Friday, February 28, 2020

The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement

The Narcissism Epidemic: 
Living in the Age of Entitlement
Jean M. Twenge, PhD
W. Keith Campbell, PhD

Publisher: Atria Books
First edition published: April, 2009

Reviewing non-fiction in our highly-politicized culture can be a real challenge.  Finding a book with no ax to grind in the partisan wars is very much appreciated.  Having said that, this book is in some ways an even bigger challenge, because it really makes us take another look at the world around us and reassess.  We are in the throes of a BIG cultural shift, and a lot of the mystifying behaviors we see other people performing every day -- you know, the ones that make us think "What the heck is going on?  WHY would anyone do that?"-- suddenly seem connected in ways we could not have imagined.

The book is just over a decade old.  You'd think that some of the information would have found its way into the greater culture, and maybe some of it has, but from what I see around me, the issues are not only still there, but some of the book's predictions are sitting in front of my face when I look out the window, watch TV, or spend time on the 'net.

In some ways the title says it all.  But all of us have our own definitions of what defines a narcissist, and rarely do we look in the mirror and ask the question, "Do I have those attributes too?"  Since one of my reasons for doing all the reading I do is to find books that make people think, this one is high on the list.  It makes us think about ourselves, the culture around us, and the possible futures we are creating for ourselves without realizing it.

One of the key discussions of the decade, at least among the general public, has been whether people need to have high self-esteem to succeed.  It has been considered insensitive to point out any want of perfection in others, in the belief that such an action would cause stress and self doubt that would make the victim less able to cope.  For the generation with parents who got themselves through the first depression with phrases like "sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me" and "consider the source, and if you don't respect their opinion, ignore them," this attitude has been completely perplexing.

This book asks whether this new sensitivity, this new need to constantly buck up personal self esteem, putting the obligation on others to ensure  that children and even co-workers never ever feel inadequate, is actually psychologically healthy.

It examines the unexpected side effects that happen when children feel so secure in themselves that they never self-examine, never self-question, and never listen to other views.  At the time of its printing, it may have been seen as a bit of exaggeration, since for years it was commonly understood that children without self-esteem often had a difficult time of it, and some still bore the internal scars years later.  But can there be too much of a good thing?  Now that a sufficient amount of time has passed, and some of the predictions in this book have manifested in the real world around us, often in disturbing ways, the answer appears to be yes.

There are many spoilers I could include here but won't, because if I had my druthers, I'd insist this book be compulsory reading in high school, and would recommend it to all my friends, so I think it should be read, not summarized.  And re-read.  It makes us think, about ourselves and of the others around us that seem so hard to understand.  Many elements go into our personalities, and this really is only one piece of the puzzle, but it's an important one.  More critically, at least for the generations to come, it is something we can actually work to fix.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Parable of the Sower

Every so often I pick up a book by an author I'd never heard of, caught by an attractive piece of cover art or back-jacket blurb, and find a work, as I did a few years ago, that really hits home.  Xenogenesis, by Octavia E. Butler was one such book.  Doing a bit more research, I discovered that I had stumbled onto a treasure -- she was the first well known black female science fiction writer, and had won a number of awards.  I decided to find more of her books, but shortly thereafter, got onto reading primarily non-fiction and that thought got pushed into back storage.

My addiction to online discount book sellers and second hand bookstores, however, saved me.  I ran across another of her books at, "Parable of the Sower," published in 2000.  Watching cultural trends, and people's behaviors throughout her life (she was writing stories even as a child), Butler felt that if we kept going in the same general direction, some very bad things would be in the offing.  Our separation of people by race and class, the rich turning their backs on communities, preferring to live among their peers in gated communities of the like-minded and the economically secure, to avoid having to deal with the outside world, the growth of drug culture, the fears of global warming, the lack of sensitivity to the plight of others, all led into the creation of her vision in "Parable," of the coming 2020s.  The vision is dismaying and hopeful, violent and steadfast, terrifying and promising.  Butler had once again proved her writing was well worth my reading.

Unfortunately, she died only 6 years after this book was published, before reaching 60, to my mind a great loss to readers everywhere, so there aren't any new books coming, but if you ever come across one of her works, I highly recommend reading it.  She wanted a better world, with better people in it, and whether that improvement came from science, religion or alien intervention, she believed it could be achieved, and her body of work tries to show us how it could/might come to pass.

"Parable" is not easy reading for the squeamish -- it is a rotting, dysfunctional, and self-destructive society her main character Laurel is born into -- but it is thought-provoking and may, perhaps, if her message gets through, keep us from falling into the patterns of distrust and violence that give us a window into the world faced by refugees everywhere, and help us find that hopeful future.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

A Fistful of Utopias - Part I

A Fistful of Utopias:  Part I
Eva Kosinski

I spend a good deal of time poking around in the Kindle book section for works that are interesting, and most importantly, budget friendly. I came across "8 Novels of Utopia" for a grand total of $.99 and thought this was interesting....many were from the 19th century. So I decided to look to see how far back the tendency went to find the perfect society via literature. I found the namesake for the concept, Sir Thomas More's "Utopia," the same Thomas More who was Lord High Chancellor for Henry VIII, later beheaded by said King for refusing to call the King the head of the Church, and later canonized by the Catholic Church). "Utopia" was published in 1515. Then I remembered Plato's "Republic" dating back, according to Wikipedia, to 380BC. (comments on that one, I will leave to the many college philosophy courses that deal with its complexities)

It seems to this very minute, people are still discussing the idea of a perfect society, one that would rid itself of elitist control, poverty, injustice, and bias, but to date, few have actually managed to come off the written page and enter the reality that we live in. Various attempts have been tried, usually resulting in either extreme poverty with power concentrated at the top, or total economic collapse. There's an old saw that gets quoted from time to time, usually referring to death and taxes: "If someone had figured out how to deal with them, they long since would have cashed in and made a fortune." That doesn't mean they don't continue to try. Should you have any doubt, go to google images and type in Utopia. Across the years there are dozens of books, and more and more editions of, and discussions of, Utopian concepts.

Friday, October 30, 2015

All Goodies for Halloween

Do you like blog hops with a theme? Care to visit some spooky posts and some blogs with free book treats? Have we got the order of the day for you!

First up is a link to my very own short fiction story. Second, we have a list of interesting spooky stories from some of our favorite bloggers and sites. Next in this Halloween Roundup is a blog hop full of spooky stories, art, and books. Finally, it is the blog hop where you trick or treat for free books.  Check out the links below for a fun filled special day.

Treats From
The Candy Store
Halloween Hoot Owls
For our give away, Bent Briar Publishing is offering their latest book, The Candy Store, in e-book form AND a chance to receive an ARC of a ghost story/mystery to be released early next summer. All you need to do is go to their Facebook page, like the page, and leave a private message saying you are trick or treating. Also mention if you want to be part of the drawing for the ARC next summer.

Now on to the FUN!

Short fiction! The Perfect Man - a Halloween Tale

Interesting Halloween fitting links:

Actor Mechelle Lassiter 
A Haunted Dollhouse?  Enjoy a scary, short movie, too!


Haunted Roads throughout the world.

Ghost Stories to thrill you.

Halloween History? Can you believe how fast traditions come and go?

Share a Scare participants:

1.Share A Scare 2015 - Sign Up and Rules @ Wittegen Press2.Wittegen Press Blog
3.Tasha's Thinkings4.Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles
5.Bristol Book Blog6.Drae Box Books
7.Mina Burrows8.Madness of a Modern Writer
9.Stories I Found in the Closet10.Angeline Trevena
11.Not Now...Mommy's Reading12.Salonika Vale
13.Scarlett Van Dijk - A Writer's Tale14.Tanya Miranda
15.BookwormBridgette's World16.Patricia Lynne
17.Faith McKay18.Tamara Narayan
19.N. R. Williams20.Laura Clipson
21.Yolanda Renee

22.Traveling Cats