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Half Broke Horses is the second book by Jeannette Walls (the first being The Glass Castle, also one of my favourite books). It follows the life of her grandmother, Lily Casey Smith as she lives through her many adventures in the American mid-west. Lily’s life consisted of flash floods, tornadoes, droughts, and a heart breaking family tragedy just to name a few events.

This is the first book that I couldn’t put down in a long time. I was so engrossed while reading that I missed my stop on the subway while on my way to work! That hasn’t happened to me in years. That’s how I know I’m reading an excellent book: when reality ceases to exist and it’s just you and the story.

The prose is excellently written in the voice of Lily Casey Smith herself. The chapters are short enough that it feels like every time you read one it’s like Lily herself was sitting in your kitchen and you were just “shooting the breeze” with her over some hot cups of coffee. That’s just the way I like it. I find that if a chapter is too long I get bored half way through. I prefer short bursts of action and then long chapters for events that warrant one. Short chapters also make it easier to read because I don’t have to push myself to finish a chapter if I’m reading right before bed (I have this weird thing where I can’t stop reading a book half way through a chapter before I go to bed but if I’m on the bus or something then that’s okay).

Similar to The Glass Castle, the message of the book is good old hard work coupled with some personal resilience and integrity leads to a happy and fulfilling life. Lily is never fazed by any of the setbacks she faces. And trust me, she faced some pretty bad setbacks. Even when her dad failed to pay her second year tuition and bought dogs (to breed) instead, she accepted it because it was done already and there was no use to crying over spilt milk. She was 13 at the time I think. I hate to admit it but if that happened to me at 13 I probably would have cried for the whole week.

A couple of parts that stuck with me about the book is includes some lessons that her dad taught her. Lily’s dad was very well read and always had these philosophies and ideas floating around in his head. One of those theories was the Theory of Purpose. He told her that everyone has a purpose in life and if something doesn’t work out then it wasn’t your purpose. Once you find your Purpose things will begin to fall into place. It’s so simple and yet it’s something that everyone should live by.

Lily’s dad trained carriage horses for a living and he recruited her to break them in at the tender age of 5. On one occasion she got thrown by a horse and she tried to break her fall with her arms. The result was a nasty break that left her bone sticking out and Lily howling from the pain (as anyone would!). After setting the broken arm and bandaging her up Lily’s dad sat her down and told her that she should never try to break a fall and let her body move the way it’s supposed to. He says “once you’re going down, accept it and let your rump take the punishment. Your body knows how to fall” (pg. 22). This lesson can be applied to life. My interpretation of it is when you find yourself in an exceptionally dire situation that is inevitable, you should just let things run their course (i.e. “fall”). The more you try to stop the events from happening the worse you are going to make it for yourself.

Half Broke Horses is a book filled with life lessons that also make you chuckle from time to time. The protagonist Lily Casey Smith is a woman with lots of integrity and someone I would admire if I had known her personally. I finished the 270 page book in 2 days and by no means am I a fast reader. It’s a good book!

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Book sculpture by Brazilian artists Marcos Saboya and Gualter Pupo. Now here is a maze I would want to get lost in!

Here is a video of how it was crafted at a mall in Rio:

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqUs7Pxw8O8&feature=player_embedded#!]

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I won’t start off by apologizing for how I haven’t been posting because the fact of the matter is that I’ve just been tired and a little lazy. The 1.5 hour commute home from work (at MINIMUM on a GOOD day) is draining all my energy, but I’m here now!

Lately I’ve been in a major non-fiction phase so I’ve been reading mostly books on various topics that interest me – mostly marketing (to build on my currently limited cache of marketing knowledge due to jumping into the game a little late) and pop culture. Today, the book of the hour is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. For those of you who are from Toronto, you’ll notice ads for this book at various TTC subway trains and buses. Overall the book was well written and organized logically, which is something that a lot people take for granted and I appreciate very much! Here are some interesting tidbits I gleaned from  the book:

  • Introverts are physiologically different than extroverts. We literally have a thinner skin, which means that we emit more heat than extroverts. When I read this I had to do a double take. My boyfriend always comments on how warm my body temperature is. Even if it’s ten below zero my hands are always a toasty temperature. If you haven’t already guessed, I am a text-book introvert. 
  • Contrary to popular belief, group work actually stifles creativity rather than encouraging it. People tend to become worried that their ideas might not be up to par with the rest of the group and thus hold back their thoughts. 
  • Introverts are not less social than extroverts, we simply have a different way of connecting to people. Introverted people loathe small talk and prefer deeper conversations.
  • Introverts can have an extrovert persona for the sake of their passion. For example, not all teachers are extroverts however it’s fair to say that one needs to have an extroverted personality in order to be a great teacher because children react better to sociable and approachable mentors.
  • The west is obsessed with an Extrovert Ideal (i.e. someone who is sociable and likes to speak their minds in group settings) while the East is obsessed with an Introvert Ideal (i.e. someone who has a deep respect for authority and does not speak out of place).

I would recommend this book for anyone who is interested in the rationale behind those who are introverted or who want to get a better understanding of themselves (as an introvert) or someone they know (who is an introvert). Excellent book!

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See, books can be cool

See, books can be cool

Image Source: thechive.com

Even though ebooks are taking over, I would love to have this in my house. A secret bookcase passageway to… more books! It would be my own personal paradise! If you’re gasping right now because my personal paradise would have books, then you need to read more 😛

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