Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Awaken the Spirit Within

By Charlotte
Book Review: Awaken the Spirit Within by Rebecca Rosen
Official FC Rating: 

I bought this book because the back cover promised to help me do wonderful things, like "gain confidence in your natural talents and abilities" and "attain the clarity to make the 'right' choices and decisions for your life." 

That back cover was a damn liar. The book started out okay, but similarly to my laser tag a-game the other day, things deteriorated pretty quickly. You know, one second you're on top of the world, aiming your laser at those little five year old kids and racking up points, and then two minutes and a flight of stairs later you can barely breathe and you're cowering in a corner.* That was this book. The beginning was intriguing and filled with hope (though not wonderfully written), but it was all downhill from there.

I guess maybe I should mention what the book is about? Duh, Char.

Le genre: Body, Mind, & Spirit - Inspiration & Personal Growth and yeah I'm a little embarrassed to admit I was reading that but what's it to ya?

Rosen is a spiritual medium and her abilities and experiences are suppose to give readers better understanding, clarity, and skill to... live life?  Sort of?  

Now is as good a time as any to confess that I only read the bold bullet points on the back cover, and not the paragraph above it. So I hadn't even realized it was written by someone who talks to the dead. Would I have still purchased it, had I known? Yes. I am Catholic so I'm pretty sure it falls into the category of things I'm not supposed to believe, but I figure it's okay to just read a book without adhering to all of it's premises; surely that won't mean a ticket to hell. (Right? Any smarter Catholics out there? Am I doomed to hell?)

So I kept reading, even though it was with a sprinkle of doubt. Just because I don't believe the same things the author believes doesn't mean I can't glean any insights and wisdom from her. I've read other books about reincarnation and have enjoyed them and learned from them.  

Turns out, however, this was just a bad book. God probably won't send me to hell (not for this, anyway) but I doomed myself to torture by continuing to read it even after the 23,719th use of the word "clairvoyant." It was an eye-roll inducing read if I've ever experienced one. I think at one point I audibly asked, "Can you stop using the same word over and over and over again? We get it! You're special! Clairvoyance!" It was painful. 

My real issue with the book, though, was that it was essentially a giant advertisement.  She constantly would write something like, "In my last book, Spirited, I talk about how you can overcome ___." It was okay the first couple of times, but then it just got ridiculous. I bought THIS book, not your last book. I'm reading THIS book, not your last book. It's like she was withholding advice and you could only retrieve it by purchasing her previous book. 

I'll tell you what. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, has written several books. I recently read her latest, Better Than Before. Whenever it was necessary for her to mention a principle she wrote about in her previous book, she thoroughly explained the entire thing, in such a way that allowed us to fully absorb whatever piece of advice she was giving. She never once says, "If you want to know how to ____, buy my first book." She utilizes her other books; she doesn't advertise them. (And she doesn't have to, because her books are so terrifically helpful that you want to go buy more.) It's lame as fuck to write a self-help or personal growth book and then specifically NOT give advice in order to make money off your first book. Books shouldn't be advertisements. 

I had worried that I was just dense, and that that was why I wasn't enjoying Rosen's book. One of the tips she actually does include is to, like, imagine yourself as a mighty tree with massive roots or something. Laughed, rolled my eyes, tried it - didn't work. This was probably due to *me* and my mindset on things like meditation.  So I wouldn't ever rate her book based on how I am. But that's not the problem. The problem was what I already mentioned. I'm sure Rosen is a lovely person and kind to all around her, really. But I don't appreciate market ploys painted as self-help.  

I wouldn't recommend this book to a friend (or even a mere acquaintance). If you're looking for a personal growth or self help book, I'd recommend Rubin (obviously). She gives step by step guides on how to change bad habits or to become happy. She went so far as to develop different ways to better yourself based on different kinds of personalities! She responds to reader emails and she offers a plethora of free advice and resources on her website. It seems to me that she is really invested in truly helping herself and anyone else who needs it. THAT is how self-help books should work.

What do you all think? Have you read this book? Am I 100% wrong? Completely right? Do tell.

*I ended up recovering and winning the laser tag game.  This book never recovered.


Monday, September 28, 2015

Our New Blog

Hey, ya'll, check out our new blog!  We're both so excited to get this party going!  It only seems right that our first post is a nice story about how we became friends and why we decided to build a book-review blog together.  And, of course, how we came up with the name for our new site.  We hope you stick around.

Liz and Charlotte have been friends ever since they shared a bag of Swedish Fish in kindergarten.  Just kidding, it was during college.  They were literally adults.  Sharing candy.  And bonding.  They’ve been fairly inseparable ever since. 

In addition to a fondness of fruity candy, Liz and Char share a real love for literature.  They both aspire to have personal libraries one day, and both happily hoard piles of books they’ll likely never get around to reading, because they’re constantly busy buying or renting new books.  But that doesn’t mean they won’t try.

Char already shares book reviews on her page, and Liz does so on Goodreads, so they figured why not mash their reviews on to one cohesive site?  After all, F is for Friends who do stuff together.  And thus was born this blog.

“But, why did they name their blog “Filthy Casket?” 

Well really, why not?  The real story, though, is a boring one.  Neither Liz nor Char could get the creative juices flowing, and Charlotte, ever the impatient one, said, “I’m just going to get a dictionary, flip to a random page and close my eyes!  Whatever word I land on, we’ll use!” 

But then her finger landed on “sir-up.”  “Single” after that, followed by “filthy” and “casket.”

And Liz, the encourager, said, “Filthy Casket is so strange I actually like it.”  The two decided it was gleefully funny, and it would work well for a book review site.  “Is this romance novel fabulously filthy?  Or does it kick the bucket?”

Neither of them read romance novels, but you understand the point, right?

They’re so glad you’re here and they solemnly swear to never write in third person again.  They hope you enjoy the wild ride through this world of books.     

Liz & Char