Reads

I mostly read the news but I have picked up a book once in awhile. Here are some that I have enjoyed. Let me know if you’ve read them! Give me some suggestions as well!

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Gabor Maté – In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts/ TED Talk re: Addiction

When I worked in mental health, I had a performance review coming up. In this performance review, a staff member and their manager typically go over learning goals, a plan to reach these goals, and resources to help the nurse achieve these goals.

Through much of my half a decade of employment, I had often struggled with clients who suffer from addiction issues. Initially, I viewed these clients with compassion and did my best to help them on their way to a life free from substance use. Unfortunately, clients with addiction issues relapse often, the rate even higher among those with mental illness or past trauma. As time wore on, I had become jaded and often questioned why I should even bother. In all likelihood, it impacted the effectiveness of the care I delivered. I would often perform my care knowing full well they’ll be back in the next few months.

I had confided this stigma to my manager who lent me a copy of In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction by Dr. Gabor Maté. Dr. Gabor Maté is a physician who specializes in mental health, addiction, and HIV. The writings In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts stem from his practice in Vancouver’s Downtown East, one of North America’s most concentrated areas of addiction and substance use. He has written several books covering addiction, ADHD, and parenting.  Through the telling of many of his clients’ tragic stories, Dr. Maté illustrates the notion that many addictive habits stem from some sort of trauma that possibly impacts brain development during childhood and onward. The impairment occurs in a manner that people turn to substances and habits to address whatever deep rooted pain they suffer from.  I don’t agree with the entirety of the book; however, it opened my eyes a bit and as bad as it is to say, it re-humanised the clients I had become jaded with. I had become more patient, understanding, and rolled with the punches to further enhance my care at a level where I could go home knowing I did what I could.

If you don’t feel like reading the book, do check out his TED talk.

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Marcus Aurelius – Meditations

If thou art pained by any external thing, it is not this that disturbs thee, but thy own judgment about it. And it is in thy power to wipe out this judgment now.

My friends and I had a bit of an inside joke about my robotic demeanor. Much of the times, I would be labeled as a stoic, the statue seemingly unbothered and impervious to external stressors. While this is untrue, as stoics were not regarded as ancient robots, the term got me curious so I ordered the Stoic Six Pack from Amazon. It contains all of the writings from Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and Epictetus. I’ve only gotten through the works of Marcus Aurelius since the translation I purchased was a difficult read (got what I paid for).  If you must get it, get the translation by Gregory Hays, which is available in PDF online and a much easier read.

Marcus Aurelius was a Roman Emperor, and one of the more successful. He wrote these notes on Stoic philosophy to himself while campaigning. While the entire work is a great read, a running theme of the book that I paid attention to are one’s own experience of external stress.  It’s not the stressor, but your perception of the event that is causing you that stress. Perception and attitude are everything.

Since reading it I have started to look at the world through a slightly different lens. Roll with the punches, carry on with compassion, look on the bright side, take a step back and look at a situation through a different lens.

Rolf Dobelli – The Art of Thinking Clearly

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I love this book. The Art of Thinking Clearly is a quick read that highlights many logical fallacies that impair our judgement on a day to day basis. Using everyday, relatable examples, Mr. Dobelli highlights the various ways that we fall victim to bias whether that be attending a crappy movie, or watching the news. The brain is hilarious and works in weird ways that literally defy logic. The book basically takes these hilarities and categorizes them. Personal favourites are the “sunk cost fallacy”(cut your losses), “social proof”(just because a million people think it’s true doesn’t make it so), and “confirmation bias” (automatically interpreting new information to reinforce current beliefs).

Art Spiegelman – Maus

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The first graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize. Maus was written in the 80s by Art Spiegelman. The story chronicles his father’s (Vladek) life before, during, and after the Holocaust. The setting alternates between Vladek navigating through the worst point in human history where the other setting is the present where Vladek recants his memories to his son. It’s art form is unique and simple as well; each ethnicity is depicted as a humanoid with different animal features (ie. Jewish people were depicted as mice while Germans were depicted as cats, etc.). Themes of guilt and memory are prevalent throughout its entirety. The story is heartbreaking but an amazing read. It highlights how experiences stay with a person over time.

David Chilton – The Wealthy Barber Returns

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David Chilton authored a book regarding good financial habits throughout adulthood. I first heard of him while watching Dragon’s Den, the Canadian version of Shark Tank. This book gives some insights into maintaining some good financial habits through savings and various banking practices designed to sell you a product rather than encourage you to properly manage your hard-earned money. There are some good chapters in investing as well. The book is easy to read and best of all, David Chilton has an excellent sense of humour.

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