My father left my life when I was six. My mother died when I was twenty-two.

In the years before I pitched my boot over the edge of that mountain, I’d been pitching myself over the edge too. I’d ranged and roamed and railed–from Minnesota to New York to Oregon and all across the west–until at last I found myself, bootless, in the summer of 1995, not so much loose in the world as bound to it.

It was a world I’d never been to and yet had known was there all along, one I’d staggered to in sorrow and confusion and fear and hope.

A world called the Pacific Crest Trail.

–Wild, a prologue

Burn Down the Ground by Kambri Crews

It doesn’t matter who my father was;
it matters who I remember he was.

Anne Sexton

In this powerful, affecting, and unflinching memoir, a daughter looks back on her unconventional childhood with deaf parents in rural Texas while trying to reconcile her present life—in which her father is serving a twenty-year sentence in a maximum-security prison.

As a child, Kambri Crews wished that she’d been born deaf so she, too, could fully belong to the tight-knit Deaf community that embraced her parents. Her beautiful mother was a saint who would swiftly correct anyone’s notion that deaf equaled dumb.

One thing Mom passed down to me was her disdain for the malicious gossip that seemed to infect their circle of friends in the Deaf community, as if there was some sort of perverse satisfaction in circulating the misery of another. Being married to my father made her hypersensitive to the damage that whispers could cause.

Burn Down the Ground

With a smart mix of brutal honesty and blunt humor, Kambri Crews explores her complicated bond with her father—which begins with adoration, moves to fear, and finally arrives at understanding—as she tries to forge a new connection between them while he lives behind bars.

Her handsome father, on the other hand, was more likely to be found hanging out with the sinners. Strong, gregarious, and hardworking, he managed to turn a wild plot of land into a family homestead complete with running water and electricity.

To Kambri, he was Daniel Boone, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ben Franklin, and Elvis all rolled into one.

But, if Kambri’s dad was Superman, then the hearing world was his kryptonite. The isolation that accompanied his deafness unlocked a fierce temper—a rage that a teenage Kambri witnessed when he attacked her mother, and that culminated fourteen years later in his conviction for another violent crime.

Burn Down the Ground is a brilliant portrait of living in two worlds—one hearing, the other deaf; one under the laid-back Texas sun, the other within the energetic pulse of New York City; one mired in violence, the other rife with possibility—and heralds the arrival of a captivating new voice.


Fiction

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant.

This memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family.

Dark is a way and light is a place,
Heaven that never was
Nor will be ever is always true

Dylan Thomas, A Poem on His Birthday

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

I am sitting here at the Rose Terrace Nursing Home, but in my mind I’m over at the Whistle Stop Cafe having a plate of fried green tomatoes.

–Mrs. Cleo Threadgoode,

About the Author

Fannie Flagg is the winner of the Harper Lee Prize. She is the bestselling author of several books including Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man. She wrote the script for the movie, Fried Green Tomatoes which was nominated for an Academy Award and the Writers Guild of America award, and it won the highly regarded Scripter Award for best screenplay of the year. She began writing, directing and acting in the fifth grade and hasn’t stopped since.

Fried Green Tomatoes is a laugh-out-loud novel about life, afterlife, and all the going on in a small town. And, if you want to know what ‘fried green tomatoes’ are, well here is the recipe also included with other Sipsey Recipes–Grits, Chicken and Dumplings, Fried Okra (“better than popcorn”) in the book.

Fried Green Tomatoes

1 medium green tomato (per person)
salt
pepper
white cornmeal
bacon drippings
Slice tomatoes about 1/4 inch thick, season with salt and pepper and then coat both sides with cornmeal. In a large skillet, heat enough bacon drippings to coat the bottom of the pan and fry tomatoes until lightly browned on both sides.

You’ll think you died and gone to heaven!


A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

If you are lucky enough to have lived
in Paris…., then wherever you
go for the rest of your life stays with
you, for Paris is a moveable feast.

–Earnest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast captures what it meant to be young and poor and writing in Paris during the 1920s. It concerns the years 1921 and 1926 in Paris, his early years as a 20-something expatriate writer in post-WWI Paris in the 1920s.

As a correspondent for the Toronto Star, Hemingway arrived in Paris in 1921, three years after the trauma of the Great War. This was the beginning of the transformation of Europe’s cultural landscape.

Braque and Picasso were experimenting with cubist form. James Joyce, long living in self-imposed exile from his native Dublin, had just completed Ulysses. Gertrude Stein held court at 27 Rue de Fleurus and deemed young Ernest a member of “une generation perdue.” T.S. Eliot was a bank clerk in London.

It was during these years that the as-of-yet unpublished young writer gathered the material for his first novel The Sun Also Rises, and the subsequent masterpieces that followed.

Earnest Hemingway starts writing this book in Cuba in the autumn of 1957, worked on it in Ketchum, Idaho in the winter of 1958-59, took it with him to Spain when we went there in April, 1959, and brought it back with him to Cuba and then to Ketchum late that fall.

He finished the book n the spring of 1960 in Cuba, after having put it aside to write another book, The Dangerous Summer, about the violent rivalry between Antonio Oronez and Luis Miguel Dominguin in the bull rings of Spain in 1959.

He made some revisions of this book in the fall in 1960 in Ketchum. It was published posthumously in 1964.


The Lake Shore Limited by Sue Miller

In the story, The Lake Shore Limited, centers on The Lake Shore Limited—a play Billy has written about an imagined terrorist bombing of that train as it pulls into Union Station in Chicago.

A man waiting to hear the fate of his estranged wife, is also traveling on the train. Billy had waited in just such a way on 9/11 to hear whether her lover, Gus, was on one of the planes used in the attack.

The novel moves from the snow-filled woods of Vermont to the rainy brick sidewalks of Boston as the lives of the other characters intersect and interweave with Billy’s.

Leslie, Gus’s sister is still driven by grief years after her brother’s death. Sam is a man irresistibly drawn to Billy after he sees the play that so clearly displays the terrible conflicts and ambivalence of her situation.

On acceptance, reflections and transformations

Billy creates the play out of these emotions and then, the performance itself touches and changes the other characters’ lives. These form the thread that binds them all together and drives the novel compulsively forward, towards possibilities created by actions, emotions and beliefs.

This book shares a powerful story of entanglements, connections, and inconsolable losses. Through the narrative we experience, indirectly, a marvellous reflection on the meaning of grace and the uses of sorrow. And these, in turn, set the stage as foundations for transformation in life and in art.

Finding meaning in life requires possibilities and hope, even if we are striving to live in the moment. Being mindful of the simple things can be the most powerful key in transformation into holistic well-being


Reflection

Nonfiction

Ethics of Ambiguity by Simone de Beauvoir

a radical argument
for ethical responsibility
and freedom

French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir’s The Ethics of Ambiguity simultaneously pays homage to and grapples with her French contemporaries, philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. She does this by arguing that the freedoms in existentialism carry with them certain ethical responsibilities.

Life in itself is neither good nor evil.
It is the place of good and evil,
according to what you make it.

–Montaigne

An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding by David Hume

Liberty of any kind is never lost all at once.

An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, and Concerning the Principles of Morals, by David Hume follows numbered, incremental steps focuses on what he considered, a condensed version of his more vital proposals. These include Space, Time, Causation, Metaphysics, Doubts, Probability, Liberty and Necessity.

But, may we not hope, that philosophy, if cultivated with care, and encouraged by the attention of the public, may carry its researches still father, and discover, at least in some degree, the secret springs and principles, by which the human mind is actuated in its operation?

— David Hume

Read the book with some consideration of the egoisms which are pervasive, along with some arrogance or insincerity. The issue of cause and effect dominates yet becomes rather subjective which at times, hinders clarity and precision of the discussion. And yet, there is still value in the philosophical writings which cause us to consider the absurdities and paradoxes which he tackles with lucidity and elegance.

Being and Nothingness by Jean Paul Sartre

Being and Nothingness by Jean Paul Sartre

In 1943, Jean-Paul Sartre published his masterpiece, Being and Nothingness, and laid the foundation of his legacy as one of the greatest twentieth century philosophers. A brilliant and radical account of the human condition, Being and Nothingness explores what gives our lives significance.

This is a philosophy to be reckoned with, both for its own intrinsic power and as a profound symptom of our time.

The New York Times

Transformation

Nonfiction

Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem by Gloria Steinem

In Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem, Gloria Steinem sets out to restore the self-authority that such injustice has undermined — in men as well as women, across boundaries of race, class, age, sexuality, and ability.

There is always one inner voice. Trust it.” 

Gloria Steinem

Fiction

Renewal edited by Kevin Saitta, a compilation of Story & Poetry including With Grace, Into the Epilogue

A collection of flash fiction and poetry by writers from around the globe. As one of the writers, we hope you enjoy Renewal, Written Tales Vol.1, as much we we did, writing and reading all the brilliant work presented here for your reading enjoyment. Here is a brief sampler I hope will inspire you to then go to the book and enjoy the rest of this thought-provoking collection of beautiful writing.

It’s been a month now since we’ve
Known a waking moment without the
Haranguing, indecent touch of exhaustion/
It’s been the truest staying power,
Like down to tar.
A soft breeze, the stinging …

(Re:)Incarnate by Anthony Chase

Eyes are sewn shut with my last few shreds of sanity.
Skin varnished in a coat of regret to to cover-up my vanity.
Trickling fingerprints of the dead dance in the darkness of my existence.
Sickening residues of my past baste the carcass of my existence.
Oh, dear maker of my rotting rind!
Shuck out the silt from my derailed mind!

Decay by Meghan Gause

Once, in an eating disorder treatment group,
when I was sixteen years old,
we were asked to write a love letter
to our bodies.

The therapist had us go around in a circle
and read them, but when she got to me,
she skipped to the next girl.

I asked her after, “why,” and she said,…

A Love Letter to the Body I Tried to Destroy by Kathryn Malnight

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