“The attempt to develop a sense of humor and to see things in a humorous light is some kind of a trick learned while mastering the art of living.” –Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

27 Aug

I have to admit this blog post is of a self-serving nature. My goal is to share with you a couple of books or phrases that have captured my attention and left a lasting impression on me. In return, I’m hoping you will share some of your favorites with me.

One of the most compelling non-fiction books I’ve read is Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. Most people are probably already familiar with the works of this amazing WWII concentration camp survivor. In college I had to read this book and write a paper on it. I’ve held on to it ever since. I’ve gone back and skimmed through it countless times over the last twenty years. The dog-eared pages are yellowed. Sticky notes peek out from all directions. Multi-colored highlights abound from the pages as I found different passages spoke to me depending on the time in my life that I was reading it. It even smells a little dusty. At this point it’s become more of an old friend than a book.

The next book wasn’t a particularly profound read but more of a fun one. However, there was one passage in the book that grabbed my attention enough to warrant jotting it down. The book is Shannon Hale’s Austenland and the passage reads, “Why was the judgment of the disapproving so valuable? Who said their good opinions tended to be any more rational than those of generally pleasant people?” This captured my attention because it made me realize how much credence I sometimes put into the opinions of people who are inherently difficult to please.

Now that I’m done baring my soul (what a book lover won’t do for a few good recommendations), I’d love to hear your favorite books or passages. Maybe it’s completely different from these. It could be one that always makes you smile, motivates you or just makes you think.


Posted by on August 27, 2013 in books, inspiration, Psychology, reading


16 responses to ““The attempt to develop a sense of humor and to see things in a humorous light is some kind of a trick learned while mastering the art of living.” –Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

  1. Janis McCurry

    August 27, 2013 at 7:35 AM

    I have what I think is a bizarre favorite line. From John Irving’s “The Hotel New Hampshire,” it’s about a really dysfunctional family that has a lot of suicides and tragedy in their lives.

    “Keep on passing the open windows.”

    It means no matter what, don’t jump, keep on going, etc. To me, it’s a hopeful phrase, albeit, grim.

    Of course, in the book, finally, the heroine’s brother didn’t pass the open window and…

    Still like the phrase. Kind of weird, I know.

    • Jennifer

      August 27, 2013 at 10:31 AM

      I like that too Janis! I guess that makes us equally weird :)Thanks for sharing.

  2. Judith Keim

    August 27, 2013 at 8:00 AM

    Two books made a huge impact on me as a young teenager back in the “olden days”. One was Cry Africa and the other was Shogun. It opened up the world for me in many ways. I was and still am fascinated by people in two very different societies.

    • Jennifer

      August 27, 2013 at 10:33 AM

      I haven’t read either one of those Judith. I’ll have to check them out. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Corina Mallory

    August 27, 2013 at 10:19 AM

    Great topic! I’m not one to remember individual lines. I’m not a quoter, which I actually find frustrating. I *want* to be, but I just don’t remember things that way. BUT! When I was a teenager I bought a musty-smelling first-edition of “Brazilian Adventure” by Peter Fleming (Ian Fleming’s older brother) in a thrift store. Published in 1933, the book was a memoir of his explorations of the Brazilian jungle in search of the lost expedition of Colonel Fawcett. I *loved* this book. It sparked a life-long love of good travel writing. (And a probably unhealthy fascination with adventurers.) I haven’t read it since, so I have no idea how it holds up, but one line really stuck with me. It was a sign that Fleming saw at a Brazilian zoo: “To throw stones at snakes is an indication of bad character.” I can’t remember what lesson, if any, Fleming drew from that sign, but to me it means: how you treat something that could, and probably would, hurt you if the situation was reversed says everything about you, and nothing about it. No matter how dangerous something *might* be, abuse of power is abuse of power.

    Ok, this second one I actually haven’t thought about in years, but that little lesson totally reminded me of it. It had a major effect on me when I read it in an economics class in undergrad. Written by a Chicago labor lawyer, Thomas Geoghegan, it’s another memoir: “Which Side Are You On? Trying to be for Labor When it’s Flat on its Back.” It was fascinating to me reading about a dying urban labor movement that until then I’d thought had absolutely no relevance to my life. I’ve never belonged to a union, but that book made me a life-long, open-eyed supporter of the labor movement, despite its issues and corruptions and frustrations.

    It’s funny that I read mostly fiction, but when I think about books that really *mattered* to me, that changed the way I think and feel, they’re almost all non-fiction. I could literally talk about them all day.

  4. Jennifer

    August 27, 2013 at 10:40 AM

    Those both sound fascinating Corina! I think it’s great when a book’s lesson stays with you. Now that you mention it, I too read mostly fiction but it’s the non-fiction that have made lasting impressions. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Peggy Staggs

    August 27, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    My favorite quote comes from a very unusual source. Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. “Discipline means organization, chain of command and logistics.” I’m still struggling with the “chain of command.” My troops (aka the cats and dogs) tend to ignore me or just sleep.

  6. Jennifer

    August 27, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    That book sounds intriguing Peggy. I’m definitely adding it to my list of books I’d like to read. Thanks for sharing.

  7. maryvine

    August 27, 2013 at 8:25 PM

    I’m happy to see this post, Jen. About a week ago, I was reading about how important it is to read different types of books, because you (the writer) learn how to write better in the process.. And, according to your replies, you learn something else too – how to make your life better, or richer.
    I tend to want to read romantic suspense, but I need to work at finding the gems in a wide variety of works.

  8. Jennifer

    August 27, 2013 at 9:59 PM

    I go through spurts Mary. I get hooked on a genre and that’s all I read for a couple of months at a time. I have to force myself to branch out once in a while too.

  9. Dick

    August 28, 2013 at 11:04 AM

    From Wayne Dyer “there is no way to happiness happiness is the way

    • Jennifer

      August 28, 2013 at 9:03 PM

      Good one! Thanks for sharing.

  10. Stephanie Berget

    August 28, 2013 at 8:40 PM

    See, you put your mind to it and you come up with a crackerjack subject. When I was a kid, all I read were horse and cowboy books. What a shock, huh? As a young teen, my mother brought home The Bronze Bow, a book about Alexander the Great. It opened my eyes to the magic of reading. The second book that changed my life was The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town. It is a true story of two young men who were found falsely guilty of murder and are still in prison. It is a must read for anyone. Thanks for this post. I’ve found some new books for my TBR pile.

  11. Jennifer

    August 28, 2013 at 9:05 PM

    Thanks for sharing Steph! I’ll be adding those books to my list as well.

  12. lynn mapp

    September 3, 2013 at 8:36 AM

    Jennifer, I’ve been spinning my wheels trying to think of one. I don’t have one.

  13. Jennifer

    September 3, 2013 at 12:07 PM

    That’s okay Lynn. Thanks for trying to think of one 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: