Author Topic: Reading Minds: The CoastGab Book Club  (Read 87804 times)

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Re: Reading Minds: The CoastGab Book Club
« Reply #840 on: January 07, 2019, 05:43:26 AM »
In the Mind Fields by Casey Schwartz.

Sometimes there is a reason for a book to be "marked down." Sometimes it did not sell all that well, sometimes it is aging on the shelves unsold. For me, neither is usually a concern as what interests me is usually not what interests most readers (I don't know if I have ever read something on the NYT's best seller list.) This was a book sitting in such a bin at the local store.

I am going to give this 1.5 stars out of 5, and use this rambling review to see if I can sort out the reasons. 

The book had promise- and it made promises. Casey was one of the first to go through a program where she was trained in neuroscience one year and psychoanalysis the next. Who better to write a book showing the advantages and pitfalls of each discipline? Who better to attempt to meld them, to judge them, to show the casual reader the advantages of each?

I will say that she did spend a little time showing some of the pitfalls of studies done and methods used in modern research into the brain. There were a few early chapters where it appeared that the book might fulfill it's ambitious stated goals.  But it quickly became apparent that there was not to be a narrative which would tie the thoughts or chapters together.

She spends chapters on Mark Solms, as she was apparently given access to his notes. Yet all that we learn from her is that Mark lives on a large estate, owns a vineyard, had a brother who was brain damaged early in life, was put in charge of a hospital ward before he felt he was ready, and that he hosts conferences. There is very little (if anything) about his work or the results of his studies. She makes mention that Mark wanted to analyze the dreams of Henry Moller. Just as quickly as it is mentioned, it is forgotten. In my estimation, Henry may have had a longer attention span to dedicate to developing thoughts than Casey. (This may only make sense if you know who H.M. was...)

There is chapter after chapter chronicling the relationship between an analyst she knew and a stroke victim, Harry.  We are treated to some of the conversations that occurred- to Harry's frustration with his position in life.  But there is nothing at all to indicate that the analysis did any good- that there was even a tiny improvement in his life. There is nothing at all to suggest that a neuroscientist could help- and even after years of therapy, nothing to suggest that a psychologist could offer anything of substance.

Her conclusion was that the analyst and Harry managed to form a human bond without words.  Yet Harry did use words- they were just limited. There was nothing remarkable that one could discern in the relationship between the two men, and nothing to be learned.

In the end, the book was an autobiography of Casey... Of somebody who has not contributed all that much to the field, and certainly not somebody who should have written a book.  If you were to add up the number of times the word "I" is used, it would be in the tens of thousands. To keep this review on topic for the board- she reminds me a little of a certain "Dave Noorie". There is lots of name dropping, and very little substance.

In short, this has to be one of the more disappointing books that I have read in a long while.  The promise was there- but nothing was delivered. After my review, I am downgrading it to one star- and I am feeling that is more than generous for an autobiography of somebody who is completely unknown to the word, and who does not appear to have accomplished very much.

Re: CoastGab Book Club
« Reply #841 on: February 14, 2019, 09:27:05 AM »

Re: What are you reading now?
« Reply #842 on: June 09, 2019, 02:12:03 PM »
I sometimes wonder if anyone still reads books.

I just got done reading 'Hunger' by Knut Hamsun. It was a great book! Really depressing at times, moving overall. Highly recommended.


Re: Reading Minds: The CoastGab Book Club
« Reply #843 on: June 11, 2019, 12:42:01 PM »
I read a client's pop psychology book last week.  If the ergonomics /lighting are alright, I don't mind reading decent size fonts.  But I have little patience for tight spines or library fines.


Re: Reading Minds: The CoastGab Book Club
« Reply #844 on: June 11, 2019, 07:25:11 PM »
In the Mind Fields by Casey Schwartz.

Sometimes there is a reason for a book to be "marked down." Sometimes it did not sell all that well, sometimes it is aging on the shelves unsold. For me, neither is usually a concern as what interests me is usually not what interests most readers (I don't know if I have ever read something on the NYT's best seller list.) This was a book sitting in such a bin at the local store.

I am going to give this 1.5 stars out of 5, and use this rambling review to see if I can sort out the reasons. 

The book had promise- and it made promises. Casey was one of the first to go through a program where she was trained in neuroscience one year and psychoanalysis the next. Who better to write a book showing the advantages and pitfalls of each discipline? Who better to attempt to meld them, to judge them, to show the casual reader the advantages of each?

I will say that she did spend a little time showing some of the pitfalls of studies done and methods used in modern research into the brain. There were a few early chapters where it appeared that the book might fulfill it's ambitious stated goals.  But it quickly became apparent that there was not to be a narrative which would tie the thoughts or chapters together.

She spends chapters on Mark Solms, as she was apparently given access to his notes. Yet all that we learn from her is that Mark lives on a large estate, owns a vineyard, had a brother who was brain damaged early in life, was put in charge of a hospital ward before he felt he was ready, and that he hosts conferences. There is very little (if anything) about his work or the results of his studies. She makes mention that Mark wanted to analyze the dreams of Henry Moller. Just as quickly as it is mentioned, it is forgotten. In my estimation, Henry may have had a longer attention span to dedicate to developing thoughts than Casey. (This may only make sense if you know who H.M. was...)

There is chapter after chapter chronicling the relationship between an analyst she knew and a stroke victim, Harry.  We are treated to some of the conversations that occurred- to Harry's frustration with his position in life.  But there is nothing at all to indicate that the analysis did any good- that there was even a tiny improvement in his life. There is nothing at all to suggest that a neuroscientist could help- and even after years of therapy, nothing to suggest that a psychologist could offer anything of substance.

Her conclusion was that the analyst and Harry managed to form a human bond without words.  Yet Harry did use words- they were just limited. There was nothing remarkable that one could discern in the relationship between the two men, and nothing to be learned.

In the end, the book was an autobiography of Casey... Of somebody who has not contributed all that much to the field, and certainly not somebody who should have written a book.  If you were to add up the number of times the word "I" is used, it would be in the tens of thousands. To keep this review on topic for the board- she reminds me a little of a certain "Dave Noorie". There is lots of name dropping, and very little substance.

In short, this has to be one of the more disappointing books that I have read in a long while.  The promise was there- but nothing was delivered. After my review, I am downgrading it to one star- and I am feeling that is more than generous for an autobiography of somebody who is completely unknown to the word, and who does not appear to have accomplished very much.
Lately I've been trying to rid myself of the sort of literary version of the sunk cost fallacy and just quit, even early in, if I don't like it, it doesn't hook me, it is not well written, or (if non-fiction) it is not properly footnoted or referenced, or is not interesting.

Re: Reading Minds: The CoastGab Book Club
« Reply #845 on: June 11, 2019, 07:28:21 PM »
When I was younger Mrs. whoozit worked in a bookstore.  I was a voracious reader and her boss sent her home with books that were destroyed.  I came to learn that there is a reason books have their covers torn off.  They were rarely worth reading.

Re: What are you reading now?
« Reply #846 on: June 11, 2019, 07:29:04 PM »
I sometimes wonder if anyone still reads books.

I just got done reading 'Hunger' by Knut Hamsun. It was a great book! Really depressing at times, moving overall. Highly recommended.
He won the Nobel Prize for "Growth of the Soil" which was back when Nobel Prizes were actually recognizing big achievements or good works.  ;) Realistic novel but, as you say, peasant life can be depressing and brutal. But stoic, hardworking, and good for the romanticist of rural and traditional life. And fairly realistic considering the numbers of emigrants who came from those areas to the USA from those conditions. Norway was a tough place for agriculture and before the energy boom was a poor country with some bad conditions.

Re: Reading Minds: The CoastGab Book Club
« Reply #847 on: June 11, 2019, 07:32:23 PM »
When I was younger Mrs. whoozit worked in a bookstore.  I was a voracious reader and her boss sent her home with books that were destroyed.  I came to learn that there is a reason books have their covers torn off.  They were rarely worth reading.
I seem to recall statements inside of books. Something like "if you bought this book without a cover than it was destroyed or unsold and the author or publisher may not have been paid." Or something....

Re: Reading Minds: The CoastGab Book Club
« Reply #848 on: June 11, 2019, 07:35:23 PM »
I seem to recall statements inside of books. Something like "if you bought this book without a cover than it was destroyed or unsold and the author or publisher may not have been paid." Or something....
The store owner reported it destroyed and returned the cover to get money back on unsold stock.  I didn’t buy it, he didn’t sell it.  At worst we’ll both be darned to heck for 30 seconds.  I wish I could charge some of those authors for the time I wasted plowing through a chapter or two.  I think I finished two books out of several grocery bags full I received.

Re: Reading Minds: The CoastGab Book Club
« Reply #849 on: June 11, 2019, 09:01:36 PM »
The store owner reported it destroyed and returned the cover to get money back on unsold stock.  I didn’t buy it, he didn’t sell it.  At worst we’ll both be darned to heck for 30 seconds.  I wish I could charge some of those authors for the time I wasted plowing through a chapter or two.  I think I finished two books out of several grocery bags full I received.

They used to do something similar to record albums back in the day, they'd cut off a corner of the album and report it as destroyed.  You'd find lots of albums with covers so cut for sale at used record stores, when such places existed.

Re: Reading Minds: The CoastGab Book Club
« Reply #850 on: June 16, 2019, 02:16:19 AM »
Lately I've been trying to rid myself of the sort of literary version of the sunk cost fallacy and just quit, even early in, if I don't like it, it doesn't hook me, it is not well written, or (if non-fiction) it is not properly footnoted or referenced, or is not interesting.
I'll bite... How does this work? I have always figured that I need to finish reading the damn book just in case there are some gems... Just in case I am mistaken about how bad it really is (though I will confess that I usually don't find many in poorly written books.) How do you not feel that you might be missing out on something worthwhile?

Maybe I just need to bite the bullet and refuse to read one of my "heatsink" books (I borrowed this term from another crappy book that took me 6 months to plow through- "how to be good." No, I won't review it here.)

Maybe I will look at the stack of unread books and see if I have any that I have started and dread picking up again (the bad ones get returned to that stack over and over and I read another few chapters each time between actual unread books.) Maybe one of those "community libraries" would be the right place for it?

Re: What are you reading now?
« Reply #851 on: June 20, 2019, 12:01:04 AM »
He won the Nobel Prize for "Growth of the Soil" which was back when Nobel Prizes were actually recognizing big achievements or good works. Realistic novel but, as you say, peasant life can be depressing and brutal. But stoic, hardworking, and good for the romanticist of rural and traditional life. And fairly realistic considering the numbers of emigrants who came from those areas to the USA from those conditions. Norway was a tough place for agriculture and before the energy boom was a poor country with some bad conditions.

Indeed! I couldn't put the book down.

Re What are you reading now?
« Reply #852 on: June 20, 2019, 12:46:07 AM »
Another book by Hamsun I'm reading is 'Look Back On Happiness'. Gorgeous descriptions of the Norwegian wilderness, and still moments with the main character, living his sedate, undisturbed life. Till a visitor arrives, and till there are other people introduced to the story. That's where I became disinterested.

Re: What are you reading now?
« Reply #853 on: June 20, 2019, 12:47:20 AM »
I think I finished two books out of several grocery bags full I received.

Any Calvin & Hobbes? 😉

Re: What are you reading now?
« Reply #854 on: June 20, 2019, 12:55:09 AM »
Any Calvin & Hobbes? 😉

Try reading Les Misérables and not the Spark notes.

Re: What are you reading now?
« Reply #855 on: June 20, 2019, 01:12:59 AM »
Try reading Les Misérables and not the Spark notes.

Have read.

Initializing reread...






Re: Reading Minds: The CoastGab Book Club
« Reply #856 on: June 21, 2019, 07:37:28 PM »
I'll bite... How does this work? I have always figured that I need to finish reading the damn book just in case there are some gems... Just in case I am mistaken about how bad it really is (though I will confess that I usually don't find many in poorly written books.) How do you not feel that you might be missing out on something worthwhile?

Maybe I just need to bite the bullet and refuse to read one of my "heatsink" books (I borrowed this term from another crappy book that took me 6 months to plow through- "how to be good." No, I won't review it here.)

Maybe I will look at the stack of unread books and see if I have any that I have started and dread picking up again (the bad ones get returned to that stack over and over and I read another few chapters each time between actual unread books.) Maybe one of those "community libraries" would be the right place for it?
There is no system theory, yet, just a simple heuristic based on material, my mood & motivation, and writing style or subject. I used to be like you and considered "well I started so I should finish" but then thought about it the time-wasting. If you are reading to waste time, or simply to be entertained, than read something that you enjoy.  If you are reading for professional or knowledge than why waste that time with a book that appears to be incorrect, not edited properly, not footnoted and reference, etc? I also tend to read or listen, rather than tv or movies, so read fast- which is fine when killing time on a flight with a novel etc but I purposely reread or slow down (sometimes even read upside down -book not me- if I'm reading for knowledge, a class, etc) to retain the information. I call the former my "tv book" mode of reading where it simply is for entertainment and you don't need to retain any information.