What I Read in May

May was a big reading month for me. Once I get into the habit of reading, I just keep doing it. It helps that I keep buying nook/kindle books when they’re on sale and I immediately start a new book after finishing an old one.

Here’s what I read in May:

“The Way of the Shaman”, Michael Harner

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“A shaman is a man or woman who enters an altered state of consciousness–at will–to contact and utilize an ordinarily hidden reality in order to acquire knowledge, power, and to help other persons.”

The book describes ways of entering this altered state of consciousness–some using drugs, others using meditation techniques. Harner further describes techniques advanced shamans use to heal and help others, including the use of spirit or animal helpers. I’ve always felt a connection to animals, so this interests me, but actually getting to that altered state of consciousness seems so difficult; almost impossible.

“Shamans believe that, because people are unaware that their hostiles energies can penetrate others, they are unconsciously causing damage to their fellow human beings most of the time.”

I agree with that idea. People who tend to complain rather than take action or always look at the negative aspect of things are draining. I can’t be around that for too long before needing to remove myself.

At one point Harner mentions syncronicities, or meaningful coincidences. I notice meaningful coincidences in my life all the time; thinking about something and then it appears in some other way in my life. One of my favorite musicians is Tori Amos. I often have no idea what she’s talking about but her music just makes me feel something and I love her. Recently I was watching her VH1 Storytellers performance, which I’d somehow never seen before. One of her stories was about how her father, a minister, told her he was so upset about one of her songs because he knew it was about him.

(around the 2:20 mark)

She asked which one and her told her “Father Lucifier”. She then explained that no, it wasn’t about him, it was about a time she took a bunch of drugs with a South American shaman and had a journey where she visited the devil. Despite being a fan for 20 years I’d never heard her say this before, but I read a book about shamanism and now I hear her describing the exact thing Harner describes in his book. Synchronicity.

“Afterwards”, Rosamund Lupton

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Another book I found out about from my trusty book a day calendar.

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This book had more twists and turns than an episode of Law and Order: SVU. I had several of the characters pegged as the guilty one at various points. The book had an overall sad tone, but I guess I was happy with the resolution.

“Losing It”, Cora Carmack

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I may lose some credibility here, so I’ll start out by saying this book was on sale. I read the description of a college girl on a mission to lose her virginity (meh) who discovers the next day the guy she’d nearly lost it to her new teacher (oh really?!) and couldn’t resist. I have a thing for teacher student relationship stories (when the students are 18 or above). I devoured this book, staying up until 2am reading it and finishing it the next morning. It reminded me of the Sweet Valley Twins/Sweet Valley High/Sweet Valley University series I used to love as a kid. There’s something to be said for reading purely for entertainment. I was entertained.

“Keeping Her”, Cara Carmack

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This is the sequel to “Losing It.” Although this one was much shorter, it took me much longer to get through it. The student and teacher are a couple and all the sexual tension was gone. The girl’s self doubt was annoying. The only redeeming factor was it took place mostly in London, one of my favorite cities. And with this, Nora decided to read other types of books.

“Panic”, Lauren Oliver

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I think this is another young adult novel, but it’s a lot more interesting than “Keeping Her.” I found out about this book from The Girl Who Blogs and bought it when it was on sale. It’s an interesting story–a bunch of high school seniors play a dangerous game called Panic in hopes of winning a large cash prize.

“The bravery was in moving forward, no matter what.”

I like reading about people doing dangerous things, like walking blindfolded across six lanes of traffic, and for that reason the story was a page turner. There was also a character who owns a farm with rescued animals, including two tigers, and I love that idea. I loved this book and I may read others by this author in the future.

“Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s”, John Elder Robison

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I read “Running with Scissors”, by Augusten Burroughs, years ago. He’s Robison’s brother. I remember that memoir being funny/sad so I thought reading a memoir from a different member of the family would be interesting.

It was. I don’t have much experience with Asperger’s; at least, I’m not aware of being around people who have it, but it’s fascinating to me. Robison processed his thoughts in an entirely logical manner and couldn’t understand people’s emotional responses to situations. He didn’t know how to behave “normally” in social situations which made him feel like an outsider most of his life, not getting a diagnosis until he was 40.

The robotic way he viewed the world led to some very humorous situations. As a little kid he knew his dog liked to be petted, so when he tried to make friends with a little girl on the playground he couldn’t understand why she got mad when he petted her.

But as challenged as he was at understanding people and what they expected of him, he was gifted in other areas, like fixing cars and working with electronics. His talent in electronics led him to working with sound equipment for musicians, ultimately leading to touring with KISS and making smoking guitars for Ace Frehley. As a music lover, this was an unexpected surprise to find in a memoir from a guy with Asperger’s. I really enjoyed this book.

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