What I'm Reading Now: 12 September 03

A door in the river-- Inger Ash Wolfe
The (honest) truth about dishonesty-- Dan Ariely (psychology)
Shoot to thrill-- PJ Tracy
The tools: transform your problems into courage, confidence, and creativity--Phil Stutz & Barry Michaels (psychology)
Some assembly required: a journal of my son's first son--Anne Lamott with Sam Lamott

I have this sneaking suspicion that there was another book there somewhere, but I can't remember what it was.

A door in the river: Hazel Micallef is running out of time. Her police detachment is about to be absorbed by a larger regional group, and her new boss will be a former subordinate and nemesis. Kitty is running out of time. She has no money, no friends, and some very bad enemies. Henry Wiest is out of time. He's dead in the parking lot of the smoke shop on the local reserve. Hazel has to find the cause of death, find Kitty, and find out if anything connects the two before things get very bad indeed. I thought that the plot was good, but for some reason, in this book (the third Hazel Micallef mystery) Hazel irritated me, and I was reluctant to continue reading. However, I did, and it was still a good use of my time. I'd still recommend the first two (The calling (which I read but did not review)  and The taken) over A door in the river, but I certainly wouldn't discourage anyone from reading Door.

The (honest) truth about dishonesty: If you think you know why people cheat, Dan Ariely has some news for you. It's not a simple equation that balances gain against the potential consequences if caught. It's much more complex than that, involving, at its core, how much you can cheat and still feel like you are a moral person. As one of the studies Ariely ran shows, people are less likely to take advantage of a blind person than a sighted person, even if the "cheating" is fully legal and not taking advantage will cost the "cheater". It's intriguing and well-written, and recommended to anyone who wonders why some people are honest and some are not.

Shoot to thrill: Someone is posting murder videos on the internet: not amateur re-creations, but the real thing. The videos are untraceable as far as law enforcement is concerned, so the FBI calls in a number of hackers... including the Monkeewrench crew. In the meantime, the Minneapolis PD is faced with a body in a bridal gown floating in the river. Monkeewrench and the MPD struggle with their separate cases before they realize that there is no separation, and in the meantime, the number of videos is slowly increasing. This was another excellent Monkeewrench outing that gave all the characters a chance to be heard. My only problem is that I now have to wait until the library purchases the next in the series... and after that, I'll have to wait a year for another one.

The tools: Imagine that you could change not just your attitudes, but the way you live. Imagine that you could fully and completely overcome all your history and your baggage to become the you that you are meant to be. That's the premise of The tools, set down by two psychologists who use these techniques to help their clients get past their fears to accomplish the things they want. I found the ideas interesting, and I could see that they could be helpful. They don't fit with my personal worldview, though, and Stutz and Michaels warn against modifying the tools in any way. I will therefore leave them in the book where I found them, and any recommendation I will make for their use will come with the caveat that they require a certain non-focussed spirituality which may be at odds with various religions, including Christianity.

Some assembly required: Just under twenty years ago, Anne Lamott wrote a book about her son's first year. Now, she writes about her grandson's first year, with her son's full permission and co-operation. She writes about her difficulties in stepping back and letting a very young couple be parents in their own way, especially as they have financial and relational struggles. She writes about her own spiritual journey, and throughout it all, she writes about her grandson, Jax, and how much she loves him. Just about any time I read something by Lamott, I want to go out and find more of her writing, while at the same time being at least mildly startled by how honest and earthy she can be. Highly recommended. (And now, if you'll excuse me, I believe I need to order Operating Instructions, the aforementioned journal of Sam's first year.)