.Body Language 101.

The other day at the supermarket register line I encountered some existential quandaries and saw a German magazine analyzing Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s body language. An “expert” claimed does she know that Meghan’s hand placed on Harry’s arm means she is enjoying the moment. Or that the position of Harry’s fingers indicates that he is a relaxed parent. When it comes to body language, I can recommend the book by Allen and Barbara Pease, “The Definitive Book of Body Language” that I enjoyed quite a lot. They train lawyers, journalists, salespeople, and other professionals in the art and science of body language. I would like to share some insights of the book that are helpful on a daily basis because reading body language is a superpower.

Sometimes I can see the subtle, nuanced element of human communication so I guess I studied linguistics for something. When talking to each other, people are mostly focused on the words the other person is saying. In the book, it says that our bodies reveal how we feel in ways we may not even realize. If you’re nervous, you might rock slightly, rub your lips with your finger, or play with your hair. I was surprised how many industries use the services of body language experts to read people better and recognize, for example, a customer’s reservations about making a big purchase. I love to learn more about body language because my goal is to understand people better.

What I learned while/after reading the book

The book highlights that there are a lot of factors to take into consideration when reading body language. Culture and context are really important, as are “clusters”. In body language, a cluster is two or more types of gestures a person makes at around the same time. For example, say a person is talking to someone and they crinkle their nose. Crinkling the nose is a micro-expression of disgust. That is a clue on its own, but when paired with other gestures we can extract more information about what a person is really thinking. Crinkling the nose and leaning away from someone would indicate the subject’s dislike of the person they are talking to, or of the topic. If they crinkle their nose while nodding their head, they may be trying to give the impression that they agree when really they do not.

I am not a mind reader. I think, however, that body language is a combination of art and science. To “read someone” is by no means a 100 percent certainty. But think of it this way: not all doctors are going to solve the same medical condition the same way, right? They might try different medications or procedures based on their expertise and experience. It’s important to remember that body language analysis is just my/your interpretation of the situation. Obviously, it is almost impossible to interpret someone’s body language based on a TV appearance or a photo. There is only so much information you can get from a photo or video. No clue what happened before the picture was taken, there is no context at all, but newspapers and crappy magazines do not care. To interpret someone’s body language, I need a lot more context. If it were that easy to tell if someone is lying, we would not have the Innocence Project, we would not have this high false confession rate. You could also spot someone cheating on you a lot earlier because you would have been able to see right through the deception. It is not that easy. I wish it was! It becomes more challenging if the other person sends you mixed messages and signals such as he/she doesn’t look in your eyes much and often looks over your head. But at the same time, touches your arm occasionally when you say something funny. The authors suggest to closely watch the person when they are talking. He/she might feel uncomfortable, lying or hiding something if they look everywhere but in your eyes.

I believe moving through the world is easier when I am more mindful of the body language signals I am giving off and receiving. It is helpful to be in the right mindset when talking to someone because your non-verbal cues will reflect that. The final test: Person A (whom you really like and kinda hung out with for a couple of weeks) takes you to a party. As soon as you arrive, he takes off and completely ignores you the entire evening. He does not talk to you, does not sit next to you and hangs out with his friends only. What does this tell you? (A): He really likes you and loves spending time with you or (B) His focus is clearly not you, he does not care about you.

.What if This is Enough? My New Book is Out.

Cover painting by Judith Lockett

Ladies and Gentlemen,

can I please have your attention for this public service announcement: MY SECOND BOOK HAS BEEN PUBLISHED. The title: What if This is Enough? Essays. I love the title and the cover because it just works really well together.

What my second book is about: 

Like my first book, I have written essays on my life in general, about simplifying, about being a mother, about creating that like I am passionate about, inspirations, (mental) health and being a better version of myself. More focus is placed on my life before, during and after divorce. With this book I wanted to cover many aspects of (my) life but also share personal tips how to stay sane through a divorce.

What I hope to achieve with my book is that you get comfortable, enjoy a glass of wine, send your kids out with your partners and read my book in silence and peace. I hope my book will transfer you into a relaxed, though-provoking or inspirational mode and make you reflect and most importantly think. Publishing a book for a writer is a dream come true. Being an avid reader, publishing books was on my bucket list for a long time. It is a great feeling to stroll through bookstores and show my son the books I have written on the shelf. #shelfie

I really want to thank my family, friends, blog readers and the support I have gotten to make this happen. I will have a book signing coming up in Germany and Vienna at independent bookstores. Announcements and dates will be shared on this website. Honestly, I am still totally overwhelmed in the best way possible right now. Today,  I just spent the day with my family and friends celebrating in style.

.As a Writer.

As a writer, it is normal to be drawn to the written word, to daydream and to write down sentences that begin with the phrase: “as a writer”. These days, my fantasies center around the publication of my second book and what book cover to use. Of course, as a writer, one of my favorite authors is Patti Smith.

Patti’s book Just Kids has become a staple in every hipster-aesthete’s literary arsenal just because the cover is so goddamn awesome. As a writer, I have often pondered what makes a successful book cover these days, especially in the age of e-books and Audible. Would Daniela Henry’s book Sometimes Raw been such a hit without this cover?

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“The real marrow of what makes a great cover is looking at an image and it being able to project out the abstract but important ideas or story that book is trying to convey, “explained Abigail Bergstrom, Head of Publishing Gleam Futures. “A lot of my authors have existing communities, so they have a real instinct and intuition on who’s going to buy the book,” she continued. This increase in agency among authors is reflected in their covers. “I think in the non-fiction space it’s very type-led, especially on issues of gender and women’s voices. They’re being taken seriously in the way that they should be and maybe haven’t in the past. Their covers are looking more authoritative — that’s a word I hear a lot of my authors say — they want to look authoritative. Less millennial pink, more authority.”

Bergstrom says that e-book sales have now plateaued, hinting that people still desire the physical object over its digital counterpart. I totally agree with this. People rarely post pictures of their Kindle book and a cup of coffee on Instagram for example. A book is a symbolic object which makes the picture so much more significant. Holding it, smelling it…. You get my point.

So, what draws you to a book? The cover for one because it speaks volumes about not only the content but how we choose to represent ourselves. How do I choose a design? “Really, it’s not about designing a cover that works for Instagram, it’s about designing a cover that’s going to be saleable through the internet,” explains Bergstrom. “Things like thumbnails on Audible — if you’ve got a cover that has really intricate tiny drawings, that’s not going to speak to the reader.” I heard stories from my writer-colleagues who had fights with their publishers over their cover design. How come? “The tug and war of the creative process is helpful,” says Bergstrom. “It really brings to light the positioning of the book and who it’s for…it’s good to have that ironed out and focused so that everybody’s on the same page before we enter the stage of comms and marketing the book.” For me, it is hard to find a suitable cover. Why? Because there is no specific formula for guaranteeing a cover’s success. “A successful book cover properly captures the tone of the book,” says Joan Wong, book designer. “To me, it’s not so much about making sure the book sells as much as it is about doing right by the writing.”

As a writer, I have to tell you that writing a book is not easy. It is hard work but I love it. I also have to tell you that I am in the final stages and just sent my second manuscript to a publisher. I love it at the moment and then I hate it in others and finally, I get used to it. After finishing a book, often an emptiness results and I write nothing. But I have found it is important to just be patient and go about my business and unexpectedly it will happen again. I know it always does. I will sit down again and begin the next book. This way I am never discouraged.

It does not matter if your dreams come true and you do get published, if agents swoon and audiences cheer. Trust me on this: It truly does not matter! What matters is the feeling that you are writing, every day. What matters is the work, diving in, feeling your way in the dark, finding the words, trusting yourself, embracing your weird (german) voice, celebrating your quirks on the page and believing in all of it. What matters is you, all alone on your desk, your favorite place to write, a place where you know who you are and what you are meant to accomplish in this life. Realize that it all depends on you. If you don’t want it, then to hell with it. Reach for what you love with abandon, with hope in your heart, with fragility, without knowing exactly what comes next. Reach and never stop reaching.

One last piece of advice. Whenever you feed your soul and truly savor what you do with your time, it makes it much more likely that your big dreams will come true. Now write and don’t judge the book by its cover.

.Disaster Preparedness: Bring a Book.

“I always read a lot. I read the same amount, no matter what season it is. I read every night. When I’m on book tour, I’m on airplanes all the time, so I’m always reading. People say, ‘How do you have time to read?’ Oh, come on, it’s simple! You’re single and you don’t watch television.”— John Waters

I love to read because it makes me happy. Whenever someone asks me how I can find time to read I most likely always answer, “Because I make time for it.” I wrote about how to read more here already but I have some more stuff to add. For example:

Carry a book with you at all times.

“Because I was carrying the book around all the time, I pulled it out all the time: On the subway, walking down the block to get groceries…” – Clive Thompson https://br5.bookriot.com/quarterly/bkr07/amp/

I carry a book with me wherever I go. Pick up at my son’s school? Book is in my purse. I call it my emergency book. You never know where you end up, what will happen or if you do not want to talk to people. Grocery store lines, waiting in offices, at traffic lights, killing some time, lunch breaks; to carry a book with me is my version of disaster preparedness. Like doomsday preppers. I know someone who watches it with a passion.

Read and date several books at the same time. Then decide which one you want to go with. Have a book next to your bed. Go to bed early and read in bed. Wake up early and read two pages before you get out of bed.

Stop reading books you do not like.

“There is only one way to read, which is to browse in libraries and bookshops, picking up books that attract you, reading only those, dropping them when they bore you, skipping the parts that drag – and never, never reading anything because you feel you ought, or because it is part of a trend or a movement. Remember that the book which bores you when you are twenty or thirty will open doors for you when you are forty or fifty – and vice-versa. Don’t read a book out of its right time for you.” – Doris Lessing

If you don’t “feel” a book and get nothing out of it, just put it down and pick up another one. (For me: Infinite Jest!) There are so many great books out there. Find the ones that make you happy. I give a book usually fifty pages to catch my interest. Stop reading what society decides you should have read by now. Like 100 books you should have read by now. Do not take Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina in your beach bag to Cancun. You are not going to read it. Sometimes a book is just not for you. Don’t read a book to just impress others. “Look at me, I am reading Kierkegaard on the bus. I am very smart.” Read what you love. I know you will love this one.

Visit your local independent bookstores and libraries.

“You must go to the library and fall in love.” – Ray Bradbury

My son and I love to go to the local library. Or to Ottawa’s best and most well-curated selection or used books and independent bookstore, The Black Squirrel. It is glorious to spend time browsing and shopping at this place. My son cannot read yet but he loves to explore and discover. These days he is into Star Wars. However, he is afraid of The Hobbit because of Gollum and National Geographic books in French are used to cut out animal pictures for art projects. I know the most amazing librarian who knows exactly what 5-year-old boys love to “read” because she shows interest and asks my son what he is into these days. Browsing through indie bookstores is an adventure because it is the serendipity of the stacks combined with the magical discoveries of book-treasures that often happens when I least expect it.

Talk about books.

“Read the books you love, tell people about authors you like, and don’t worry about it.” – Neil Gaiman

Talking about books will give you more ideas about new books to read and interesting conversations. Just ask what others are reading. Maybe keep track of what you are reading. For example, I signed up at the website Goodreads. When a book really inspired me, I wrote about it on my blog. Share the books you love in whatever way you can.

.The Book Review: Sarah Pinborough “The Language of Dying”.

“People talk a lot when someone is dying.  They talk as if the person is already dead.  Maybe it’s the first step of the healing process for those inevitably left behind.  And maybe you have already started the process by pulling a few steps away from us.  The frail used-to-be man in the bed upstairs is not our father.  You were so much more than that.” (8)

Sarah Pinborough’s The Language of Dying(Quercus, 2016) is a novella about five adults who gather at their childhood home as their father reaches the final stages of a cancer that will kill him.  Pinborough’s narrator uses plain language, and that language is the highlight of the book. At 130 pages, the book is sparse but packed with meaning and gives a glimpse of characters like an impressionist painting.  It is not a detailed portrayal of the characters but an impression of them as people, filtered through the narrator. 

The story is told from the perspective of the family’s middle child, who has returned home first to recover from an abusive relationship, then to care for her dying father.  Her siblings join her as their father’s life will soon end.  The family now consists of the dying father and his five children: Paul, Penny, the narrator, Davey, and Simon.  It’s a family of damaged people who cope in different ways.  We read the narrator’s thoughts and she speaks in her mind as though she is speaking to her father.  It’s a personal and conversational style that gives us her perspective without contrivances.  Her reliability as the person closest to the situation (apart from the father) also makes her a trustworthy perspective at the beginning of the story: “I take a deep breath of the air that has been just mine and yours for months.  It’s been two days since you last smoked a cigarette, but I imagine the lingering tobacco scent filling me up and it gives me the confidence to face the outside.  How Penny came to be part of the outside, I’m not quite sure” (5-6).  This reliability becomes strained as the story progresses and the stress of caring for her father while dealing with her siblings becomes more difficult for her to handle: “I’m crying as I change the stained sheets and I don’t know who for.  Maybe for all of us.  Maybe just for me.  There is a worm in my head that whispers that it isn’t only Paul who doesn’t think other people feel and think and care.  And maybe the worm is right” (113).  

The narrator is aware that her father’s death will change the family, and one of the key elements of the story is her balance between the intensity of the moments (good and bad) and knowing that the moments will end.  Being so focused on time, death, and change, she also compares how those relationships used to be and how they have changed or will change irrevocably.  

As impressionistic as the book is, we’re constrained by the narrator’s anxieties and memories, her love, envy, sorrow, sadness, and happiness.  There’s enough there to suggest deeper lives than we see.  So much so that the unicorn might be the least interesting part of the story.  

The one part of the book that I found disappointing is the ending.  I won’t say what it is, but after the first 120 pages, I expected a more impactful end.  It’s a bit clichéd and a let down, but I’d say that the 120 pages outweigh the 10 in that proportion.

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This book review was written by Dat Tran (guest blogger). He grew up in Nepean, Ontario. In grade 10, he wrote a book report on the fate of the royal family of Troy, and Greek tragedy and mythology became his gateway into literature, philosophy, and history.  He is not good at math.

.How I Wrote my Book.


I always had this dream that I would write a book, if only a small one, that would carry one way, into a realm that could not be measured nor even remembered.  I imagined a lot of things but overall I love to write. I would dwell bareheaded and a summit turning a wheel what would turn the earth and undetected, amongst the clouds, I would have some influence and be of some avail or change. Everything contained in this book is true and written just like it was. The writing of it drew me from my strange build-up lethargy and I figured that in some measure it will fill the reader with a vague and curious joy. Let’s begin.

I worked on my manuscript for years and knew it needed a lot of work since English is not my first language. Systematic Functional Linguistics taught me that even the Theme and Rheme (the part of the clause in which the Theme is developed) is sometimes reversed in German.

Do you want to publish a book? The first thing is to write an official proposal and send it to publishers. At least this is how it is done in the U.S. and Canada. The proposal is a document telling the publishers about myself, the book I want to write, some sample chapters or essays, the audience I target, pictures, biography etc. Of course, I hoped this was something I can spit out in an afternoon. I looked at samples publishing proposals online and I was blown away: they were asking for 80-90 pages that won’t go into the book and actually are supposed to be mainly about myself.  Isn’t the proposal a book in itself then? Anyway, I started typing. What initially sounded like boring schoolwork turned out to be so much fun. With a tight schedule at school, I usually worked on the proposal at night or on weekends. I felt like my creativity just popped off again whenever I started to work on it. Overall, I had a lovely time. I was done in about four weeks and after a bit of back and forth and correcting my “charming English” I sent it off to publishers in the U.S. and Canada. Since I am not a Canadian citizen, I cannot publish my book here in Canada, however, I do have resident status in the U.S. so I targeted publishers there.

If you are a new author, sending out proposals can be a devastating time (almost as annoying as sending out job applications waiting for a response). All I initially received were rejections. “It sounds good, but ….”, or “We are sorry, but….” were usually the answers I got. Then one publisher said that my book sounds great and they would like to publish it. Usually, when a publisher agrees to publish a book, they give you a timeframe when you have to hand in your first draft or when the bulk of the work needs to be done. Since my manuscript was written already, I of course needed to edit it which was so much work. My publisher mentioned that I need to change many sentences and structures and came back with the copy editors notes. Changing 80% to his suggestions but he said just keep your “German style” in the rest for “personality reasons”. ” It makes the book more charming. We do not want to take the German out of you”, he said. So the book has 30% of Daniela/German-ism in it, be aware. 😉

I quickly realized that I have to do most of the work at night because I was in school full time and have a 5-year-old son who wants to be entertained. A book project like this takes up mental and even physical time. I knew that I can manage it since I have done so many other complicated projects in half the time and writing is my passion. I actually was not worried at all. All I had to do was to add up a million ideas that I have in my head in a  cohesively and coherent way.

When the writing is done, the font of the text is next. The publisher gives you several options and suggests what works best. Then the publisher works with you on the design of the book. I wanted a picture that my friend Judith Lockett took as my front cover. The rest of the book was designed by the publishing company. I emphasized that the ecstatic of the book is important to me and that the book, in the end, represents me and what I am all about. 

My first book was out. If you had told me this ten years ago, I never would have believed you. I wrote since I learned the alphabet. Writing was and is my passion. Initially, rejections make me think that I was not meant to be a writer. Dejected several times, I never stopped and feel tremendously lucky to have gotten here. 

What I love most about writing? That I can be creative. I baked about a million inside jokes into the text, created mean fantasy boyfriends named Gabriel, many lovely characters but also evil witches. Mining the contents of my memory makes the writing process so much more fun. Sometimes I can just write and have no idea where this all came from.  When I have a very good day, I can write for hours which almost feels like blacking out it pushes me in sort of trance. 

“You have just published a book. This is amazing and a success, ” my friend S. told me when I said that my life was a disaster last summer. Well, she is right. I am proud of myself but I also realize that most books do not earn back the expense it takes to produce them. Writing a book is not fancy. I mean, I am not J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, or Andre Alexis (His new book coming out on February 19th!) who probably make the majority of money for publishers while every other book ends up shortly on the Chapters “80% off-sad-pile” close to the washrooms. Honestly, I am glad my book is published and I do not care too much about how many copies I sell. This may be weird to some but to have the book on the shelf in the store means so much more to me. Success for me is when I feel immersed in my work and that I am getting better at it. 

Lastly, I want to add that reading and writing is equally important to me. I know that I become a better writer by reading more. I read everything I can get my hands on, some voices that are similar to mine and voices that could not be more different, such as Hemingway. I read a chapter in a book on Quantum Physics on my friend’s kitchen table while waiting for coffee and then asked him 10,000 questions, a memoir by Elizabeth Hay or poetry:  The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot. Read. Read. Read.

And then, I get very quiet, sit at my desk and let my own voice speak. I take a deep breath and start typing. My best essays usually come when I am not forcing it and trust my instincts. I work on launching my new book project  “What If This Is Enough” for fun before sending out proposals to publishers on www.kickstarter.com soon if you would like to check it out. 

.Sometimes Raw – The Book.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

can I please have your attention for this public service announcement: OH MY GOD, I WROTE A BOOK. 

The title: Sometimes Raw – Balance is key and moderation is my friend. Sometimes. I love that title but I love the cover more. I can finally share all this with my readers since I kept it sort of secret for quite some time. The book was in a very raw stage, many changes needed to be made and I did not find a publisher who would print it the way I wanted. But now the secret is out. I was so thrilled and over the top when the first copy of my book arrived at my new home today, when I had it in front of me, smelled it and flipped back and forth through the pages. It was epic.

What is the book about: 

I have written a bunch of essays on my lifestyle in general, about simplifying life, about being a mother, about creating that life I am passionate about, inspirations, health and being a better version of myself. I just did not want to focus only on one thing but rather cover many aspects of (my) life. I also shared many personal topics by connecting them to my readers. Sort of like memories such as when I discovered something about my life or when I threw out all my childhood diaries and had this urge to start a new folder every time something major happened. Those certain epiphany moments we all know too well and think about it but don’t say it.

The Amazon description I wrote is: 

With poignant candor, humor, and thought-provoking articles, essayist and blogger Daniela Henry writes about emotional and powerful thoughts on parenting, travels, books, and inspiration while chronicling her life with her own ups and downs. Smart, edgy, hilarious, sometimes raw and unabashed raunchy, Henry explodes onto the printed page in her first book. You will learn about minimalism, how not to kill your child(ren), how to save money, about love, about life, and how to be happy because you only have this one life. Sometimes you just have to laugh, even when your life is a complete dumpster fire.

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I was very happy and excited about writing the book in the first place and putting it together with my publisher. Definitely, one of the most fun things I have ever done in my life. The reason I wanted this book to be a “real” book instead of publishing digital is that I love the physical copy of a book more than anything else. If you don’t know this by now:  I read a lot, a lot, a lot. Whenever I have the time or wherever I am, a physical version of a book is usually close by. I just love flipping through books, smelling them, touching them; it is an obsession.

What I hope to achieve with my book is that you get comfortable somewhere, have some nice music on, a cup of coffee, eat some chocolate (or don’t do anything at all) and read a copy of Sometimes Raw which may transfer you into a relaxed, thought-provoking or inspirational mode and makes you reflect and think.

Now I am no longer the consumer of books, but I am also the producer which feels pretty awesome. Actually, I am working on my second book already. When I held the first draft in my hand today it felt like giving birth – which it also is in a way. I was nervous but also so excited. Most of you guys know, I love writing. And publishing a book for a writer is a dream come true. Being an avid reader, publishing my own book was on my bucket list for a long time. I tell my son all the time how amazing it would be to see my book on a bookshelf whenever we are at a bookstore.

Now I am a published author. It is just like: check. Off the list. Simple as that. On to the new book. I really want to thank all my blog readers and the support I have gotten to make this happen. If you decide to purchase my book, make sure you read the acknowledgment page first! You may have been mentioned.

My publisher wanted me to highlight that I wrote this book in English, even though this is not my first language. My first language is German. I was always pretty decent at speaking English but writing was a different story. At this point, I also want to say Hi to my English teacher in 5th grade, Mr. Karches, who thought I will never ever be able to master grammar or to write an essay sufficiently in English.

You can order the book here:

Canada: Sometimes Raw – The book 

United States:  Sometimes Raw- The book      

and at Barnes and Noble

Germany: Sometimes Raw – The book. 

UK: Sometimes Raw – The Book (WaterStones) 

on Amazon.uk

Around the world: BookDepository

and Booktopia

or in your favorite bookstore or library. It would make me extra happy to know my book is in more libraries.

I will have a book signing coming up in Ottawa and several copies on display in bookstores worldwide. Announcements and dates will be shared on this website. My publisher and I are working on a “booktour”. How insane is that?!

Honestly, I am still totally overwhelmed in the best way possible right now. Today,  I just spent the day with my son celebrating in style. “Garlicky bites” were involved. It is a milestone I want to remember forever.

Fun fact:  My publisher told me that people have placed orders in 21 countries: Canada, Germany, USA, Mexico, Ireland, England, Scotland, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore. How awesome is that?!

.Is This Considered Cheating?.

On my quest to figure out relationships I stumbled upon the podcast “Where Should We Begin” and was hooked. Relationship therapist Esther Perel works with anonymous couples in search of intimate, raw and profound details while analyzing topics such as loss, infidelity, sexlessness, sex addicts, adultery and so much more. One of the things Perel mentioned is that she gives adultery a chance. Obviously, I had to get to the bottom of this. 

Did you know that swans, those beautiful romantic creatures floating innocently around and are symbols for sexual fidelity and romance, have some chronic cheaters among them? I am still surprised how swans were able to keep this from us for so long. I reckon there are other species out there who have shown a consistency in being unfaithful lovers. According to scientists (who gets funded for research like this?), only a handful of animals experience monogamy. One I remember was California mice. You should keep that in mind when buying Valentine’s card searching for a perfect cover. Don’t use anything swan! Mice are okay. 

Humans are also bad at being faithful. According to Statistics Canada, estimates of people who fool around on their significant others vary from less than twenty percent to up to seventy percent. Well, those are the numbers of the cheaters we caught. Of course, we cannot find too much reliable data since cheaters are usually untrustworthy or they do not agree on what actually qualifies as cheating. Is kissing someone else cheating? Oral sex does not count, according to Clinton. Sexting? Or when I tell my partner, “I know you have a very stressful job. Do whatever you have to do to get through this”, entail that he can cheat? I mean I did not specifically say, “This does not include to cheat on me” so I guess it is (also) my fault. Statistics further show that women are just as bad as men when it comes to cheating. A couple of years ago, their adulterous options have been somewhat more limited due to economic dependence or domesticity but since women entered the workforce Pandora’s box of temptations has been opened. 

Anthony Burgess describes adultery as “the most creative of sins,” and yes, he is right. Thanks to social media and the ability to connect anywhere, cheating is so easy. Tinder or Facebook your way through infidelity in no time. So does this mean we can just eat “them forbidden apples” even more hungrily than ever? In the US for example, adultery is still illegal in many states and is even seen as a crime that can justify denial of citizenship. According to Esther Perel, however, the desire to stray is not evil but human. In her therapy sessions, she focuses first on the motives why the partner cheated. “To look at straying simply in terms of its ravages is not only reductionistic but also unhelpful, “she writes. So, it is initially okay to experience rage and hate but then the motives and meaning of an affair need to be explored. Perel states that “now the real work begins. To acknowledge the point of view of both parties [since it always takes two] – what it did to one and what it meant to the other”. By trying to analyze what was joyful, liberating, satisfying or meaningful for the one who cheated should be taken into consideration, she adds. 

Whenever an affair is detected, it is usually devastatingly painful for the ones betrayed but maybe it may also be somewhat invigorating. For example, one may consider the expectations of what marriage is/was in the first place. It has been analyzed that to make a relationship function at its best, comfort, excitement, sexuality and intellectual stimulus need to be present mostly at all times. According to Perel, partners are too quick to look elsewhere the “moment that those needs aren’t being met”.

One has to keep in mind that there is no such things as absolute romantic security in relationships. There is no “affair proof” marriage out there. We can tell each other that trust is the most important thing for us in a relationship and that it also is the only thing that should/can not be broken but who can promise this?

The psychoanalyst Adam Philips said that trust is “a risk masquerading as a promise.” I do not want to be seen as the only progenitor of my partner’s desire but rather as a current enjoyer or recipient. “Introducing uncertainty sometimes requires nothing more than letting go of the illusion of certitude. In this shift of perspective, we recognize the inherent mystery of our partner,” she states which means to me that to love is to have, and to desire is to want, and a balance of the two makes for a more enduring connection.

Perel wrote an awesome book that I can highly recommend if you would like to read. Perel is Belgian-born and practices in New York. I just love her European take on desire, love, and lust. 

The Book Review: “Since We Fell” by Dennis Lehane.

Thanks to HarperCollinsCanada and the publisher for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review. I have read “Shutter Island” by the author which attracted me to Lehane’s latest book “Since We Fell”. This does not affect my opinion of the content or the book in my review.

Rachel Child did not have an easy childhood and grew up in a rather dysfunctional family. Her father left when she was a baby and her mother who is manipulative with a somewhat mean personality never revealed his identity to Rachel. Later on in Rachel’s life, she worked as a journalist, got married but things did not get better for her. She suffered from panic attacks and her husband left her after she experienced a major mental breakdown while covering the Haiti earthquake. She struggled with trauma and PTSD which just caused her to lose her job as a journalist. Rachel Child now lives as a “virtual” shut-in. 

Against all odds, she meets the love of her life, Brian who eventually becomes her second husband. Everything seems to get better in her life. She lives the “ideal life with an ideal husband” until she realizes that he lied to her since they first met about his life, what he does and who he is. She knows that she needs to work on and with herself first to overcome all this drama and trauma in her life and find strength; however, she focuses with an obsession on Brian, conspiracy, violence, fear, and this secret life her husband lives. 

Lehane’s language throughout Since We Fell is great and well-written; however, what through me slightly off was the fact that the first 150+ pages seem just too much of irrelevant build-up. There is a lot of “boring” (overly analyzed) heart-breaking, troubled suffering woman, romance, psychology, search for missing father, tension as well as description of Rachel’s bad/sad childhood and struggles later on in her life. [I usually give a book 50 pages to get me interested in the plot; however, Lehane’s language kept me going for some reason and I finished the 400 pages!].

I reckon, there is this duality throughout Since We Fell. In the first half of the book Rachel is looking for her father she never knew and in the second half she is doing the same thing with her second husband Brian. The ending of the book was rather abrupt and here Lehane could have used a little more elaboration indeed. 

Overall: If you read some of his other novels and enjoyed those, this book will most likely be for you. If you are willing to struggle through the first 150+ pages to get to the point, this book is also for you. Happy reading! 

The release date is May 9th, 2017. 

The Book Review: The Spider and the Fly – A Reporter, a Serial Killer, and the Meaning of Murder by Claudia Rowe.

 

Thanks to HarperCollinsCanada and the publisher for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review. I have read “Gone Girl” by the author which attracted me to Rowe’s latest book “The Spider and the Fly”. This does not affect my opinion of the content or the book in my review.

“I [Rowe] extended my arm, and Kendall grabbed it, spreading my fingers wide. He hooked his between them, slammed his other hand on top, and I was caught. […] Electricity crackled up my elbow. Kendall gazed into my eyes. He was beaming”.

With a long background in Police, Security and Law Enforcement, I enjoy reading true crime/memoir novels, especially those with insight on forensic psychology or forensic linguistics. I could relate to many situations Rowe mentioned regarding prison, psychology, murder and trials. I also find it more and more difficult to believe that anybody can truly understand what makes a serial killer tick and cross this somewhat fine line of committing murder. 

Since I finished this book last night, the story of the serial killer Kendall Francois is on my mind a lot and keeps me thinking and wonder. The author Claudia Rowe has a great way of keeping the reader suspicious enough to read on and on through a mix of awesome journalism and language throughout the entire book. 

What is the book about? [No spoilers]

The journalist Claudia Rowe corresponds initially through letters with the imprisoned serial killer Kendall Francois who brutally raped and killed eight sex workers. The author also gives a plethora of background information about the murder case as well as trial and psychological information about the killer. It becomes clear pretty quickly throughout the story that Rowe gets obsessed with the Kendall and is eager to find out why he committed the murders. She also wants answers about how Francois was able to kill eight women and kept them in the attic, in the garage or in a kiddy pool for weeks. Who is Kendall Francois? Is he human? Does he have feelings?

Francois has never been caught by police [it might have been because of incompetence and/or bad police work], however, he confessed to all eight murders and this is when and where Rowe’s story actually begins. She started a correspondence with Kendall. He demanded that she has to write about personal things about her life and background but would  in return only get limited access to him and his thoughts. Kendall: “How I ‘deal’ with the awful things I’ve done is personal”. 

“Ken, I do not just see you only as a killer. I never have. I see you as a person who has been in pain for a long time, and whose pain is a big part of what ultimately happened. It is difficult to understand how someone who writes and thinks the way you do […], could grow up to commit the crimes you’ve committed”. 

I wondered many times, how the author is able to write very emotionally at points, yet tried to be as objectively about Kendall and the case as possible. I knew that this book is true crime at its best since the author also does not only focus on the case or the murderer. The reader finds out about Rowe as a person, her private life, her personal struggles and traumas while living with her boyfriend  in the Poughkeepsie area in New York. She also seeks to understand why she is fascinated by Kendall. 

Overall, this is a very interesting, brilliant and thought-provoking read especially for anyone who enjoys genres like true crime, memoir, journalism as well as topics such as prison life,  police work and investigation. 

Interested? The Spider and the Fly will be published January 27, 2017 by Harper Collins.