Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

3/5 stars.
ebook, 154 pages.
Read from November 07 to 13, 2013.

“…everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last human freedoms–to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Viktor Frankl was a neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor. His observations as a scientist in combination with his experiences as a Holocaust victim allowed him to create a form of Psychotherapy called Logotherapy. Logotherapy was created with the Greek word “logos” which translates as “meaning” and is based off Kierkegaard’s “will to meaning”. This book was one of the first to define his new form of therapy which helped many Holocaust survivor’s get through their experiences.

This book is remarkable in so many ways and was unlike any Holocaust memoir that I’ve read. Viktor did not reiterate the horrors of the events he experienced but rather outlined what he did to get himself through it. Even more interestingly, was how academic the book was written. You don’t expect a memoir to be written in this manner but it was effective for what Viktor was trying to get across to his readers, which, in its simplest form, is about being able to choose a positive attitude, perspective and approach to your life and if you can find meaning within suffering. Or as Viktor quotes Nietzsche, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how‘”.  Viktor’s direct and brief writing style epitomizes his simple yet potent ideologies. However, if I had a criticism, I would say that his academic approach, while effective, I found that it takes way some of the emotional power of his story and his ideas a bit. With that also being said, his approach also meant that he was able to provide poignant advice without coming off like a self-help book.

Viktor’s story is inspirational and he truly makes us take a look at our own lives and what we have to grateful for and how we can use the power and reasoning of our minds to overcome any obstacle.  I would recommend this book to everyone as I believe that Viktor’s approach is effective and that we severely undermine the power of our own thoughts.

A Little History of Literature by John Sutherland

4/5 stars.
(ARC) ebook, 288 pages.
Read from September 19 to October 08, 2013.

Thank you Netgalley for allowing me to re-visit my University days with this awesome book!

This book is like an English degree in a few hundred pages. It covers all of the main pieces of literature and their contributions to the literary world, and history, in a concise and entertaining manner. I really enjoyed Sutherland’s precise writing and remarks on the works he was analyzing. I feel that he gave a proper perspective and insight into each piece of work, author or era. I also appreciated that added his own views after giving a through summary in each chapter.

Books like this are essential. It is a reminder to everyone just how much reading and writing has shaped our history and our culture and why they are still important today. Without these stories we may not have an accurate account of anything that had happened in our past and we would not know how the minds of that era functioned. I truly believe that these elements of expression contribute massively to who we are today and are an essential part of being human.

For me, reading this was a refreshing walk down memory lane and it allowed me to re-explore all of the works I enjoyed while pursuing my own degree in English a few years ago. While my love for reading and such has never dwindled, reading this book sparked a renewed interest in re-visiting my school notes, re-reading some classics and getting to the few that I haven’t had a chance to get to as of yet.

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

4/5 stars.
ebook, 311 pages.
Read from August 29 to September 09, 2013.

This was an outstanding read. As a runner, this book was not only informative but inspiring. I definitely feel the need to ditch my running shoes now!

We are truly born to run. This book explains why we are and what we can do to get back to our running roots. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone practically tell me that running was bad for me and it’s because runner’s get hurt. A lot. This I knew, but I didn’t understand why so I found myself asking the same questions as the author in regards to the injury rates of runners and how something just didn’t add up. The author provides the reader with facts about our anatomy and how that make us running creatures and just how the creation of the running shoe has brought about most running injuries. The author also goes in the psychological aspects of running. Like why it is that runners crave to run and why the challenge of a marathon is becoming so increasingly popular.

Along with all of this information the author was also able to detail his amazing journey to find the answers to these questions with his pursuit of the world’s greatest runners, the Tarahumara. I found myself truly wishing that I knew how to run like these tribesmen so I paid close attention to the lessons the author received. At least I have one thing in common with them, that I love to run too.

I loved the personal flare that the authored added to this book and the information that he provided but I did not find that the transition between the two transitioned well. I found myself getting lost a bit and having to go back just make sure I didn’t accidentally skip a few pages as I felt so thrown into the next paragraph at times.

Overall, a must read for anyone who loves to run.