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Thursday, October 29, 2015


One of those strange happenstances (I hesitate to call this one serendipity--maybe synchronicity is a better choice) occurred when I saw this letter on Letters of Note.   Fair warning:  the letter is a both very positive and immeasurably sad.  After posting my review Monday about The Drowning Ground (and the hints at DCI Downes' background), having this letter show up on Letters of Note the next day was a bit strange.

Yet, not really.  One of the pleasures of reading is discovering how frequently something you read about in a novel connects to the next novel, or an event in the news, or even how a specific location or name will occur in three novels in a row.

 Often for me, it will be because I'm drawn to a particular time period, and logically, there will be repeated references to real persons or events.  

But sometimes, this synchronicity will occur in unusual ways like checking out ten books from the library and three of them mention Nova Scotia when there is no outward indication that would occur.  Or within a week or two, reading several books that use the same quote--in dialogue or as a chapter heading.  

Or in this case, I read a book that mentions something that interests me, and the next day find a letter from an Argentinian grandfather to a missing granddaughter and discover that, against great odds, they have been reunited.  Every reader has experienced these coincidences and appreciates them--even knowing that the more you read, the more likely you are to encounter this kind of coincidence.  

What I'm reading: 

 Lights Out:  A Cyber Attack, A Nation Unprepared,  Surviving the Aftermath by Ted Koppel--a truly frightening, well-researched, and (mostly) easily understood book for the layperson about the vulnerability of the electric grid. Interesting interview with Ted Koppel.  Another interview here.  I'm 37% through with the book and am impressed with its readability.  This was (still is?) a NetGalley offering.

Learned Optimism -- Another nonfiction work that I've been reading (I read nonfiction at a much slower rate and with more frequent breaks) is Martin Seligman's book about how influential our personal narratives are in influencing our behavior.  His initial research into depression led to the discovery of learned helplessness, and eventually, to how to make changes with positive results. 

While I knew I would be interested in this book based on the books about educating our children that mention it, what has surprised and to large degree resulted in denial, then pondering, then accepting --elements concerning my own behavior.  The breaks I'm taking with this book are even longer than the breaks I normally take from nonfiction because digesting the personal elements I confront keep me busy thinking and rethinking. 

My first response was "I love how this clarifies and makes real what is actually common sense."  However, when the book began producing some personal revelations, I have to admit that sometimes  often, I apply common sense much more easily in relation to others than to myself.  

I was reading the book to gain further understanding about why some children succeed and others don't (in relation to the books about education and learning), I did not expect to discover anything really new about myself.  I'm glad I purchased this one and that I can actually turn the pages, and eventually, add it to my nonfiction shelf for future reference.

Anyway, both of these books have required me to put them down and read escapism or work on Halloween Eccentrics while letting information ferment.

You can see some of my Halloween creations over at my other blog.  :) I love Halloween!

Sadie Shadowmend, sits in the classroom learning spells.


  1. I read a review copy of Lights Out (haven't posted a review yet) last week and have to say that it's the scariest nonfiction book I've read in years. Huge threat, no one cares, and there is nothing for the average guy to do that will do one bit of good to protect himself and his family. Saw Koppel on Fox News pushing the book the other night..and even Bill O'Reilly failed to take the threat very seriously.

    1. It is a frightening scenario! The book is getting a remarkable reception--maybe it will make a difference and a plan will emerge.

  2. You are so talented. I love your work, Jenclair. Especially the peace with the raven and the clock.

    Learned Optimism doesn't look like something I would choose to read at first glance, but your thoughts on it and personal reflections has me curious. I imagine I could get a lot of it too perhaps. Lights Out sounds scary! Often it is the nonfiction books I find that scare me more than any fiction novel could.

    I love when coincidences happy like what you described. That happened to me a few months ago when I found myself reading about the same area in the Civil War, one book right after the other without any prior planning or knowledge.

    1. :) Learned Optimism would not have been one of my choices, either, until it was mentioned in both Failing Our Brightest Kids and How Children Succeed. It has proven very interesting so far, though!

      Don't you love it when one of those reading patterns shows up? One strange one I had was the mention of Elsinore in two or three modern mysteries with no connection to Shakespeare.

      Thanks, so much for the kind words about my work, Wendy!

  3. Learned Optimism sounds like an interesting book! I'm quite interested in books about children's thoughts/behaviours and what kinds of things which would influence and/or help them in their education but I just don't know where to start - there're such a wide range of books out there and I'm not even sure if they are more to informative or as a general guide, but I suppose that's just me. ;-)

    Love your Halloween creations! Sadie's dress is lovely!

    1. How Children Succeed takes a different look at learning and success than some previous educational philosophies, but is largely common sense. Paul Tough elevates the importance of hard work, curiosity, perseverance, and optimism. And he illustrates how important it is to have a mother (or someone) who is genuinely invested when a child is young. Regardless of poverty, neglect, or abuse--if someone is truly committed to the child the chance of success increases drastically. Common sense, but often neglected when we think about learning, especially among those who live in poverty.

      Thanks, Melody! I've enjoyed my creations this year!

  4. I've found those coincidences happen all the time in my reading. It's a funny thing. And the Koppel book does sound quite scary. I need to think about reading that one, although non-fiction is not my choice very much of the time. Your little creations are always so interesting and clever. Fun to see them.

    1. The more you read, the more you notice. Then you get curious and often pursue the connections! Thanks, Kay; I have fun with my little creations. :)