75 in 2015: October, Part I

On Second ThoughtOn Second Thought: Outsmarting Your Mind’s Hard-Wired Habits by Wray Herbert (2010)

I give them one a firm “okay.” It was a decent read, but nothing to write home about, mostly rehashing things I’d heard before.

From Amazon.com: “Our lives are composed of millions of choices, ranging from trivial to life-changing and momentous. Luckily, our brains have evolved a number of mental shortcuts, biases, and tricks that allow us to quickly negotiate this endless array of decisions. We don’t want to rationally deliberate every choice we make, and thanks to these cognitive rules of thumb, we don’t need to. Yet these hard-wired shortcuts, mental wonders though they may be, can also be perilous. They can distort our thinking in ways that are often invisible to us, leading us to make poor decisions, to be easy targets for manipulators . . .and they can even cost us our lives. The truth is, despite all the buzz about the power of gut-instinct decision-making in recent years, sometimes it’s better to stop and say, “On second thought . . .”

Catherine The GreatCatherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie (2011)

A one-word review is all that is necessary here . . . spectacular.

From Amazon.com: “The Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Peter the Great, Nicholas and Alexandra, and The Romanovs returns with another masterpiece of narrative biography, the extraordinary story of an obscure German princess who became one of the most remarkable, powerful, and captivating women in history. Born into a minor noble family, Catherine transformed herself into empress of Russia by sheer determination. For thirty-four years, the government, foreign policy, cultural development, and welfare of the Russian people were in her hands. She dealt with domestic rebellion, foreign wars, and the tidal wave of political change and violence churned up by the French Revolution. Catherine’s family, friends, ministers, generals, lovers, and enemies—all are here, vividly brought to life. History offers few stories richer than that of Catherine the Great. In this book, an eternally fascinating woman is returned to life.”

Scary StoriesScary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz (1981)

I was feeling nostalgic. Like so many children of the ’80s, I grew up with these books and read them religiously, but not at night b/c those drawing were haunting. I still have my original copy of More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (or possibly my husband’s copy, we aren’t sure) and bought the trilogy for my daughter when Scholastic offered the set with the original art. After seeing a story online touting an upcoming documentary on the books (http://www.scarystoriesdoc.com), I felt the need to pick one up and see if it still had any appeal.

I enjoyed revisiting this part of my childhood. The drawings were still terrifying and, even though the stories didn’t have my shaking in my boots, I could really see their appeal for youngsters. And I also noticed for the first time that these books have extensive end notes and additional information in the back providing some history on the classic stories.

I only read the first of the books, but I remember the second one being my favorite and expect to pick it back up sometime soon.

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