The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel. Third in the series that began with "Wolf Hall", about the life of Thomas Cromwell, who was a senior official for Henry VIII.
I really liked the first two, but struggled with this one for most of it. The book teases a bit with references to Mary and Elizabeth, but you know Cromwell's not going to get to that so it feels like not enough of interest is happening. The book is a bit too long to work as a mood piece. The last few chapters are more interesting as they deal with Cromwell's fall.
Overall the trilogy is a great portrayal of a fascinating man, but this entry isn't the strongest.
What I'm Reading 2
24 Hours in Ancient Athens by Philip Matyszak. Part of a series dealing with everyday life in various historical times and places. Each hour of the day deals with a different character and tells you a bit about a different aspect of the city, telling it as if it's a story.
Pretty good: it's light but fascinating reading and I was able to learn quite a few new things even though I'm reasonably familiar with the history of the period.
Slight downside is that the footnotes don't always tell you about the historical doubt over some of the things mentioned. For isntance there's apparently some doubt about whether rhaphanidosis was ever a real punishment.
What I'm Reading 3
The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel van der Kolk. Well-known book by a psychotherapist about trauma. He focuses on how psychological trauma has an impact and is expressed by the body. He says that elevated states of stress take a toll on the body. He claims that sometimes traumatized people are unaware of their emotions and experience them as physical aches and pains. He is also a firm believer in suppressed and recovered memories being fairly common.
A large part of the book is taken up with various therapies and how they can help, in particular Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) but also a variety of other therapies from yoga to theater. He also criticises the modern focus on drugs instead of these kind of therapies.
I wanted to like the book a lot more but I feel a bit skeptical of some of this. Suppressed/recovered memories are controversaial and the majority opinion seems to be that they are rare. Van de Kolk seems more of a practitioner and less familiar with research: e.g. he cites being falselu rejected for a lack of prospective studies and gives an example of one, which is actually a longitudinal not a prospective study. He describes all these therapies with anecdotes of them being highly successful, but I wonder if they're all rejected because of a prejudice towards drug therapy, or whether they just don't workt that well when studied.
Overall, interesting for its anecdotes and ideas, but I'm not totally convinced.
As usual, put on some weight over the holidays, losing it now, only about a pound to go. Cutting down on the running a bit, trying to substitute some exercise bike sessions instead. Our office put in a mini gym with some fancy bikes and treadmills, but hardly anyone seems to be using it except me, even in January. I think the treadmills are a bit pointless given that we're close to a huge park that's great for running.
Video. Energies throw a party.
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