tales by the unexpected

My story, my tales, my life

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book analysis: To Siri with love by Judith Newman

Where do I begin? Maybe first tell about the controversy. If you have lived under a rock, you might be unaware of the fact that autistics can be very vocal when needed, and boy, did we need to be vocal.

A mother of an autistic, also a writer for the New York Times, decided to write a book about her autistic son, Gus. Normally, I would be fine with that. Carly’s voice was also written by her dad and by Carly herself. The problem with this book is that she didn’t ask consent of her little boy. That’s problem number one. Problem number two is that the book is full, and I mean full of ableistic stuff, not only about Gus but also about other autistics. Darius Mccollum, the autistic that is fascinated by the trains and metros, is also publicly humiliated by this book.

I am going to list all the things that I found wrong with this book, so you know that I am not making this up. It took me several days, and a lot of venting sessions with my girlfriend (yes, Judith, I have a girlfriend. Autistics can love! A miracle!)

I will list them per chapter, so you know how much is wrong with this book. Also, I saw a lot of 5 star reviews of autism parents and grandparents… do they really not know how much is wrong with this book? Or don’t they wanna know? I really wonder.

There are clinical psychologists commenting on the book that the book is wonderfull… I think they really should reread the book…

Let’s begin the journey, shall we? (I will put in parentheses my commentary. so you know what I was thinking while I wrote it) disclaimer: I read the dutch version of this book. We, Belgians and dutchies, can speak english as if it’s our second language (although the occassional spelling mistake might happen), so I think that nothing will be lost in translation. If so, send me an first edition english copy and I will find the same problems in that one. (I have translated senteces again from Dutch to english, but would love the exact quotations from the book, so if someone could give me the English versions of these sentences, that would be awesome.

ps: I will probably have forgotten to put a few into this list, but as you can see, there are alot of things that makes this book ableistic enough to be banned forever.

My girlfriend informed me that this article might be spoilery! (so don’t read if you don’t have enough spoons or don’t like ableism).

Introduction

  • person first language is preferred by autistics? and I politically correct?
  • How she recognizes autistics by 3 defining traits: 1. We have trouble with theory of mind (as you clearly demonstrate in the book, you actually don’t know why Gus does the things he does, so we could argue that you also have trouble with theory of mind (and there is a theory that refutes Theory of mind altogether in the book: “the passionate mind” by Wendy Lawson”), 2. Autistics apparantly like repetition and details (I don’t know about you, but put on the same movie in a time span of two years and I will not watch it with you, as I can still see it in my minds eye to clearly. 3. We are apparantly all nuts. (and this is only on page 18 (we aren’t even on a real chapter yet… this is just the fucking introducton)
  • She recognizes mothers of other autistics by their appearance (apparantly we are such a burden that the beauty of our mothers starts to go backwards. Yup, apparantly we are a burden… (still the introduction… How can anybody with an autistic in his life like this book?)

Chapter 1

  •  Just to clarify, there is such a thing like the halo-effect. Clearly I noticed this already in chapter one, but this is a theme through the whole book: Henry good, Gus bad.
  •  An autism diagnose is something terrible (apparantly in this chapter. Yes, she calls it that.)
  • Gus will never have a first job, or know a loving person that will truly love him. (I have read the complete book and even Gus proves her wrong by having several girlfriends in the book.)
  • Autistics are like Aliens in the men in black, they are there, but you don’t see them. (Notice that in the introduction she stated that she could identify autistics, now she apparantly can’t. Apparantly we are not humans, but aliens. We feel alienated, but that doesn’t mean we are aliens.)
  • She noticed that kids (probably autistics) were bullied at her school. She didn’t join (likely she did, but she’s painting a pretty picture of herself (or tries to) but she didn’t do anything against it either, which to me, is the same as being the bully.

Chapter 2

  • Off the bat she starts with all kinds of crackpot theories of what might have caused Gus’ Autism. (Also the refrigerator mother is mentioned here again, in a “woe me” self-pity kind of way)
  • At the end of this chapter she sees her son and his personhood as 2 different things. “When I look at Gus the person, instead of Gus the psychological …, then I am calmed” (translation from dutch to english by me)

Chapter 3

  • When Gus likes routines, it’s weird. When she likes routines, it’s not weird at all, and it’s because she can’t help it. (I don’t think she knows that changing our routines is actually quite scare (and also awesomely explained the the book “the passionate mind”)

Chapter 4

  • Apparantly there is a difference between being a fan and being an autistic fan of something. (Ableist much?)
  • Gus is a talented musician, but this is big in comparison with all the things he can’t do? She can only name a few things he is good at, I can name 3 (thanks to her writing in the book, but she names a lot more deficits. Does she even love her child?)
  • First contradiction: Gus doesn’t know what love is, but they are going to a concert with Gus’ sweetheart.
  • Repetitive music is good for autistics (Like we can’t enjoy anything else than Laurie Berkner or sesame street music) (I love all kinds of music. Metal, trance, classical,… everything.
  • Gus can’t recognize different emotions. Maybe the boy has alexithymia? (context: Gus did something wrong and she asks him to look at her face. First: this is abusive and manipulative. and autistics don’t like to look at faces, and especially if negative emotions are in play. You are done with the emotion as fast as it’s passed. We can remember that moment for months maybe even years. But not looking at someone’s face doesn’t mean we don’t know we did something wrong)
  • Square root of Pi? (context: the boy wouldn’t know how to take the square root of pi (as in, he can’t do maths) but in my knowledge, Pi is an infinite number, I goodled it( as I was to curious and try first for yourself. Here’s a solution.)
  • Because Gus repeats things on youtube or Netflix (as in watching the same 5 second clip) he is irritating.
  • He can play music by ear, but she doesn’t she him perform, because he gets emotional. He has to learn theory of mind, to learn that you can do things to please other people, instead of only playing for himself. She wants to make him a dancing monkey, that only does things to please others, instead of enjoying it himself. (Just for reference, here’s an Jodi DiPiazza, autistic girl playing piano, just like Gus could do, also Here’s an example of an autistic, named Derek Paravicini, that plays wonderful piano. (did I mention he is blind?))

Chapter 5

  • In this chapter she starts of describing Darius Mccollumn’ train abossession. She compares him to Frank Abagnale, whom was a fraud and now works for the FBI. (So she compares someone whom can’t help being obsessed and really wants to work as a train conductor or bus driver, with somebody who did everything for his own gain?)
  • Gus likes stimming with trains. He likes to make the sound. She constantly asks him to get rid of his trains, to gift them to a younger child. (She also tried to get rid of his teddy bears, with whom he sleeps every night, but of which she can’t remember the order of how they go on his bed, His dad can, and several of his aids could too, but not his mom).
  • Apparantly all autistics can’t travel by bus (She talks about Darius a few sentences ago… I know a lot of autistics that travel by bus daily!)
  • There is a very, very personal fact revealed about Darius that is shared by someone whom was with him on a psychiatric ward. (It’s not her place to share it and the person whom posted it to her on facebook should be prosecuted in my opinion as in patient confidentiality).

Chapter 6

  • She compares her manipulative embarrassing her kids to get her own way, with developing his own opinion by Henry and the being fascinated by something and wanting to talk about it from Gus.
  • Her opinion: Halloween is the best time of year for parents with autistics because then nobody looks up if you act weird in public.
  • She shares intimate details about Gus’ toilet behaviour, how low his pants are at times, and how he walks naked to the shower when there is company. (Great mother for sharing these details. (see, Judith, we can do sarcasm).
  • Embarrassed is someting autistics don’t know, because being embarrassed is a social emotion, and autistics can’t do social. (the countless embarrassing moments I have in my own life, that I know are embarrassing, don’t count apparantly. Maybe I’m not really autistic. My diagnose is a lie!)
  • She follows Henry’s tip that she should let Gus pick up the phone when there are telemarketers as they would get bored of him pretty quickly, instead of teaching Gus how to have a conversation on the phone. (She follows abusive tips of her teenage son, which she probably knows or should know are bad. Her kid doesn’t know the distinction yet, but she enforces that her autistic son is a thing to be abused).
  • Telemarketers call her house less often because there must be “that-kid-is-crazy”-list
  • She went to a concert of “music for autism” but what autistics thought of the concert doesn’t matter. What the parents thought of it matters more.
  • Echolalia is repeating sentences ad verbatim without getting what it means… (yup, autistics are mindless robots).
  • At the concert she also notices a boy that repeats “I’m sorry” to his parents over and over. She wants to hug the boy and the parents (plus), (she doesn’t notice that this might be a sign that the boy is emotionally abused, why would he apologize so much?)

Chapter 7

  • She wants that gus lived in normalland
  • She plans a vacation, without consulting her boys (or at least not Gus) and then she doens’t get that Gus doesn’t like to go out, cries because he is out of his normal enviroment and doesn’t want to do anything.
  • She wants to make worldcitizens of her boys, something they don’t want (something she wasn’t either) and then starts to cry when they don’t want that (Does she ever talk with her boys in a meaningful way about what they want or where they want to be?)
  • Henry has good memories about being home, but she likes to take the spotlight yet again and talks about that she must be an abusive mother because he likes the sound of the heater.
  • Her husband (in his eighties) has medical issues. He doesn’t travel with them, for apparant reasons, but she tells it to her girlfriends that he doesn’t want to go with them. (So her girlfriends think she is the ideal wife, while her husband is a prick for not wanting to go with her, that would be my conclusion if she told it to me like that).
  • Her husband is afraid that she might lose Gus  on the trip, with reason, as she had to give his description to an officer from his 3rd up to his 10th because this mother of an autistic child, didn’t pay attention enough, as she knew that he was prone to running away. Great mother, she should get the nobel price of mothership.
  • Also: She doesn’t take the blame for Gus’ running. It’s what half of autistics are prone to do and cites examples of statistics, and also drags a death of autistic into it, just to make her point that it’s apparantly not her fault.
  • She hopes that Gus is gay (because gay people adore their mother. )
  • She does 2 seperate trips with her boys. With Henry she goes to Paris, and of which she is super-positive. With Gus she goes to Disneyland and she is negative.
  • She really, really hopes that he ever will become “normal”

Chapter 8

  • Gus is to small for his age and doesn’t make a problem about it. She does. Ever her co-worker gets the absurdity of the situation and jokes that she maybe can get his nose fixed as well, as he has her old nose.
  • John (her husband) shares a fact about a superlice and uses the word mutant. she hijacks the conversation and says “speaking about mutants… what about our son” (talking about Gus. I know I have talked about mutants here on my blog, but it’s the same as talking about nigger (here not meant in a racist way just to prove a point) as a black person yourself.)
  • She thinks that Gus will ever be able to think for himself. She constantly treats him as an oblivious little child. (devil effect (oppossite of halo effect) in this case)
  • The next part is the often debated part about forced sterilisation of the boy. The part that sparked the controversy. here’s the image. The part in the book is longer and more disturbing. I will never know why a loving mother would think this of her own child.
  • This whole paragraph about sterilisation and such ends with the words “for me”. It would bring a lot of calm to her thinking that her son can’t reproduce (as her logic is that autistics can’t be dads. Want me to give you a dozen examples of autistic dads?)
  • She knows that this idea is bad, as she talks about Hitler (whom got his idea from Henry Ford), and other eugenicists.
  • Hypocritical: She talks about that if the procedure would be reversible, she would be the first in line to do it for Gus, but at the beginning of the chapter she literally says that what everybody does with their body is their choice, but apparantly that same curtusy isn’t granted to you when you are autistic.

Chapter 9

  • She talks about taking her children in bed with her to bond more. She talks about research that 40 to 60 percent would take their dog in bed with them and then says this glorious sentence: “If my beloved golden retriever, monty, doesn’t have a chance. What chance does Gus have?” (Does she literally state that she loves her dog more than her own autistic kid?)
  • She has the “rule of three” Gus can only hug her 3 times in public places (because he likes to hug a lot, his sign of showing affection, but she doesn’t grant him that)

Chapter 10

Chapter 10 is what landed her this book deal. This is the chapter that previously in another form was published in the new york times. This is to me the least offensive chapter in the book, as I have only one note on it.

  • Gus friendship with Siri started because she was bored of answering and talking with her autistic boy. (Great parent. Reads to me like she really deserves an award for “most emotionally abusive parent of a disabled child”-award. Here’s an example of how it should be. )

Chapter 11

  • context: in this chapter Gus has a job as doorman in the apartment-building they live in. Henry has several crooked jobs and ways to get money.
  • With Henry she is always delighted in what he does, with Gus she is always negative. He really likes his “job” as doorman, but because mom doesn’t like it, it’s not good.
  • Autistics are only good to do repetitive tasks (and we like them a lot to, apparantly). We don’t need to do things for a higher purpose (like we autistic advocates do). This is not possible in the image Judith has about us autistics. We don’t need job satisfaction. Also: we are nitwits that don’t want to get higher education or don’t want to work, because there are jobs for us somewhere. (She doesn’t take in account that we get bullied a lot more or are refused a job when we even mention the fact that we are autistic).
  • She doesn’t think Gus can get a real paying job.
  • In this chapter she quotes an insulting quote (in my opinion) from John Elder Robison and she loves it.
  • After 14 years she is surprised that Gus can pour himself a glass of milk. (How low does she think of her child? Also how little effort does she take to teach him things?)
  • Gus has a real paying job sitting on cats. He likes it, but is taken advantage of. She knows it is wrong but doesn’t say anything. His brother wants to have a word with the abusing party, but is stopped by his mother. So, she just lets the abuse slip (even writes it of that Henry must think that he has the only right in abusing his brother like this. She also gives an example in how Henry came up for his brother in Mcdonald’s before, but his mother couldn’t… why not?)
  • She ends the chapter with a Starbucks CEO that hired an autistic on the job because there was no one better than him in creating the perfect milk foam layer. (See, there are people that see the merrit in our autistic quirks)

Chapter 12

  • She cares about Gus (but belittles him a few sentences later). She is scared for Gus future. She has a recurring dream about Gus living alone and meals are delivered and he can’t open the package and stares at it as if he was a dog staring at his empty bowl. (As if he can’t learn how to cook when he is older)
  • They use the language from Gus’ report cards to make fun of eachother. (Does she think that Gus doesn’t notice? What message does this give Henry about his brother?)
  • She invades her autistic sons privacy to chat with his friends… without any reason for doing so.
  • She makes fun of Gus way of communicating in text chats, while not taking the time to learn him an appropriate way, of getting him a book to do so (he can read, so why doesn’t she take that opportunity?)
  • She doesn’t like the way Gus has friends (he has friends!!!), but she doesn’t care to explain what friendship means or what real friends are, while she thinks Henry’s way of friends are wonderful.
  • She doesn’t like criticism (as if we autistics didn’t notice already, we were silenced in her twitter feed), but she doesn’t like the caretaker that likes John more than her, and whom blames her for not taking care of her children (I think I already gave enough examples in how her taking care of her kids could be improved).
  • She seemingly cares about her son, but even zipping his jacket has he learned from a caretaker (whom was so enthousiastic she even filmed it).
  • She sees somebody for 25 years in the same building (thinks the guy lives with his sister) but apparantly he is married and even he cares more about Gus than she does (as he calls him his friend, after they waved to eachother a few times)

Chapter 13 (you can really start to notice that my spoons were gone for the day, as my commentary starts to get less and less from here on)

  • She talks as if autistics aren’t curious in other subjects except the subject of their fascination (Judith, I really dare you to find a subject I am not curious about).
  • Again she makes comments about sterilising her son
  • She keeps repeating that autistics are people that don’t get what happens in other people’s heads, as if we are some kind of idiots.
  • Again talking about vasectomy and her thinking that autistics can’t be dads.

Chapter 14

  • She talks about autistics in this chapter as if we are naïeve, stupid people that can’t philophize or don’t get the meaning of death
  • She ends the chapter that both Henry and Gus will be there on her deathbed (off course, it has to be about her), but that only Gus will hold her hand (1-0 for Gus)

Chapter 15

  • She compares 2 completely different things: why can Gus play piano but can’t button his shirt? (why does she need to share that he can’t button his shirt or undo his buttons (he will rip it open like the hulk). (I can’t pick up small screws or write very neatly because of my bad motor skills, but I can false riffle shuffle a deck or cards and perform magic effects which require a different kind of dexterity. Did I tell you already I’m autistic?)
  • She uses an article about cambridge students that disliked a Simon Baron-Cohen talk to give a not-my-child-rethoric (I think Autism mom bingo is now complete).

So these are the things that were ableistic in this book.

The house of books and HarperCollins, please stop publishing this book. As it is very, very ableistic and not liked by Actual Autistics.

Also, New York Times, if you are hiring, and you need someone whom can do better research than one of your writers. I’m open for offers.

Also Judith, take lessons by autistics in how to take care of your autistic boy. He needs your love. Or take at least a class in how to be a real mother.

An analogy to explain autism

Autism is a tough one to explain to people whom have never heard of it, or have never had to deal with it. Very, very difficult.

What if you could use a children’s bookseries, not related to autism at all, to explain a lot of autism? I have done some thinking and send it to an autism expert, whom thought it was a great idea (he’s a fan of harry potter as well), so here goes:

What if Harry Potter could be used to explain autism?

Wait! Don’t try to cast a spell on me yet. Let me explain.

Most autistics are diagnosed late. Childrens diagnoses are only a fraction of us, whom are diagnosed later in life. I was diagnosed when I was 29, for example, some are even diagnosed now in their sixties or seventies (some even older, although rare).

A diagnose for us feels like Hagrid coming through the door and telling you, you are a wizard. Asking you if you ever made some weird things happen all by itself, without you being able to explain it. This could be autistic traits by a psychologist, and tell you: you have autism. Suddenly, all the puzzle-pieces start to click. Suddenly everything starts to fall in place. Harry even likens Hogwarts as coming home, the wizarding world is his home. This is how the autistic world feels for us, having to have lived so many years in the neurotypical world, the autistic world for us feels like home. Being able to be “normal” in a different world, where all of your traits are not seen as something weird, but seen as something completely normal.

You also get the reaction of the parents (both his dead parents and his uncle and aunt, and nephew). For most of us, it’s a reason to celebrate (as it is a part of our identity that finally falls into place), so cake is something that is in place. Some (like me) even celebrate our diagnose like a second birthday. The reactions of his wizard-birth-parents would’ve been one of joy. They have a child. They don’t mind if it’s autistic or not. it’s their child. It would’ve been a reason for joy, and as you can see, by the flashbacks in the books: Harry was greatly loved by his family. His aunt and uncle… completely different story.

His aunt and uncle are what we call autism-parents. These are the parents that claim the label autism for themselves, to make them martyrs. Look at how difficult we have it, with you in our living room. Despising harry most of his life, because of them knowing he’s a wizard (autistic). They tried to make him more “normal” by cutting his hair. Dudley, not knowing any better, bullied him together with his friends. You can see how Petunia feels about being a wizard when she recalls the story of her sister and her parents joy over it, that she is a wizard (autistic). Look in the movies how movie-petunia recalls it. You can feel the hate in her voice. Dursleys sister, the one with the dogs (forgot her name), you can see as a quack. Someone trying to cure autism. Giving up some crazy theories, without actually knowing anything about autism. You get now why Harry Potter gets so enraged.

We have covered the diagnose now.

My favorite character in the book is Snape, and by linking the character to autism, I felt a renewed connection to him.

Snape for me isthe quintessential Autie, and how he lost his friendship with Lily ( by blurting out something inappropriate, was gifted in options up to the extend that he was better than the writer of the book he was meant to study, but he still stayed loyal to Lily Potter in such a way that he lied and cheated to the world’s most powerfull wizard. His wand is the only one I possess in my own Harry Potter collection (and I am actually a proud Slytherin because of him).

Female examples? Sure. Lily Poter is one. Oh, you want more details. Look no further than Hermoine. Hermoine has no female friends and look at her determination to make the world a better place for the house-elves. How she read the entire curriculum of Hogwarts before even setting foot on its grounds and how she can recall the information with great ease.

What got me thinking about the wizarding world and the autistic world is Ron’s father. He has a fascination for muggles, but doesn’t understand them. He works in a department dedicated to them, still doesn’t know the basic functionality of a rubber duck. Look at how he goes through the metro in the movies, it even looks like a person shutting down, because of sensory stimulation.

Lucius malfoy, father of draco malfoy, is the best example to explain aspie supremacy. Some aspies (I came to despise the word because of these) think they are better than other autistics up to a point that they think they are a different species altogether. Some of them don’t even want anything to do with neurotypicals and cling so hard to the label of aspieness that they will use it in almost very sentence.
Professor lupin could be a great example of a mentor to an autistic, even an autistic psychologist or a psychologist without autism as he is one of the best teachers for Harry, teaching him about facinf his fear.
His Godfather and his father can be used to explain comorbid diagnoses as they were able to shapeshift into animals.
The werewolves in the book can be seen as sexual predators (sadly this also includes lupin) but he gets a potion by snape.
One more: what about the magical creatures? These are all the other diagnoses that fall under neurodiversity and newt scamander collecting and advocating for them, makes him the perfect example of a neurodiversity-self-advocate.

To read

On my kindle app, I have lots and lots of books that I still need to read and am focusing on in finishing. I don’t know if it’s my ADHD (although I suspect it is) I can’t read only one book, so currently in my reading pile I have 80 books, on different subjects: Productivity, feminism, anarchism, autism,… all kinds of subjects.

I have 32 books in my fiction pile, which says a lot in my fiction reading habits. I absolutely don’t like reading fiction and the fiction I do read is also a specific set of books. 90 percent of my fiction books are books turned into movies or are follow-ups of books that are turned into movies.

In 2017 alone I have read 21 books. Which isn’t much compared to other years, but still more than some years. I keep track of these in my kindle app as I set the books in specific folders when I’m done (in collections), this is also where I keep my focus pile and such, so I only read books out of my focus pile and put new books in from my to-read pile.

book review: Autisme is niet blauw smurfen wel by Peter Vermeulen

I saw this book passing by on an autistic friends Facebook page and i almost instantly wanted to read it. It intrigued me. It has a quirky title which translates to english as “autism isn’t blue smurfs are”. It adresses the origins of the connection between the color blue and autism (autism speaks!!!)

Peter Vermeulen is a pedagogue whom, apparantly, works for a flemish autism organisation and has, apparantly, given talks in the whole world. Before reading his book, i never heard of him. He never has heard of me either, so we are equal on that part.

we are equal in the sense that we both have 30 years experience with autism. He has seen many more cases than I do. I have only see 5-6 up close and a few dozen in documentaries, so he has me there, but where I have him is him beaten, is that I have experienced autism for 30 years now. I live with it day in and day out, so if we calculate the hours , not years we both have experience with autism, i think i have him beaten after only my first decennia being on this earth.

The book is not bad. It gives a view of how people who work with people with autism think. That’s not bad. I agree with him on a few points in the book, like that autism is to popular and that it’s a catch-all diagnosisnd stuff like that.

i’m going to re-read the book, I know that now, as I’m going to think more about the things that troubled me. For one thing, he made me doubt my diagnosis. According to him, It’s wrong to identify with my autism. So with the same logic, people whom are blind, can’t identify with being blind. They can’t call themselves blind.

what also bothered me is that he talked as if he knew what he was talking about, as if he was autistic himself. I didn’t like his pedantic tone. He wasn’t another famous Belgian, Jozef de veuster aka father damian, whom gave a famous speech starting with the words: We, lepers,…” after he discovered that after working with lepers, he also had caught lepracy.

We, the autistic community, don’t need anyone talking for us. In the history of autism, we have been talked about and people have made assumptions about us enough, even blaming a generation of women for something they didn’t do.

He talks in his book that people like him, whom have worked with autistics are equally qualitied to talk for them. Uhm… No. I will accept the words of fellow autistics like Temple Grandin. I will take the words by researchers, like Tony Attwood. But I will never take the words from someone whom has seen cases, has tried to help help them, has written books about it, but has only piggybacked off of other people, and still claims he is as valuable as other people with more knowledge.

he gave me a good view on how certain organisations think about autism, and it will help me in the future, but it doesn’t add anything important to autism literature.

Lisbeth Salander

An exercise: Take a few minutes to think how Pipi Longstocking would look if she were an adult. Ok. Done envisioning? Now go read “The girl with the dragon tattoo”, don’t read the other Stieg Larsson books. Just don’t. I’ll tell you why.

The first book was a joy to read. It had a good plot. Great characters. Very strong female characters. Female characters that weren’t dependant on men, which is something I’m relieved of for a change. Also, there is Lisbeth Salander.

She is, to me, the most interesting character I’ve read int he past so many years. You have to know that I don’t read much fiction, but I watch movies and series and get to know a lot of fiction, thanks to my girlfriend.

Most characters nowadays are cardboard cut-outs. They have nothing special about them. One of my favourite characters from fiction is Snape. He has dimension. He is by far the most interesting character from Harry Potter, just because we know so little about him. We know he was in love with Harry’s motter, but why does he care so much now, after all those years? How strong was his love (we see it in the books).

We learn very early that something in Lisbeth’s past has done something to her. Something that is so terrible, that it has messed up her whole future. In book 2 you get to know what it is, but please, don’t ruin your curiosity. Don’t go read it. Please don’t. You will ruin the character for yourself. You will be dissapointed.

I had the same feeling I had when I read this fact, as when I finished “Sophie’s world”. I had the same feeling as I watched Hannibal Rising.

Some literary facts should never be told. I’m intrigued by Snape’s character just because I know so little about him. I know very little details about his life. I know the key facts. I know why Lily and Snape fell apart, otherwhise they would have been a couple (Imagine that!).

The thing that coloured Lisbeth Salander’s past isn’t that spectacular, and I would be glad to pay to get the thing it actually is wiped out of my memory. I thought it would be much worse than it actually was.

I have things in my past that are worse than the thing that shoudl supposedly have coloured her past. So to me, it is utterly unbelievable. The second book reads like a bad first draft. The first book was wonderful. Great characters, great plot, everything. Book 2, not so much. Although… Lisbeth Salander remains a very, very interesting character that would easily have stould on it’s own in the books. Blomkvist was unnessary the moment Lisbeth arrived on the scene and began to take over.

Book review: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Today I finished the book. I’m actually saddened. It’s a very, very empowering read. You get to go on a trip with her. How she experienced the PCT and why she did it in the first place.

I’m a fan of non-fiction, as most of the book reviews that you will read here, will be non-fiction, and sometimes a good memoir needs te be there too. I’ve read a couple, some are about autistic people, some are about junkies, this one is about a woman that has lost her mother and has some other stuff to deal with and decides to walk the PCT, the Pacific Crest Trail, as a way to deal with her thoughts and feelings and her complete situation. It was also made into a movie by the same title, as Reese Witherspoon plays Cheryl.

I know what it is to lose a parent and needing a walk to deal with things, but this is to a whole extreme. I’ve watched “into the wild” with my former girlfriend as well. I want to make a comparison between the two.

Into the wild is about a guy whom has everything. A loving family, a chance to go studying. he’s (to me) a spoiled rich kid, whom misses something in life and decides, without former knowledge, without preparation only one book on surviving, to go into the wild. At least a couple of times during his travels he is stopped by people whom ask him to stay with them, instead of going into the wild. Even a girl whom loves him very, very dearly. Also an old guy whom is lonely and wants him to stay with him, so he can inherit everything (although that last thing is cloudy, because it’s been a while since I watched the movie and I’m not going to do any research on a spoiled brat).

Compare that to the story of Cheryl: Cheryl grew up poor. She lost her mom to cancer, almost had no contact anymore due to the death of her mom with her siblings. She had Paul, and probably (speculation by me) she didn’t know what to do with herself she slept with a bunch of guys, divorced Paul and started doing drugs with another guy whom I can’t remember right now. After she found out that she was pregnant (and had an abortion) she decided to walk the trail to think everything over and see where that would leave her. After the trail, she would live with her friend, Lisa. She overprepared and went to walk the trail.

Now what do you think? Sorry I had to do this comparison, but I think, although her human flaws, Cheryl is the one that was right to go hiking to clear her head and have her spiritual moments during the trail. She’s the one living now, while the spoiled brat is dead. Sorry, no compassion.

If you want to read a good book about a snippet of a person’s life and how they overcame hardship while doing something very, very difficult, I suggest you read “Wild”.

Book review: Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman and Oliver Sacks

After a centuries of misinformation about what autism is and how it affects people, this is the first books that has it’s facts straight.

I love the writing. It’s informative. It tells the facts by weaving a story that begins with the diagnosis of Leo, a small boy with autism, and his mother’s search for a cure. After trying different things, we learn where this search for a cure comes from and go through a journey passing homeopathy and learn where all the misinformation comes from.

We learn about Asperger and his crew of “little professors” and the “simultaneous” discovery of autism by Kanner, exposed in this book as the fraud he was, looking at all the damage his misdiagnosis and misinterpretation of what autism was and it’s cause, that still affects people with autism today.

The book is a tome of 495 pages long, with the last 50 pages as an index. It’s a well-researched book, disspelling all the misdiagnoses and “facts” that were spread by groups such as Autism speaks (that doesn’t let autistic adults have their decision in their future.

It’s a very fun read. I came in with preconceptions of how autism was treated and was in for a treat while reading. I must say that I have learned a lot. It’s a good read for people well versed in autism literature, because you will learn a thing or two. If this book was available while Kanner first put his pen to paper, he would have said different things about his diagnosis.

I recommend this highly.

Book review: Rejection proof by Jia Jiang

I wish I had half the courage as this man had, during his project. He started his first project with a small heart, but he started anyway. He did his 100 days of rejection, and was pleasantly surprised.

The book chronicles the journey of Jia to become rejection proof through 100 tasks he sets himself to ask ridiculous things of total strangers.

It started with is first act: trying to borrow 100 dollar from a total stranger. He went into his office building and asked a total stranger, a security guard, if he could borrow the 100 dollar. In his head he was preparing for all kinds of rejections, before he even asked his question. He gets a “No. Why?” and he basically bolts out the door.

He films his rejections which are still watchable on his youtube channel here.

His turning point, as is noticable in the book, is this project here. He sincerely wants them to say No, to his request. He sincerely wants to hear No. But as the video goes on, you really see the server (Jackie) ponder the request and overthink verbally how she would do it. At the end of the video, you see him get the donuts, free of charge, just because he asked something out of the ordinary.

The book is a sort of therapy for rejection grounded in some of the ideas also discussed in my previous book review, antidote.  It’s a therapy that helps against shyness and helps people to get more confidence as well, by giving them a task: lying down in public, for example, as in the comfort zone crusher, originally popularized by Albert Ellis in his Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, based on ancient stoic philosophy.

I like the fact that he took himself as a guinea pig and did this experiment on himself and reported it back to us. As a science report on how to beat rejection.

He writes in a very down to earth way, explaining his experiments day to day with great interest, disecting them, like a scientist and telling you why he does it, and what he felt during the experiment.

It’s a great read for people whom are interested to conquer their fear of rejection, as I initially was, although I never did any of the exercises or did any CBT (although it really sounds interesting). It is interesting to read about a man’s experience in conquering his most potent fear, and break it down, day after day in a 100 day experiment, that clearly changed his whole life.

You can watch a ted talk about his experience down below:

 

Books, books, books,…

Currently, as I see in my kindle app, I’m reading 42 books. Don’t be flabbergasted. There was a time where I was reading 100 something books. When I got bored of a book I changed, sometimes after a few lines, sometimes after a few paragraphs. It was a time when I was very restless in my head.

The “normal” readers don’t understand that I can read so many books. Now I try to focus on one book at a time, but it is difficult. I just need to change. Sometimes I read a fiction book a few pages and switch over to a non-fiction book and go back and forth, but I have so many books that I read at the moment, because I have so many interests. I have books on writing, books on psychology,… Everything interests me. It gives me fodder to ramble about when people talk to me.

It helps me to give interesting comments during conversations, otherwise I would have nothing to say. I’m one of those persons that can’t spend time watching the news or reading the newspaper. I think it’s a waste of time and money. My theory is that, when something important happens, I will eventually hear about it anyway. So I don’t have to spend my precious time on nonsense. Or as Sherlock would say, I don’t have to spend precious attic space on facts that don’t matter. I would rather fill up my brain-attic with interesting facts that I read about in books.

I really love random facts. Here’s one: How can you tell water in a plastic bottle is sparkly or not. Look at the bottom. If it has those bulbs, it has fizz. Flat bottles are more fragile and will bulge under pressure, that’s why the bottles with fizz are of a more coarser plastic. (Did I tell you I love random facts?)

I’m addicted to learning

I don’t know about you. I’m currently doing a trainee period in the hopes of getting a job, but I have limited spare time right now. Absolutely all my spare time, even when I’m free to do what I want, is dedicated to learning new things. It could be drawing, learning to code or just reading up on things, intersparsed with writing a story or watching an episode of my favourite series on Netflix.

I’m really, really addicted to learning new things. Now in my trainee period, I see new things every day, just new products, and new possibilities in how I could use them. Sometimes a customer (I work in a store) asks me a question and we don’t have a product for him to give him a solution to a problem, but I know a way to solve that problem with things we do have in the store and solve it that way.

I love learning. At the moment I signed up for a Masterclass by Deadmau5, to learn how to play music. I love listening to music, also electronic music, in which Deadmau5 is an expert, and I love learning his process, maybe to use in other ways, except music. I might not have the ambition to make music, but the knowledge might be usefull for other things, like making music for my own videos later on (as I want to make movies on my own, later, it’s a dream still, but it might be fun.)

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