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Posted in BIBLIOCOACHING-BIBLIOTHERAPY

My first post on BIBLIOCOACHING

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This is my first post and I am proud to present you the novel of Nina Sankovitch

 “TOLSTOY and the PURPLE CHAIR – My Year of Magical Reading » (Harper, 2011)

Overcome by sadness after the death of her older sister, Nina Sankovitch decides to give herself the means to get by. She will take up a challenge that is particularly close to her heart and that should help her to mourn: for a year, she will read a book a day and will write about it on her blog every time.

In this eloquent and tender novel, the author evokes through her readings her relationship with her family, her past and of course her deceased sister.

The novels she read appear as the mirror of her own emotions and make her think about the true meaning and becoming of life. The year of reading becomes for her a real year of therapy, the kind of therapy that I am fond of and that I also advise you.

If I had to put forward a novel to praise the bibliotherapy, it is undoubtedly this one that I would choose!

The quote of a journalist from The Oprach Magazine mentions on the cover of the novel “Anyone who has ever sought refuge in literature will identify with Tolystoy and the Purple Chair

Continue reading “My first post on BIBLIOCOACHING”

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Posted in INJUSTICE

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

 

“ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE”

Anthony Doerr

Fourth Estate, 2014

Winner of several awards including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2015, the bestseller by Anthony Doerr takes us into the torments of the Second World War while following two teenagers who respectively belong to the opposite camp : Marie-Laure, a French girl, blind from childhood, who fled Paris with his father to take refuge at his grand-uncle’s house, and Werner, a German boy, gifted and self-taught orphan who had to join Hitler’s armies in order to put an end to the Resistance Movement.

The paths of these two “bright” teenagers cross at Saint-Malo towards the end of the war, at the time when the bombings are destroying a large part of the city. They both experience the forces of evil and those of good, but they will allow themselves to be guided by the light of the latter.

The title of the novel refers to the question of a teacher who spoke on the radio just before the beginning of the war. His courses are followed secretly and carefully by Werner and his sister. The teacher asks himself

« So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world so full of light? « 

The author’s skill succeeds in proving the victory of human goodness – which is precisely the said light -, in a world undergoing the hell and darkness of war.

 

A real coup de coeur, Anthony Doerr’s novel  brings us into the middle of an age which should not be forgotten : a violent,  brutish, short and unrestrained period, where the bravest ones who dare to rebel against the power in place, seem to lose the game.

But are they really losers?

Among them, a blind girl and a helpless orphan succeed in freeing themselves from the chains of their time and the a priori of their nationality to follow their conscience, their inner voice.

Even the darkest hours can never destroy the beauty of the world

The novel revisits this period of history without taking sides and underlines the courage of the weakest ones against the surrounding cruelty and injustice.

Posted in INJUSTICE, LONELINESS

Written in 1948, “1984” by George Orwell … still relevant in 2015

“1984” George Orwell

Signet 1950

No doubt that many of you have already read this classic novel, maybe during your school years. Why not get back to this reading which is still relevant because it highlights the excesses of totalitarianism and the annihilation of any spirit of freedom and individuality that is essential for human being.

BIG BROTHER  is the symbolic character of George Orwell’s novel and has become a kind of metaphor used in everyday language – perhaps nowadays even more than ever  – to denounce any invasion of privacy.

In “1984” Big Brother embodies the leader of a party to which  all people are subject in deeds and thoughts, including Winston Smith. He is the main character whose feelings we are following in this story.  Winston Smith will come to doubt about the value of this almighty police state and to experience some new way of living and feeling. But not without problems…

Is “1984” a “read-to-heal” novel ?

yes because it allows the reader to escape to an elsewhere which is – fortunately – different from his daily life…
yes because it allows him to put his own concerns in perspective : indeed our thoughts are still not under control, we have the choice not to disclose our privacy provided we do not compromise ourselves on social networks
yes because this novel gives food for thought and stimulates to act in order to maintain our individual freedom.

In the following interview, the author George Orwell gives us an early warning :

Posted in DIFFERENCES, LONELINESS

“BOOKS ARE A HOME”

 

“WHY BE HAPPY WHEN YOU COULD BE NORMAL ?”

Jeanette Winterson

Knopf Canada 2011 – Vintage 2012

This puzzling sentence was delivered to the author by her adoptive mother when she revealed her “difference” in sexual preference.

In the form of a lively and whimsical autobiography, Jeanette Winterson recounts her childhood and youth while being adopted by a working class family in Manchester. Faced with a stern and cantankerous adoptive mother, she finds refuge in reading and writing. Books become her most faithful companions in misfortune. Always looking for her missing part and her identity, she will eventually retrace her biological mother.

The author has often praised the curative virtue of books, and especially the curative virtue of stories, fictions, and poetry. As a result, this novel is completely in line with the principles of bibliotherapy to which I adhere and which I would like to share with you. Better than a documentary on bibliotherapy,  is an autobiographical novel that tells how books have saved a person’s mental health.

Books, for me, are a home. Books don’t make a home – they are one, in the sense that just as you do with a door, you open a book, and you go inside. Inside there is a different kind of time and a different kind of space.”

I had lines inside me, a string of guiding lights. I had language. Fiction and poetry are doses, medicines. What they heal is the rupture reality makes on the imagination. I had been damaged, and a very important part of me had been destroyed – that was my reality, the facts of my life. But on the other side of the facts was who I could be, how I could feel. And as long as I had words for that, images for that, stories for that, then I wasn’t lost.

I believe in fiction and the power of stories because that way we speak in tongues. We are not silenced. All of us, when in deep trauma, find we hesitate, we stammer; there are long pauses in our speech. The thing is stuck. We get our language back through the language of others. We can turn to the poem. We can open the book. Somebody has been there for us and deep-dived the words.

Happy ending are only a pause. There are three kinds of big endings: Revenge. Tragedy. Forgiveness. Revenge and Tragedy often happen together. Forgiveness redeems the past. Forgiveness unblocks the future.

Posted in DIFFERENCES

Cultural DIFFERENCE : change begins with a … novel

“THE HELP”

Kathryn Stockett

Penguin-Berkley editions (2009-2010-2011)

“THE HELP” is the moving story of a project imagined by a white woman and two black women during the 1960s, right in the heart of Mississippi where racial segregation culminates, while people like Martin Luther King still fight for the civil rights of black persons.

Even if this black-and-white racism is particularly inscribed in the American history, it is nonetheless true that the topic of racism and racial superiority has always been and is still relevant in any country of the world.

It is the first novel of Kathryn Stockett who was born and raised in Mississipi.  At the end of this best seller, the author talks about her own experience and her love for her own black maid. She emphasizes one quote of the story of which she is particularly fond, namely:

“Wasn’t that the point of the book? For women to realize, We are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I’d thought.” 

When this sentence appears in the novel, it refers to two persons having the same color. The meaning ? We are all different beings, physically, socially, culturally, but the differences are never as insurmountable as they seem to be … A word!

Posted in DEATH, SUFFERING

Light in SUFFERING

 

“The last days of Rabbit Hayes”

Anna McPartlin

(St. Martin’s Press, 2015)

The cover is rather joyful to address a very dark topic, that of mourning, incurable suffering and impending separation from a loved one.

The author, Anna McPartlin is a former Irish humorist turned novelist.

It is the story of the last nine days of Mia, nicknamed Rabbit, forty-year-old and terminally ill with generalized cancer. She knows she is going to die, and her relatives and friends also sense it : her mother, her father, her 12-year-old daughter Juliet, whom she raised alone, her older sister and her brother who has come back from America, as well as her best friend Marjorie. Everyone manages in one’s own way this terrible ordeal. The chapters are divided between the thoughts and reminiscences of each other. In this way memories and experiences flow to reflect all the emotional ties that have woven the web of Rabbit Hayes’ destiny.

This reading is extremely touching because

  • on the one hand, it is very realistic: the physical suffering of Rabbit is not concealed and the clumsily human attitudes of relatives are not mitigated. The author wants to describe with a touching lucidity the behavior of people like you and me who find themselves one day in the face of the impending death of their daughter, mother, sister, aunt or friend.
  • on the other hand, this story is filled with humor and love, which makes it terribly endearing. The soaked characters, the crooks and the gaffes of each other punctuate the events and above all, the love between these people illuminates the tragedy and brings a new comforting perspective.

It is a novel beneficial for people affected by grief, cancer at the ultimate stage, separation with a loved one. Of course, the sufferings from a similar experience may come back while reading this story, but this resurgence will occur as a salutary catharsis.

It is also necessary to underline the comprehensive character of this story since the various perspectives in the face of the apprehension of the impending death does not only concern the parents and friends of Rabbit, but Rabbit herself, who gives us her own point of  view with regard to her situation on the verge of death.

In conclusion I add here below an interview of the author about her novel :

 

Posted in OLD AGE

OLD but not senile !

“The hundred-year-old man

who climbed out of the window and disappeared”

Jonas Jonasson

(Hesperus Press 2012, Hyperion Books 2012)

Like the American story “FORREST GUMP”, this novel tells the extraordinary adventures and encounters of a man who has crossed the entire 20th century from east to west.  Pensioner of a retirement home, he escapes the day of his hundredth birthday putting in turmoil police, press and even a gang of bandits to which he plays a bad trick.

Of course, the story remains fictitious and quite improbable, but its reading guarantees a great moment of good humor. The impassibility of this man facing the great events that marked the history of the 20th century is a treat, as well as the very zen attitude that he always displays when he just turned 100 years old.

Finally, living old is not synonymous with senility, loneliness or confinement. The protagonist proves it here happily.

A real treat !

Posted in DIFFERENCES

Physical DIFFERENCES are not a curse

“The Art of Hearing Heartbeats”

Jan-Philipp Sendker

translated from the German

by Kelvin Wiliarty (Other Press – 2012)

This novel has been translated in 25 countries and is considered as an international bestseller.

Julia, a young modern woman of our time, immerses herself in the story of her father’s youth while trying to find him in Burma where he probably disappeared some years ago. Her search leads her to learn how two “different” persons met and loved each other, Tin Win, who had become blind after her mother left him, and Mi Mi, born with crippled feet.

These two persons whom life has not spared will demonstrate an extraordinary power of love which commands admiration and respect.

“I have often wondered what was the source of her beauty, her radiance. It’s not the size of one’s nose, the color of one’s skin, the shape of one’s lips or eyes that make one beautiful or ugly. So what is it? Can you, as a woman, tell me? ” I shook my head. “I will tell you: It’s love. Love makes us beautiful. Do you know a single person who loves and is loved, who is loved unconditionally and who, at the same time, is ugly? There’s no need to ponder the question. There is no such person.”

Gradually Julia will open her eyes to a spiritual universe she did not suspect to exist. The reader will also be the privileged witness.

The author Jan-Philipp Sendker has written a sequel to this novel entitled “A well-tempered heart” in which Julia returns to Burma, the homeland of her father, ten years later.

 

No doubt, the reading of this novel  will help you to find hope in life, and above all faith in real love which is able to transcend difficulties coming from physical differences.

 

Posted in DEATH

A poem about DEATH and HOPE

“What is dying?
I am standing in the sea shore,
a ship sails to the morning breeze
and starts for the ocean.
She is an object of beauty
and I stand watching her
till at last she fades
on the horizon
and someone at my side says,
‘She is gone.’
Gone! Where?
Gone from my sight–that is all.
She is just as large in the masts, hull and spars
as she was when I saw her,
and just as able to bear her load of living
freight to its destination.
The diminished size and total loss of sight is in me,
not in her;
and just at the moment when someone at my side says,
‘she is gone’
there are others who are watching her coming,
and others take up a glad shout–
‘There she comes!’ – and that is dying.”

 

The author of this poem is probably William Blake although some doubts remain as to the autorship of these words.

Nevertheless it is a poem which is often recited during a funeral…

Posted in LOVE

A novel to overcome LOVE disappointment

 

“Eat, pray, love” Elizabeth Gilbert

(Riverhead books, 2007)

“Eat, pray, love” by Elizabeth Gilbert tells the autobiographical journey of a woman who offers herself a sabbatical year to recover from a stormy divorce followed by an unconvincing love affair. During this year, she will stay in three countries, Italy, India and Indonesia.

In Italy, she goes in search of the pleasure of living and finds the art of savouring beautiful things and tasting good food.

“In a world of disorder and disaster and fraud, sometimes only beauty can be trusted. Only artistic excellence is incorruptible. Pleasure cannot be bargained down. And sometimes the meal is the only currency that is real.”

In India she stays in an ashram where she sets out to seek devotion; she tries to free her thoughts from all the evils that paralyze her life in order to reach spiritual serenity. “We spend our time excavating the past, or scrutinizing the future, but we rarely rest in the present moment …… The present is the only place and the only time to find God.

Finally in Indonesia, she finds through love a kind of balance between earthly life and spiritual life. “The best thing to do in response to our incomprehensible and dangerous world is to train ourselves to maintain the balance” internally “whatever the madness that transpires here below. ” and

To lose balance sometimes for love is part of living a balanced life

Superbly written, this novel puts words on emotions which might be difficult to say and opens the doors of hope to the person who believes that everything is finished after a love disappointment. I strongly recommend it to all women in the process of divorce or separation, but also to all the persons who are looking for inner peace.

Posted in LONELINESS

One hundred years of SOLITUDE

Readtoheal2

“One Hundred Years of Solitude”

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Published in Spanish in 1967, this voluminous Latin American novel is one of the masterpieces of universal literature.

The Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez tells the story of the Buendia family over seven generations in an imaginary village, Macondo. This one is described as being located in the Colombian Caribbean, a region well known by the author.

The Buendia family goes through events that marked the history of Colombia between the middle of the 19th century and the middle of the 20th century (civil wars, economic and social upheavals). However, the story of this family, as well as that of their village is accompanied by fantastic and imaginary phenomena that naturally inhabit everyday life: ghosts of the past, characters who are more than a hundred years old, magical inventions, unbelievable diseases, levitations , curse etc.

This singular and aesthetic approach to reality characterizes a new literary genre, the “magical realism” whose literary work of Gabriel Garcia Marquez has become one of the spearheads.

Theme of loneliness:

The Buendia family is struck by a curse that sentences it to one hundred years of loneliness … the propensity to solitude that characterizes the members of this family is obvious and the author keeps reminding us of it …

“Lost in the solitude of his immense power, he began to lose direction.” 

The cyclic and repetitive character that permeates every human story  (one of the most visible signs being the continual repetition of the same first names from generation to generation) conveys a feeling of irrevocability to human existence marked by solitute and by a propensity to always repeat the same mistakes.

Question is : Should I read this novel to heal of loneliness ???

I admit I had a little trouble getting into this story, even if the merits of writing and originality seem obvious to me. Initially, it seemed difficult to identify myself with the protagonists to finally focus on their fate. And then slowly, I have dropped my first resistance and I really let myself be caught by this original way of writing that guides the reader into the heart of the human comedy as Gabriel Garcia Marquez wanted to describe it to us.

So yes, this is a “feel good” novel, because it talks about the human being in its quintessence, that is to say in its loneliness. But yet, it seems that some hope exists : LOVE, and only love, can help oneself to escape from loneliness  …

“and both of them remained floating in an empty universe where the only everyday & eternal reality was love…”