Monthly Archives: September 2014

When Minimalism is Too Minimal

This room is missing something. (source: wisley)

This room is missing something.
(source: wisley)

Minimalism, or Simple Living, can mean a lot of things. For many people, it means minimizing your possessions. If you don’t have a lot of furniture, you don’t need to dust it – simple. If you only have one slow cooker instead of three, you don’t have to decide which to use – simple.

I used to live the opposite of minimalism. I had years of magazines from multiple subscriptions piled up under my desk. I bought a new shirt every few weeks, and stuffed them into my closet. Some things I had just for the sake of having them.

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Review: We Need to Talk About Kevin

We Need to Talk About Kevin
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Topics from parenthood to politics get an honest treatment from several sides in this book about an unwanted child who commits terrible acts as a teenager. If you have any opinion about what parenting should be like or why children grow up the way they do, I believe you’ll find something in here.

Kevin was creepy and almost frightening. All of the characters were hard to like, but I felt like they were real – many real people can be hard to like, if only they’d write down their thoughts on paper. The book could probably have been about 1/3 shorter if the author had left out a few thousand needless adjectives, that’s why it lost a star. Otherwise it was an interesting, engrossing read.

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Review: They F*** You Up: How To Survive Family Life

They F*** You Up: How To Survive Family Life
They F*** You Up: How To Survive Family Life by Oliver James
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very interesting book, and one that goes farther than anything else I’ve ever read in nature v. nurture. The answer, according to Oliver James, is about 99.9% nurture. Plenty of evidence and examples are given, such as the fact that many child abusers were themselves abused as children, i.e. ‘nurture’ made them that way. Highly successful people are much more likely than anyone else to have lost a parent when they were a child, and their despair drove them to achieve. Babies born to poor, uneducated, nutritionally deficient mothers, when adopted by well-off highly educated people, become just the same as a child from those same middle-class people. Even genetically identical twins, when separated from their parents at birth, turn out very differently from each other. I have to admit, I’m convinced by him (or at least 99.9% convinced). If you have any opinion at all on the spectrum from genes to environment, I think you would be interested in this book.

Now that I have the information, though, what am I supposed to do with it? How to stop from f***ing up my own children? Other than not beating them, the book ends without anything in the way of practical advice.

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