Midweek Mini Reviews #11

Six Degrees of Freedom by Nicolas Dickner, Lazer Lederhendler

Six Degrees of Freedom follow Lisa, Éric and Jay over many years. And while Lisa and Éric are childhood friends, Jay is more of an outsider and is only connected to them because of their “experiments” and her work with the RCMP.

To be honest, this book just wasn’t my cup of tea. While the chapters are indeed brief the book is incredibly slow-paced. I felt that the author took a too much time just to get to the main plot which was the most interesting aspect of this book and unfortunately it did not unfold until the very last chapters of the book. Instead the majority of the book was devoted to the technical elements of the shipping and container industry in addition to the backgrounds of not just the three protagonists but also to the backgrounds of everyone they interact with.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Nicolas Dickner’s Six Degrees of Freedom because its synopsis did have me intrigued. However, the execution of the story didn’t do the story justice in my opinion. Lisa, Jay and Éric did have the potential to be compelling characters, however there just wasn’t enough time devoted to their development or to let the reader care about them which made for a rather dreary and long-winded read despite not being a thick book.

The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too) by Gretchen Rubin

Maybe it’s my psychology background, but lately I’ve been really getting into personality dimensions. I’ve taken Gallup’s StrengthsFinder assessment and my current workplace is obsessed with the Colours Personality Dimensions so I thought it would interesting to read up and learn about the Four Tendencies personality framework. Like Gretchen Rubin’s other books The Four Tendencies is laid out in a way that makes an otherwise complex and intimidating topic more accessible to the everyday reader. The design of the book is also visually appealing and the book has a quiz at the beginning for those who are curious to find out which of the four “tendencies” they are. In addition, there are lots of personal and practical examples that help the reader to understand each tendency better and know how to deal with people from the four tendency types. The Four Tendencies is a great read that is perfect for those who work in a team, parents, people who deal with clients and customers and even those who just want to bring the best in themselves and others. I definitely agree that the more you know about yourself and those around you, the better equipped you are to be more productive and even happy.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.


Book Review | All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews

Miriam Toews
Trade Paperback, 321 pages
Publication date:
February 24, 2015
Vintage Canada
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.


“It was the first time that we had sort of articulated our major problem. She wanted to die and I wanted her to live and we were enemies who loved each other. We held each other tenderly, awkwardly, because she was in a bed attached to things.” (p. 37-38)

Long ago CBC had a radio show called “Between the Covers”, which was basically readings from audio books. I would stay up “late” (after all it was late for me back then) just to listen to people read from books, which were almost always Canadian. I remember one night I found myself listening to a reading from a book regarding the coming of age story of a teenager living in a Mennonite community and her struggles to discover who she was. I was instantly hooked, for the reason that the protagonist was just so complex and compelling that I ended up listening to almost all the chapters (I missed a few since I often fell asleep before it was over). Anyways that was how I was introduced to the writing of Miriam Toews and how I became a fan of her storytelling.

In her latest book which is also her seventh book, All My Puny Sorrows, which can be shortened to AMPS Toews tells a story about two sisters, one who wishes to die and the other who wishes her to live. It is also a story that accurately depicts what it means and what it takes to care for a loved one, and the toil that it can take on the caregiver. Akin to the majority of her books, AMPS is inspired by actual events from Toews’ life and in this case the relationship between Elf and Yoli is based on the real life relationship between her and her sister.

Once again Toews showcases her affinity for telling heartbreaking stories on the subject of families that ultimately ends up being both relatable and uplifting. I believe that AMPS is a vital book concerning both mental illness in addition to suicide, and I believe Toews does an excellent job of also capturing the confusion and anger people feel when a person close to them tells them they no longer has the desire to live. Finally I believe the book itself has an excellent message and I hope that it leads to the discussion of topics in the vein of mental illness and suicide, especially for people and families who often attempt to brush those issues under the rug.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.