Review: Shantaram by G.D. Roberts

Review: Shantaram by G.D. Roberts

I recall Mum reading Shantaram years ago, probably when it first came out. A few months ago, while I was at a house party, we were in my friends room watching him get a tattoo when a thick tree stump of a book on his bedside unit caught my eye. I instantly recalled the name and was drawn to it. As soon as I reached for it to take a look my mate told me to take it, he was sure I’d love it. He wasn’t wrong and even at a solid 900 odd pages, I blew through it in a matter of weeks.

“every human heart beat is a universe of possibilities.” – Gregory David Roberts

I recall being told it was a true story, however, when I did a quick bit of research it appears that it was based on true events with a touch of artistic flair. Whatever the case, it’s a masterpiece. The story is so jaw-dropping that I’m not sure you could make it up. The retelling is probably helped by the fact that he had to write three times due to prison guards destroying it. Practice makes perfect, right?

“I don’t know what frightens me more, the power that crushes us, or our endless ability to endure it.” – Gregory David Roberts,

Shantaram recounts the author’s escape from Melbourne’s highest security prison, making him Australia’s most wanted man. Then on a fake passport, he flees to Bombay, India. Whilst in Bombay he opens a medical center in a  slum, is left to rot in a local prison, joins the mafia, and becomes a Bollywood actor. I don’t want to give too much away, but you get the gist, and that’s not the half of it.  The things this man has seen will leave you speechless, and if the story itself wasn’t enough to keep you hooked, Gregory David Roberts’ storytelling brings the novel to life, while making some quite profound statements along the way. 

“Sometimes we love with nothing more than hope. Sometimes we cry with everything except tears. In the end that’s all there is: love and its duty, sorrow and its truth. In the end that’s all we have – to hold on tight until the dawn” –  Gregory David Roberts

I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record here, but I think this is a book everyone needs to pick up at some point in their lives, all the more so if you are missing traveling or adventure as much as I am right now.  Shantaram is one of those books synonymous with backpackers, and this copy was no exception. Inside was a docket from a previous owners’ bus ride in India. Interestingly, I thought that upon finishing it I’d want to jump on the next flight to Bombay, however, my biggest take away was that I want to live my life to its fullest, in hope of creating my own adventure worth reading about.

“The more you try to be like someone else, the more you find yourself standing in the way.” –  Gregory David Roberts

Review: Jung for Beginners

Review: Jung for Beginners

A short review for a short (yet brilliant) book.

I’ve been trying to read some of Sigmund Freud’s work for a while, but it’s just so dense, and to me, it felt like it was missing something. I’d mentioned this to a friend and they suggested I try Carl Jung instead. I’d heard of him but didn’t really know much about him, so they sent me a copy of Jung for Beginners by Maggie Hyde & Michael McGuinness.

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” – C.G. Jung

Don’t let the title fool you, it’s only a short read, but it gave me so much to digest that I’m sure I will revisit it. This graphic novel gives a fantastic breakdown of Carl Jung’s life, his beliefs, and the mark he left on the world.

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” – C.G. Jung

The book speaks on how things like, dreams, astrology, alchemy, play a role in understanding our psychology. It discusses the role Freud and Jung played in each others lives as well as how Jung used his own self-reflection to design his home in Switzerland. 

I think what I found most fascinating was that it was Jung who came up with the terms “introvert” and “extrovert” which are now referred to in day to day life. I enjoyed this book, it gave a great overarching explanation of the life and mind of Carl Jung, and plenty for me to reflect on and deep dive into later.

“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” – C.G. Jung

Review: Blue Eye by Tracy Elner

Review: Blue Eye by Tracy Elner

I’ve had my copy of Blue Eye for some time now, however, I’d never gotten around to sitting down with it. It seemed that amongst all the craziness going on in the world (COVID-19) it would be nice to take a break from my usual data-heavy personal development texts and jump into something fictional.

Blue Eye was more than I imagined it would be, it’s extremely well researched, beautifully written, captivating the senses and immersing you in its world. I would most liken it to The Celestine Prophecy in its storytelling.

Considering the scientific, and esoteric concepts of which the story is based it’s incredibly easy to read, and once I started I could barely put it down. Thankfully, it’s the first of a trilogy so I don’t have to stop just yet. This book has it all, love, lust, governmental conspiracy, ancient texts, thrills, spills and by the end, I was left wondering how much truth lies under the surface of the poetically crafted tale. It truly feels like a story you couldn’t make up.

My take-home from Blue Eye was that even though it’s fictional it’s formed around some fascinating, well-documented concepts which I am looking forward to diving deeper into. Whether you are looking for a book to expand your thoughts on whats going on around you, or just want a captivating page-turner filled with romance, gunfight, industrial espionage and conspiracy, Blue Eye will not disappoint.

Review: Attached by Dr. A. Levine, & R.S.F Heller

Review: Attached by Dr. A. Levine, & R.S.F Heller

Attached was given to me by a partner whose opinion I truly value, and although it could be seen as self-serving for her to ask me to read it as we were going through challenging times, I could see that it was important to her so I did so anyway. Almost straight off the bat I felt triggered by what I was reading, like I was being targeted and the reason things weren’t working was purely because of me.

Attached breaks down the way you approach relationships down into three types; Secure; Anxious; and Avoidant. At the start of the book I felt like the personality type of Avoidant was speaking directly to me, like I was solely to blame for things not working. It wasn’t until I got further in, and more real-life examples were used, that I felt I was more a mixture of the personality types. Interestingly, later in the book they go on to say that every few years we move between these types, which more-or-less disproves their argument, who’s to say how many other external factors were influencing your actions.

I’m not entirely convinced that the book is of any real value as I don’t think any one person can be painted with one brush, but I do think the signs to pay attention to in future partners was beneficial, as well as their advice for defusing situations. Believe me when I say, I’m the first person to point out my flaws, but I think sometimes as much as we think we want something the time just isn’t right. Maybe I’m making excuses for my avoidant behaviour, but I do also consider myself to be quite self-aware and the book really doesn’t take that into consideration. I think as lovely as it is to have scientists try break down relationships and psychology, I’m not entirely convinced that the authors even believe what they are saying, or maybe I’m just triggered by the fact that they seem to think almost any relationship is to be worked on, and that if you’re Avoidant you’re more or less going to ruin every relationship forever.

My personal opinion is that every relationship has something to teach us, and when the time is right, the right person (avoiding the use of term “the one”), will step into our lives. Life isn’t as straight forward as the authors make it out to be, I feel like it was written for the types that never left their home towns (not there is anything wrong with that). If anything, this book preaches the opposite, a “find someone who kind of fits and make it work” mentality. Personally, I think the “make it work” mentality is fine, but only provided that it’s something both of you are actually interested in doing, and that it’s a realistic goal.

“It’s important to remember that even with effective communication, some problems won’t be solved immediately. What’s vital is your partner’s response–whether he or she is concerned about your well-being, has your best interests in mind, and is willing to work on things.”
― Amir Levine

Funnily enough, and maybe it’s just to appear out-of-the-box, the authors actively disagree with the idea that you cannot love someone else until you first love yourself. Instead, they see individuals as being broken, and that only to heal is through a loving relationship, even though every example of a person finding a happy relationship in their anecdotes was first exposed to some sort of trauma during previous relationships, and that only through realising they were worthy of more did they find something healthier. A point that the authors seem to have completely neglected to notice.

In short, I think it is kind of worth a read should you stumble across a copy of it as there are some useful tools for defusing situations, and tips for understanding potential partners’ actions, such as being avoidant and playing games. However, I definitely wouldn’t take their scientific approach to something so experiential without first asking yourself if it is really what you want, the beauty of life is in the experience and that it’s what you make of it, the same goes for relationships. We know that the grass isn’t always greener, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be selective of the grass you choose to water.