The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins: A Book Review

thegirlontetrainThe winner of the 2015 Goodreads Choice Award for the Best Mystery and Thriller.  It narrowly defeated Stephen King’s Finders Keepers and  J.K. Rowling’s  Career of Evil under her pen name Robert Galbraith. I have not read the latter ones yet, but I am aware that Stephen King is well- known for writing such genre. How about Rowling’s skills in captivating her audience with her magic spell?  So I cannot comparatively but subjectively criticize it if this is deserving of the award. Don’t take umbrage at me, Ms. Hawkins.

I may not be a movie snob, but I believe that this is the agglomeration of the author’s collected ideas she may have drawn from the mystery and thriller movies she has watched, needless to say from the books she has read. I bet my boots Stephen King is one of her influences. So there are some parts in the book which are not new to me any longer: I guess who among the characters the real killer is. It is the kind one who turns out to be the bad one;  the part when another character drowns her baby to death. This sounds Greek to me. Where did I read and watch it? ; Rachel’s episodic-memory  scenes ; and the victim’s husband will be the protagonist’s friend and eventually enemy.

Nevertheless, the author wrote her collected ideas very well. The sentences are light, loose, and expressive which I believe are essential in writing a mystery and thriller. I can imagine the vivid scenes. I can connect to the characters. I can sense the suspenseful parts. However, I notice that there are some parts which enervate and undermine the excitement in reaching the climax such as too many emphases on the protagonist’s abject misery. She does something like this and like that off and on. In addition, the idea of alternate personal accounts among the three characters, notably between Anna and Megan, taxes my interest in and focus on Rachel, the protagonist. I do not care much about both of them; I just want to focus on Rachel. How about playing down to some other characters such as the two detectives? In other words, the author intends to leave us readers hang in the air which I find monotonously dreary and annoying . Ooops! You might find me now harsh, but I mean business. Mea Culpa.

Despite that the book appears lacking  originality, there is one thing that I found somewhat interesting. It is  the main character’s role. She is a divorcee and   dipsomania as well. That is why she loses her job.  In fear of shame, she pretends to go to work   by staying on the train where she forms her   fantasies and in a library where she reads and reads and reads- the settings I have not read yet.

Since Goodreads, the largest book club site in the world, catapulted it to fame, for sure,  Ms. Hawkins will be expected to write something better than this. Congratulations to Ms. Hawkins!  I am sure she takes her hat off to the readers who voted for her. Can I still belong to them? ^_^

Rating: 2/ 5 stars ( It’s OK.)



The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values, and Spiritual Growth by M. Scott Peck: A Book Review


This best –selling book of Dr. Peck is a must –read for those loners who have niggling questions such as:
(a) Why don’t I have a boyfriend or a girlfriend?
(b) Do I need someone whom I will love, or someone who will love me?

On the other hand, this book can throw light on common problems among couples in terms of:

(a) A peaceful, stable, and long-lasting relationship
(b) Role of a woman and a man in a relationship

This book, in addition, can somehow answer the apologetic and philosophical questions about LOVE such as:

(a) Is love innate?
(b) Where does it come from?
(c) How does it develop?
(d) Is love indispensable in our lives? Could we live without love?

At the end, I concluded that we need to love and to be loved to be healthy people; and likewise, we can be good people by loving ourselves rather than by choosing to love others.

Thus, this book is peppered with soothing and enlightening advice which is a favorite reference among counselors whenever someone turns to them for advice . So here are the lines that shattered all my illusions on LIFE, notably on LOVE :

“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”

“Human beings are poor examiners, subject to superstition, bias, prejudice, and a PROFOUND tendency to see what they want to see rather than what is really there.”

“Once we truly know that life is difficult — once we truly understand and accept it — then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”

“Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed, they create our courage and wisdom.”

“When we love someone our love becomes demonstrable or real only through our exertion – through the fact that for that someone (or for ourselves) we take an extra step or walk an extra mile. Love is not effortless. To the contrary, love is effortful.”

“Problems do not go away. They must be worked through or else they remain, forever a barrier to the growth and development of the spirit.”

“Our view of reality is like a map with which to negotiate the terrain of life. If the map is true and accurate, we will generally know where we are, and if we have decided where we want to go, we will generally know how to get there. If the map is false and inaccurate, we generally will be lost. While this is obvious, it is something that most people to a greater or lesser degree choose to ignore. They ignore it because our route to reality is not easy. First of all, we are not born with maps; we have to make them, and the making requires effort. The more effort we make to appreciate and perceive reality, the larger and more accurate our maps will be. But many do not want to make this effort. Some stop making it by the end of adolescence. Their maps are small and sketchy, their views of the world narrow and misleading. By the end of middle age most people have given up the effort. They feel certain that their maps are complete and their Weltanschauung is correct (indeed, even sacrosanct), and they are no longer interested in new information. It is as if they are tired. Only a relative and fortunate few continue until the moment of death exploring the mystery of reality, ever enlarging and refining and redefining their understanding of the world and what is true.”

“Another characteristic of human nature—perhaps the one that makes us most human—is our capacity to do the unnatural, to transcend and hence transform our own nature.”

“The best decision-makers are those who are willing to suffer the most over their decisions but still retain their ability to be decisive. One”

“My time was my responsibility. It was up to me and me alone to decide how I wanted to use and order my time.”

“Genuine love is volitional rather than emotional.

“Dependency may appear to be love because it is a force that causes people to fiercely attach themselves to one another. But in actuality it is not love; it is a form of antilove. It has its genesis in a parental failure to love and it perpetuates the failure. It seeks to receive rather than to give. It nourishes infantilism rather than growth. It works to trap and constrict rather than to liberate. Ultimately it destroys rather than builds relationships, and it destroys rather than builds people.”

“Love always requires courage and involves risk.”

Note: For more quotes, you can click this site:

Dr. Peck focused on anatomizing LOVE. He used his experiences in supporting his propositions. However, there are instances that he should not have overlooked the holistic approach to understanding the psychological problems among his patients. I guess he knew what I meant.

Rating: 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it. )

Aging: The Fulfillment of Life by Henri J.M. Nouwen and Walter J. Gaffney: A Book Review

agingRecently, my co-teachers and I visited another co-teacher whose father had passed away in a far countryside to show  our sympathy to her families. There I  met   not only her late  father in a box  and her families but also  her grandmother. She is already old,  frail, bed-ridden, wrapped herself from head to toes despite the acrid weather. Her skin is almost  wrinkled coming  apart from her bones, and she can no longer see as her eye flaps covered her eyeballs flat  . A wave of fear and awe came over me during the wake ; then, I remembered Henri Nouwen’s philosophy of aging.

Whenever I ask my students at what age they want to kick the bucket, surprisingly,  most of their answer is anywhere between 40 and 50.  Their common reason is that aging is a nightmarish stage of life when they go through many changes such as  in emotional, social , mental , notably physical aspects. They are aware  of that geriatric life could be a rite  of  physical pains. Consequently, society tends to hand over this negative stereotype to another generation.

In this  book, Henri Nouwen  and Walter Gaffney  discusses  what is aging  and how it can be for people. According to him, there are three factors that make many old people feel ostracized: segregation, desolation, and loss of self. These factors are considered as three forms of rejection: rejection by society, rejection by friends, and rejection by  inner self.

To  extirpate  this negative meme, Nouwen explains aging by likening it to the turning of the wheel  as the gradual fulfillment of the life cycle . We should accept  this fact from the deepest part of our heart as what we pulled through  in our  young adulthood stage. To avoid  our possibility to develop geriatriphobia or fear of getting old, he  supports  his proponents by illustrating some  anecdotes to understand the real minds of being senescent. In my books after reading it,  I remain firmer in my belief that aging could be a bed of cherries and roses too. ^^

This little book is also interesting because it has 85  photographs  about things  around our environment  symbolizing  the natural ageism . Walter Gaffney must have taken them himself. They are even soothing in our eyes.

In the context of psychology,  one of the theories why we are said to fear  ageism , aside from the  physical pains we could undergo, is that we  tend to be stagnant  at this age. We  tend to ask ourselves what  needs we have done so far since we began to explore the world. Have we met the goals which we have thought to  be our satisfaction? Such as achievements in your career? or  affiliation needs in which you  have built your relationship?  In this case, experts must be in the conjunction based on  Maslow’s  theory  that in order to be happy even at the last stage of your life is that  you  will have done the goals you want to  achieve before you die. As  Mitch Albom’s professor  put it in his best-selling book Tuesday with Morries:

“ If you do not know how to live , you are afraid to die.”

Thus, fear of death could be associated with ageism.

When my students ask me the same question, I said that I want to live as long as 100. My students frowned at my answer pursing their lips. They asked me why. I just replied that there could be many things I would love to do more. I am not afraid to get older. I would not care about the physical pains I could endure. Simply but ridiculously   because I am obsessed with the books I want to read more in the next generation. ^^

Rating: 4/ 5 stars

EMOTIONAL VAMPIRES: Dealing with People Who Drain you Dry by Albert J. Bernstein, PhD. : A Book Review

emotional_vampires-0071352597It is said that bad feedback could be attributable to your personality problem. If you do not know why you are disliked by a majority of  people around you, well, it’s about time you learnt the Johari’s window: There may be some things the people around you know about you that you never know.

Admit it. There is someone or at least some of your co-workers whom you find annoying drain you dry in the sense that you cannot put up with them any longer. No matter how colossal your patience is, but still you tend to have had it. So, you cannot avoid gossiping about them with among your co-workers. Poor them! Or poor me. I may never know. (laughs)

But the themes of this book about the people above said are more “appalling” than you will expect. The book deals with different kinds of emotional vampires who drain your dry. Emotional vampires because metaphorically speaking, they suck you to death. Dr. Albert Bernstein, the author of the book, categorized them into THE ANTI-SOCIAL TYPES, THE HISTRIONIC TYPES, THE NARCISSISTIC TYPES, THE OBSESSIVE –COMPULSIVE TYPES, and THE PARANOID TYPES. Dr. Bernstein discusses the nature of their personalities, how they affect your lives negatively. In fact, he discusses some approaches to dealing with them as though you are going to be a shrinker yourself. However, the deeper the content you read, the more you find the book exaggerated and imaginary. Are these people real? Upon reading it and based on my experience to boot, my answer is yeah.

As a matter of fact, I have a co-worker who has met the said category. He is a narcissistic type. He loves crowing to the world that he has this one, h e has done something, he will do something like this. Fiddlesticks! No wonder most of my co-workers find him a nuance. So , they avoid eating together with him. They do not talk to him. And they think-ill of him in his absence. He has had such plague history since he began working in our company. Poor him! No one of us has the audacity to chasten him. In fact, I engaged in a colloquy with him one time. (laughs)

Since I have a background in psychology, I always believe that every person we meet has the bright side: We are all kind like an innocent child. We just fall victims to our bitter experiences. On the contrary, this is the reality of the world that we can always never be such a lamb to a slaughter: We have to treat those kinds of people above.

Rating: 3/5 stars