The Year of the Flood – Book Review

“What am I living for and
what am I dying for
are the same question.”
Margaret Atwood, The Year of the Flood

 

I came across this book and will fully admit I bought it soley because of who it was written by.  I did not know at the time that this was part of a series written by Atwood, and started it without having read the book before it.

I can’t tell you much about the plot of this book.  The plot barely moves, and the little movement it does have is more sideways than forward.  That is not what makes this such a good read.  Atwood is able to isolate the reader in a world where multiple time frames, multiple narrators, multiple points of view were all seamlessly pulled together.  Atwood is clear in her writing style and does not pander to the potential readers questions by adding in more details than are needed.  She allows the story to unfold before the reader, without diluting it with extra information.  The intentions and motivations of the characters are not spelled out in detail, but instead left to the reader to sort out for themselves.  This is an excellent example of what good writing looks like.

Despite the Falling Snow – A book review

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Despite the Falling Snow

Written by Shamim Sarif

ISBN 0-7553-2015-8

 

Alexander first appears in a courtyard, in his sixties.  He is polite, and witty, bold and a holds a preciseness that speaks of confidence and assuredness.  As his story unfolds, life during the Soviet Union shows how deep secrets can penetrate a life, beyond Russia, and alter even the most well laid out plans.  We learn of a love that overcame betrayal, friendship that ended in betrayal and most importantly of starting over at any age.  

There is a precision and delicateness to the narrative voice of this book. The plot is set out with long yards of threads to weave and slowly they are weaved together for a wonderful and fitting ending. The time line switchs between 1960’s and 2000 seamlessly, the clean voice keeping things straight on point.  

 

And being out of the loop on what is current in the media, I’ve just learned they’ve made this into a movie as well.  

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success – by Carol Dweck

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success  – by Carol Dweck

 

I learned about this book through some training I received through the Fortune Builders series of workshops and e-learning.  As well as reading the book, I had to opportunity to attend one of Fortune Builders Live Bootcamps, where this book was analyzed and expanded on.

As with many self help books and nonfiction books pertaining to one single concept, there was a lot of padding.  The endless parade of cherry picked examples turned me off of the book towards the end, however without them, I might not have gotten the concept as deeply as I inevitably did.  I had hoped there would be some insight on how one would change their mindset for the good, but beyond being diligent in identifying the traits listed in the book, it would appear that these tips are kept for the author’s Brainology classes, which of course are not included with the price of the book.

The initial concept of this book is that people, in general, can be divided into two different mindsets; the growth mindset and the fixed mindset.  The growth mindset grows continually and looks for opportunity to grow, whereas the fixed mindset is the opposite, and will seek out excuses and reasons for things to stay the same.   

 

Attributes attributed to a Fixed Mindset:

  • Needs to prove abilities and competencies: needs to be smarter, more talented, more likeable in order to feel successful.
  • Feels smart only when they are successful.
  • Feels that natural talent is the only way to be an artist of some sort and often resorts to ‘That’s just the way it is’
  • Let’s stereotypes invade their thoughts
  • Establishes superiority, pure and simple
  • Wants revenge when hurt or feel they have been wronged or rejected.
  • Feels that ‘Love conquers all’ and there is no need to work at a relationship.
  • Sees conflict as a character flaw, which then taints the entire relationship.  And since the problem comes from fixed traits, the problem never goes away.  
  • Often puts friends and peers down in order to boost their own self worth, with back-handed compliments.
  • Being shy as well as having a fixed mindset means that social relationships will be limited and harmed
  • Concerned about judgement, and avoids the risk of making mistakes.  Shyness and anxiety take control.
  • Creates an internal monologue focussing on judging.  Puts strong evaluation on each and every piece of information and action.
  • Believes only in extremes; it’s either very good or it’s very bad.
  • Will not pursue dreams that may become destroyed.
  • People with a fixed mindset hold on to them because at some point in their life it served a purpose; it told them who they were, who they wanted to be and how to do that.
  • When they are promoted, they often feel like it’s because of other factors, such as the boss being threatened by her.  

 

Growth Mindset Attributes:

  • Continues to learn and grow
  • Feels smart when they realize there’s more opportunity to learn or change and is challenged.
  • Recognizes that stereotypes are other people’s opinions.
  • Finds success in doing their best.  
  • Wants to heal, move on and learn from hurtful experiences.
  • Knows there is work to do.  “They worked together, happily ever after.  There are no great achievements without setbacks.  There are no great relationships without conflict.”  
  • Recognizes that there are three factors in a relationship; themselves, the other person, and the relationship itself.  All three need to be encouraged to grow.
  • Nurtures and encourages friends and peers to grow.
  • Being shy and having a growth mindset; looks at the challenge of the situation, not harmed by the social.  They still push through the anxiety of meeting new people.
  • Internal monologue is geared much more towards learning, improving and helping other to do better.
  • Works hard at remembering that much can be learned from the bottom of the ladder.
  • Willpower isn’t something you have or don’t have.  It’s something that needs help.  

 

A fixed mindset tends to think of nature talent is the only way to be good at certain things, the opposite is something to consider: natural talent, or being exceptional at anything, can be seen as a curse.  There’s no motivation to improve if the success seems inevitable.  

Probably the most significant piece of information that I took away was teaching my children that pride in the process is more important than pride in success.  Being honest with my child, explain their failures to them, and tell them they have done a great job with gaining skill, to avoid judgement and just teach them, will encourage them to grow and work harder.

Change is not like surgery.  You can’t just ‘change’ something and have it stick.  Old beliefs aren’t removed when changing.  Instead, new beliefs are take a place beside old ones and become stronger as we use them.  Changing towards a growth mindset can be quite unsettling.  A growth mindset  isn’t just a matter of picking up a few tricks, it’s working at it every day.  

The first step to changing a mindset, is to identify the limiting belief.  Coming to this is going to be different to everyone, whether it be through observation, reading, or a best friend who never holds any punches.  

Determine how that belief is limiting.   

Decide who you want to be, act and feel.  Want to be a painter?  Act like you feel you would, if you were a painter.  Feel what it’s like to be a painter.  Tell yourself and others that you are in fact a writer.  

And finally, create a turnaround statement that affirms or gives permission to be, act or feel a certain way.  Following a negative thought with a positive one, doesn’t cancel it out.  In order to rewrite a negative though, a bigger step needs to take and the positive idea needs to said out loud.  

 

Keep growing.  Progress is progress, no matter how small.