What is an HSP? (8 of 30)

The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You

by Elaine N. Aron, PhD

Book Review

Brief Description of HSP: Highly Sensitive People make up 15-20% of the population and have nervous systems designed to react to subtle experiences.  They are therefore more likely to become overstimulated and have high level of emotional reactivity.

There is so much about this book I would love to share, however I will try to keep it relatively brief (but highly recommend that if any of this sounds interesting or applicable to you that you get yourself a copy of the book and/or check out all of the awesome info on the HSP site).

If you would like to pause and take the HSP test, you can do so here.

Note to Non-HSPs

If you are part of the majority of the population (those who are not Highly Sensitive People) you can also benefit from this post and this book. However, some non-HSPs may react negatively to this new classification (as a non-HSP) and therefore I have added a note from Aron to non-HSPs:

Sometimes non-HSPs feel excluded and hurt by the idea that we are different from them and maybe sound like we think we are somehow better.  They say, “Do you mean I am not sensitive?” One problem is that “sensitive” also means being understanding and aware.  Both HSPs and non-HSPs can have these qualities, which are optimized when we are feeling good and alert to the subtle.  When very calm, HSPs may even enjoy the advantage of picking up more delicate nuances.  When overaroused, however, a frequent state for HSPs, we are anything but understanding or sensitive.  Instead, we are overwhelmed, frazzled, and need to be alone.  By contrast, your non-HSP friends are actually more understanding of others in highly chaotic situations.

(from the Preface, page xxvii, emphasis mine)

Quick Facts

  1. “Everyone, HSP or not, feels best when neither too bored or too aroused.” We are all seeking our optimum arousal state, which we can influence in all sorts of ways.  You can increase you level of arousal, for instance, by turning on music or drinking coffee. We can all become overwhelmed by too much arousal. (6)

  2. “People differ considerably in how much their nervous system is aroused in the same situation, under the same stimulation.” (6)
  3. 15-20% of a given species is very sensitive to stimulation (6)

  4. Arousal may appear as blushing, trembling, heart pounding, hands shaking, foggy thinking, stomach churning, muscles tensing, and hands or other parts of the body perspiring.” (10)
  5. “One general rule is that when we have no control over stimulation, it is more upsetting, even more so if we feel we are someone’s victim.  While music played by ourselves may be pleasant, heard from the neighbor’s stereo, it can be annoying, and if we have previously asked them to turn it down, it becomes a hostile invasion.” (9)


Overview of HSP Characteristics

  • Depth of Processing
  • Overstimulation
  • Emotional Reactivity/Empathy
  • Sensing the Subtle


The Book Includes:

  1. Self-knowledge (what does it mean to be an HSP)
  2. Reframing activities (helping to change the view of certain past “failures”)
  3. Healing from deeper wounds that arose from being, by nature, sensitive
  4. Help with feeling okay when out in the world and learning when to be out less

(quoted/paraphrased from the preface, page xxviii)


Science Supports the Existence of High Sensitivity

Author’s Note

Basically, this book begins in the Author’s note (2016) with scientific research supporting the existence of this trait, which seems like an absolute necessity in today’s world for validating any claims.

“…many species—now we know it’s more than one hundred, so far, including fruit flies and some fish species—have a minority that are highly sensitive. Although obviously the trait leads to different behaviors depending on whether you are a fruit fly, fish, bird, dog, deer, monkey, or human, a general description of it would be that the minority that has inherited it has adopted a survival strategy of pausing to check, observe, and reflect on or process what has been noticed before choosing an action.  Slowness to act, however, is not the hallmark of the trait.  When sensitive individuals see right away that their situation is like a past one, thanks to having learned so thoroughly from thinking over the last time, they can react to a danger or opportunity faster than others. For this reason, the most basic aspect of the trait—depth of processinghas been difficult to observe.  Without knowing about it, when someone paused before acting, other could only guess what was happening inside that person.  Often HSPs were thought to be inhibited, shy, fearful, or introverted (in fact, roughly 30 percent of HSPs are actually extroverts, and many introverts are not HSPs). Some HSP accepted those labels, having no other explanation for their hesitancy.  Indeed, feeling different and flawed, some of us found the label “shy” or “fearful of social judgment” self-fulfilling… Others knew they were different but hid it and adapted, acting like the less sensitive majority.”

(author’s note, pages xiii-xiv, emphasis mine)

The research suggests that it is connected to both serotonin and dopamine levels and that it is genetic.

“Although everyone agrees that much of one’s personality is inherited, no researches had found genes as strongly associated as this when they studied the standard personality traits, such as introversion, conscientiousness, and agreeableness.  These researchers in China looked at high sensitivity instead, believing it to be more ‘deeply rooted in the nervous system.'” (page xvi)

High Sensitivity ≠ Introversion or Neuroticism 


Related terms: biological sensitivity to context, differential susceptibility and vantage sensitivity, orienting sensitivity

Quotes that Stuck Out & Things to Remember

Not the Ideal

If you remember only one things from this book, it should be the following research study. Xinyin Chen and Kenneth Rubin of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, and Yuerong Sun of Shanghai Teachers University compared 480 schoolchildren in Shanghai to 296 in Canada to see what traits made children most popular. In China “shy” and “sensitive” were among those most chosen by others to be friends or playmates… In Canada, shy and sensitive children were among the least chosen. Chances are, this is the kind of attitude you faced growing up.

Think about the impact on you of not being the ideal for your culture.  It has to affect you—not only how others have treated you buy how you have come to treat yourself. (15)

The book entitled Quiet by Susan Cain discusses this idea of cultural differences in ideal personality traits often and in a broader context, specifically regarding the Extrovert Ideal in our western culture. If you are not an HSP, but are an introvert who often feels marginalized by our culture, I recommend checking out Quiet:The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking as well.  Keep an eye out, as I also plan to do a review of that book in the coming weeks.

Arousability and Intuition

“What this difference in arousability means is that you notice levels of stimulation that go unobserved by others.  This is true whether we are talking about subtle sounds, sights, or physical sensations like pain. It is not that your hearing, vision, or other senses are more acute (plenty of HSPs wear glasses). The difference seems to lie somewhere on the way to the brain or in the brain, in a more careful processing of information…

This greater awareness of the subtle tends to make you more intuitive, which simply means picking up and working through information in a semiconscious or unconscious way. The result is that you often “just know” without realizing how.” (7)

I would fascinated to know what percentage of HSPs type as an Intuitive within the Myer’s Briggs (MBTI) system. If you have done or read any research regarding this please comment or contact me!

HSPs and College

Sometimes, however, we take too big a step.  College can be that for some HSPs.  I have know so many HSPs who dropped out after the first term (or after their first return home, often at Christmas).  Neither they nor their parents nor their counselors understand the real problem, overstimulation from a whole new life—new people, new ideas, new life plans, plus living in a noisy dorm and staying up all night talking or partying, plus probably experimenting with sex, drugs, and alcohol (or nursing your friends through the aftereffect of their experiments).

Even when the sensitive student would rather withdraw and rest, there is that pressure to do what other do, be normal, keep up, make friends, satisfy everyone’s expectations.  Whatever trouble you had in college should be reframed. It was not some personal failure. (85)

I have honesty found this passage, and so many others, to be surprisingly life-changing.  I am learning to give grace to past-Megan for things that I used to be frustrated with her about… Being too “weak” to stay at all the noisy, crowded group events or to be able to keep up with all the social events of our friend group. Being so hesitant to live in a house with 7 girls and being too “lame” for not loving it (in fact, it was actually kind of torturous a lot of the time.  see #5 in the quick facts section above…). Being too “anxious” to do much public speaking (or getting so nervous and sweaty and jumbled when it couldn’t be avoided).  What were your experiences as an HSP in college?

Self-Esteem and Worth

Sooner or later everyone encounters stressful life experiences, but HSPs react more to such stimulation  If you see this reaction as part of some basic flaw, you intensify the stress already present in any life crisis. Next come feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness. (5)

These are the quotes that make me wish that everyone could learn more about this topic… But as long as sensitivity is seen as a defect, there is little hope for healthy self-esteem to develop in those who are being viewed as inherently flawed.

Talking about “curing” your shyness or “conquering your syndrome” cannot help but make you feel flawed, and it overlooks the positive side of your inherited trait. (104)


Others Tidbits

HSPs often have more bad dreams than do their non-HSP counterparts.

“As you reparent your body, the first thing to realize is that the more it avoids stimulation, the more arousing the remaining stimulation becomes.” (51)

“…overarousal can be mistaken for anxiety.” (78)

“Ignore the barbs about ‘lightening up.'” (100)

HSPs probably make their greatest communication errors by avoiding the overarousal caused by unpleasantries.  I think most people, but HSPs especially, dread anger, confrontation, tears, anxiety, “scenes,” facing change (it always means the loss of something), being asked to change, being judged or shamed by our mistakes, or judging or shaming anyone else…Furthermore, your intuition is leaping ahead. In a very real, arousing, semiconscious imaginary world, you are already experiencing various ways the conversation might go, and more of them are distressing. (156)


In Conclusion

In this post, I tended to focus on the more overarching quotes, facts, and descriptions from the book.  However, I do want to point out that there is a wealth of information to be found in the later, more specific sections of the book about things such as strategies for handling overstimulating situations, helpful anecdotes, parenting a HSP child, parenting as an HSP yourself, medications such as Prozac, activities for personal reflection and growth, work situations, healing from past wounding, and so much more. So if this has held your attention and interest thus far, I highly recommend checking out the entirety of the book!

Additionally, there were a couple of really great pages about determining a vocation that I wanted to share, but I think I will save that for an upcoming post, giving the fact that life direction is still something I am definitely working on identifying. Stay tuned!

What is an HSP? (8 of 30)

GOAL: author//illustrator

Hey friends,

As it has been miserably cold here in Blacksburg since the new year started I have unfortunately made no progress yet on my goal to walk all the streets. However, I do have some other goals on my list for 2018 that I have yet to share here on the blog.  For example, I would like to complete a Lynda CSS course before the year ends. I would like to attempt to screenprint with the kit my husband gave me for my birthday last year (preferably without making a complete mess of my apartment…).  I would like to knit something following a pattern (that isn’t a scarf, pillow, or standard headband).  But as this post title suggests, the big one for the day is my goal to write, illustrate, and publish a children’s book.  I am really excited about this one and have already been working for a couple months on ideas, sketches, research, layouts, etc.  There will definitely be lots more to come in future posts about the process, the origin of the idea, the inspiration, and my emotions related to it all, but for now I wanted to share a little research project I have been working on in order to learn more about the world of children’s books.

So in college I majored in architecture.  This obviously meant I took lots of design courses and in design courses one learns the importance of diagrams.  There is beauty to the distillation of an idea down to it’s core parts/nodes/interactions/relationships.  In college I also took a children’s literature course (which I LOVED).  The remainder of this post will be a combination of those two areas of my past experience as I explore popular children’s book covers (primarily the ones listed here).

As I have been working on the artwork for this book it has become increasingly obvious that having a good cover is vital. But what constitutes a good cover?  Why are certain ones more successful than others?  And let’s be honest here.  As much as we would all like to say that we try not to judge books by their covers, we know we all do it.  We’re visual creatures with a ton of sensory input to sift through every day and the world is FILLED with books and art and illustrations.  It would be impossible to not function this way.  But knowing that, how can one little book ever hope to stand out admist all the others?

(and before I get discouraged and anxious and fall into an existential crisis, let’s get going…)

summary reduce2

Book Cover Analysis


by Stacey Previn


  • mouse the main subject
  • eye drawn to the red balloon
  • colorful flowers
  • eye moves upward to top right
  • subtitle: can a little mouse have a big adventure?

The Bear and the Piano

by David Litchfield

The Bear and the Piano

  • magical environment with fireflies and vines
  • central layout
  • curtains suggest a performance and help frame the subject
  • why is there a piano in the woods? is it big or is the bear small? what will the bear do with it?

Book Uncle and Me

by Uma Krishnaswami, Illustrated by Julianna Swaney

Book Uncle and Me

  • she’s looking off to the left (what’s over there?)
  • the birds flying add motion
  • sign that says “Vote Samuel” (do we meet samuel?)
  • the question we’re all asking…what’s a book uncle?
  • colorful stack of books (inviting and fun)
  • obviously about reading; she is holding a book, stack of books, sign says “books free give one take one read read read”

Cat in the Hat

by Dr. Seuss

example cover diagrams3

  • A classic book with a well-known cover
  • based upon thirds
  • blue, black, white, and red


by Peter Bunzl


  • title stands out well amidst so much going on
  • dashed line for movement (blimp)
  • the fox, people, and blimp are all moving in a counterclockwise direction
  • subtitle: a stunning adventure of danger and daring
  • windup fox, moon/stars/clouds, clock, 2 people, buildings, key, locket-like photo
  • suggestive of travel, especially traveling in time

Counting Thyme

by Melanie Conklin

Counting Thyme

  • cold blue background with most warmth form the window with the girl in red
  • papers thrown/flying
  • Thyme spelled like spice…maybe a name?
  • bird in a window…why?
  • just in general, a question of what is going on? what is this about? I am intrigued.

Dave’s Cave

by Frann Preston-Gannon

Dave's cave

  • distressed, masculine font
  • warm colored focal point (caveman)
  • he’s looking off at… what? his cave?
  • simple, but asks a question of what is special about dave’s cave? he’s smiling… is he proud of his cave?

Full of Beans

by Jennifer L. Holm

example cover diagrams4

  • has a stamped/lithograph/letterpress quality
  • solid colors
  • movement off page
  • just the hand of a kid within the visible frame (leaves mystery)
  • dog in a wagon filled with cans (of beans?)… where are they going?
  • subtitle: Never tell a lie…Unless you have to.
  • what might you have to tell a lie about? mischievous. sounds like like adventure/trouble/mishap

Goodnight Moon

by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd

example cover diagrams3

  • classic book
  • solid colors
  • layout based upon diagonal eye movement between the red-orange of the fire, to the red-orange of the curtains, to the moon in the window

Henry and the Guardians of the Lost

by Jenny Nimmo

example cover diagrams4

  • red focal point (jacket on boy, assumed to be Henry) with cool colored surroundings
  • is that a mini person by him?
  • markings on the archway suggest historical/ancient/mystical
  • wolves hidden in the woods on the sides (danger lurks)
  • he’s looking upward, presumably at the markings
  • is Lost a group? a place? anyone lost in that forest? does Henry meet the guardians because he gets lost? does he become a guardian?


by Aaron Becker

example cover diagrams3

  • the red of the boat and crayon match; similar to title
  • from focal point of boat in lower left, follow gaze of girl up to the castle where presumably her journey will take her; movement
  • upon closer inspection a light purple bird in the sky above the towers that seems out of place compared to the colors of the castle, but more similar to the brightness of the boat

Leave Me Alone

by Vera Brosgol

example cover diagrams4

  • yelled title is the focal point
  • secondarily the old lady yelling it
  • and then eyes go to the four individuals who look friendly and interested in the lady (and are probably the reason for her exclamation…)

Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion

by Alex T. Smith

example cover diagrams4

  • colorful
  • expressive characters: mean looking lion, girl looks disapproving/quizzical
  • set of three: lion, girl, goat
  • eyes looking up at lion, lion looking at reader
  • is the lion going to try and eat the girl? neither her nor the goat look too concerned about that possibility…


by Ludwig Bemelmans

example cover diagrams3

  • classic book and cover
  • eiffel tower and miss clavel are aligned but slightly off center
  • the real focus is not France, nor the eleven girls, but Madeline in particular who is turned around to face the reader and is along the central axis of the page

The Night Gardener

by Terry Fan and Eric Fan

example cover diagrams4

  • assumption that the night gardener of the title made this owl tree
  • how is the boy related to the story? is he the gardener? discoverer?
  • it is, indeed, nighttime
  • stable and centered, cool colored; nonthreatening cover

One Day in the Eucalyptus Tree, Eucalyptus Tree

by Daniel Bernstrom, Illustrated by Brendan Wenzel

example cover diagrams4

  • colorful jungle-like scene
  • animals looking down from vines/tree
  • boy looking at pinwheel in hand
  • he’s in motion, walking and looking happy
  • assumed to be aimed at younger readers given the repetition in the title


by Sara Pennypacker, Illustrated by Jon Klassen

example cover diagrams2

  • dog/fox/wold looking out over the land toward the sun; assumption that it’s name is Pax?
  • is it longing for an adventure? looking for something? enjoying the sunset? wild? tame? lost?
  • this one is pretty vague as to potential plot

Penguin Problems

by Jory John and Lane Smith

example cover diagrams2

  • assumption: the problem has to do with too many penguins
  • repetition and pattern (and breaking it)
  • simple and effective color scheme
  • one different hidden among many of the same
  • is he confused? concerned? annoyed?
  • could be a counting book…

Saving Wonder

by Mary Knight

example cover diagrams2

  • deer is the focal point, with antlers become trees that two children (silhouettes) are sitting in
  • Wonder the deer’s name?
  • wonder at nature? (mountains, clouds, branches with leaves)
  • perhaps a pun suggesting that both nature and the feelings of wonder toward nature are in need of saving?

Some Kind of Happiness

by Claire Legrand

example cover diagrams2

  • looks like a golden section/rectangle ratio might have been used for the layout
  • central axis with multiple points of interest along it including a house, person, and crown
  • I first assumed the person was looking up the hill at the house, but perhaps walking down in the woods toward the crown?
  • where is the happiness found? multiple kinds of happiness?
  • yellow of the crown draws eyes downward; seemingly hidden in the forest

The Storyteller

by Evan Turk

example cover diagrams2

  • off-center
  • the stories extend beyond the border, as do the clouds (storytelling of a world beyond the current borders?)
  • big and exciting and magical
  • illustration reinforcing the title
  • what’s in the bag? what does he tell stories about? to whom?


by Britta Teckentrup

example cover diagrams2

  • subtitle: a peek through picture book
  • owl’s hold like a peek through hole into a home/different world; let’s look inside
  • colorful, cool background with warm colored trunk and animals
  • simple shapes and generally inviting

We Are Giants

by Amber Lee Dodd

example cover diagrams2

  • title in red and giant
  • red echoed in the flowers
  • shadows/silhouettes are secondary focal point
  • shadows bigger than the people/kids really are; perhaps they feel big and powerful? holding hands with friends… the power of friendship? are they playing pretend?

When Friendship Followed Me Home

by Paul Griffin

example cover diagrams2

  • pun on a dog named Friendship or the dog becomes a friend
  • title shaped to fit the dog shape and is the primary focus
  • mostly shades of blue with yellow accents

When the Sea Turned to Silver

by Grace Lin

example cover diagrams3

  • double symmetry broken by the sea/horse/people
  • downward slope and fear of children and anger of horse create an overall scary scene
  • disruption of peace and order
  • intertwined cool and warm colors, though dominated by the blue of the sea; interrupted by the silver of the horse
  • seemingly Asian symbols on top and bottom

Wolf Hollow

by Lauren Wolk

example cover diagrams3

  • writing in a journal (in a place called Wolf Hollow?)
  • the title is in a hollow created by the trees/words
  • perhaps an actual cozy, secret place, or safety is found in the process of journaling?
  • description within the script that acts both as a frame and a conveyor of information


Wow. Okay. So, I think I am done with that exercise for a while. That took longer than I expected!

In conclusion, I think there are a ton of excellent cover examples that use all sorts of methods for conveying the subjects of their stories and arousing interest in the reader. Overall the basic concepts I seemed to pick up on include:

  • Warm and cool colors of the illustrations
  • Movement and stability in the layouts
  • Symbolism, metaphors, puns
  • Typeface, font size, and color
  • The direction of the gazes of the characters
  • How to create focal points and move the readers gaze
  • How to invoke questions and interest

So, any thoughts? Insights?

Stay posted for more information about my 2018 goals, specifically the upcoming children’s book!


GOAL: author//illustrator

Notes + Quotes: French Kids Eat Everything

I am a nanny. Or, well, I guess I was a nanny.  My last official day of work watching my little charge was yesterday and honestly, I cried myself to sleep last night. But that’s beside the point… Having been a nanny for a little over a year, I got a tiny glimpse into what it’s like to be a parent, and with that came a small glimpse into the American kid-parent food battle.  And while I absolutely adored my job, let me tell you, trying to feed a toddler nutritious, varied meals is not all sunshine and roses.  I wiped up many a swatted  spoonful and picked up more thrown morsels than I’d like to admit. But we tend to take this behavior as part of the baby/toddler phase.  The fact that they will only eat PB&J or chicken nuggets and push everything else to the floor is normal…right?  It’s hard to know to question the aspects of life we just assume to be The Way Things Are. We don’t know what we don’t know.  But the book by Karen Le Billon called French Kids Eat Everything (and Yours Can, Too) provided a fascinating insight into how the American culture tends to view food and how these attitudes are not the norm across the globe, particularly in France.  It helped me to be aware of the ways I have been programmed to think and talk about food and to see how this inevitably impacts the little ones around me.  There were many points I wanted to remember while reading so I started taking notes.  What follows are my notes + quotes (apologies for any errors), though I recommend reading the book yourself if you are interested!  It was a quick and easy read and while I don’t necessarily agree with everything written, nor do I think all the advice can or should be applied (we live in a very different culture and some things just aren’t feasible here), I always think that there are benefits to seeing the world from another perspective.  We tend to think that food is food and that it is relatively the same everywhere, but I had no idea how fundamentally different my views of food are (were) than people elsewhere. Let me know what you think!

French food rule #1:
Parents: you are in charge of your children’s food education.

Average of times children have to taste a new food before they willingly eat it: seven, though between ten and fifteen is recommended
(“So whereas I often assumed that my children didn’t like a particular type of food, my French friends would simply assume their children hadn’t tried it enough times.”)

“…I also learned that nutrition and healthy eating habits, while important, don’t need to be the main focus.  Rather, enjoying your food is the focus, and healthy eating habits are a happy by-product.”
(Food is fun!)

Chapter 2: Baby Steps and Beet Puree

The children were simply not allowed to play with their food. Little fingers that dipped into bowls were kindly but firmly removed.  Failure to cooperate (which was rare) was met with a gentle but firm response: plates would be removed.  The message was clear: if you can’t eat properly (which means eating tidily, even for toddler), you won’t eat at all.

“WE (the French) don’t play with our food.” > “Don’t play with your food”

Above all else, French children are never taught to view food as a reward.

French food rule #2:
Avoid emotional eating. Food is not a pacifier, a distraction, a toy, a bribe, a reward, or a substitute for discipline.

Rarely eat for “non-nutritive” reasons

A respectful attitude
They never, ever eat without putting a tablecloth on the table
Setting the table is a ritual that expresses the ceremonial and aesthetic aspects of French eating, at the core of which is the belief that eating is intensely social and that it rightfully happens around the table. (27)

Food is never eaten standing up, or in the car, or on the go. Food is not eaten anywhere in fact, but at the table. And food is only served when everyone is at the table.

Chapter 3: schooling the stomach

The French system is actually a highly perfected peer-pressure-driven food diversification program. … Teachers, too, played an active role in educating the children about food… They had three key goals:
1. Protect children’s health and support their academic performance by feeding them nutritious food
2. Educate children: to cultivate their palates, teach them basic rules of food hygiene and nutrition, and open their minds to food as culture​, art, and national heritage
3. Discipline their eating habits, setting f up healthy routines for when, where, how, what, and why kids ate what they did

Book example for new parents: The Birth of Taste: How to Give Children the Gift of Enjoying Food

“Tasting Week”
French Institute of Taste
Taste Training: Through exploring how food experiences are composed of taste, vision, smell, touch, and hearing , children learn to explore food through their five senses.

By making food education mandatory, the government ensured that healthy diets would not be restricted to the elite.

French food rule #3:
Parents schedule meals and menus. Kids eat what adults eat: no substitutes and no short-order cooking.

North America: autonomy and independence
“If the food is delicious, why do you need to have a choice?”
France: too much choice is (potentially) a symptom of lower quality

Chapter 4: L’art de la table
French food culture:
1. Eating is inherently social; the French make a point of having fun while eating; the table is a place of emotional warmth and connection; French children learn how the world works (by listening to their parents talk) and conversation skills (how to interact with adults, how to argue without offending someone, and how to listen well)
Not only expected to eat together, but to eat the same thing together (French “communal” vs. American “contractual”)
2. bon got: “good taste”
3. food rules/habits: shared social norms about when, where, how much, and how food is consumed

French food rule #4:
Food is social. Eat family meals together at the table with no distractions.

Chapter 5: Food Fights
aliment: cultural definitions of things we find nourishing and appetizing (example: frog’s legs)

Contrast in parenting styles between French and American; different assumptions of what is normal in a social situation (in France it is normal and expected to firmly discipline (your own or even other) children in public if misbehaving)

From the French point of view, the world is made by adults and for adults. (87)
Children are viewed and treated as mini adults, from clothes to furniture to behavioral expectations.

“…children’s primary job is to behave, and parents primary job is to help them behave.”

attachment parenting vs. indulgent parenting (90-91)
puériculture (the science of childrearing)
French researcher Claude Fischler

“One must eat a bit of everything.”
“Eating unhealthy foods once in a while is not a problem.”
Good understanding in French children of which foods are healthy/unhealthy and why.
“New is normal”

French food rule #5:
Eat vegetables of all colors of the rainbow. Don’t eat the same main dish more than once per week.

Jane Nelsen’s Positive Discipline
My mistake, I decided, was that I’d been to permissive in the past, but had now overcompensated by being too authoritarian (strict, controlling, punitive). What I needed instead was to be authoritative (firm, but kind, and gently supportive).

habits and customs, rather than regulations

Chapter 6: The Kohlrabi Experiment
neophobia: fear of novelty
– usually appears around age two (a phase, not a lifelong condition)
– may be protective behavior, may have an evolutionary basis, may be primarily psychological (developmental phase of opposition to parents), or may be from developing taste buds
– kids learn what to like or dislike

When I asked, most parents thought that their kids were testing limits rather than really expressing a true dislike of the food offered to them. And they insisted that it was important not to enter into a power struggle: if their kids refused food, their parents would simply take it away, with little fuss. But no substitute would be provided—and parents held firm to this rule.
“serene indifference”

My child will not continue refusing to eat if I simply refuse to react.

…babies’ innate curiosity about (and love of) trying new food. (110)

Rules are about positive discipline, combined with unquestioned routines that make it seem entirely natural for french children to try new foods.

French food rule #6a:
For picky eaters: you don’t have to like it, but you do have to taste it.

The trick is to get the kids to take the initiative rather than forcing the issue.

French food rule #6b:
For fussy eaters: you don’t have to like it, but you do have to eat it.

Focused on variety of taste, texture, and color (instead of micronutrients, like iron)

The French understand ‘appetite’ as a psychological state, which primes you to eat (and be satisfied) by certain foods.

Société Française de Pédiante – “food diversification” section

Very precise about ages and stages for introducing new foods

At four months, the first food for French babies is not necessarily cereal (as is usual in North America), but rather a thin vegetable puree or soup. Standard advice from pediatricians is to dilute this with milk, and serve it in a baby bottle. On day one, a dollop of soup (say, leek soup) in their milk introduces them to the taste.
On successive days , the amount of soup is increased (and the amount of milk is decreased). Within less than a week, baby is drinking vegetable soup rather than milk for the main meal of the day. The next step is to gradually thicken the soup, moving to a sippy cup, and then to a spoon. (118-119)

[The author doesn’t] agree with everything in the French model: despite all of the research demonstrating the advantages of breastfeeding, France has some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the industrialized world. And if French mothers do breastfeed, they typically stop at two months.

Cookbook author: Cyril Lignac

The Birth of Taste by Natalie Rigal

To buy: the BabyCook

It’s all in the marketing – the presentation (including cutlery, serving dishes, tablecloth) AND the name

festive and fun
The table should be the happiest place in the house.

“You don’t like it? That’s because you haven’t tasted it enough times yet. Maybe next time!”
“You’re hungry? That’s fine. You’ll really appreciate your [insert next meal]. We’re having something really yummy: [insert name of dish].

Assess the quality of a child’s food intake over a period of a week rather than demanding a completely balanced meal every time they sit down.

The point is to taste the new foods, not necessarily to eat a whole bunch.

Chapter 7: Four Square Meals a Day
Why French​ Kids Don’t Snack

French food rule #7:
Limit snacks, ideally in person day (two maximum) and not within an hour of meals.

In between meals it’s okay to feel hungry.
At meals, eat until you’re satisfied rather than full.

High satiety foods (usually protein- and fiber-rich): whole grains, beans, lentils, oats, lean meats, fish, leafy greens and high water/fiber content fruits and vegetables

Benefits of scheduling meals and limiting snacks:
– no more negotiating
– no emotional eating
– less mental stress
– time saved
– money saved
– better nutrition
– less temptation for parent to snack

Chapter 8: Slow Food Nation
It’s not only what you eat, it’s how you eat it

French food rule #8
Take your time, for both cooking and eating. Slow food is happy food.

In France, nutrition, fueling yourself, feeling dull, personal health nor weight loss aren’t the primary goals of eating. Enjoyment is the goal of eating.

The French take longer [than Americans] to eat less [than Americans], allowing the body’s signals of fullness to kick in before you’ve finished eating. (163)

I’m full vs. I’m not hungry anymore
Are you full? vs. Are you satisfied? / Have you had enough?

Chapter 9: The Best of Both Worlds

Anecdotal story of trying to live by the French food rules while back in Vancouver, with one kid in daycare and the other in school. Issues included not enough time for eating slowly, social pressures, and a culture of snacking.

French Food Rule #9:
Eat mostly real, homemade food, and save treats for special occasions.
(Hint: anything processed is not “real” food.)

terroir: a word referring to the close relationship between people, their land and climate, and their food

The 100-Mile Diet (book)

The essence of the French approach is this: find a balance between the foods available where you are living, your terroir and traditional cooking skills, and a schedule that lends itself to mindfulness cooking and eating.

Chapter 10: The Most Important Food Rule of All

idea: frozen homemade soups

French Food Rule #10:
Eating is joyful, not stressful. Treat the food rules as habits or routines rather than strict regulations; it’s fine to relax them once in a while.

Seek to avoid excess in eating: excess control of food and obsession with healthy eating are to be avoided, just as much as indulgent or unrestrained eating of poor-quality food.

Moderation + Balance

Additionally, the blog site The Conscientious Eater was recently recommended to me by a dear friend as a place of healthy food talk (not just talk of healthy food). I haven’t read too much yet but I am heading over there now to check it out!

Notes + Quotes: French Kids Eat Everything

Notes + Quotes: Intro to Art Therapy

Introduction to Art Therapy:

Faith in the Product

By Bruce Moon

In summary, this book was incredible.  I loved every w
ord and even when it was a bit repetitive, it served to remind or rephrase some of the most important points.  This is the first work I have read related to Art Therapy and I am honestly a bit hesitant to read anything else; I feel nobody will have such a beautiful way of writing about art, love, humanity, and therapy.  Perhaps it was because I was expecting a more standard textbook format (with bolded words, asides, and footnotes), but the combination of anecdotes and summarization, of definitions and humility, and of personal works of art was more than I would have ever hoped for of a book generically entitled Introduction to Art Therapy.  Thank you Bruce Moon, for your compassion towards humanity, your love of the arts, and your belief in the life-changing potential of art therapy. What follows were the ‘notes’ that I took while reading (though honestly mostly excerpts and quotes).  If it sounds like an interesting book to you I recommending reading the entirety of it, as I didn’t include any of the anecdotal stories, which I found to be some of the most enlightening. 

(I apologize for any errors or typos.  I typed the majority of this on my phone and, well, we all know how that goes.)

Chapter I:

Why do you do art?
Love is the will to attend, to the self and others.
The doing of art is an act of love.

The relationship between art, art therapy, and love is utterly tied to the presence of discipline, focus (concentration), patience, skillfulness (mastery), and faith. (Faith in the goodness of life, the arts, of others, and of ourselves. Fromm said “… only the person who has faith in himself is able to be faithful to others.” I would emphasize that only the art therapist who has faith in her, or his, own images is able to have faith in those of others, i.e. clients.)

Anything that we attempt to do, if we only do it when we are in the mood, or when we feel like it, may be amusing it may pass the time, but it will never be art.

Without self-discipline life is random and chaotic—what Viktor Frank describes as the, “existential vaccuum.”

Offering a safe, predictable, and comfortable environment

Speed is not of the essence when it comes to art and love. In fact, doing these things quickly may be the antithesis of doing them skillfully

Nothing that is valuable comes conveniently or easily.

Chapter II:

Answer: YES

“I have always found it facinating​ that this system (stratified pyramid/caste system) works in such a way as to discourage contact with the patient.”

One must first be an artist, in order to become an art therapist. art is the anchor, the soul, the taproot of the profession. “ARTIST: the one who professes and practices and imaginative art.” (Webster’s New college dictionary) This does not imply hay one must exhibit his or her work, or enter competitive situations. Rather it leads to a definition of art therapist as one who practices an imaginative art and attends to others though the process and the products of artistic work. (28)

Chapter III:

“beyond words​”
The heart of the profession is experienced in moments that defy verbal description.
Every paint streak, each xhalk line, every slab of color harmonious and dissonant, declares to the artist themselves, to beholders of their work and to all humankind that I am, I am here and I have something to express.

It is a dangerous thing, TO BE. It is beyond words.

Chapter IV:

The story of Jan.

The resistance phase
The working through phase
The termination phase

Patterns/metaphoric themes of termination:
1. I will get mad at you, you will be angry with me and I will feel no pain when I leave you.
2. I will withdraw from you early, so that when I leave I will not miss you.
3. Wasn’t this wonderful, I’m so glad I met you, you’ve really changed my life.
4. I will use this time to honor the work that we have done together.

Chapter V:

Dramatic enactment is a preplanned , even scripted interaction; the fulfillment of a role; the identification of the comic and tragic in real life…. Each of us plays roles, directs others and is directed, word and recites dialogue. Each of us rehearses and each of us spends time to find our motivations and to get into character. (50)

Dramatic enactment, as an everyday, semi-invisible art form, serves a vital purpose to humanity. It provides a structure for understanding. Truth (reality) is stranger than fiction because it is less comprehensible. Humans need to interpret raw reality to make sense of it. Art forms of all kinds have this critical mission. Patterns and structures from the arts codify and simplify the stream of data called life. An artistic view is a “take” or perspective that suggests a meaning.

Any human art: make life more understandable and express values

Theraputic empathy means that you, the art therapist, understand the drama that is being enacted in your patient’s life and see his or her role in it. You then use your own dramatic skills to project yourself into that role. You understand the motivations for the actions your patient performs and the lines he or she speaks.
Empathy is usually spoken of as an important element in gaining the patient’s trust and acceptance, engendering hope. These things are all true. And the trust is rewarded, and hope justified, when the therapist takes the next step in empathy. The therapist remains in the patient’s character and then examines options and choices for changing the drama. Theraputic options obtained this way have such greater per because they represent the couches the patient might conceivably make.

Legitimate fear, for the therapist, of identity loss…
Remedy: Act. The empathic connection established by the therapist based on the mastery of dramatic (and artistic) techniques is not “just an act.” It is a sincere artistic gesture. Art joins humans together on the most fundamental level, the level of archetype and the collective unconscious.

As art therapists​ it is your job to pay close attention to the drama your patient’s engage you in. You must be willing to regard all aspects of your work as art-form-in-process. You must attempt to understand the role the patient has cast you in, and you must improvise as you strive to help the patient understand that they can write a new script. It is not only the painting, the sculpture, the poem or dance that is the art form in the theraputic context. Every word you utter, every move you make and every facial expression you display ate pieces of character in the dramatic enactment of art therapy. (61)

Chapter VI:

metaphor, defined

I have often thought that what my patients have most wanted from me…is an assurance that the  truth about their  lives are acceptable.

For our purposes here let us define truth as: sincerity in character and action; the sum of real things and events.

…they have create fictional identities in order to ease the pain. These fictions are of course creative acts in and of themselves, and so are metaphoric portraits of the self, i.e., truths in their own right.

(The metaphors of art therapy) are figurative actions and objects in which one thing (the patient) is described in the terms of another (the image).
…the potential for multiple interpretations; their purpose being to illuminate or expose truth.

I listen to the whole of the communication and at every turn resist the seductive pull to analyze, dissect, and label.

Story of Estelle. (Gargoyle drawings)

Chapter VII:

1. Meta-verbal therapy
The work of art therapy takes place in the interaction between the patient/artist, the media, the image and the prices. In this sense the primary tall of the art therapist is to see the stage for the work to unfold.
This is not a devaluation of verbalization, it is rather an honoring of action and image.

2. Talk as validation
Offers a measure of security for both patient and therapist
For the patient: Shift from primary sensual and emotional position, toward an acceptable cognitive construct (opportunity to distance from the powerful feelings evoked by the work) – may be helpful or problematic
The essential role of verbalization in art therapy must be regarded as one of confirmation.

3. Art Therapy has no discriminatory borders

4. The dynamic energy generated through creative action is of consequential merit as a source of satisfaction and valuation of personal worth

5. Artistic expression as a healthy act
It feels good to do.

6. Treatment, whether psychological or rehabilitative, is simulated and enhanced through the use of imagination
– The story of Penny (bear and the cave)

7. The theraputic use of art provides an opportunity for the patient-artist to render emotional portraits of significant others in their lives
– The story of Helen and her dead husband

8. The creative arts provide opportunities to make concrete objects representing feelings and thoughts that are elusive, hidden, and mysterious
Discussing the characters in their images is often experienced as less threatening than discussing their psychological difficulties directly.
– The story of Rob and the burning coal

9. The primary feelings related to events in the patient’s life remain powerfully attached to artistic portrayals
cathexis: the investment of libidinal energy in a person, object, or idea

10. As at therapists we have two wanting tools, ART and OURSELVES
It is critical as an art therapist to know yourself well before attempting to deal with to the lives of others.
Physician, heal thyself.

Chapter VIII:

anecdotal stories

Chapter IX:

It is a tenet of existentialism that the worth of an individual’s existence of determined by how he or she responds to conflict and anguish.  The individual’s ability to creatively contend with the skirmishes of his life marks the difference between a productive, authentic existence and a life marked with defeat and emptiness. This capacity may be described as a coping skill, defense mechanism, adaptability, or optimism. For our purposes here I will call it creative resolution. (94)

Doing art is a natural method of evoking and sharing feelings and ideas which are essentially conflictual. As art therapists we foster in our patients a belief that they are capable of creative resolution of the problems of art production. (97)

Chapter X:

One attribute of our culture is that we do not value pain… We like things to be easy.

The history of art is a saga of struggle, for the process of making at is like that of giving birth. An act of love, labor, and pain. From this tradition we art​ therapists must have an impact on life and society by taking every opportunity to remind people that it is ok to hurt. It is good to struggle, and that life is hard.

Chapter XI:

“…art therapists reclaim their tradition of artist and about the complications of becoming overly clinified.”

It was as if art therapists longed to be regarded as equivalent to the physician, psychologist, and family therapist. While it is easy to understand the motivations of those in the forefront of such efforts as the field of art therapy developed, it is also easy to see, in retrospect, that much of our unique identity as artist-therapist was abandoned along the way. The motives for being like psychiatry or psychology are apparent: increased earning potential, potential administrative influence, employability, and professional prestige. … What has emerged is a generation of art therapists fluent in statistical study, psychological jargon, and political savvy, but insecure regarding the integral place if the arts in the treatment of human suffering. (104)

The power and depth of artistic expression demands that we art therapists be sensitive to nuances of color and shade, the push and pull of emotional currents that course through line character, and the aesthetic sensibilities inherent in the balancing of weight and mass.

Chapter XII:

1. Art as Existentialism

“…the ultimate concerns of existence.  Prominent among them are; freedom, aloneness, guilt, each person’s responsibility for her own life the inevitability of suffering and death, and a deep longing for meaning.”

Existential art therapists focus their work in addressing the patient’s anxieties and defense mechanisms which form in response to an awareness of the unlimited concerns of life.

(1) doing with them [the patient], (2) being open to them, and (3) honoring their pain

A key notion in existential therapy is that people relate to these issues either by attempting to ignore them, or by living in … a state of mindfulness.

the arts -> expression -> mindfulness -> the ability to change

2. Art as Communication
3. Art as Soul

Shaun Mcniff – Depth Psychology of Art
“…a view if the arts as an unconscious religion.” He also brought to the for the interrelationship of psyche and soul and posited that images are the expressions of the soul.

Cathy Moon – Art as Prayer (unpublished)

When the theraputic arts…are regarded from a perspective of soul, the work is made sacred.  From this perspective patients’ images cannot be seen as pathological, but rather as heartfelt expressions of selfhood. … making art is making soul. (120)

4. Art as Mastery

“The sense of adequacy that comes from mastery of artistic techniques and media is linked to self-discipline and inevitability leads to positive self regard. From this comes a sacred passion for life.”

“The process of making art is a process of organizing chaotic emotional material into coherent, restructured product.”

mastery = care

5. Art as Personal Metaphor

– Metaphor as image and action
– Hold conscious and unconscious symbolic meanings
– to articulate, express, free and define their creator
– the proper response to a painting is not analyzing… but rather by painting another painting… We must not attempt to enslave it through our vocabulary. …images can, and should just be.

6. Art as Empowerment

“Our primary task is to inspire in the patient the desire to use his discomfort rather than be abused by it.”
“The empowering nature of art therapy does not seek cures, it accepts and ennobles.”

7. Art as Work
8. Art as Play
9. Art as Relationship

The act of making is an invitation to relate. By making, the artist take images from within, and spreads them in the world. It is an act of acknowledgement of the other beyond the boundaries of self. (128)

Personal meaning can be found only in the context of relationship. The self must be transcended for purpose to be present.

10. Art as Structure and Chaos
11. Art as Hope

Hope requires faith. The patient needs to have faith in the art therapist, the therapists must have faith in the art process, in himself, and in the essential goodness and value of all people.

12. Art as Benevolence

The making of art is an activity of self-transcendence. … The doing of art invariably absorbs the patient in a thing outside the self. In the studio this transcendent absorption is a public act. Patients respond to the artwork of other patients. There is a contagious benevolence that infects the air of the therapeutic arts studio.

Chapter XIII:

Artistic expression leads to mindfulness, mindfulness leads to creative anxiety which leads to change / action, which Foster’s expression which deepens mindfulness. The formula is circular.

If images are regarded as living metaphors, this promotes a reverent approach by those seeking to be in dialogue with them. The notion of dialogue,  precludes the injurious and unethical phenomenon of imagicide. (144)

The labors of artists and psychotherapy patients are marked by sore muscles, blistered hands and hearts. Art is work.
“…To be sure, all of this is done in order to create something for which reason we can call it work and not rage.” (Menninger, K. / Love Against Hate)

The sculptor feels the impact of chisel against stone. The dancer feels the weight of his body through his feet. The ceramicist feels the slippery ooze of wet clay spinning between her hands on the potter’s wheel. The painter smells the linseed oil and senses the roughness of the canvas as brush pushes pigment across the surface. The processes of making art demand that artists touch the world. (152)

Although many artists are professedly private, most artists aim their creative work toward other people. Making art is thus a process concerned with community, with deepening relationships.

Chapter XIV:
(Sane or Sick)

Viewing artistic imagery by psychiatric patients as pathological (altered or brought about by disease) or as an expression of pathos (an element in experience or in artistic representation evoking compassion)

Four basic styles of relating to imagery:

1. Imaginal material as overt expressions of unconscious conflictual material; particular meanings can be advised to symbolic images; roots in Freudian analysis; representations of sexual and aggressive drives; images as concrete representations of the pathological

2. Focus on a pathological understanding of art products; suggests that patients with certain types of psychiatric disorders create art that is similar enough as to allow classification

3. Image as messenger

4. Image as intermediary

– Living images and the living artists who made them
– Not formulaic
– “Images should not be seen as cadavers to be measured and pathologized. The world of the imagination is mist and shadows.”

Chapter XV:

Dialogue with the image, don’t interrogate it.
Cross examination and interrogation are tactics of intrusion and manipulation.
Honor and respect the image and the patient

Chapter XVI:

Pastor – care for, support, console, + guide
Priest – leader of sacred rituals that, trough symbolic action language, tell the essential story of the community
Prophet – reminds the community of the way their lives are; only through facing fears can meaning be found; confronting denial

-See beyond conventional thought and trends of the present
-Understand the unspoken language of dream and myth: the metaphoric images that contain and express deep truths about the individual’s life, and the inner life of a surrounding culture

Images, whether dreamed or mythic, do not come to harm, they come to enlighten

Chapter XVII:

The need for team players, viewing all the disciplines as equally important.
The need for enough security in identity to bring, share, and educate the other team members when the actual artistic productions of the patient and speak up when necessary.

Three phases of treatment:
1. Resistance – main question is the quality of the relationship
2. Working through – intensely interested in the image content of the patient’s productions (do the themes seen confirm and reinforce the other info?)
3. Termination – look to the arts to provide the patient with a mechanism to express the sense of loss (often too difficult to verbalize) as the relationship ends; also, artistic production serves as ideal transitional objects

Patient art hung in the inpatient living areas

Motivations for giving pieces of art to the unit:
1. Affirmation (positive regard for staff/treatment process)
2. The Closet Effect (symbolic connection maintained to the safe, nurturing, and predictable enviro)
3. Giving Back
4. Concretization of introject exchange

Chapter XVIII:

– It Costs Too Much To Care
– Perils of Promotion
– It’s Just a Picture
– Security, Sanctity, and Severance
Institutionalizing of art therapy; rise of rigorous standards for education, strict and arduous credentialing, the creation of associations, etc.
A disturbing aspect of the formalizing of the discipline is a growing trend toward forced uniformity of theory, philosophy and approach. (191)

Chapter XIX:

If Nietzsche was correct, that only artists dare to show us the human being as he is, then it is a primary task of art therapists to engage with people without the aid of disguises or makeup. We must allow ourselves to be who we are without guile or manipulative intent.


Notes + Quotes: Intro to Art Therapy

Reviewing Recent Reads

(…because all adore alliteration…right?)

I love reading.  I can never remember a time in my life when that wasn’t true.  I love words and stories and definitions.  One time in elementary school I tried to convince my teacher to let me read the dictionary for a book report.  (Unsurprisingly, my powers of persuasion were not quite strong enough win that argument.)   I think the ability to convey thoughts and ideas through symbols on a page (or screen) is amazing.  And I will definitely always choose to read a physical book over a digital one (but absolutely no judgement on all you eBook fans out there.  I will admit that choice does seem more environmentally conscious.  However, it doesn’t change my love of holding a bound stack of paper, flipping pages, seeing and feeling my progress through a novel.)  That being said, you can find a list of some of the books I have read here.  I am always open to new book recommendations!  Feel free to comment below or shoot me an email if you have any!

Since graduating in May I have had more time to read for enjoyment and I am LOVING it.  When the kiddos go down for a nap or get returned to their parents, I almost immediately will have my nose in a book (or trying to learn languages on Rosetta Stone before I lose my college-based subscription… learning Chinese and brushing up on Spanish.  Gotta keep my mind active with something other than my ABC’s and colors!)  In this post I wanted to give brief reviews of the books I have read this summer:

the glass castle


The Glass Castle

by Jeannette Walls

Highly recommended to everyone.  This is an accessible true story primarily about the childhood of Jeannette Walls.  She grew up in a situation that most would label quite unique.  Often on the run and living in extreme poverty, the Walls family is characterized by their loyalty to one another, their creativity in desperate situations, and their atypical view of conventional society.  Life is viewed as one grand adventure…and whether this is a survival mechanism, hopelessly optimistic, incredibly brave, or remarkably ignorant is open for discussion. This book provided insight that caused me to rethink and reexamine many of my previous assumptions about poverty, homelessness, childhood acquaintances, and family.

sign with your baby

Sign with your Baby
How to communicate with infants before they can speak

by Joseph Garcia

Recommended to parents or soon-to-be parents who are interested in increased communication with their child.  This book not only teaches basic sign language to be used with babies (and toddlers!!), but also contains a lot of helpful information about how to go about introducing sign language into your child’s life, when the best times for new words or phrases are, what to expect in terms of their understanding and reciprocation, and the reasoning behind the increasing use of sign language as a means to communication.  Frequently asked questions (such as, does sign language caused for a delay in speech? how can this help avoid the phase typically coined the terrible twos?) are also addressed.   At the back of the book is a compilation of numerous signs and their meanings.

As a nanny/babysitter/caregiver this book was interesting to me in numerous respects.  Not only am I getting to put the signs into practice with a few of my little ones whose parents are on board, I have learned more about the importance of eye contact in learning, the need to be attentive to both verbal and nonverbal communication, and some of the supposed causes of tantrums.  This book suggests that frustration with an inability to effectively communicate needs/wants/desires is a primary cause of the tantrums…which makes plenty of sense to me! How often as an adult to I feel like kicking and screaming when someone isn’t comprehending what I am trying to get across! Next up, I am looking for a book that can teach me more about how to teach respect for authority and some effective and loving ways to go about disciplining children.  As much as I always just want to be the fun babysitter, there is a very real side effects to a lack of authority and discipline.





by Peter Hoeg

Highly recommended book to readers willing to step outside of their comfort zone.  This book doesn’t necessarily fit into any familiar genre.  It is plot-based to a degree, with character development, but also involving wider ideas about time, education (particularly the Danish education system), childhood, and psychology.  Told from the perspective of an inquisitive child, with the insight of an adult… this book was quite enchanting.  Examining social and political issues related to Danish boarding schools, the question of discipline as it relates to childhood, friendships/family/personal history, and a child’s interaction with time, Borderliners touched on so many topics I personally find interesting and did so in a way that was both exploratory and speculative.  My only negative comment would be that the ending felt rather abrupt.




Silo (series)

Wool, Shift, and Dust

by Hugh Howey

Recommended if you’re looking for a dystopian trilogy. Living beneath the surface of the earth is a silo full of people, going about life – living, dying, fertilizing plants, having babies.  The view of the earth’s surface above is a bleak one: desolate and dust-filled.  Though as far back as can be remembered, this is how life has been.  However, in some circles there remains an unspoken feeling that something is not right.  Who is really in control?  And how can one search for truth in an world where simply speaking of a single thing can get you killed?

The first book starts rather slowly and it took a bit for me to get into the plot, but once I did I found the ideas interesting. The tale that was being weaved became more complex, more interesting, and (in some ways) more terrifyingly plausible.


Well… that’s my first attempt at reviewing books I have read (at least, first attempt since like fifth grade). Hopefully I get better with time!

Pictures of my travels to come. :)

Reviewing Recent Reads