At Least It’s Not as Bad As…: 10 Books That Can Inspire Gratitude in Hard Times

Life has been tough for me lately! I can’t go into detail because my struggles involve someone I love whose struggles run deeper than mine and I don’t have his permission to share, but it’s made it a little hard to keep on schedule with posting. When times are tough, it helps—nay, is necessary—to be thankful for the good things in my life, and I encourage you to do the same. Here are 10 books that can help you with that, all of which I’ve read, recommend, and found deals on…and suggestions for what they might make you grateful for.

Ten Perspective-Giving Books, and Their Deals

Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortensen

Three Muslim girls, with heads wrapped, read a book under the words: Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace...One School at a Time"Can make you grateful for: access to a good education

Summary, from Amazon:

Anyone who despairs of the individual’s power to change lives has to read the story of Greg Mortenson, a homeless mountaineer who, following a 1993 climb of Pakistan’s treacherous K2, was inspired by a chance encounter with impoverished mountain villagers and promised to build them a school. Over the next decade he built fifty-five schools—especially for girls—that offer a balanced education in one of the most isolated and dangerous regions on earth. As it chronicles Mortenson’s quest, which has brought him into conflict with both enraged Islamists and uncomprehending Americans, Three Cups of Teacombines adventure with a celebration of the humanitarian spirit.

Deal: $3.46 on BetterWorld.com.

 

The Fault in our Stars, by John Green

Can make you grateful for: good health

Summary, from Amazon:

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten. Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars brilliantly explores the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

Deal:

The movie is $2.99 on Amazon. You can get the book for $3.79 from Thriftbooks.com.

Austenland, by Shannon Hale

Can make you grateful for: not having the drama of being single

Summary, from Goodreads:

Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined.

Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen; or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It’s all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?

Deal:

You can get a paperback copy for $3.87 on Thriftworld.com.

 

Why Marriages Succeed or Fail, by John Gottman

Can make you grateful for: not having the difficulties of marriage

Summary, from Amazon:

Psychologist John Gottman has spent twenty years studying what makes a marriage last. Now you can use his tested methods to evaluate, strengthen, and maintain your own long-term relationship. This breakthrough book guides you through a series of self-tests designed to help you determine what kind of marriage you have, where your strengths and weaknesses are, and what specific actions you can take to help your marriage.

You’ll also learn that more sex doesn’t necessarily improve a marriage, frequent arguing will not lead to divorce, financial problems do not always spell trouble in a relationship, wives who make sour facial expressions when their husbands talk are likely to be separated within four years and there is a reason husbands withdraw from arguments—and there’s a way around it.

Dr. Gottman teaches you how to recognize attitudes that doom a marriage—contempt, criticism, defensiveness, and stonewalling—and provides practical exercises, quizzes, tips, and techniques that will help you understand and make the most of your relationship. You can avoid patterns that lead to divorce, and—Why Marriages Succeed or Fail will show you how.

Deal: It’s $3.79 on ThriftBooks.com.

Sybil, by Flora Rheta Schreiber

Can make you grateful for: sanity

Summary, from Barnes & Noble: More amazing than any work of fiction, yet true in every word, it swept to the top of the bestseller lists and riveted the consciousness of the world. As an Emmy Award-winning film starring Sally Field, it captured the home screens of an entire nation and has endured as the most electrifying TV movie ever made. It’s the story of a survivor of terrifying childhood abuse, victim of sudden and mystifying blackouts, and the first case of multiple personality ever to be psychoanalyzed.

You’re about to meet Sybil-and the sixteen selves to whom she played host, both women and men, each with a different personality, speech pattern, and even personal appearance. You’ll experience the strangeness and fascination of one woman’s rare affliction-and travel with her on her long, ultimately triumphant journey back to wholeness.

Deal: $5.56 at Barnes & Noble.

 

 

 

Sky Jumpers, by Peggy Eddleman

Can make you grateful that: the nations of the world haven’t fumigated the earth with nuclear bombs and left behind only pockets of civilization surviving in craters forever lidded with dense, radioactive clouds.

Summary, from Goodreads:

Twelve-year-old Hope lives in White Rock, a town struggling to recover from the green bombs of World War III. The bombs destroyed almost everything that came before, so the skill that matters most in White Rock—sometimes it feels like the only thing that matters—is the ability to invent so that the world can regain some of what it’s lost.
But Hope is terrible at inventing and would much rather sneak off to cliff dive into the Bomb’s Breath—the deadly band of air that covers the crater the town lives in—than fail at yet another invention.

When bandits discover that White Rock has invented priceless antibiotics, they invade. The town must choose whether to hand over the medicine and die from disease in the coming months or die fighting the bandits now. Hope and her friends, Aaren and Brock, might be the only ones who can escape through the Bomb’s Breath and make the dangerous trek over the snow-covered mountain to get help. For once, inventing isn’t the answer, but the daring and risk-taking that usually gets Hope into trouble might just save them all. 

Deal: It’s $3.46 on Betterworld.com.

 

The Fifth Wave, by Rick Yancey

Can make you grateful that: aliens haven’t besieged Planet Earth with four waves of pandemics on a scale the globe has never seen before, and are now inflicting the fifth wave, which makes you lose everyone in your family except your little brother, who gets kidnapped by the aliens.

Summary, from Goodreads:

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one. Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother-or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

Deal: It’s $1.99 on Amazon.

 

 

Obernewtyn Chronicles, by Isobelle Carmody

Can make you grateful that: you don’t have a powerful mental ability that makes you an outcast

Summary, from Goodreads:

For Elspeth Gordie freedom is-like so much else after the Great White-a memory. It was a time known as the Age of Chaos. In a final explosive flash everything was destroyed. The few who survived banded together and formed a Council for protection. But people like Elspeth-mysteriously born with powerful mental abilities-are feared by the Council and hunted down like animals…to be destroyed. Her only hope for survival to is keep her power hidden. But is secrecy enough against the terrible power of the Council?

Deal: The paperback is $2.67 on Amazon.

 

 

 

The Maze Runner, by James Dashner

Can make you grateful that: you’re not a teenage boy who wakes up amnesic in a maze from which there appears to be no escape.

Summary, from Amazon:

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone. Outside the towering stone walls that surround them is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive. Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying. Remember. Survive. Run.

Deal: This book and book 2 in the trilogy, The Scorch Trials, are $10.44. That’s about $5.20 per book.

 

 

 

 

See…so many things to be thankful for! You’re welcome! Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Book Review: The Cyber Effect, a Dire Read About Internet Psychology

I have no trouble admitting that I very much hesitated to write this review of The Cyber Effect by Mary Aiken. It’s a non-fiction explanation of how which human behavior changes online, by a cyberpsychologist. It is a thorough examination of  the internet as a relatively new and expanding space, and a very depressing one at that.  As a book, it fulfills the parameters of its title, and is technically sound and structured. Its sources are credible and robust. But, as a description of the human race, it leaves much to be desired. And to the extent that it describes in great detail the many evil uses to which the internet has been put, one might expect that, in the interest of balanced science, it would also describe its positive uses as well, or at least its possible positive uses. But in that, one is disappointed. It is a dire read of internet psychology.

What Is The Cyber Effect About?

cyber-effect-cover

“Technology is not good or bad in its own right,” says the author. “It is neutral and simply mediates behavior, which means it can be used well or poorly by humankind.” Given that introduction, one would indeed expect, or at least hope for an examination of both the ways it has so far been used “well” and the ways it has been used “poorly” by humankind. Instead, it describes only  how the internet has caused an explosion in the normalization of fetishes, addictions, and cases of hypochondria. “You don’t have to be an expert in the subject of online behavior to have observed that something about cyberspace provokes people to be more adventurous.” And, “once behavior mutates in cyberspace, where a significant number of people participate, it can double back around and become a norm in everyday life. This means that the implications of the online experience and environment are ever evolving and profound, and impact us all–no matter where we live or spend.”

While knowledge about the proliferation of humankind’s evils as facilitated by technology and the internet is helpful in combating it, so is knowledge of the healthy life practices, especially those proliferated by the internet. A whole chapter is spent documenting the necessity of nursing mothers looking at their babies’ faces while nursing, as opposed to their screens, for example, based on the author’s anecdotal experience of watching one mother looking at her screen instead of her baby’s face while nursing. A balanced perspective would have included a listing of any studies that have been done documenting how many mothers do in fact look at their babies versus how many look at their screens.

Can Balance Be Found?

gamer-generation-coverAlong those same lines, many pages are devoted to the ways and reasons why a boy or girl with any kind of an ADD or depression diagnosis will most likely become addicted to online gaming. While parents of those children, like me (my son as ADD), are aware of that possibility, they may not be aware of the positive effects of video games, as described in Jennifer Comet Wagner’s The Gamer Generation: Reaping the Benefits of Video Games or in various studies cited by TIME magazine in its analysis of the Cognitive Benefits of Video Games. This is not to say that a knowledge of the very possible, very negative implications of over-involvement in cyberspace is not important, but by its very existence and by the author’s own admission, too deep a knowledge of such things can be an evil in and of itself.

One could easily argue, as many have done, that any call to balance the debate about the overall value of the internet, and technology in general, is a call to ignore its more ghastly applications, to live in gleeful and willful ignorance. That is not what I advocate by providing this negative view of The Cyber Effect.  While I know that humankind can indeed be depraved, and that the internet has definitely exacerbated that tendency, I have, perhaps, knowledge of some of the more practical and positive uses of technology, having interviewed many wonderful women who’ve done so for MomItForward.com.

Who Should (Or Shouldn’t) Read The Cyber Effect?

I would say that all parents should read it, but only if they make it part of a larger and more focused study of the effects of internet use on their kids. I’m reluctant to review any book negatively because I know the great amount of work that goes into writing them. But it is not the book itself with which I take umbrage; it is its subject matter, its fatalistic view of humankind as defined by its use of the internet. No viable alternatives or positive steps are really given, other than those suggested by a listing of other countries’ approaches to cyberspace regulation. Those alternatives are called for, though: “We need to do more for families, and stop expecting parents to paddle their own canoes in cyberspace,” for one. “We need to start funding law enforcement better, so it can do its job in cyberspace. More resources are needed, and more teams need to be trained in this work. Academics and scientists need to be more flexible and responsive. We should bring together a large, diverse team of people to discuss and brainstorm about how best to redesign [the internet].” A much more in-depth discussion of these possibilities would have balanced out the book greatly.

What’s The Deal?

BetterWorldBooks has The Cyber Effect for $8.48 with free shipping, as opposed to the $12.23 you can get it for on Amazon.

 

Note: I received a free ARC of the book through NetGalley. All opinions provided herein are my own. Also, this post contains an affiliate link, which means I earn a small commission if you click through to purchase a copy of the book.