Heather Greenwood Davis reviews 3 books about changing your life for the better
Heather Greenwood Davis is a Toronto writer and editor who has travelled all over the world with her husband and two sons. The columnist and GlobetrottingMama.com blogger says the start of a new year is a natural time to start thinking about making changes in your life.
She spoke with Shelagh Rogers about three books that offer insight on change and transformation: People Change by Vivek Shraya, No Cure for Being Human by Kate Bowler and Find Your Unicorn Space by Eve Rodsky.
"People Change by Vivek Shraya is smart and insightful. I think it's going to appeal to people who love her, but she's also going to find new fans through it. The book really lives up to her promise to share secrets from her life of reinvention.
What I really liked was the idea of the fact that we are changing, but we don't change in a vacuum.
"So we get a mix of cultural criticism, personal experiences, reflections and astute observations of the world she navigates both when she was a child and in present day. It really reads like this long essay as opposed to the chapter books I've been reading. So it's hard to know when to put it down, or to pause in the reading. You do need to pause, because the pause is when you get a chance to consider some of the points that she's making.
"Just the way she questions why we would be uncomfortable with change at all, considering that we are all literally always changing. What I really liked was the idea of the fact that we are changing, but we don't change in a vacuum."
"At age 35, Kate, who's a university professor, was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer. She was given a low chance of survival. The thing I think will strike people immediately about this book is that it is very, very honest. And it comes because she's facing a situation where there's no time for sugarcoating or trivial chatter. It's not an easy read emotionally.
I loved it because it doesn't really ask anything of the reader, but it actually will inspire you to ask yourself some questions about the choices you're making in your own life.
"It's at times breathtakingly sad, but it is also such a gift. It's a reminder of the everyday moments that are important and why we can't afford to take them for granted. I loved it because it doesn't really ask anything of the reader, but it will inspire you to ask yourself some questions about the choices you're making in your own life.
"One of the things she talks about is our checklist mentality. So the idea that so many of us make a list of things, whether it's 'to do' lists or bucket lists — as if life can be completed in a series of steps will lead to a successful life.
"She really makes the point that in doing so, we miss life."
Find Your Unicorn Space by Eve Rodsky
"Find Your Unicorn Space by Eve Brodsky is more of a manual. And it's really interesting, especially given the pandemic and how that's changed people. So she says 'unicorn space' is a vital time where you can actively and openly pursue creative self-expression in any form that makes you uniquely you. It's the idea that you are going to find a way to reclaim your creative life in this world that is so busy.
So it's basically the idea that you are going to find a way to reclaim your creative life in this world that is so busy.
"We live at a time where creative space is not necessarily celebrated in the way it once was. A lot of us are working toward being more productive, being more efficient and really not giving enough attention to the parts of our brain that would allow us to to paint or make music or do art.
"Brodsky makes a great case for the fact that these things aren't superfluous hobbies — but more integral and important and imperative really to our development. And then she sets about giving us a manual for how we can get there."
This segment has been edited for length and clarity.