Friday, 17 February 2012

Clarissa Reads Great Books

(1) A Husband for Miss Trent by Anne Gallagher

What is it about? When a surprising invitation arrives in the post, impoverished spinster Miss Ophelia Trent wants to turn it down. With no funds for a new gown or even slippers, she’s afraid of becoming the latest laughingstock in Society. With her mother’s gentle insistence, and a borrowed antique gown, Ophelia decides to take one last chance to find a suitable husband.

The ball to which she’s been invited is everything she could have dreamed, including a marriage proposal to the "perfect" man. However, she longs to see the stableman whose easy smile and soulful eyes have etched a mark on her lonely heart.

Should she stick with "perfect" or let her heart take a chance at finding true love?

What did I think? What a lovely read. If Jane Austen wrote short love stories, it would read a lot like this.
I liked the main character Ophelia. She was so kind and lovely that you wanted her to win in the end.
It's only .99 cents on amazon, so pick up a copy.

Buy it here for $0.99

(2) The Secret World of Doing Nothing by Billy Ehn, Billy Ehn

What is it about? In this insightful and pathbreaking reflection on “doing nothing,” Billy Ehn and Orvar Löfgren take us on a fascinating tour of what is happening when, to all appearances, absolutely nothing is happening. Sifting through a wide range of examples drawn from literature, published ethnographies, and firsthand research, they probe the unobserved moments in our daily lives—waiting for a bus, daydreaming by the window, performing a routine task—and illuminate these “empty” times as full of significance. Creative, insightful, and profound, The Secret World of Doing Nothing leads us to rethink the ordinary and find meaning in today’s hypermodern reality.

What did I think?I just loved this book! Loved it.

Don't let the title fool you, this book is not filled with 'nothing'. It's packed with interesting insights into life.

The book opens up in a grocery story. A man is at the checkout counter and what ensues is typical of the average human: to avoid the mundane-ness of waiting, he creates a competition between checkout lines. Who will get done first? After an opening like that, I was hooked.

It takes to understanding why we create little competitions for ourselves on a day to day basis. The kind of "imaginative ingenuity" that "ritualizes and dramatizes daily life".

It discusses six aspects or principles behind waiting. (I won't spoil the book by listing them here.) And how the feelings towards waiting varies depending on where you live in the world.

Another section of the book--and really the reason I picked it up--is the section on daydreaming. When do most people daydream? Why do people daydream? Fascinating study.

Buy it here for $9.90

(3) Creativity 101 by James C. Kaufman

What is it about? Creativity 101 serves as a brief, engaging introduction to the field of creativity. Dr. Kaufman presents the cutting-edge research and analyzes new and emerging theories in the field. This book investigates the many definitions of creativity, as well as how it is manifested and measured in schools, the workplace, business, art, media, and more. Key topics discussed: The "Four P's" of creativity: person, product, process, and press How creativity influences personality, motivation, intelligence, and talent The dark side of creativity: the remarkable relationship between creativity and mental illness Emerging directions in creativity research, with discussions on neuroscience, the media, and literature The Psych 101 Series Short, reader-friendly introductions to cutting-edge topics in psychology. With key concepts, controversial topics, and fascinating accounts of up-to-the-minute research, The Psych 101 Series is a valuable resource for all students of psychology and anyone interested in the field.

What did I think?  This book was really inexpensive so I picked it up from Amazon (now, however, the price has gone up), it touches on the subject of Creativity (duh!) and what defines it.

What makes a person creative? What makes one creative person different from another?

I really liked some of the sections, like the one on Historiometrics, pioneered by Simonton. He defined creative people based on their biographies and factual information. In one of his studies, he divided the lives of 10 composers (Bach, Mozart, Chopin...) into five-year periods and measured each composer's productivity based on works and themes. Here's what he found: The composers who wrote the best music, wrote the most music. Quality is related to quantity.

As a writer I found that interesting. That means: the more we write, the better writer we become.

There was also discussed the correlation between creativity and mood. Does being in a bad mood make you a more creative person? The findings are still inconclusive but there are basis for both theories.

Why did I give the book only three stars?
It's not the content, it's the way the content is laid out. Instead of adding footnotes, he often places the references right in the paragraphs, leading to long, hard to read paragraphs. I found myself skipping points because of the excessive citations.

Other than that, an interesting read.

Buy it here for $14.75


  1. Thank you for the lovely review Clarissa.

  2. Anne is a fantastic writer and awesome critique partner!

  3. Great suggestions! I love books on the craft of writing. :)

  4. Clarissa - Oh, these books sound great!! The creativity book sounds so helpful and I want that Anne Gallagher story, too. Cool!

  5. Good luck to Anne Gallagher and the rest with their releases! 2012 is going to be a great year!

  6. I like the cover with the book that has the blue sky and only a cloud. So simple yet it draws the eye. Very cool.

  7. Enjoyed the reviews and now I have more books to add to my wish list.

    Thoughts in Progress

  8. Oh such lovely reads - even the creativity one! Yay!! Take care

  9. Hmmm... can't say any of these books really appeal to me. Sorry. :(

  10. Great review! I'm always interested in the craft of writing, too. Must add to my list.

  11. Nooooo - can't read this post as my 'to read' list is already long enough to last me until 2027.

  12. The Secret World of Doing Nothing sounds fab. I'm going to have to look that up.


  13. the first two seem interesting!

  14. Great reviews. Thank you. I read a bit of Anne Gallagher's book on Sia McKye's blog over Christmas. Enticing!

  15. Wow, you've been busy! I must pick this one up from Anne. I read 'A Wife for Winsborough' and really enjoyed it.

  16. I do have a thing for stable boys . . . A Husband for Miss Trent don't sound too shabby ;)

  17. They all sound like interesting books--though The Secret World of Doing Nothing particularly intrigues me. And I love the cover for it!

  18. Definitely checking out these books, especially A Husband for Miss. Trent!

  19. Thanks for the great reviews, you do them so well. I am really interested in reading The Secret World of Doing Nothing. You have piqued my interest.

  20. Great reviews! I'm looking forward to reading Anne's book.
    (glad you don't have a Captcha!)

  21. You've intrigued me with The Secret World of Doing Nothing.

  22. Oh wow Quality is related to quantity. I'd better get writing...

  23. I know Anne and good luck to her and her new book!

  24. Hey! One of our bloggy friends' books! Thanks for the heads up, C! :o) <3

  25. Thanks for yet another set of books to add to my TBR list! :)


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