Thursday, September 18, 2014

September 12: 4 Books

44. Integrated Chinese Level 1 Part 1: Textbook Simplified Characters by Yuehua Liu et. al

Ok, I didn't really read this whole entire textbook today, but I did finish rereading it this morning. Two years ago, this was my beginning Mandarin textbook. This fall, I will be volunteer teaching beginning spoken Mandarin (with a native speaker TA) for ALESN (Asian Language Exchange and Social Network --, and I wanted to review the book and begin planning my first few lessons -- especially regarding how I will introduce pronunciation and tones, both of which are MUCH easier in Mandarin than in Cantonese, but which nevertheless always trip up most beginning students who have never studied a tonal language before.

I am really looking forward to teaching from this book. I love the stories and the characters created especially for this series of textbooks -- Wang Pang, Li You, Gao WenZhong, et. al. I start teaching the week of September 26, and can't wait. And they say, one never really knows something until one teaches it to others...

45. The Celestine Prophecy: An Adventure by James Redfield

This cheesy book was VERY important in the genre of self-helf and self-actualization literature when it first appeared on the scene in 1993. It reads as a pretty good page-turner adventure story with a bit of well-reviewed, stated and re-re-re-restated preaching throughout regarding the 8 teachings of a mysterious manuscript which, it turns out, no one EVER gets to see in its original form during the entire reading experience.

All "knowledge" from all 8 "known" teachings at best come second or third or fifth hand (just like the Bible) and, it might be argued, are more important because they are believed rather than because they are based on any actual original teaching from hundreds or thousands of years ago.

This book has some good points. It also presented many issues for me while I was making my way through the story. I enjoyed reading it, and if I had more time and weren't now pressed to finish these reviews and then get back to purging my personal belongings in my apartment, I would explore what works and what definitely does not work for me regarding this story.

46. Get a Freelance Life:'s Insider Guide to Freelance Writing by Margit Feury Ragland

As a published writer who has never really put much, if any, effort into pursuing my writing as a legitimate full- or part-time staff or freelance career possibility, I found this book inspiring and timely. As my readers can see from the orange Strand pricetag, I happened to pick this book up just the other day for $1.

Most interesting to me were suggestions for setting up a website to host "clips" (previously published works, of which I have a bunch); how to pitch article ideas; how to research and find experts for articles; a review of retirement plan possibilities open to freelancers, consultants, and independent contractors; as reminder that freelancers need to work with their accountants to file estimated taxes 4 times a year -- something I will need to establish with my own accountant as soon as my music and entertainment business consulting company starts bringing in revenue later this fall; and contact information for The Society of American Travel Writers.

47. Creativity and Conformity by Clark Moustakas

This book has been sitting on my shelf for a little over a year. It came from the 48 cent bin at The Strand in New York City's Union Square. I was immediately hooked by the title, and had intended to read this short collection of essays at some point in the future. My current Reading Challenge seemed like the perfect opportunity to do just that.

 Essays include:
  • Uniqueness and Individuality
  • the Sense of Self
  • Creativity and Confirmity
  • Confrontation and Encounter
  • Honesty, Idiocy, and Manipulation
  • Beyond Good and Evil
  • Moral and Ethical Value
  • Self-Doubt and Self-Inquiry
  • Dimensions of the Creative Life
Sadly, because of the 20+ books I have read since this collection of essays, combined with my extreme delay in typing this review, I really don't remember much about this particular volume. I do remember thinking that, while perhaps these essays shed some new light on this territory in 1967, by today's standards, and in particular in view of the glut of recent self-help and self-actualization literature that I am reading and continue to read, this book did not seem to add much to my own personal understanding of the struggle to express oneself that today's creative individual must negotiate during his or her daily interactions with the world at large.

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