Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sex, Lies, and Handwriting

I first found YOUR HANDWRITING CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFEicon by Vimala Rogers, which was incredibly illuminating for me.*

I just finished reading SEX, LIES, and HANDWRITINGicon by Michelle Dresbold.


Handwriting can be incredibly revealing, not just to me about me as I found in Vimala Rogers' book, but, as Dresbold says, about others.

She is a handwriting analyst, and has been engaged in profiling criminals by their handwriting. In SEX, LIES, and HANDWRITINGicon, she uses real people's handwriting, both famous and infamous, to illustrate her points. Some of the people she names in her book have committed horrendous crimes (Jeffrey Dahmer, Timothy McVeigh), others are presidents and celebrities (Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Michael Jackson).

She describes how phallic symbols can indicate sexual frustration or obsession, as well as how some symbols that show up in handwriting can indicate a propensity to violence. How small, tight writing can indicate someone who doesn't like to interact with people and, conversely, how large handwriting can indicate someone who likes social interaction. She talks about legibility vs illegibility, how sometimes people write illegibly because they don't want others to see who they really are in their interpersonal relationships.

She also seems to agree with Vimala Rogers in that changing one's handwriting can change one's behavior or outlook. When Dresbold was studying handwriting herself, one of her teachers pointed out that the way she made her "p" - what the teacher described as a "pugilistic p", indicated that she could be argumentative and confrontational. As Michelle paid attention to her interactions, she realized that her teacher was right. She indeed found herself in situations where there were arguments and not much resolution. She decided to change the way she wrote the letter "p", and found that, over time, her interactions with others improved.

The last chapter of SEX, LIES, and HANDWRITINGicon included letters she received and responded to as a columnist called The Handwriting Doctor. People wrote her to ask if she could give insight into themselves or loved ones through their handwriting. Could Dresbold tell if someone's sister was anorexic? (yes) Would the man a woman was with be a good life partner? (no)

Handwriting can be an indication of how one is in the world. Changing one's handwriting, according to Dresbold and Rogers, can change one's outlook and presence in the world. In the last chapter, Dresbold urges some of the people who wrote her to change their behaviors, which would then result in different handwriting. I found it interesting that Rogers and Dresbold both recommend changing one's handwriting to change one's life, and that Dresbold recommends changing one's life which would also change one's handwriting, a reflection of one's life.

I find it quite fascinating, and am taking yet another look at my own handwriting. How's yours?

*See this post - one of my favorites - to see how handwriting may have changed my life:

Be sure to check out (and "like"!) our facebook page, NOT The New York Times Book Review. Clicking on the book covers will take you to Amazon's web page for each book. Clicking on the underlined book title may take you to Barnes and Noble's page for each book. Purchasing through these links helps support the blog. You can send us email: 2of3Rs(AT)gmail(DOT)com. Thanks for stopping by the blog!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Book Giveaway

Happy New Year!

As I look ahead into 2013, I have some goals for the blog. I want to read and comment on more book blogs and sites. I want to read more excellent books, maybe help some new authors gain a wider platform in the book world, and I want more people to read this blog!

To generate more interest in the blog, I'm going to try a monthly free book giveaway in 2013. How great is that?

What book will be given away this month?

That's where you come in. You get to choose which book you'd like to receive! The only requirement is that the book you choose has to have been mentioned at some point on this blog.

To enter the giveaway:
1. Look through the blog and find a book that you'd like to receive.
2. Add a comment here on the blog that includes your name and the title of the book you've chosen. Note that entries will not be received through the blog's facebook page.
3. Enter by the end of the day, January 24, 2013.
        That's it!

I will number the comments and randomly pick a number with a random number generator. I will send a message to one winner and that person will have five days to respond. If they don’t respond, I’ll pick another number. Once I have a confirmed winner, I will get their shipping address via email and send them the book they've chosen!

I'm excited to see which books will be requested!

Feel free to spread the word of this free book giveaway to your friends!

You can subscribe directly to the blog here on this page. You can also "like" us on our facebook page, NOT The New York Times Book Review, even if you can't enter the giveaway contest there. Have questions? Send us an email: 2of3Rs(AT)gmail(DOT)com. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Aviator's Wife, Paris Wife, Pastor's Wife

I just finished the new novel, THE AVIATOR'S WIFEicon by Melanie Benjamin.

Similar to Paula McLain's THE PARIS WIFEicon, the story focuses on the wife of an incredibly famous man.

THE AVIATOR'S WIFEicon is told from the point of view of Anne Morrow, the wife of Charles Lindbergh.


I have to say that I have a problem with both of these titles.

I understand that these women had social standing primarily, or at least in large part, because of their famous husbands.

At the same time, these women were strong, intelligent, interesting women. Do they have to be defined by their relationships with men?

This is a personal issue for me. I used to be married to a pastor. In the churches he served, I always felt like The Pastor's Wife, defined and seen solely through my relationship to my husband and his role.

As The Pastor's Wife, I felt expected to behave certain ways - that I had to be ever present in church and at church functions, that my children had to behave well at all times, that I had to behave well at all times, that the house provided to us had to be spotless, that we had to entertain church members in our home.

It was an uncomfortable position for me. While I always felt as though I was living in a fishbowl and constantly scrutinized, I felt as though I was seen as more of a backdrop to my pastor husband than a real person.

I felt as though almost no one saw me for who I was. That I was a woman raising kids, which was sometimes hard for me; and that I was supposed to make it look easy. That I taught school and loved it. That I missed friends and family across the country. That I loved to read. That I loved to think and challenge myself and others. That I didn't agree with everything the church, or my husband(!) said.

The pastor's wife role felt incredibly confining.

So the titles of each of these books, about fascinating women but proclaiming their primary identity as WIFE, bothered me.

It seemed that in THE AVIATOR'S WIFEicon, Anne Morrow also struggled with being defined by her relationship to her husband.

Women then were expected to marry and were most often defined by their husbands. Anne and Charles were married over 80 years ago, and Anne struggled with being seen solely as Lindbergh's wife. She was a pilot herself and wrote many books. She often felt (this novel is based on her books and diaries) invisible while the world adored - and at times reviled - her husband.

She wrote most famously about her struggle to be her own person in GIFT FROM THE SEAicon, originally published in 1955, which still resonates today.

The novel spans Anne Morrow Lindbergh's adult life, including Charles and Anne's adventures flying around the world together, the brutal murder of their firstborn son, Anne's challenge to almost single-handedly raise five children, as well as her desire to be known and seen for who she was on her own.

Her struggle doesn't seem so dated, as it resonated with me as I read the novel. I would have liked to have read this...and GIFT FROM THE SEAicon while I was married to the pastor.

I also really enjoyed discovering more about Anne and Charles, Anne's success as a pilot and author, the advent of air travel, Charles's influence in military air power in World War II both for Germany and the U.S...there is a lot here!

In the afterword to this book, Melanie Benjamin said that her hope when people read her historical fiction is that they want to find out more about the people she writes about and the times in which they lived.

She has succeeded grandly here! Both in the telling of Anne's story and in inspiring the reader to want to learn more. Well done.


And thank you to librarything.com for sending me an Advance Reader copy of this book!

Thanks for stopping by the blog! Clicking on the underlined book titles may take you to Barnes and Noble's web page for each book. Clicking on the book covers will take you to Amazon's web page for each book. Purchasing through these links helps support the blog. You can also send us email: 2of3Rs(AT)gmail(DOT)com.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

My Bookstore

I just found this book and I love it!

MY BOOKSTOREicon is a collection of writers writing about their favorite bookstore. Each one is a love letter to a particular bookstore.


I looked up authors familiar to me and read what they said, interested to see which bookstore they chose. I also looked for bookstores I know, to see who wrote about them. And of course it was great to read familiar authors talking about familiar bookstores (Chuck Palahnuik writing about Powell's in Portland, Isabelle Allende writing about Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA).

It was fun to see what made that particular bookstore special to that particular author. The book made me want to take a cross-country trip just to visit bookstores!

What is your favorite bookstore?

Clicking on the underlined book title may take you to Barnes and Noble's web page for the book. Clicking on the book cover will take you to Amazon's web page for each book. Purchasing through these links helps support the blog. You can also send us email: 2of3Rs(AT)gmail(DOT)com. You can also "like" our facebook page, NOT The New York Times Book Review. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Million Heavens

As promised, here is a post about one of the excellent books I read in 2012.

The cover art of A MILLION HEAVENSicon is a little dark, and the title is hopeful. The combination intrigued me.

The back cover describes a small town in New Mexico in which townspeople participate in a weekly vigil.


The first character we meet is a wolf. We first see the wolf as he makes his rounds in this small desert town. The wolf knows that the humans gather. The wolf does not know that the humans gather in vigil because a young boy lies in a coma.

At first it seems as though the book is primarily about the boy's coma and those connected to the vigil. We meet many of the town's inhabitants, some who vigil and some who don't. We meet the boy's father, a gas station owner, the mayor. We even meet a dead man. Everyone has their own motivations.

In the beginning of the book, the author homes in on each of the characters, training his authorial eye on each of the characters separately, as though looking at them from afar through a telescope. Gradually the stories of these seemingly random characters coalesce, and as the book evolves into a story of a town and its inhabitants, we become enveloped in the world of this little town. I love how Brandon did this .

One of my former co-workers (blauthor of Books N Bits blog) LOVES McSweeney's, their publication and their books. I am taking a page out of his playbook and recommending this great McSweeney's title.

Clicking on the book cover will take you to Amazon's web page for the book. Clicking on the underlined title may take you to Barnes and Noble's page for the book. Purchasing through these links helps support the blog. You can send us email: 2of3Rs(AT)gmail(DOT)com. Thank you for stopping by!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Books Read in 2012

Happy New Year!

While I always like to look ahead at what's next on my reading horizon, I also like to look back and remember...

Below is a list of the books I read in 2012. I like looking over the list and remembering reading (and enjoying!) the books. It's like recalling visits with good friends.

It was a Gillian Flynn year and a John Green year, since I read several titles by both of them and they were amongst my favorites.

Some delighted me...Redshirts was very fun, and so was Alif the Unseen and Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore. I also really liked Libba Bray's Beauty Queens (don't be deterred by the cover!)

There were a few disappointments...I was interested to read more about Irene Pepperberg's experiences with her highly intelligent grey parrot, but the book didn't read as well as the subject. Or maybe just as not as well as I wanted it to. And The Twelve, the second in a trilogy after The Passage, didn't hold my interest.

A few had amazing writing that stopped me in my tracks...The Dog Stars was one. I have written blog posts about some of these books...and there will be a few more blog posts about some of these! Keep an eye out!

Read in 2012:
Extra Virginity by Tom Mueller
The Translation of the Bones by Francesca Kay
Anthropology of an American Girl by Hilary Thayer Hamann
Defending Jacob by William Landay
Man Seeks God by Eric Weiner
The Sensualist by Barbara Hodgson
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Losing Clementine by Ashley Ream
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (audio)
Primacy by J.E. Fishman
The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi Durrow
The Hours by Michael Cunningham
Drop Dead Healthy by AJ Jacobs
Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen
In One Person by John Irving
The Anatomist's Apprentice by Tessa Harris
Some Assembly Required by Anne and Sam Lamott (audio)
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller
The Plaza by Guillermo Paxton
I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier
Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Redshirts by John Scalzi
The Prospect of My Arrival by Dwight Okita
Are You My Mother? by Allison Bechdel
Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
The Virgin of Small Plains by Nancy Pickard
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
Alex and Me by Irene Pepperberg
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb
Paper Towns by John Green
A Million Heavens by John Brandon
Son by Lois Lowry
Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The Likeness by Tana French
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
The Twelve by Justin Cronin
The Death of Sweet Mister By Daniel Woodrell
The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin
Sex, Lies, and Handwriting by Michelle Dresbold
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

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I'm already reading a great book to start off the new year (Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain).

Here's to 2013, a year of great reading!

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