Book Review: The Highly Sensitive Person

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4-out-of-5-stars

Before I read this book there wasn’t a shred of doubt in my mind that I’m what Dr. Aron would call a “Highly Sensitive Person.” I’ve been labeled “sensitive” my entire life. But before I discovered Dr. Aron’s website in high school, I thought that “sensitive” was only an appropriate term for someone with strong negative reactions. When I took her “HSP Test,” which you can find on her webiste and in this book…aaand which I’m now realized sound like an STD screening… anyway, after I took the test I recognized that I have strong reactions, period. I don’t only get upset easily, I also get happy easily, scared easily, tired easily, hungry easily, cold easily. *insert your own emotion here* easily probs also. And if this sounds like you, you’re probably Highly Sensitive too. And you’d benefit from reading this book.

Yah, HSP isn’t a medical label, so you might be skeptical about buying into whatever’s written in here. But the fact is, some people are more in touch with their emotions than others. I’ve seen it in myself and in others to varying degrees. And living as a sensitive person is different from living as an “average” person, as Western culture accepts only a certain amount of controlled sensitivity. You shouldn’t need a “self-help” book to tell you that. But Dr. Aron, who identifies as Highly Sensitive herself, has some great insights on Highly Sensitive life and some awesome tips on how to come to terms with your sensitive self.

I wouldn’t say I love everything about this book, but there is quite a bit to love. It was refreshing to read a generalization about the average Highly Sensitve person’s experience and think “that is totally me.” For example, there’s a little section about how sensitive kids are often labeled gifted in elementary school, and then struggle with living up to that label for the rest of their lives. There’s also a bit on how Highly Sensitive People often get too attached in romantic relationships because they feel love more intensely than the average person and they also value close friendships more than the average person. But of course, this is a kind of “self-help” book, so it’s not as scientific or as detailed as I would have liked. There’s also a whole chapter on “spirituality” that I didn’t care for. I’m not really agains the term “spiritual,” but I don’t like it when people use it to only label people who believe in a kind of ethereal higher power despite not being religious. Yea, I would consider people like that to be spiritual, but I would also consider people who have good relationships with the natural world (really good meditators, people who love going on long hikes, y’know) and believe that science can eventually explain everything to be spiritual as well. I feel like Dr. Aron implies that all HSP believe in some kind of god, which clearly isn’t true… cuz I don’t.

But I will definitely be checking out The Highly Sensitive Person in Love and The Highly Sensitive Person’s Workbook. Everything I can do to make the transition into adulthood easier, amirite?

Thoughts on the publication of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

I threw up my dinner a few nights ago. I’m not sure if I had a virus or if something I ate didn’t agree with me, but regardless I decided to stay home from work the next day to be safe. That morning, my boyfriend woke me up and asked me if I was still sick and I replied, “Yes.” Then he said, “There’s going an 8th Harry Potter book.” “Great, now I’m even sicker,” I said.

When I found out that it’s just going to be the script of the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, my stomach settled again. At least now I don’t have to worry about not getting a chance to ever see the play, which I’ve been excited for ever since it was announced. But at the same time, I know this is a slippery slope. It very well may lead to a second and third and fourth sequel, and I’ve always been very comfortable with the 7-book canon. I remember my high school guidance counselor saying that he’d be shocked if JK Rowling never wrote an 8th book. I told him that there was no way she’d go back on her promise that this was the end …at least not until she was like, 70. Well, guess I was wrong.

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But yah… I’m cautiously optimistic about this. All I want is for it to be well-written and to feel more like Harry Potter than freakin’ No-Majs and Illvermorny.

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January 2016 Reading Wrap-Up

(Better late than never.)

Okay, so… 2016 really needs to step up its reading game. I read 6 books in January (2 adult fiction, 1 adult non-fiction, 2 YA, and 1 middle grade), and I only gave one of them more than 3 stars. And because I’ve read so much crap recently, my desire to read has gone down significantly. Hopefully I’ll dig myself out of this rut soon. 

Cunt: A Declaration of Independence by Inga Muscio
3/5 Stars

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I wrote a very, very long review about this modern feminist classic early in January. I didn’t except it to be my 2nd favorite January read, but here we are… It’s entertaining as hell and contains a lot of wisdom about rape culture, how capitalism harms women, and where women’s art fits into our culture, just to name a few things. I’d recommend it to any feminist of any age, with the disclaimer that there’s also A LOT of pseudo-scientific BS in this book. (And if Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright pissed you off this week, take a breather and read Cunt when you’re not so worked up over 2nd-waver weirdness.)

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
4.5/5 Stars

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Easily the best book I read this month, Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda was on my to-read list of Goodreads Choice Awards Nominees. It’s an adorable YA LGBT romance sans any unnecessary sap and melodrama. So if that’s your jam, read it and also check out my review.

 

 

 

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
1/5 Stars

20820994I always finish books. Except, apparently, when they are as bad as I’ll Give You the Sun. Again, I wrote a very long, very snarky review on this one. Like Simon it’s a YA romance, but I’ll Give You the Sun is full of dumb YA troupes and completely lacks charm.

 

 

 

 

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
3/5 Stars

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Out of My Mind is on pretty much every list of middle grade books about children with disabilities. It’s not horrible, but I didn’t love it. Pros: I learned a lot about cerebral palsy and the sorts of accomdations people with severe CP use. There’s also a nice message about not assuming that children with cerebral palsy are stupid and don’t need friends. Cons: This message is delivered aggressively and is spoon fed to the reader, rather than allowing he/she to come to his/her own conclusions. It’s also very pessimistic. In the end, the girl with CP still doesn’t have any friends. If you’re looking for a book that shows children with disabilities in a positive light and discourages bullying, I’d recommend Wonder over this.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
2/5 Stars

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A Little Life won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Adult Fiction Novel and was nominated for the Man Booker Prize, but I really don’t understand the hype. This 700+ pager about the life of a man who was orphaned and abused as a child is trite, melodramatic, and weirdly elitist. I’ve heard multiple people say that it’s one of the most depressing books they’ve ever read, but it didn’t move me in the slightest. I’m going to get around to writing a proper review on this one soon.

 

 

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

2/5 Stars

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Yet another horrible choice for a Goodread’s Choice Award Nominee… Almost every negative review I read of Pretty Girls said it was too gory for their taste. After reading the book I realized that what people meant was that it was too gross for their taste. (There’s a difference, trust me.) Other than being disgusting, this book gets booooring after about the half way mark. I wrote a review on this too.

 

 

Here’s to a better February…

Pretty Girls: Goodreads Choice Awards Nominee Review

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2-stars

Quick synopsis: In the early ’90s, a 19-year-old girl goes missing. 25 years later, the missing girl’s two younger sisters, who have been estranged since the younger of the two married a rich scumbag, get caught up in the case of another missing teenage girl.

Started off really liking this book. It was fast-paced and the story intrigued me, even though the characters weren’t particularly interesting. And then at a little over the half-way mark I started feeling indifferent. Partially because the plot took a bizarre, unbelievable turn.

And then at three-quarters in I’m like…

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No spoilers of course, but let me give some advice to all of you aspiring horror novel/film writers: there’s a difference between disturbing your readers and disgusting them. I like scary books and scary movies because a weird part of me likes to be disturbed. I find it interesting to look inside the minds of messed up people who commit horrible crimes. I do not, however, enjoy being grossed out. Piss, shit, and vomit fall under the later category. These things don’t shock or disturb me. They just make me lose my lunch.

And when certain characters were in peril, I didn’t give two shits about whether they lived or died. They could be chopped up into little bits for all I cared, because they were so two-dimensional and anything resembling a plot had slipped out from under them.

So yea… skip this one.