Category Archives: Non Fiction

Book Review: ‘How to Raise a Smart Ass: Parenting That Should Not Be Tried at Home’, by Lucia Walinchus

About the author

Lucia Walinchus is an award-winning journalist, author and ice hockey addict.  She has written more than 500 articles for various publications throughout her career and was recently named to the 2016 Fulbright Berlin Capital Program.  She has been featured as a guest speaker on CNN and is a contracted freelancer for the New York Times.  Walinchus currently lives in Oklahoma because she enjoys wide, flat golf courses that make her think she isn’t actually that bad.  More information about the author can be found on her website; readers can also connect with her through Twitter.

About the book

How to Raise a Smart Ass is a funny, witty, rollicking ride through the joys of early parenthood.  The so-titled “Best Butt Wiper in the World” delights audiences by recounting tales of ninja nurses, naughty knights, and super-duper poopers.  Whether you’re a proud parent or you aspire to populate the world with tiny terrors of your own someday, this book will have you laughing out loud, or at a minimum buying lots of sanitizer.  Kids are messy.

Review

Don’t let the title fool you; this book is not a parenting guide.  This might be the only recommendation I wold have to give the author, actually: to reconsider the title.

Other than that, this auto-biography of sorts, was a quick, easy, and hilarious read.  Between the stories my friends have shared with me over the years and my own experience, I could relate to most if not all of Lucia Walinchus’ stories, be they about pregnancy, labour and delivery, breastfeeding and other early month concerns and issues.  They were told in such a helpless, tongue-in-cheek, and resigned voice that I couldn’t help but burst out laughing quite often.  Because of that, I had to stop reading How to Raise a Smart Ass while the baby was feeding or sleeping or suffer the consequences of startling her out of her peaceful food coma or nap.

While the book is recommended for audiences with children or looking to have children, it comes in most handy to parents who have recently had children.  It was a form of therapy for me; I felt less alone in some of the most tiring moments of my day and felt encouraged in my laugh-it-off attitude.  At times I felt like I had met up with the author and, over a cup of coffee, exchange anecdotes and leave the date feeling reinvigorated.  Because parenting is hard and it’s refreshing to just unapologetically share anecdotes rather than be bombarded with advice left, right, and centre.

A must-read for all new parents struggling through the first months, if not years of the lives of their little bundles of joy.

Thank you to iReads Book Tours for providing
a copy of this book for me to review!

Book Recommendation: ‘Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)’, by Mindy Kaling

Happy Sunday! As you ready yourself for another great week, are you wondering what book to take along with you on your commute? Take a peek at this week’s recommended commute companion!

‘Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)’, by Mindy Kaling

Review here.

Purchase here.

Author website here.

Synopsis:

Mindy KalingMindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”

Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!

In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.

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Book Review: Toxic Friends by Susan Shapiro Barash

The premise is simple: you can’t change your friends, but you can change the way you deal with them. A toxic friendship can be dealt with once you understand what is going on and your contribution to it. Once you figure out your part in starting and sustaining it, you will be able to take the steps to improve it or, if it’s hopeless, get out of the relationship knowing that you did what was possible.

You would expect women, the mothers and caregivers of our society, to be especially caring and nurturing towards each other. After all, who better can understand what a woman is going through than another woman? But as most women (and men) can tell you, female friendships are so complicated that many (if any!) can’t understand what exactly is going on.

Oh, the number of times a female friend of mine said something to which I had absolutely nothing to say. This is highly unusual for someone as verbose as I am.

Which is why I have always been baffled by the way women act towards each other, and how, in an era where woman have so many more rights, we seem to be held down more by each other than by men. How many times do we worry about what a man thinks about what we are wearing versus what a woman thinks?

On top of that, we live in a society that thrives on off the roof drama. And so, women’s fights are often encouraged and even enabled. This makes books such as Toxic Friends all the more important, as they help us identify the real issues at hand, understand them, and rise above such pettiness.

The tone of the book is that of a curious and systematic investigation of what types of women exist. It is based on various essays on the topic as well as a study the author did. A strong point is that the book is explorative in nature and in tone; rather than preaching a truth to readers, it invites them to join in the journey of figuring out what toxic friendships are about, who plays which role and how it can be dealt with.

The majority of the chapters cover not only the aspect of each identified personality type, but also the way the women interviewed for the study who are of that personality type perceive themselves, how women who are not of that personality type perceive it and the personality type’s contribution to a group dynamic. Each chapter ends with what I believe to be the book’s biggest strength: a series of questions that make the reader think in depth about the personality type, its presence in her life and what she can do about its potential toxic effects.

As I read through the book, faces flashed by as I remembered past or current relationships. All my friends, my female coworkers, my female neighbours, my female family members were one by one identified as one or a combination of the ten described personality types. I also identified my own personality type, and was intrigued by the way the author describes how others react to it.

There are two other books I would recommend reading at the same time as Toxic Friends, before or after.

The first one is The Lolita Effect, by M. Gigi Durham. Many of the relationship issues as well as the personality profiles described in Toxic Friends were reflected in The Lolita Effect, which talks about the media sexualization of young girls, its effect on the way they act, the consequences it has on their identity and their relationships and five keys to fix it. After all, a lack of self-confidence, as exploited and enhanced by today’s corporations and the media, underlines many of the issues at the heart of Toxic Friends, so why not try to understand how we women were ourselves affected, as kids, teenagers, young adults and adults, to be able to build a form of immunity against it and not fall into the trap of a toxic relationship again?

The other companion read for Toxic Friends is Rafe Esquith’s Lighting their Fires. I know, I know – how can a book about children’s education help adult women with their toxic friends? Well, Rafe Esquith offers a wealth of information that, while they are meant for parents to use when raising their children, they should probably have incorporated into their own personality beforehand. It isn’t difficult, with a little mental aerobics, to see how these two books could work together. For example, Rafe Esquith talks over and over about the importance of communication, and how things like learning to play an instrument and putting on plays help develop the skills to communicate, including eloquence, emotional conversations and timing. In Toxic Friends, many of the problems are related to the fact that women cannot seem to be able to communicate honestly and effectively together.

Now imagine if a mother is reading both books at the same time. She identifies the need for her child to learn to communicate more effectively while reading Lighting their fire, and later on identifies how her toxic friendships have a lot to do with the fact that she herself doesn’t know how to communicate with her friends. Wouldn’t it be powerful for such a mother to work on a form of project with her child so that both learn to communicate more effectively with each other and with others?

And now imagine if this mother’s child is a pre-teen or a teenage daughter who is going through the intensely difficult period of time covered by The Lolita effect, and the mother can use this newfound quality communication to talk to her daughter about it.

This is what I call being efficient. Because, let’s be honest, however fantastic they are, mothers are also limited by the fact that there are only 24 hours in one day, and that they need some sleep.

Toxic Friends is a must read for any woman.

A word of caution: the author refers to many essays that are available online. If you are anything like me, plan to spend a LONG time reading this book, since you are going to spend double, if not triple, the time reading the essays she refers to. But they are all so interesting that it’ll be worth it.

Enjoy, and I hope your friendships with fellow females will benefit from reading this book.

First published here on Blogcritics.
First published on Sahar’s Blog on 4 June 2013.

Book Review: The We Generation: Raising Social Responsible Kids by Michael Ungar

The world has the potential to be amazing, but apart from glimmerings of awesomeness here and there, the overwhelming conditions are pretty terrible (sorry, Mother Earth). One of the reasons behind such a terrible state of affairs is the pervasive effects of both individualism and consumerism, which has led us away from what human nature is about: advancing both at the individual and at the community level.

Author Michael Ungar does a brilliant job of painting why, in a world that offers them more social connections in one year that a mere couple of generations ago would have had in an entire lifetime, children still feel alone, since they are inherently social creature with a desire to help others. He also does a brilliant job of explaining how parents (as well as teachers and coaches) can help children develop this inherent sense of altruism, enhanced by the shockingly contradictory reality offered by today’s “Me-society.”

The fact of the matter is that parents work day and night to provide their children with tuition to a great school, all basic material amenities and some extras, like a TV, a computer and more toys that they can play with, but nothing can make up for the basic, human one-on-one contact that was such an important part of the lives of previous generations of children.

Ironically enough perhaps, the fact that these children only have an abundant number of superficial connections makes them want to reach out even more, while the decreasing number of deep in-person connections has robbed them of the environment they need to develop the skills and capacities to do so.

So what can parents do? Is everything that they do wrong?

Certainly not, and that’s a great aspect of this book. Rather than assume that parents are all doing something wrong, the author assumes that most parents are loving, caring, and truly want what is best for children. However, because of the almost pervasive influence of the “Me-society” they live in, parents cannot elp but have their parental discourse be influenced by it. This book isn’t meant to make good parents out of bad ones, but rather to help good parents fight off the influence of the “Me-society.”

The book is divided into eight chapters, which the author presents in his preface. The first chapter underlines why and how parents are important, pointing out the things they do for their children out of love in the hopes of keeping them safe and happy, but sometimes that end up doing just the contrary. It ends with a tip list of things a parent can try out.

Chapter Two focuses on the children, on how they react to various parenting styles and on what they do or don’t need. Amongst other topics, it covers that of compassion, of the parents to their child, of the child to his parents and of the family towards the others. It also includes a questionnaire that makes you think about the type of child you have, if he is a citizen of the world or not. It also includes a tip list — as do all the other chapters.

Chapter Three delves more deeply into the relationship between children and adults, while Chapter Four talks about the importance of touch. For as a society, we have been paralysed by the various “bad” touches to avoid even the healthy good ones, and the author shows us how that keep children from developing a true “We-oriented” identity. Chapter Five takes the concept of touch further, delving into the concepts of spiritual and emotional touching, including the confusion that often surrounds the concepts of intimacy and sexuality.

Chapter Six cashes in on the whole deal, prepping parents to invite their children to accept responsibility. It’s a crucial step for them to become socially responsible adults who will help advance their own selves in conjunction with advancing human civilization.

Chapter Seven covers the family’s space — i.e. the home — and how it affects our relationships. While there is a certain critical view about the monster houses typical of new, richer suburban areas, the author chooses to keep the principles basic, so that they could be applied to any form of house that exists. The recommendations in this chapter reinforce those from previous chapters, placing them in a concrete way that would help an overwhelmed parent start making the needed changes to raise socially responsible kids, rather than only responsible kids.

And, finally, the last chapter places the parents, the children and their house within the context of the community, showing how the former can affect the latter.

Throughout the entire text, the author insists on the fact that its contents are fluid; not all applies to all children, and the timelines can differ from child to child. Which is a great reflection of the reality of life nowadays, especially as the diversity of lifestyles continue to multiply as fast as borders fade into the background.

The text is also very action-oriented, for without actually doing something, be it the parents changing things about their parenting style or their lifestyle or actually contributing to the advancement of human civilization, no change can occur. There are some great tips sprinkled throughout the book. On the one hand, it was slightly disappointing; what of the parent who wants to develop the parenting style described in this book, but who doesn’t quite know how?

Fact of the matter is that this is probably a good thing; were the author to have offered a step-by-step and very detailed “recipe,” the parents might have simply followed it without trying to understand where it’s coming from and what it has to do with developing a “We-generation.” Parents have enough pointers to start immediately making a change, but not enough to dictate their every move, which implies they have to sit and reflect thoroughly on their contribution to the change of paradigm and how to instil such values into their child.

Another great aspect of the book is that the author is clear throughout that this is not about teaching children what to say and what to do, but rather encouraging them to learn to express their ideas and bringing out an inherent desire to help others rather than see it stifled in the “Me-world” they live in.

Although it’s pretty complete in answering all the elements of its argument, this book cannot be read alone. From its first pages, it clearly demonstrated that we cannot expect today’s children to consider themselves as socially responsible citizens of the world if adults do not take the steps necessary to become less individualistic and more socially responsible. One way of doing so is by consciously building a framework for social action based on the advancement of human civilization that goes against the “Me Myself and I” mentality that is plaguing our society today. This is a tough achievement to work towards, yet what more rewarding work is there that can at the same time help change the world for the better while establishing a strong bond with the younger generation?

The other thing is that this book provides for a beginning. While encouraging children to develop an outward looking vision of the world they live in and while caring for others and altruism is certainly recommendable, it isn’t enough to change the foundation of the world, upon which an order that created and perpetuates injustice has been built.

Responsibilities seem to be a big way of developing a “We Generation” vision in our children. The author speaks of giving responsibilities to them often enough through our book. But it’s a little limited. One major weakness is that the activities suggested that are meant to develop a child’s sense of “We” are too punctual. Yes, it’s great to contribute money to charity or to volunteer at a soup kitchen, but there is already a lot of that and not much long term and big positive change has come from it. Rather we need the kind of commitment to make everything about our lives about “We” rather than “Me.”

Another thing that I felt glimmerings of is the fact that parents have to be humble enough to allow children to learn from their mistakes and become better than them as soon as possible. And although the author adopts that approach himself in the reported interactions with various patients, I don’t know if it was reinforced enough throughout the text.

This book is all the more important to pick up now that the Holidays are coming up, and unfortunately this beautiful religious celebration that should be about “We” has become almost exclusively about “Me.” After all, a “We Generation” isn’t about blind compassion given to anyone at anytime; it’s more about developing a framework for social action based on compassion and the development of life skills meant to help children grown into adults that can not only talk about changing the world, but actually bring about deep, important and sustainable change.

First published here on Blogcritics.
First published on Sahar’s Blog on 4 June 2013.

Book Review: ‘Date like a Girl, Marry Like a Woman: The Polished Woman’s Guide to Love, Romance, and Sex’, by Jessica R Bunevacz

About the author

What do you get when you mix a strict Catholic upbringing, a strong curiosity for the opposite sex, and the need to grow up quickly? If you’re lucky you get an outcome like Jessica Bunevacz, the vivacious and outspoken first time author behind Date Like a Girl, Marry Like a Woman: The Polished Woman’s Guide to Love, Romance, and Sex.

Date Like a Girl Marry Like a Woman Jessica R BunevaczBorn Jessica Rodriguez in the Philippines and raised by her grandparents after the separation of her mother and father, Bunevacz was thrust into the role of provider after the murder of her mother when she was fifteen. With four siblings relying on her she began work early, first as a live mannequin and later as a model, actress, talent manager and television host. The jobs not only helped her to support her siblings, but also her first two children. One of her proudest moments while working in entertainment was as the force behind a project called “Miss Ugly No More” where women were showed how they could feel and look their best. Juggling family and work Bunevacz was not content to simply sit on the sidelines while life passed her by, and dating became her favorite contact sport.

​Traveling frequently for work and fascinated by men it wasn’t long before she developed a set of rules to snag them, and guidelines for how she could remain at her best without being bested by the games others were playing. It wasn’t long before she became a self-proclaimed MANnizer, capable of capturing and holding the attention of whoever interested her, while also continuing to do what was in her best interest as both a mother and entrepreneur with both family and a business to protect.

A romantic at heart however she soon stopped her pursuit of “Mr. Right Now” when she met the man who was “Mr. Right”, the man who became her husband. Newly married, she found herself rethinking everything she knew and realized that the same qualities that made a woman an amazing girlfriend didn’t necessarily work for a wife. Rather than wait for someone else to write a marriage manual, she retooled her dating rules for herself to apply for a life after marriage. Jessica Bunevacz is now a happily married wife and mother of three currently residing in California.

While her life has been unconventional she has no regrets, and lives with the understanding that we all have the same basic desire: to feel loved, whether it’s just for one night or for an entire lifetime. Using her own life experiences as a basis she develop real-world relationship advice to help women feel more confident and comfortable whether they’re dating or have already said “I do”.

About the book

Date Like a Girl, Marry Like a Woman: The Polished Woman’s Guide to Love, Romance, and Sex will help you navigate how to have a good time with “Mr. Right Now” and how to hold onto “Mr. Right” once you find him. Providing a mix easy to follow rules, and anecdotes showcasing how they worked (and in some cases what happened when they were ignored), Jessica Bunevacz is the best friend you’ll wish you had all along and the one whose advice you’ll go back to again and again.

Date Like a Girl Marry Like a Woman Jessica R BunevaczUnlike “The Rules”, its successors, or similar books offering guidance on how to snag a man, this book isn’t about playing hard to get, instead it’s about playing to win. And the only way that you can truly to that is when you acknowledge yourself as the MVP. This is why one of the first rules in Date Like a Girl, Marry Like a Woman: The Polished Woman’s Guide to Love, Romance, and Sex is about shedding your insecurities, and why other rules offer insight on looking, feeling, and being your best, with an emphasis on having your own life. Additionally, while other guides stop when you get to a marriage proposal, this is the book you’ll come back to after you say “I do”. Understanding that happily ever after may be a good way to end a movie, but isn’t a good way to start a marriage there are real tips about everything from friendship to sex to finances with both humor and heart.

Ultimately Date Like a Girl, Marry Like a Woman: The Polished Woman’s Guide to Love, Romance, and Sex is a work that is meant to transcend beyond the pages as it’s lessons are applied in daily life. It never asks a woman to shy away from her impulses or to hide who she is or what she wants, and instead celebrates her independence and sensuality while showing her ways that she can make her romantic life more fulfilling.

Book Review

The rules that currently defines the dating world create relationships which are, in my mind, built on the wrong foundations and conducive to weak marriages.  I picked up Jessica R Bunevacz’ book thinking that is was the result of brilliant thinking: the title, to me, said that the author was encouraging a different type of dating, one that balanced out the fun a girl likes to have with the maturity that I woman should have, which would lead to the emergence of a long-term, mature, and healthy relationship between two committed people.

If your understanding of marriage is that you win at the dating game; that you can first having a lot of fun by dating around and snagging any man you find interesting; that you need to always keep an eye on your husband to make sure nothing goes wrong; that you have to first shed your insecurities to be able to get into a healthy relationship in the first place; and other such notions—then you should definitely pick up this book.  The book’s tone is engaging, the author’s outlook bright, her language optimistic, and the topics flow well for an easy, uninterrupted reading.  You will definitely enjoy this book as much as you would enjoy having an older sister whom you look up to giving you a whole lot of advice you can put to excellent use.

But this book didn’t do it for me.  Although it claims to be different from other “rule books” about dating and finding a spouse, it clearly falls into a lot of the same traps the authors of those books have.  Being told that, as a wife, I have to feed my husband’s ego; I should never say no to sex when my husband requests it; that I have to be the kind of wife that knows how to cook; that I have to know how to keep my husband interested in my body—and many others included in the book—well this is not at all my definition of marriage.  My understanding of marriage is one of teamwork; one that it beyond the physicality; one in which the emotional, mental, and spiritual is so fantastic that, as a natural consequence, so it the physical aspect of it; one in which my husband and I help each other get conquer our egos; in other words, a definition of marriage that is completely different from the one the author lays the foundation for in the dating section of her book.

Add to Reading List?

Depending on your definition of marriage and what kind of dating that definition entails.

Book Review: ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking’ by Susan Cain

One of the most powerful images I was taught as a child is that just as the beauty of a garden is in the diversity of the plants that compose it, so it is with mankind. One by one, obstacles to creating unity are coming down. This is due to many factors, one being thoughtful books on oft-overlooked ethnicities, medical conditions, personalities, or anything else the ignorance of which creates barriers between members of the community.

Quiet by Susan CainQuiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking is such a book, which can yield eye-opening understanding about a group of individuals who, although not always appreciated on a large scale, have contributed decisively to the fortunes of humanity. The result of years of work, Susan Cain’s book paints the portrait of a diverse group of people who have one thing in common: they are introverts.

Why would such a topic be important to the attainment of unity? Because North America is seemingly steadfast in its belief that extroversion is better. The implications of such a belief are numerous, with some of them being downright disastrous, and affecting the approximately one-third of the population that is introverted.

As explained in the book, many an introvert finds himself pretending to be extroverted, denying himself the space needed to recharge, with a negative impact on his mental, emotional, and physical health. There is also the fact that most people are not aware of the introverts around them – or aware that they are themselves introverted. Add that to the fact that the definition of an introvert is not clearly defined in research, and that it is commonly quite misunderstood, and we have a recipe for disaster on our hands.

Written in an engaging tone that makes all the statistics quoted and research included easy to read, author Cain makes a compelling argument for changes in the structures of society to include introverts. This is all the more important in that introverts really seem to be the ying to extroverts’ yang, bringing to mind the metaphor of a bird needing both its wings to be able to fly.

What struck me the most is how little we know about the phenomenon despite the advances in our collective understanding. Hopefully Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking and other books like it can provide a framework for each reader to reflect on this important topic and contribute to creating communities in which both extroverts, introverts, and everyone in between can contribute fully to their development.

First published here on Blogcritics.

Book Review: ‘The Five Truths About Work-Life Balance’, by Jae Ellard

About the Author

After years in senior communication roles crafting content for executives, Jae collapsed from stress-related adrenal fatigue. This life-altering experience propelled her to research human behavior, neuroscience, mindfulness, and organizational relationship systems.

The Five Truths about Work-Life Balance by Jae Ellard on Sahar's BlogIn 2008, Jae founded Simple Intentions and developed the Mindful Life™ Program, which includes four group coaching workshops to generate reflection, awareness and action at the organizational and individual levels. Jae has taught the skill of awareness to thousands of employees at multinational corporations in more than 50 countries including China, Russia, India, Japan, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, Germany, United Kingdom, Norway, and the United States.

Jae contributes to the Awareness at Work column for Mindful Magazine, the Healthy Living section on Huffington Post as well as the Simple Intentions blog. Jae has a master’s degree in Communication Management from Colorado State University and a bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Communication from Metropolitan State College of Denver. She holds certificates in co-active coaching and organizational relationship systems coaching and is the author of seven books.

About the Book

The Five Truths about Work-Life Balance by Jae Ellard on Sahar's BlogWork-life balance has nothing to do with work. Really. It also doesn’t matter what words you use to describe it. The fact is, most people share a similar desire to create easy joy and meaningful engagement across the roles, relationships and responsibilities that make up life.

Our current habits and perceptions often get us stuck and prevent us from creating the life we desire. Get unstuck, learn the truths about work-life balance.

Book Review

When you think of a book that needs studying, I’m willing to bet that the first image that comes to mind is that of a thick book with lots of words and maybe even some tables and graphs.  In my case, said book is covered in colour-coded sticky notes with sections highlighted in different colours and a stack of notecards on the side.

But that’s just me.

Interesting enough, The Five Truths About Work-Life Balance is a book that requires a lot of study as well despite it being devoid of either a ton of pages (total page count: 99) or a wealth of words on each.  Rather, it reads as a guide for a reflection of sorts on how to create work-life balance.  Each page contains a self-explanatory statement.  Initially I was a little taken aback—I wanted Ellard to tell me more about each statement, to take me through it all and help me figure out this whole ‘balance’ thing.

Then I realised that my view of this book was affected (and quite heavily so) by the way we are often relegated in the position of passive recipient.  I realised then that the reason perhaps the pages of the book are devoid of superfluous words and only have a basic statement was to drive home the truth of the section in question.  So I read the book again but this time, did the work.  Each page became covered in notes as I pushed myself to reflect on each statement and to identify its application, actual or potential, in my life.

This is how I suggest reading this book: as a workbook.  The fact that the pages do not come with lines where we can jot down answered is liberating; some of my notes are supremely short and succinct (and are written in broad, bold letters) while others go on for so long that I covered the page in tiny, scratch-like writing.  Jot down your notes after really taking the time to think about what is written on it in the first place.

It feels like, after being encouraged to do more every day, we, as a North American society, are starting to realise that we are trying to live our life as a race to check off as many items on a giant, never-ending to-do list.  We are also taking a step back from living as passive recipients to everything and anything to take our rightful place as active protagonists in both our personal development and the development of the society around us.  Ellard’s The Five Truths About Work-Life Balance can come in quite handy as a companion to achieve this.

More information is available on the Simple Intentions’ website and Facebook page; reach out to the team on Twitter.

Thank you to iReads Book Tours for providing a
copy of this book for me to review!

Borna’s Monthly Book Recommendation: ‘The Wisdom of Teams’, by Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith

Team work is essential to a lot of things.  I am quite relieved to know that Borna is reading up quite avidly on the topic–not only is it helping him as a member of the community as well as professionally, he has been able to infuse our relationship with the wisdom gained through such reading choices.

The Wisdom of TeamsHe recently picked up The Wisdom of Teams by Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith which we both thought would bring a lot of useful insights into this particular work mode.  And although Borna felt that the book did drag on a little too much, he still rated it 3 of 5 stars and I have added it to my TBR pile.

Seriously, we are going to be buried in books soon if we both don’t start reading the same books at the same time and developing a swapping system with other avid readers.  Or maybe the extra books will provide us with increasingly better insulation to get through winters?

Purchase link.

Have a book you think Borna should read?  Head over to
Goodreads and let him know, or leave a comment
below–I’ll make sure he gets it!

Book Review: ‘Dream: Clarify and Create What You Want’, by Marcia Wieder

About the author:

Dream by Marcia Wieder on Sahar's BlogDream University’s CEO, Marcia Wieder is a long established thought leader on visionary thinking. As Founder of The Meaning Institute, she teaches people to create and live fulfilling lives. She’s been a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, writes for Huffington Post and is the author of 14 books. She appeared often on Oprah and was featured in her own PBS-TV show called Making Your Dreams Come True.

She has taught at Stanford’s Business School and as president of the National Association of Women Business Owners, she assisted 3 U.S. presidents. She is a member of the Transformational Leadership Council and on the advisory board for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

About the book:

Do you dare to dream? If so, you are a results-oriented person. Dream is designed to help you both transform your own life and contribute to making the world a better place. Dreaming is something you do—or should do.

Dream by Marcia Wieder on Sahar's BlogYou were created to create, and your ability to dream is paramount and fundamental when it comes to living a dream-come-true life. Dream will help you design a life that is the highest expression of your purpose by creating dreams in every area that matters to you, both personally and professionally.

This book will help you take real steps toward creating and achieving the dreams that matter to you most. It will help you to uncover, or recover, your purpose so that you can live with purpose—and there’s nothing that will bring you greater fulfillment.

Reading this book will help you to fully understand:

  • Who you really are
  • How you want your life to be
  • How to develop dreams that inspire you
  • How to look at your life with a fresh perspective
  • How to remove fear, doubt, or other obstacles
  • How to implement shortcuts and the techniques you will learn

Dream will teach you exactly how to do these and so much more.

Book review:

Just like with most self-help books, Marcia Wieder’s Dream: Clarify and Create What You Want requires a dose of introspection as well as a dollop of detachment. I personally felt that a lot of the book read as a pep talk. It was very well written and engaging, and although it wasn’t why I picked up the book for, I have a feeling that many going through a tougher time than I am will make good use of it. After all, there is nothing that doesn’t make sense, and it can get very, very difficult to break through mental barriers that have kept us from pursuing our dreams.

Speaking of which, the use of the word “dream” should not be taken as an indication that the advice contained in this book is directed towards those whose goals are so ambitious and big as to be typically labelled as a dream. One of the most interesting things for me is how Wieder recasts the concept of dreams in the first place. A dream can be something very simple, humble, even. It is an aspiration for something different in whatever aspect of one’s life. Wieder also makes it quite clear from the beginning that to dream is quite different than to daydream. While daydreaming is a form of wishful thinking, dreaming, according to her, is action-oriented, based on tangible, day-to-day deeds strategically done on the path to achieving a dream.

The book alone would be a little overwhelming at times—some of the more action-oriented sections can be paralysing in their weight and meticulousness. But—and this might come as slightly ironic—readers who get discouraged can seek strength from the beginning of the book, the sections that sound more “pep talk” like than anything else.

A book can help us go a long way, but there is something to be said about the vital importance of mutual support and assistance. The way I see it, I feel that this book would be best used by a small group of individuals who come together weekly (or more often) to read from Dream and make their plans accordingly. They would have Wieder there as an off-site facilitator of sorts and would have each other as companions on the path to fulfilling their dreams one step at a time.

Book Review: ‘Newspaper Boys Always Deliver’, by Joseph Gulesserian

About the author

Book Review Joseph Gulesserian on Sahar's BlogJoseph Gulesserian came of age during the seventies, and was exposed to many changing technologies with a career that has ranged from metallurgic to manufacturing, from business equipment to information technology, and brand creation.

After earning his MBA, he taught Corporate Finance, Marketing and Statistics as an adjunct professor at Toronto colleges, and in 2000 established a Toronto-based company that designs and produces health and beauty brands for both domestic and international markets.

​Currently, Gulesserian lives in Toronto with his wife.

About the book

A Personal Journey into Pop and Technological change in the last Fifty Years.

Book Review Joseph Gulesserian on Sahar's Blog CoverIn Newspaper Boys Always Deliver, Gulesserian takes us on a captivating adventure by combining personal essays and historical insights for an enlightening look at how we got here, and the earlier inventions that paved the way for current cutting-edge technologies. While exploring pop-culture trends, unexpected impacts, and memorable moments in time, this collection of thought-provoking and humorous reflections paints a fascinating picture of the changes half a century can bring—and its implications for what could be just around the corner.

In just fifty years, Western culture has gone from culture to techno-culture—from the swinging sixties to rap, encyclopedia to Wikipedia, slide rule to artificial intelligence.

Newspaper Boys Always Deliver, shares a personal journey of how we got here, in a Book that delivers an eclectic plethora of knowledge, controversy and humorous entertainment in a newspaper format.

Book Review

Gulesserian has put together an interesting series of essays through which readers are invited to take a look at the changes that have occurred in North America since the 1960s from his personal perspective. He adopts a confident, engaging tone which does well in setting a story-telling tone, making his essays particularly easy to follow and appreciate. I did find that at times the tone bordered on arrogant; this occurred when Gulesserian would share personal opinions as foundational truths for all to accept.

While Newspaper Boys Always Deliver seems at first to be a random collection of essays, links start emerging as you make your way through its various chapters. It almost felt at times that readers are growing up alongside Gulesserian; as children, we see things in silos, almost disjointed one from the other; then, as preteens, we start seeing relationships, perhaps at the most basic level, between things we never would have thought are related; as teenagers, our ability to see these relationships and their intricacies more clearly creates chaos in our minds from which gradually emerges clarity during adulthood—well, at least one would hope. This is what happens when reading this book. The essays are in silos at the beginning, almost disjointed one from the other; we go through a similar process of growth at the end of which we can see much more clearly what Gulesserian had in mind from the beginning.

Of course what he had in mind from the beginning is, like with any book, subject to a lot of interpretation. If you are looking for answers then this is not the book for you. But if you are looking for the opinions of an eloquent friend, then Newspaper Boys Always Deliver just might rock your boat.