We have to talkHave you ever thought it would be fun to be a fly on the wall during an interesting conversation? Reading the book We Have to Talk : Healing Dialogues Between Women and Men by Janet Surrey and Samuel Shem is like being a fly on the wall during couples therapy. I find it fascinating how our cultural differences are shaped by gender. Understanding between women and men is often lacking (sometimes comedically, sometimes painfully so). The authors of this book hope to change that.

Surrey and Shem are psychologists who are also married to one another. They have been conducting workshops for married men and women for over 30 years.  Their method, put simply, went like this: first, they invited couples to gather together for a weekend workshop. Fifteen people showed up to the first one: 9 women and 6 men. This included four couples and seven individuals whose partners chose to stay home. First, they gathered as a group to talk. Then, Samuel took the men to a different room while Janet stayed with the women. This is when things started to get real. The group participants shared the honest truth about their relationships among their same-sex peers, where they didn’t have to worry about hurting their partners’ feelings. Finally, they re-convened in the larger group.

What happened next was life-changing. The workshops led the psychologists and the participants to some valuable discoveries about themselves and each other.

They came to the conclusion that even though men and women generally want the same outcome from the relationship (connection), they tend to go about achieving it in vastly different ways. Not only that, but the way in which women prefer to connect (talking to their partners) has the exact opposite of the intended effect.

Women: have you ever been talking to a man and get the sense that he isn’t really listening? Men: have you ever found yourself at the mercy of a seemingly never-ending conversation, getting more and more anxious and trying to figure out some way to get out of it? The authors call this “male relational dread.” According to the authors, men often feel threatened and want out of a conversation with their partners about the relationship as quickly as possible. This often has the effect of leaving the woman feeling abandoned, then angry. Her male partner feels ashamed that his actions have upset his partner. When he tries to reconnect, his active attempts to do so (often in the form of physical touch) are received with- you guessed it- the opposite of the intended effect. The woman feels like she is being taken advantage of and wants out of the situation as quickly as possible.

How are couples to find a way to connect when their attempts to do so are by vastly different methods? Surrey and Shem attempt to answer that question. The key seems to be giving the relationship it’s own identity. It is almost like giving it an anthropomorphic quality. That is to say, whether or not the couple has children, it is helpful to think of the well-being of a third entity – the “we” – in the relationship.  When problems arise, approach it by asking the question “What does the “We” need right now?” rather than from a first-person perspective (“Here is what I need…”) The authors refer to this as “mutuality” and they have found it can make all the difference.

To learn more, check out We Have to Talk : Healing Dialogues Between Women and Men by Janet Surrey and Samuel Shem.

Featured new additions to DPL’s Philosophy and Psychology collections! Click on the title to place a hold. For more new books, visit our Upcoming Releases page. As always, if there’s a title you would like to read, please send us a purchase suggestion.


where-we-belong-9781476752426_hrWhere We Belong: Journeys That Show Us the Way by Hoda Kotb – In this incredible collection of stories, Hoda Kotb writes about individuals who realized their path in life was either veering off in a completely new direction or was getting too far off course from where they knew they belonged. By following their passions, their gut, and their heart, these people learned how fulfilling life could truly feel. From the investment banker who became a minister after years of working on Wall Street, to the young woman from a blue-collar background whose passion took her to Harvard Medical School,  the stories in Where We Belong come from an array of ordinary individuals who have discovered the power of embracing change or fighting for a dream.


10165Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray by Helen Fisher – First published in 1992, Helen Fisher’s Anatomy of Love quickly became a classic. Since then, Fisher has conducted pioneering brain research on lust, romantic love, and attachment; gathered data on more than 80,000 people to explain why you love who you love; and collected information on more than 30,000 men and women on sexting, hooking up, friends with benefits, and other current trends in courtship and marriage. And she presents a new, scientifically based and optimistic perspective on relationships in our digital age―what she calls “slow love.”


untitledInventology: How We Dream Up Things That Change the World by Pagan Kennedy – A father cleans up after his toddler and imagines a cup that won’t spill. An engineer watches people using walkie-talkies and has an idea. A doctor figures out how to deliver patients to the operating room before they die.  By studying inventions like these — the sippy cup, the cell phone, and an ingenious hospital bed — we can learn how people imagine their way around “impossible” problems to discover groundbreaking answers. Pagan Kennedy reports on how these enduring methods can be adapted to the twenty-first century, as millions of us deploy tools like crowdfunding, big data, and 3-D printing to find hidden opportunities


9780241201954Calm by Michael Acton Smith – Achieving mindfulness doesn’t require a huge lifestyle shift or special training. It’s about mastering simple habits that work with the demands of your busy life. It uses the abilities you’re born with: creativity, spontaneity, and awareness of the world around you. There are no rules to follow or break. Everyone can achieve calm. In Calm, Michael Acton Smith combines fascinating neurological research, ancient wisdom, and real-life experiences to demystify meditation and show you the many simple ways to be mindful everyday.

 


the-geography-of-genius-9781451691658_hrThe Geography of Genius: A Search for the World’s Most Creative Places from Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley by Eric Weiner – In The Geography of Genius, acclaimed travel writer Weiner sets out to examine the connection between our surroundings and our most innovative ideas. He explores the history of places, like Vienna of 1900, Renaissance Florence, ancient Athens, Song Dynasty Hangzhou, and Silicon Valley, to show how certain urban settings are conducive to ingenuity. And, with his trademark insightful humor, he walks the same paths as the geniuses who flourished in these settings to see if the spirit of what inspired figures like Socrates, Michelangelo, and Leonardo remains. In these places, Weiner asks, “What was in the air, and can we bottle it?”


717sH-KWi5L__SL1500_The Challenge of Things: Thinking Through Troubled Times by A.C. Grayling – A. C. Grayling’s lucid and stimulating books, based on the idea that philosophy should engage with the world and make itself useful, invariably cause discussion. In describing and exposing the dark side of things, he also explores ways out of the habits and prejudices of mind that would otherwise trap us forever in the deadly impasses of conflicts of all kinds.Whether he is writing about the First World War and its legacy, free speech, the advantages of an atheist prime minister or the role of science in the arts, his essays are always enlightening, enlivening, and hopeful.

signal to noise

Love. Friendship. Vinyl records. Music. And of course, magic. Moreno-Garcia has taken the everyday perils of teenage life and added in her own twist: magic found in vinyl records.

In Signal to Noise, readers are introduced to Meche, an awkward fifteen-year-old girl, who is friends with two other awkward fifteen-year-olds, Sebastian and Daniela, in 1988 Mexico City. As they slog and struggle through family and school, Meche soon discovers that in the vinyl records that are scattered throughout her house lies the possibility of magic. Soon the three are off searching record stores and Meche’s house for records that are either hot to the touch or give off a shock when touched. Meche is the one who shows a natural aptitude and ability for magic, something her grandmother both fears and acknowledges will happen as she too was blessed with the gift of magic at a young age, though she was not nearly as strong as her sisters. As Meche and her friends begin casting spells, they realize that this new magic will afford them the chance to become more popular and noticed, fix their broken families, find love, and become more confident with themselves. This use of magic comes with a price though.

Flash forward to Mexico City in 2009: Meche has come alone back to Mexico City for her estranged father’s funeral. Moreno-Garcia accomplishes the switch between 1988 and 2009 by alternating back and forth between the different time periods as the reader progresses. The difference between 1988 and 2009 leaves readers wondering what happened between Meche and her family, as well as what happened between Meche and her friends.

For those of you that are trying to wade your way into the realm of fantasy or those of you who are looking for a break from heavy fantasy, Moreno-Garcia helps these by tempering the amount of practiced magic in her book with stories of magic told by Meche’s grandmother about previous practicing witches and warlocks. The amount of fantasy within the book is also lessened by the fact that the friendships between the three teens dominate the majority of the book with magic being a thread that weaves its way throughout everything. This book worked for me as a good introduction into fantasy since the magic present within did not overwhelm me as I was reading.

duffKids in high school and even young adults in college think the problems they are going through are unique to just them and that the adults in their lives have no idea and can’t understand the problems that younger people are going through. As a result, kids seek solace in music, books, and movies where they find people going through the same problems that they face on a day-to-day basis. Funny story though: those books, movies, and music are written by adults, the very same people they thought were too different and didn’t understand them.

I found this same not-understanding,-but-understanding in The DUFFa movie about Bianca and her two friends, Jess and Casey. One day when she’s talking to Wesley, a boy that she grew up with, who also just happens to be her hot neighbor AND the captain of the football team, Wes drops the knowledge bomb on her that of the three people in her friend group, she is considered the DUFF, aka the Designated Ugly Fat Friend. To say that Bianca freaks out would be a slight understatement. The distance between Bianca and her mother seems to grow strongest at this point, but ultimately Bianca realizes that her mom can actually help her navigate through life. Bianca soon finds herself going through an altered version of the five stages of grief, which lead her to make some drastic decisions in her life, some of which include ending her friendships with Jess and Casey and enlisting Wes’s help to not be the DUFF anymore while also tutoring him in chemistry because he is on the verge of losing his scholarship, has already been kicked off the football team, and a trade needs to exist for them to help each other out. Add in a jealous ex-girlfriend, Madison, and a dreamy, guitar-playing, potential boyfriend named Toby, and Bianca soon winds up trying to find out who she actually is and eventually comes to the realization that we are all somebody’s DUFF and that is completely and totally alright.

Sounds like the plot to almost every young adult novel/movie out there, doesn’t it? I thought so. (Psstt: this novel is also available as a book, if you’re curious how close the movie follows the book like I am.) I noticed a theme running between this book and the slew of other young adult books that I have been reading recently(see my blog about Girl Online); the theme of be careful what you put online and also be careful what you do because someone out there somewhere is watching you and what you do could end up online and could drastically impact your life. (The younger crowd may be rolling their eyes right now, but all of us older people know that this is true.) In case you can’t tell by that theme, some things that Bianca does in this movie end up getting splashed all over social media, but in the end, she ends up using the ability to go viral to her advantage.

The message in this movie isn’t to not have fun, but instead to be confident and comfortable with yourself in order to find your true self and your true potential. I found this movie to be a sort of Mean Girls and John Tucker Must Die mash-up, but with enough original content that it can stand alone. Watch this movie and let me know what you thought in the comments!

introverts in loveFinding love is difficult for anyone, especially for those of us who would rather stay home where it’s quiet than go out to bars and shows to meet up with people. Sophia Dembling has chosen to address this issue in her book, Introverts in Love: The Quiet Way to Happily Ever After.

Dembling says that she wrote this book as a way to provide introverts a list of things to think about as they try to find their happily after. The items she discusses in this book as meant to be a buffet of information: pick and choose what applies to you because not everything she writes is going to apply to every introvert. Dembling discusses the mistakes introverts can make in relationships, as well as providing some solutions for those mistakes. She also talks about why some introverts seek other introverts to spend their lives with, while others are instead drawn to extroverts. Dembling continuously reiterates that this is a book for introverts and that extroverts will most likely find themselves underrepresented here since extroverts are the ones that usually do not have trouble representing themselves in the dating scene.

The inclusion of interviews from introverts from a wide variety of backgrounds will provide other introverts, like myself, with the necessary confidence to discuss how we need solitude in relationships, to articulate how we handle conflict differently than our boisterous counterparts, and to hopefully help us describe our feelings on socializing versus staying home.

Interested in learning more about what makes introverts tick? Check out Dembling’s first book about introverts, The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World, which maps as a general guide to life as an introvert.

matchmakerA touching new novel from bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand in which a woman sets out to find love for those closest to her – before it’s too late.

48-year-old Nantucketer Dabney Kimball Beech has always had a gift for matchmaking. Some call her ability mystical, while others – like her husband, celebrated economist John Boxmiller Beech, and her daughter, Agnes, who is clearly engaged to the wrong man – call it meddlesome, but there’s no arguing with her results: With 42 happy couples to her credit and all of them still together, Dabney has never been wrong about romance. Never, that is, except in the case of herself and Clendenin Hughes, the green-eyed boy who took her heart with him long ago when he left the island to pursue his dream of becoming a journalist. Now, after spending 27 years on the other side of the world, Clen is back on Nantucket, and Dabney has never felt so confused, or so alive. But when tragedy threatens her own second chance, Dabney must face the choices she’s made and share painful secrets with her family. Determined to make use of her gift before it’s too late, she sets out to find perfect matches for those she loves most.

The Matchmaker is a heartbreaking story about losing and finding love, even as you’re running out of time. (description from publisher)

visitationstreetBored and restless on a hot summer night in Red Hook, Brooklyn, 15-year-olds June and Val decide to take a pink raft down to the docks and float out into the bay.  The next morning, Val is found unconscious under a pylon, but June remains missing.  Her absence becomes a catalyst for new relationships and a weight for the residents trying to find a way out.

Red Hook, Brooklyn has become the butt of a lot of hipster jokes in the last couple of years, and along with the gentrification of the neighborhood and the devastation caused by hurricane Sandy in 2012, Red Hook has found itself in national headlines.  Pochoda’s examination of this historic neighborhood takes place right on the cusp of this change. Visitation Street is about a specific place at a specific time, but feels remarkably universal. Most young people are reaching to move beyond the circumstances to which they’re born, and as young people from across the country move to newly cool Red Hook, many of the long-term residents of Red Hook are looking for a way out.

Ivy Pochoda’s Visitation Street presents the voices of this urban, changing neighborhood in the midst of tragedy.  I often speed through books I like, wanting to find my way to the conclusion.  But in Pochoda’s debut novel, I took my time.  I genuinely liked Fadi, Cree, Val, Jonathan, Ren, and Monique — flaws and all.  

This is How you Lose HerPulitzer Prize winning author, Junot Díaz writes with a kind of swagger and cool that makes it pretty hard to believe that he’s a creative writing professor at MIT.  Having recently finished reading his third published book, a collection of short stories called This is How You Lose Her, I am convinced that he knows every dirty word in English and Spanish.  Particularly if the words are referencing female anatomy.  So be warned, this is not the novel for anyone offended by salty and sexual language.

But if you can get beyond that, I can’t recommend this book enough. Díaz, himself a Dominican immigrant, tells stories about immigrants that help create a full picture of why someone is who they are. He shows that machismo is often a projection due to a lack of respect, and poor behavior isn’t something to be excused, but it can sometimes be explained. This is never more true than in his semi-autobiographical character, Yunior, the protagonist of most of this collection.

Readers may have met Yunior in Díaz’s The Brief Life of Oscar Wao (winner of the aforementioned Pulitzer) or in his first published collection of short stories, Drown, but I met Yunior for the first time after he cheated on Magda in This is How You Lose Her.  As he cheats his way through many of these short stories — and continues to imprison himself in grief and regret following the discovery of his transgressions — Yunior’s story becomes less about each individual relationship and more about how Yunior’s relationships reflect his own self-image and cultural identity.  The most powerful passages in the novel occur in his home, when we meet his family and see the effects of his father and brother’s infidelity on the family. Equally funny and frustrating, Díaz has written a complicated novel that feels both universal and unique.

Simple writing and complex, yet realistic, characters make Jennifer Close’s Girls in White Dresses a great choice for a leisurely summer read.  The book follows a group of recent college graduates, Isabella, Mary and Lauren (plus a host of their mutual friends) as they maneuver new lives in New York with its ever-present trials and tribulations.  They each have their share of new boyfriends, new jobs and more than an abundant supply of engagement parties and weddings to attend.

Throughout the book, Close presents a funny and vivid portrayal of the complex relationship between friends.  Her accurate representation of the misunderstandings, the fights and the ultimate close bond between these young women rings true and I would imagine many readers of this book will see either themselves or their friends in the pages of Girls in White Dresses! 

David Levithan is a prolific YA author whose books I normally enjoy, so I was very interested to see that he released his first novel geared towards adults, called The Lover’s Dictionary.  The format of this book is very unique, as the story is told in short “dictionary” entries.  In each entry, the unnamed narrator defines a word like “ubiquitous”, “autonomy”, and “idea” by describing profound moments (big and little) in his longtime relationship with a woman, who is also unnamed.  Since it’s told through dictionary entries, which are of course alphabetical, the story isn’t told chronologically and it is up to the reader to determine which events happened when.  It’s filled with romance, humor, and heartbreak.

The way this story is told reminds me a lot of the movie 500 Days of Summer, which I loved. The mixed-up timeline is interesting and makes sense with the story rather than feeling like a gimmick.  It allows Levithan to pair the sad moments in the story with the more lighthearted and fun moments of their relationship, which gives the story a nice balance and feels more realistic.  It’s no sugar-coated love story; it feels gritty and real, and Levithan knows how to make you feel it right along with the main character.  If you have enjoyed Levithan’s other books or are looking for a unique and realistic love story, I recommend picking up a copy of this book.