Archives for posts with tag: books

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I’ve recently come across these very interesting books by author Jon P. Bloch.  I am impressed by his insight into human nature enough to wish to read all of this non-fiction books.  If you enjoy reading my blog, I think that his books will appeal to you.  They are well written and insightful.  I have not finished reading all of them yet but I would like to share them with you.  He is no stranger to the pain and emotional strife caused by emotional vampires and soulless emotional predators and is kind enough to share his insight with the rest of us who might have had to deal with difficult people to say the very least.

I have finished reading The Everything Health Guide to Adult Bipolar Disorder and am now reading The Loveless Family.  He is able to relay quite well the convoluted psychological dynamics which exist in dysfunctional and loveless families.  We might sometimes wonder whether we are being too needlessly suspicious or untrusting of people, but when we come across his descriptions of these dodgy characters we have grown up with, we start feeling a bit more sane.  We realize that we might not have been imagining the ill intentions after all and it might not all be in our head that certain characters we have encountered in our lives are not unique to our own experience but do exist empirically.

I am looking forward to reading Handling Difficult People and I shall share my thoughts about it too.  From what I have read so far, it is bound to be an interesting read.  Thank you Jon P Bloch, Ph.d for making us feel that we are not alone in our difficult experiences.  I look forward to reading more of your books along the same topic as the books above.

(c) Niconica 2013


I started reading at a very early age but I’ve always underestimated the usefulness of bookmarks since I’ve always managed to find some sort of makeshift bookmark–a stray piece of cardboard or some spare receipt that I can insert to keep my place when I put a current book down either to do something else to to shift to another book which has another scrap piece of paper inserted to make the place where I left off the previous time.

It is now, a couple of decades into being a bookworm that I start appreciating that proper bookmarks do have their uses and sometimes a piece of scrap paper just doesn’t give the same satisfaction. So I guess it means that in the near future, when I visit my favorite bookshops or novelty stores, aside from perusing the bookshelves, I shall be looking at investing in proper bookmarks… and alas, whole new world opens up to me–the bona-fide bookworm.

(c) Niconica 2011*

*does not apply to image/s

There are so many books about how to act or what to do to acquire or keep a relationship, but what these books fail to instruct us is that all the techniques are in vain if we fail to choose the right person to love.

How to Love by Gordon Livingston, M.D. is a veritable treasure and treatise on identifying the wheat from the chaff and this wisdom may be applied not only to selecting one’s romantic interests but also ones’ friends since as he points out, whom we choose to surround ourselves with is indeed relevant to our well-being.

In his conversational and easy to read manner, he conveys profound truths regarding quality traits of people whom it would be preferable to associate with, and also quality traits of people whom it would be a good idea to avoid since it might at best, be a waste of our time and at worst, cause our undoing.

I recommend this book as a must-read, not only to people who are romantically-inclined, but to anyone who values their well-being.

Double thumbs-up!

(c) Niconica 2011*

*does not apply to image/s

I highly recommend “Who’s Pulling Your Strings?” to anyone who is struggling with manipulation.  It is indeed a how-to book on breaking the cycle of manipulation and regaining control of one’s life.

We might think we know how to deal with manipulators, but the experiential knowledge would do well by being augmented with Dr. Briaken’s advice.

For people who have a nagging feeling at the back of their minds that they are being manipulated – this is also a good book to help identify, confirm, or deny whether one is indeed being manipulated.

We’re not talking about criminal or illegal manipulation here, we’re just talking about the garden variety everyday life manipulation which include, but is not limited to, emotional blackmail, passive-aggressive behavior, and the silent treatment.

It would be safe to say that there is at least one (if we are lucky enough for it to be merely one)  character in our life – boss, family member, relative, business partner, romantic partner, spouse – who is prone to exercising tactics of manipulation.

It would also be safe to say that almost everyone has been or is a victim of manipulative behavior at one point or another in their lives.  If you are in such a situation, this book would be invaluable.

If you know of anyone else in this situation, it might be a good idea to share this book with them too.

After all, life is too short to waste being stuck and helpless under someone else’s thumb.

(c) Niconica 2011*

*Applies to the text and not the image of the post

Success has universal appeal.  Most people covet and recognize it; they admire the exceptional people who have managed to achieve exceptional success.

Malcolm Gladwell takes us further into the phenomenon of success and discusses the factors which are crucial for success – using real-life examples:  Bill Gates, the Beatles, and more.

He also writes about the 10,000-hour rule which stipulates that success or expertise is achieved after the 10,000 hour of doing.  He also discusses that timing is critical for success.

Interesting, isn’t it?  It’s a must-read for anyone interested in the inner workings of success.

(c) Niconica 2010*

*Copyright applies to the text and not the image of the blog post.

So, it has been a rather long week, and the weekend could not have come soon enough!  I’ve managed to come across a major book sale at the Fort/Serendra Branch of A Different Bookstore.

There were books which were up to 80% off.  It turns out that  some of the items  (we’re talking about non-fiction books here) are still around P300 – P600 after that discount – but considering the normal prices of the books there, they aren’t bad deals at all.  I did not browse the fiction section – though I can imagine that the prices might be lower.

If I had stayed longer – I might have ended up buying more books than I had… which would have been good for my brain but not so good for my pocket.  I have a feeling that this won’t be the first and last time I’ll check the sale out.

At any rate, I have no doubt that all serious bookworms in Metro Manila would definitely appreciate this Christmas sale – which apparently would last till the 31st of December 2010, if I am not mistaken.  I don’t know whether the other branches would have a similar sale too – as I have not had the opportunity to be out and about lately.

And no, this is not a paid advertisement or review – in case anyone is wondering.  It’s just one happy bookworm sharing some good news to fellow bookworms.

Happy Browsing/Reading!

(c) Niconica 2010

When I do get the chance to go to a mall, the first place I find myself heading to is the bookstore.  It has been this way since I can remember.  I remember when I was young, I used to save up my allowance and scrimp on buying merienda (snacks) just to be able to buy the book I had in mind for the week.  It is as if I would wither away without a steady diet of books.

It has happened that I’ve gone into a bookstore and was not able to find any book which spoke to me, which I feel that really must have. While it meant that there would be no extra expenditure for books, I would feel rather disappointed, since there’s something about being able to find a new book to devour.

Recently, I have had the good fortune to come across several interesting books which have struck my fancy.  I’ve placed them on hold and I’m planning to pick them up soon! I can’t wait! I don’t know if other book lovers will agree with me, but each new book promises a whole new experience with unique insights and ideas.

As of late, I have tended towards non-fiction books, and while I still do have some room for reading fiction, I am more sparing with my choices.  Some days when schedules have been rather full on and I have been unable to manage to read a couple of paragraphs or even a chapter of a book, I almost feel unsettled and restless, as if exhibiting symptoms of withdrawal.

It would not be unusual to find me reading five books at a time, jumping from one to the next, grateful for the invention and existence of bookmarks.  There’s just something graceful about a well constructed sentence.  There’s something profound about a well-articulated thought.  There’s something magical about the world of ideas which each book invites us to explore.

Reading is an avenue by which I indulge in the my version of man’s quintessential search for meaning.  There is a certain sense of satisfaction with the successful search and acquisition of choice titles.

The anticipation of the enjoyment of new words and concepts are complemented by a genuine appreciation for the melodic symphony of intellect, logic, emotions, and experience.  This is accompanied by the realization that there are so many books, and so little time…

As such, I hereby proclaim myself a certified bookaholic – and have created a badge to prove it!

(c) Niconica 2010

So I’ve come across a book in the shelves of a local bookstore which I’ve purchased in Kindle format from Amazon and was reading on my iPod, and I felt something tug at my heart.  The brand new book was P200 more expensive than the Kindle format but I felt that had I known that the book would be available on the shelves locally, I would have much preferred an actual book, rather an e-book.

This is not to say that the books in Kindle format are not revolutionary or worthwhile.  I’m sure that it would be a means to save a lot of trees from becoming book paper and would definitely be one step forward in fighting global warming.

It is just simply, after the novelty of having more books at our fingertips in electronic format, I seem to prefer to go back to the basics… to have my fingers come in contact with the printed page and be able to smell the pages in the book… there’s nothing quite like it.

There’s also something cozy about being able to use a bookmark to mark where we have paused while reading.  This is harder to do with electronic books.

There is something almost intimate about being able to hold a printed book in one’s hands and coming in contact with the pages – flipping through them and enjoying the connection with the words on the page.

In having said all this, I leave room for the possibility that perhaps reading the Kindle format books on the actual Kindle device might actually change my mind.

(c) Niconica 2010

People who are less preoccupied with themselves and the superficial leanings of life often find themselves wondering why there is so much pain and suffering – not to mention, violence, in the world.  We are bombarded with images and stories from the news and on the internet of victims of abuse, heinous crimes, and we shake our head and wonder why such cruel people exist in the world.  After some inner and/or verbal grumbling, we then get distracted with the minute details of our lives and we carry on – hoping that we do not come across such “evil” people.

For most people who have some sort of active and/or inactive religious faith, it becomes all too easy to blame the “Devil” or “Satan” for the existence of these sort of negative events.  For people who believe in karma and reincarnation, it is all too tempting to just write it off with a fatalistic worldview that it was something that was meant to happen because it was caused by known or unknown wrongdoings during previous times or previous lives.

While it cannot be said cruelty and evil in the world were not caused by the Devil or by karma, it should also be considered that there are more immediate worldly causes for such behavior.  While the thought of performing exorcism on every single abusive person and karmic purification rituals on their victims might be enticing, it also falls into the realm of wishful thinking.  The fact is – the existence of these cruel people is closer to home – cruel abusive parents and/or caretakers.  We then come face to face with the uncomfortable reality that yes, cruelty does begin at home.

“Evil”, as a concept, seems more comfortably dealt with from a distance, because when viewed from the spectator’s seat, it does not call for responsibility and action on our part.  While some criminals or emotionally manipulative and abusive people (and some super villains) may have possibly been hatched as evil babies and turned out to be so without outside help, most of these misguided people were not born that way and were a product of their upbringing – a prolonged or intense encounter with cruel, emotionally abusive parents who should have been sterilized at the get-go and/or damaging caretakers who should never have been allowed guardianship or access to the fragile and developing minds of children.

We should at this point avoid the tendency of making a sweeping generalization that all people who have gone through painful and traumatic childhoods turn out to be “evil” or just as cruel as the caretakers/parents who have inflicted pain upon them.  Even if the those are very real, albeit extreme outcomes, it has to be said that those are the more extreme cases… most of the time, emotional cruelty at home is more subtle, passive aggressive, and comes in many other guises – often as selfishness and self-interest the guise of “love” or “parenting”.

Many victims of subtle and overt forms of questionable upbringing grow up damaged, emotionally stunted, weaker, and in pain – if their childhood development has had no intervention from a kind guardian or what Alice Miller refers to an “enlightened witness”.  As Alice Miller states, some people who have had the help and care of “enlightened witnesses” do turn out to be more well-adjusted than most.

World renowned Swiss psychotherapist, Alice Miller’s book  “The Truth Shall Set You Free: Overcoming Emotional Blindness and Finding Your True Adult Self” shares with us her position that for the now-adult victims of childhood mistreatment, it is only through facing up to the truth of one’s past events and upbringing, that one can be “set free” and be able to begin anew.  It is easier said than done since most people would be averse to pointing fingers at the parental figures in their childhood who in all popular belief should have been loving and caring.  It also has to be said that “being free” is not a bed of roses since it entails its own set of challenges as we learn to stand on our own, and remove the shackles of the past.

The varying outcomes of the psychological states of these people should not detract us from the chilling fact that if we were to intend to improve the world and rid it of cruelty and violence – we should not have to look too far than the immediate vicinity of our homes – and the people surrounding us as we grew up.

We should not succumb to the pitfalls of thinking in absolutes – that if the parent and/or caretaker did not “hit” or “sexually abuse” or “yell and scream” at the child, then it does mean that any serious damage was done.  While the cliche of the beaten becoming the beater and the sexually abused becoming the abuser does hold some water, these are merely the convenient and iconic examples… A lot of more common forms of child abuse fall by the wayside and may be overlooked on purpose, so as not to add insult to injury since the image of loving parents or caretakers pervades so strongly in our psyche that anything that threatens it would disturb our “comfortable” worldview.

It has to be pointed out that as much as we would all want to subscribe to the myth of the “nurturing mother” and “protective father”, it simply is not always the case since some people are just not suited to be parents – even if they happen to manage to advertently  or inadvertently procreate.  The illusion that the capacity to make children automatically creates able parents should be dispelled.

There would be no lack of people who would vilify child-molesters, rapists, wife and child beaters, since these crimes do so stand out and justly horrify us.  However, what is to be said about the lesser but more pervasive forms of abuse inflicted upon the vulnerable child by their parents/caretakers, and the list is long – withholding affection, passive aggressive behavior, cunning manipulative behavior, misplaced anger and hostility, consciously encouraging unhealthy competition and animosity between siblings, threatening of violence/aggression, destructive criticism, bestowing and rewarding slanted morality, and many more which happen on a daily basis.

These forms of what can be perceived as “lesser” abuse as compared to the overt physical and sexual abuses leave no visible physical scars and does not draw blood but definitely stunts the mental, psychological, and emotional growth of the child – and without the right intervention would cause the child to grow up into an imbalanced adult who would knowingly or unknowingly perpetuate the cycle with their unfortunate progeny.  This would in turn create conflicts in the family, stunted interpersonal skills, psychological disorders which would definitely contribute to societal discord.

These “lesser” forms of abuse happen more often than not in every single dysfunctional family system and should not be taken lightly or passed over.  As with difficult realizations, the brave and steep first step is admitting the truth of the situation to ourselves.  The second step is to seek help from the right and/or qualified people – which does not include the neighborhood busybody or the most dominant know-it-all in the family (who most likely would be the perpetrator in the first place).  The third is to take conscious efforts in improving ourselves and our minds through taking steps to increase our psychological and spiritual well-being so that we can be better people and not cause other people as much harm as others have caused us. (Sounds very much like the popular but unpracticed Golden Rule, doesn’t it?)

Yes, cruelty does begin at home, but it can also end there – at the starting point, without spreading like a disease into the community.  Stop pointing fingers at “Satan” and “karma” as an excuse for not changing or improving.  The good thing is that we can all do something about it actively through various means or passively, just be keeping these in mind and not further contributing to the problem.

After all, we all don’t want to turn into these cruel “monsters” who prey upon vulnerability, and who are so pitiful that they cannot find someone their own size to prey on but instead, only prey only upon the weak.

(c) Niconica 2010

As an avid book lover, books are an essential part of my daily diet and I consume as many as I can.  I got quite excited when I heard about Kindle as it meant an easier access to a wider range of books.  The idea that it would be relatively simple and straightforward to buy a book with one click and read it within a matter of seconds was very appealing.

Initially, Kindle was not available outside the US.  However, sooner than later, Kindle announced their availability internationally as well as the option of being able to download the Kindle App for free and reading it on other platforms – Mac, PC, Blackberry, iPod, iPad, iPhone, and Android.

Despite my eagerness to have more convenient access to a myriad of books, I was a bit hesitant as to how smooth the process would be and whether it the cost would weight out. Compared to the used books being sold by private sellers on Amazon, Kindle books would usually be a bit more dear.  However, after considering in the cost of shipping to Manila of the used books, and compared to the retail price, Kindle book prices work out better.

Not being too proficient with technology, it was a pleasant surprise that it was a relatively straightforward process which involved registered the downloaded Kindle App from my iPod with my Amazon details and it was good to go.  The 1-click shopping made it even more convenient – without having to repeatedly key in details with every Kindle book purchase.

It was a strange sensation – to be reading and “flipping” pages on the iPod… definitely a jump from the traditional experience of flipping printed pages and having the feel of paper under one’s fingertips. It has to be interjected at this point that there are certain kinds of books which lend themselves better to print than others – such as cookbooks. However, I digress.

Considering that the iPod screen is noticeably smaller than most paperbacks, I appreciated the option to be able to adjust the font size as well as the lighting – since it meant that it would be more handy to read in the dark.  I can definitely imagine that reading on a device with a bigger screen such as the iPad or the actual Kindle devises would be much more comfortable.  The compactness of the iPod adds to the ease of mobility, definitely a far cry from lugging around sizable tomes (which I still do), with only the battery life setting a limitation.

While it is not a question that printed and electronic books have more than enough room to coexist and compliment each other, the immediate availability of titles which might not be found locally in print is certainly refreshing.  With this being said, I am not completely happy about the selection of Kindle books since there appears to be a considerable amount of books in the Amazon site, which are not available in local bookstores, which are not available in Kindle format as well.  In a sense, it’s like being in what I thought would be an eat-all-you-can buffet and finding that the range of the food is limited.

Still, as a perpetual bookworm, I’d like to welcome the Kindle book parade into town and giving us more options.  Here’s to hoping that a wider selection of books on Amazon would be available in Kindle format.

(c) Niconica 2010