Summer Reading: July

During the month of July, self read seven books.

The seventh is The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig, which she began yesterday (Enjoying it hugely. Has Bridget Jones Diary feelz, at least the opening pages do, but darker)

She read two self-help psychology books, two histories (Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II, by Keith Lowe, and The Reason Why, by Cecil Woodham-Smith, about the mistakes that led to the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava), a murder mystery (The Thursday Murder Club, by Richard Osman, which she hugely enjoyed), and her second Elizabeth Kolbert: Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future.


Stay cool, dear blog readers. Stay cool.

Sentence of the Day (1 July 2021)

Based on my large and diverse sample, I was able to identify six common routes to the destination “I’m done.”

— p. 31, Fault Lines: Fractured Families and How to Mend Them, by Karl Pillemer, PhD


Self feels more engaged by Fault Lines than she was about Rules of Engagement. Karl Pillemer’s methods are research-based. He used “snowball sampling” techniques: “a large group of people are contacted and then asked to contact others in turn to help find interviewees.” His aim was to find subjects who had “reconciled,” who had moved “from anger and despair to acceptance . . . This book is built on their experiences, stories, and advice.”

He is not prescriptive: His aim is to present readers “with a range of ideas that they can apply to their own situations.” He followed up with “some of the estranged respondents over time to determine whether their own situations had changed and interviewing more than one person in a number of families.” Estrangement, Pillemer writes, “can be best understood as a form of chronic stress.” But he is quick to say he doesn’t intend to offer “clinical or psychological advice”: “I am a research sociologist and have no clinical credentials of any kind.”

He is quiet about whether he himself has any experience of estrangement, but of course he does. He just doesn’t share it, but he does. No one decides to write a book like this without that experience.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Fault Lines: Fractured Families and How to Mend Them

Yes, self did blaze through Rules of Estrangement in just two days.

She can’t wait to get to the more “fun” books on her reading list, like Keith Lowe’s Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II.

How did her summer reading get so dark? Blame The Economist, which recommended Rules of Estrangement and Fault Lines.

2nd Quote of the Day: RULES OF ESTRANGEMENT

p. 94: “My therapist says you’re a narcissist.”

That is all.

Quote of the Day: DEAR MOM

This book is so fascinating. First you have to accept that the adult child will throw a lot of STUFF at you.

Exhibit A, p. 89:

Dear Mom,

I just thought you should know that I am so done with you and everything you stand for. You only do things if they’re going to make you seem like a good person, which we both know that you’re not. You’re actually a clueless, self-centered, self-absorbed person. After our lunch on Sunday where all I did was ask you for a loan, a LOAN, Mom, to your SON so he could start a business, something which, if you were to ask a few questions, he happens to know a lot about! And all you cared about was when you were going to be paid back. Really? I thought you were my mother, not a banker!!! So, yes, I’m copying in everyone in the family, so they can see you for who you are, because they really don’t know you the way I do and unlike me, they’ve all bought into your bullshit. I’m so sick and tired of your judgment and criticism and putting me down every chance you get. Even though you always act like you don’t, we both know that you do. So have fun with my siblings for now and everyone else in the family because they’ll find out about you soon enough and be done with you just as I am.


Ken (your son)

Wowee! Self loves American family melodrama! Nice job, Ken, signing off with “your son” in parentheses!

Stay cool, dear blog readers. Stay cool.


Self cannot believe she found this book as a result of an article in The Economist — which, as some readers might know, is not into New Age Psychology or anything so CALIFORNIA.

The author, Joshua Coleman (Ph.D. is after his name, so there’s that), is a psychologist with a private practice in Oakland, California.

p. 13:

  • My mission is to help you find healthy ways to reconcile. In general — and there are exceptions — I believe reconciliation is better than staying apart. Better for you and better for our society. And if a reconciliation isn’t possible, I want to help you have a happy, healthy life with or without your kid in it.

Finished INFERNO

Right eye’s been flickering, on and off, all day. Tired.

Next, she’s going to be reading a couple of self-help/psychology books recommended, improbably, by The Economist.


Inferno was excellent * excellent * excellent. Finished it a few minutes ago. The last chapter was about assigning guilt or blame.

Stay cool, dear blog readers. Stay cool.

Thursday Trios, Week of 17 June 2021

Thanks to Mama Cormier for hosting the Thursday Trios Challenge.

This week, self’s post is on: Summer Reads & Fresh Cherries

Nonfiction 2020: Illuminating

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