Book Reviews: Psychology, Family, Culture

Listed alphabetically by author.

Arnold Bennett

How to Make the Best of Life

Fairly good, though somewhat tedious reading. I kept wanting to hurry through it, but couldn't put it aside until I had read every section but the last. Sections III-VII are the least valuable or interesting, VIII and IX are very good, worth rereading. I may have skipped most of V-VII, I'm no longer sure at this point. 11/30/88

I reread VIII and started IX and didn't get much out of it. Too much vague generality, though occasionally witty. 12/24/99

The Feast of St. Friend

An unexciting examination of what's wrong with Christmas (as practiced in 1911) and a proposal to revitalize it as a winter feast. Notable only for its suggestion that one cultivate feelings of good will by selecting the person "who most inspires you with a feeling of irritated superiority" and go to great lengths to "imagine that you are he." Very short . . . reread! 9/3/95

John Holt

Escape from Childhood

Profound and challenging examination of the status of children and their relations with parents and other adults. Pushes too hard and too far for children's rights, but he is pushing in the right direction. Very important reading for parents, well worth rereading.

I did not read chapters 17 through 26, anticipating tedious arguments in favor of rights for children that are mostly political, and politically impossible right now.

Really, this is a very enlightening book. 10/3/97

Sonja Johnson

The Ship that Sailed into the Living Room

Just when you thought you'd heard everything there was to hear about relationships, sex, etc., along comes a book that is chock full of new and stunning insights. Alas, this book is also loaded with the author's usual nonsense, wishful thinking, and extremist rejection of anything smacking of tradition or even---it seems at times---common sense.

There is some solid observation here, some eye-opening and mind-changing observation in an arena seemingly done to death. It would not do to throw these babies out with the bathwater. Read this one again, for sure. 9/11/92


Growing Up on Television

Interesting, absorbing, even chilling account of the effects (definite, probable, and possible) of TV on children. TV's effects are mostly awful. Helpful and apparently well informed ideas about what to do in school and at home to minimize the harm, etc. A valuable book, readable, important. Note: only read to p. 166, as later chapters re schoolwork not so interesting or relevant to my life at the moment. 7/9/89

M. Shain

Hearts that We Broke Long Ago

Pat, simple-minded psychological "explanations" of adult behavior carried over from childhood. Some of the stories and quotes are interesting, some of the quotes even valuable, but none of the explanations or comments are either. I quit reading after page 46. Unimportant book, unfortunately. Perhaps even smug. Highlight: Quote from O'Neill on p. 34-35. 4/28/89

Deborah Tannen

That's Not What I Meant!

Conversational style is a more useful and important concept than body language. A most interesting and enlightening book, worth many rereadings. Particularly important is Part III. Part IV is a kind of (inadequate) summary. A sensationally important book. 11/17/88