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I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL

THE JOY AND HEARTBREAK OF FRIENDSHIP IN WOMEN'S LIVES

Nothing groundbreaking, but a friendly, supportive guide for navigating relationships.

A psychotherapist offers advice about how to be, and keep, a friend.

Barth (Integrative Clinical Social Work Practice, 2014, etc.), whose Psychology Today blog frequently focuses on women’s friendships, draws on interviews with diverse women to examine the “magical, meaningful, and surprisingly difficult” connections they make with friends. Friendships, she writes, “can make us feel simultaneously special and outcast, loved and unlovable, vulnerable and strong, helpful and useless, angry and happy, alone and lonely, supportive and held.” From the testimony of her interviewees as well as research, she finds that women’s friendships often are characterized by emotional intimacy, trust, respect, and honesty. But friendships take many forms: some women consider friends to be occasional companions rather than confidantes; some want friends to visit often, while others are fine catching up on social media. Some women obsess over not having a large enough number of friends (an obsession exacerbated by Facebook), while others feel happy with just a few. “Research has found that friendships support mental and physical health in a variety of ways,” writes the author, but “the number of friends is less important than the role they play in your life.” In fact, “so-called superficial links can provide many of the same outcomes as more intense bonds.” After an overview of friendships, Barth devotes most of the book to problems, including disillusionment, betrayal, rejection, exclusion, competition, sexual tension, anger, setting boundaries, and loss. Each chapter, filled with vignettes and anecdotes, ends with a section titled “What You Can Do." For anyone lamenting not having enough friends, the author suggests a simple solution: “try to make and stay in some kind of contact with other people.” For anyone dealing with sexual tension or a friend who changes gender, “sometimes talking about things is the best solution, even when it feels like the hardest.” For those grieving, “research shows that taking care of yourself physically and maintaining connections with your own support system are important tools in the healing process.”

Nothing groundbreaking, but a friendly, supportive guide for navigating relationships.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-87027-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 8, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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