Nonfictional Thoughts: Lykke and HTBUWYP

I recently finished reading two nonfiction books (that were, in my opinion, very good); The Little Book of Lykke and How to Break Up with Your Phone.

I wanted to give some details about them and some of my thoughts, in case my random recommendation doesn’t carry enough weight.

The Little Book of Lykke: In The Little Book of Lykke, Meik identifies the six factors that explain the majority of differences in happiness across the world—togetherness, money, health, freedom, trust, and kindness—and explores what actions we can take to become happier. As he reveals, we can deepen our blissfulness and contentment with little adjustments in our behavior, whether it’s eating like the French (sitting around a table and savoring our time) or dancing the tango like Argentinians in Buenos Aires.

  • I really enjoyed the case studies sprinkled throughout the book, detailing how specific people or communities had made a change for the better/happier in their lives.  Like Michelle’s No Spend Year- to learn how to live well for less, put yourself out there, and remember that buying belongings won’t bring you the perfect life.  because it’s about experiences!
  • Apps like Kamino and Field Trip will give you the scenic route, rather than the fastest.
  • The Mappiness Project in the UK seems super cool- by mapping happiness around the world, researchers aim to understand how happiness is affected by the local environment.  You can sign up to participate.  And, no surprise: participants tend to be significantly and substantially happier outdoors.
  • The Parental Happiness Gap has a whole damn lot to do with the policies in place to support working families.  The US and Papua New Guinea are the only two countries in the world that do not have a policy in place to give mothers paid time off after having a baby.
  • Cooperation versus competition.  I’ve always been a humongous fan of musical chairs, but why are so many kids games competitive rather than cooperative?  What if a game were played where no kids were out but a chair was taken away every round- leading to all of the kids piling into one chair at the very end.  Sounds just as giddy and prone to accident.
  • Become a RAKTIVIST, a kind of Random Act of Kindness ninja/hitman. You can sign up on the website http://www.randomactsofkindness.org.

This next is a little harder because I’ve already returned the book though I finished it more recently- so this will be a bit shorter.

How to Break Up With Your Phone: Award-winning journalist Catherine Price presents a practical, hands-on plan to break up—and then make up—with your phone. The goal? A long-term relationship that actually feels good.  You’ll discover how phones and apps are designed to be addictive, and learn how the time we spend on them damages our abilities to focus, think deeply, and form new memories. You’ll then make customized changes to your settings, apps, environment, and mindset that will ultimately enable you to take back control of your life.

  • Disclosure: I don’t have much of a phone addiction, and I mostly read this book applying what I was learning to laptop time- particularly after I was hit with a particularly strong Spider Solitaire addiction a few months ago as a result of university stress (I can’t explain).
  • Apps, smartphones, websites, etc. are designed to keep interested, often in pretty sinister ways.  Not only do they tap into your dopamine circuits, but likes are pretty much designed to take advantage of peoples’ competitive natures and need to belong and have social approval.  And frequently you as a user are not alerted of likes in real time- platforms alert you of them when research/empirical evidence shows that it will have the biggest impact on users and encourage users to continue the most.
  • In 2007, when the first smartphones were released, many demographic trends changed sharply.
  • Among other data, the incidence of depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders, especially among younger people, increased significantly.
  • So now I’m trying to ask myself before I pop open my laptop or phone- 1) What could I be doing instead right now?, 2) What am I using this device for? (so that I can make sure I have a purpose rather than just ‘because’), 3) How am I feeling? (Am I using my phone or computer to relieve stress?).
  • I’m going to schedule a no screen weekend. I might cheat and do it when I go away for Independence Day. To an area that has no internet and no reception.
  • Streamline your phone. Make it harder to open the apps you tend to get lost in.  If things are less convenient to access, you’re less likely to access them ‘unconsciously’.
  • Engage in tech fasts. Sounds like fun.
  • All in all, I really liked how the data was set out initially and followed by a proposed 30 day detox plan- which wasn’t super applicable to me because mI’m more irritated by my somewhat extensive laptop time, but there were lots of great ideas I took away (and I’ve been using my laptop less!)
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Friday Links 5/18

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Happy Friday! It seems like a pretty good day 9a bit nippy) and I’m looking forward to some exciting doings this weekend.

How about you?

Library Haul

I meant to write this post up yesterday, but I was in a bad, not very companionable mood.  I’m feeling better today, having, among other things, cooked some beautiful dal and finished watching Mother!, which was much better than last autumn’s reviews had led me to believe it would be.

Other news? I’m looking forward to seeing Deadpool 2, probably this weekend, hoping to go out for  meal or ice cream (or both), my chocolate quinoa pancakes continue to be excellent, and Solo is getting some pretty mediocre reviews. Oh, and I’m falling behind on reading Travels with Charley.

Here’s what else I have checked out:

Books:

  • Travels with Charley
  • How to Break Up with Your Phone
  • The Little Book of Lykke: The followup to the widely acclaimed Little Book of Hygge. I’ve actually already finished it, just not ready to return it yet.
  • Lolly Willowes
  • Ripley’s Game: Wondering if this third installment will be the one that puts me off the Ripley series
  • The Wings of the Dove: I really fear the day when I have no more big Henry James. This and The Golden Bowl. That’s all I’ve got left, I think.
  • The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning

Movies:

  • Gran Torino: Clint Eastwood is bae.
  • Lady Snowblood: Miss Havisham goes violent samurai.
  • Mother!
  • Enter the Dragon: Triggered by a youtube video pointing out a very extra extra.
  • The Furies: Barbara Stanwyck is also bae.
  • My Name is Nobody
  • The Old Gun: Yay westerns!
  • Prisoners
  • Frenzy: One of the chronologically last Hitchcock films and one of the last ones I haven’t seen yet.
  • Amarcord: The first movie of Fellini’s that I’ve liked.

Friday Links 5/11

boop.jpgHappy Friday and Happy Mother’s Day weekend!
Do you have any plans?
In a few hours we (my parents and I) will be going up to Belfast, Maine to spend the weekend with my Aunt Susan and Bill, whose mother owns an alpaca farm.  There will be alpaca shearing, vegan food, and tactful discussions about Infinity War without mentioning to movie fan Bill (it’s so nice to be around other movie fans) that I never plan to see it.

I’ve been reading a lot, falling behind on the films I have checked out from the library, gardening for hours a day, and enjoying the springly weather. I also cooked some interesting pancakes yesterday so that  have foods when I return next week. I will report back.

What’s happening on the worldwide web?

  • Speaking of movie people, this film looks like it could be amazing. Also really excited for The Seagull, an adaptation of one of the few Chekhov pieces I’e actually read.
  • A beautiful essay that I’m at a loss as to how to describe.
  • The Duchess of Northumberland sounds like a fun lady- she created the garden at Alnwick Castle, possible the deadliest garden in the world.
  • How does Deadpool always win the promotion game? This is genius.
  • One of the greatest things about being back in America is the access to SNL’s youtube uploads. I know the main story (DESERVEDLY) is the release of This is America by Donald Glover- but let’s not forget about the Barbie skit.
  • #MeToo and Junot Diaz: Cycles of victimization and victimizing, sexual harassment, celebrity and race.
  • When two celebrity ladies (internet fashion personae?) give birth in close succession and get together to share their experiences with the early days of motherhood.
  • I love this Public Place Meditation Guide– it’s very closely related to some wisdom my mother shared with me years ago: practice seeing the divinity in everyone around you.
  • A mathematical model may explain how two brains agree on the experiential profile of smells.
  • Possibly the most charming interview I’ve ever seen. I think I may have just fallen in love with all three of these men.
  • Have you liked any pages created by Russian bots?Ask Facebook.
  • A complex algorithm predicts the likelihood of final season Game of Thrones deaths. Bye, Daenerys.
  • An amazing photograph. I love whales.

My Book Wishlist on Amazon

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It was a long time ago that my default Amazon wish list was renamed ‘Book Wish List’ and colonized by- you guessed it- books.
But not just any books- the books that my library doesn’t carry.  I’m aware that I pretty frequently sings the praises of the Boston Public Library conglomerate/system, which allows you to check out any book in the Greater Boston area and have it shipped to your local library.  But that doesn’t mean they have every book I have ever wanted to read. Almost, but not quite.

I don’t usually buy books. I also don’t usually shop on Amazon anymore (given that they still advertise on Breitbart and I find it problematic). But Mom (who originated this politically-minded ethic) recently told me that we have a fair number of Amazon points. So maybe I’ll make an exception for some new used books around my birthday time…

And that inspired a visit to my list, and then, as per my usual compulsions, some much needed pruning.  The oldest book had been added to the list two years ago.  Which isn’t too bad, but still almost 1/10th of my life.  So some stuff was eliminated and some had been acquired by the library (!).

Here’s what remains:

  • Mad About the House: A Decorating Handbook
    It hasn’t been published yet, so finding it used on Amazon is not an option, as of now.
  • Paris in Stride: An Insider’s Walking Guide
    I recently started following this illustrator on Instagram and am always on the lookout for Paris recs.
  • Home Sweet Maison: The French Art of Making a Home
  • Parisian Chic Lookbook: What Should I Wear Today?
    I enjoyed the original Parisian Chic by Ines de la Fressange. I’ve heard that this one isn’t nearly as good, but I’m still interested.
  • My Little Paris
    I subscribe to the My Little Paris newsletter via email. They share lots of fun news about the city and favorite locations.
  • Une Femme Francaise: The Seductive Style of French Women
    Clearly books about Paris, style, and the intersection of the two are one of my pets.
  • Don’t Be a Tourist in Paris: the Messy Nessy Chic Guide
  • The New Paris
  • Impressions of Paris: An Artist’s Sketchbook
  • Am I There Yet?: The Loop-de-loop, Zigzagging Journey to Adulthood
    Mari Andrew, whose illustrations I sometimes share in links posts, published a book!
  • Yours Always: Letters of Longing
  • The Book Lovers’ Miscellany
  • The Milk of Dreams
    Children’s stories by an excellent surrealist author.
  • How to Break Up with Your Phone: The 30-Day Plan to Take Back Your Life
  • The She-Devils
    So hard finding this one in English (Les Diaboliques in French).
  • Twenty-Four Hours in the Life of a Woman
    Stefan Zweig.
  • The Story Cure: An A-Z of Books to Keep Kids Happy, Healthy and Wise
    I liked The Novel Cure, and as a big fan of children’s literature I feel like this one seems pretty promising.
  • How to Live Like Your Cat
  • What Flowers say: And Other Stories
    George Sand short stories.
  • Book of My Mother
  • A Book of Book Lists: A Bibliophile’s Compendium
  • The Book of Forgotten Authors
  • The Joy of the Snow
    Elizabeth Goudge, noted children’s author.
  • Gio_Graphy: Fun in the World of Fashion
  • The Place to Be
    The best destinations for different moods, according to Lonely Planet.
  • Dress Scandinavian
  • I’d Rather be Reading: A Library of Art for Book Lovers
  • The Art of Discarding: How to Get Rid of Clutter and Find Joy
    The original KonMari method.
  • Siddhartha’s Brain: Unlocking the Ancient Science of Enlightenment
    Buddhism and neuroscience- pretty up my alley.
  • Tryst
    A mid-20th century ghost story like The Uninvited and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.  hard to find.
  • Ladurée Savoir Vivre: The Art of Fine Living
  • Quiet Houses
    Intertwining yet distinct ghost stories.
  • A Child Again
    Robert Coover cynically and nostalgically retells childhood fables and tales.
  • The Name Therapist: How Growing Up with My Odd Name Taught Me Everything You Need to Know about Yours
  • The Diary of Lady Murasaki
  • The Library
    Zoran Zivkovic is an excellent name.
  • The Blood of the Vampire
    Like Dracula, one of the original Gothic vampire novels. Also check out Sheridan’s Carmella.
  • Perfume Legends: French Feminine Fragrances

It’s kind of funny because the books tend to fall on one of two extremes.  the library doesn’t carry them because they’re more obscure, but half are more light/frivolous obscure while the others are foreign/old/scholarly.

Links 4/29

It’s been in some ways an absolutely awful day but I’m still pretty content.  To explain the first part of that, I was fueled by food poisoning sometime around 2 am last night and my stomach is still feeling pretty tender.  On top of that, I wasn’t able to find the perfect plantings for my garden urns.  I’m thinking maybe nasturtiums.
To explain the latter part, it’s the birthday of one of my best friends and I got to see her for the first time in what feels like forever.  And in spite of my relative nausea, hanging out and catching up was lovely.

I’m enjoying Middlemarch, A Quiet Place was fantastic, and seeing the Art in Bloom exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts yesterday was beautiful and completely brought out my inner elderly white lady.  But what can I say, I love flower shows and I won’t deny it.

I have a scarcity of links this week, and you can decide if that’s good or bad!

Truly, that’s all I have. It’s pretty shameful.

BUT

The yoga retreat has been picked!
*drumroll*
RADIANCE SUTRAS FLOW
Man am I ready for some ecstatic dance

I mean, not right now, because I have food poisoning, but in general.

Links 4/07

I hope you had a lovely Saturday. I took a forty minute detour to claim a vegan cinnamon roll, visited the Louvre’s special Delacroix exhibition, and ate a pizza (also vegan).
Keep an eye open for an upcoming ‘best vegan pizzas in Paris’ post. The sequel to the Boston edition- we’ve relocated.

So here’s what’s happening on the interwebs, carefully avoiding the trend for snorting condoms.

  • The city of lights from the sky
  • I’m fantasizing less about these outfits and more about the swoon worthy descriptions of spring weather
  • Body glitter is now the only appropriate use for the Kira Kira filter. I am entranced.
  • What happens when you add illustrations to those random snippets of overheard conversations
  • I would stay here– books and beds are the only things I need in life
  • For it to really be Paris he would have an accordion
  • Infernal Affairs and The Departed– for me The Departed wins because Boston, but I have yet to see Infernal Affairs (it’s been on my list SO LONG) so that’s not worth much. It does look excellent, doesn’t it?
  • If you’re a Royal Wedding fan, maybe you want to enter this social media contest to suggest its defining ice cream flavor?
  • The unstoppable rise of veganism, about which I have mixed feelings (more people want to eat my cinnamon bun but more places sell vegan pizza).
  • The benefits of a plant-based diet for health and the environment.
  • Congrats to Yale and congrats to Nathan Chen.
  • An interview with my favorite makeup artist
  • A follow up on the Orientalism inherent in Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs, and in the broader world of American cinema (with a very interesting segment on 2015’s Met Gala theme).
    “It’s Japan purely as an aesthetic — and another piece of art that treats the East not as a living, breathing half of the planet but as a mirror for the Western imagination.” And perhaps the only thing that will lead to a more fair, just, and equal portrayal of Asians in cinema and pop culture is the spending power of that huge sector of the world population.
  • Turkish Rondo in finger snaps
  • Molly Ringwald reflects on the problematic legacy of John Hughes movies in the era of #MeToo