Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

Archive for April 19th, 2015

Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do

Posted by nliakos on April 19, 2015

by Wallace J. Nichols (Little, Brown 2014; ISBN 978-0-316-25208-9)

The sub-title pretty much says it all. “J.” Nichols, a researcher who founded (among other things) the Blue Mind project, a kind of TED Conference for all things related to water, cites studies that support his idea that we came from water, we are drawn to water, and without water, we can’t survive, or at least not optimally. I am ready to believe, but sometimes the evidence seems a little off. Some of the studies Nichols cites show that it is nature that humans need and that makes us feel less anxious, etc; then he will add almost as an after-thought, that of course water in nature makes it better, but I am not always convinced that the study he is citing demonstrated that. It’s kind of a P.S. that he tacks on near the end. This is not to say that he does not support his claims; he does, but sometimes the support seems less targeted than other times.

Nichols talks about “getting your Blue Mind on” by swimming, boating, fishing, walking or sitting by water, taking a shower, looking at a fish tank or fountain, even looking at a painting or photo that depicts water in some form. He points out that urban dwellers are often isolated from water (and nature); their anxiety builds up, but they can counter this tendency by making sure they get (see, hear, feels, taste, smell) a watery dose of calm.

Personally, it does make me feel calm and happy to hike along the lake shore at my local state park, to sit on my sister’s back porch gazing at Tarr Creek, or to walk along the beach, letting the waves tickle my toes. But what about people who live their entire lives far from a significant body of water (mountain or desert dwellers, for example)? What about people who live on or near the water but are still cantankerous, mean, greedy people? I am sure there are such folks.

Nichols’ aim is to make his readers realize how importance (clean) water is to us and how we must take responsibility for preserving and protecting it. “We protect what we love.” He says that the gloom and doom and information overload of overly serious environmentalists is not working. He suggests we would be better off sharing our positive stories of water.

I am not very optimistic about our species’ ability to protect the planet. I hope Nichols is right, and I wish him well.

P.S. Looking at the Blue Mind project web page, I discover that Blue Mind 5 is taking place in Washington, D.C. in 3 weeks!

Posted in Non-fiction, Science | Leave a Comment »

“Death, Grieving, and Journey Into the Past”

Posted by nliakos on April 19, 2015

by E. Z. Sala (in the ebook short story collection Pain and Healing, available at; 2015)

My webhead friend Nergiz sent me this story; she helped publish the book. This story follows Robert Bernardier, an elderly French gentleman whose wife Rosaline suddenly dies. It describes his shock at realizing that Rosaline is dead, how he tries in vain to resuscitate her, his remorse at not having learned CPR properly. It follows him through the first days as a widower, when his sister-in-law and friends frequent the house, and then later when people stop coming so often. It examines his feelings of helplessness and loneliness as depression sets in. The loss of his wife brings back the pain of having lost both of his children as young adults. Eventually, he begins to take care of his house and garden again; these activities begin to heal him. Finally, he undertakes a trip to the place where his son Pierre went missing in action while serving in the military. In his dreams, he promises Rosaline that he will find Pierre’s body and bring it back to France to be buried alongside her; but when he finally finds Pierre, he discovers that bringing him home is not as simple as he had thought. The story is sad, but it shows how grief eventually gives way to purpose and to a return to a life that may be different, but is worth living all the same.

There are four other stories in the book: “Divorce, Destitution, Despair, and All That Begins with D Except Death”; “On a Shore Landed a Man Who Once Dispensed Pain”; “Dreams, Pain, and Soothing”; and “War, the Mother of All.” I have not read those.

Thanks, Nergiz, for this story.



Posted in Fiction | Leave a Comment »