Quarter Life Poetry by Samantha Jayne – Book Review

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Big thanks to NetGalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

This is the sort of rhythmic verse I’d expect to find composed in the margins of uni lecture material, on the back of bar napkins, or maybe the underside of a pizza box. A collection of musings and grumbles from our generation Y representative, Quarter Life Poetry presents a series of stand-alone quatrains sorted into nine different categories and accompanied by some elementary abstract clip art. With themes like money, food, sex and unemployment, Jayne injects light-hearted amusement into the issues and gripes bearing down on first-world millennials.

These poems are basically short anecdotes written with the aid of a rhyming dictionary and using a ‘Roses are red, Violets are blue…’ template. That’s not to say they don’t tickle a rib:

‘Let us all gather ‘round

as we mourn side by side

to commemorate the fateful day

my metabolism died’ – p. 61

Samantha Jayne makes no pretence about her poetry, using a tone of disbelief to tell us how lazy, poor, bored, lost and helpless she feels. Her voice is sardonic and tinged with early-onset cynicism, making for a topical look at the very real struggles facing today’s young people (and, in fact, anyone who dreads going to work in the morning.

Apparently, Jane started out using social media to share her childish prose, attaching the simple vibrant animations to further promote an aura of regression.

I dont want to adult

Like our poor puppy friend, Quarter Life Poetry tells us why the 24-year-old author doesn’t want to deal with grown-up responsibility. Unemployment is possible, smug couples abound, money is elusive, and dating is a technological nightmare.

I read the whole thing in less than an hour and while certainly no Keats or Hegley, it still made me smile. Student loans + dieting + share housing? This 30 year old can relate (in retrospect only, I assure you).

3/5 Stars

‘The Poet’s Companion’ by K. Addonizio & D. Laux – Brief Review

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A book for poetry lovers, The Poet’s Companion caters for aspiring writers who wish to improve their craft and understand the genre at an advanced level. Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux have taken great care in sectioning individual chapters that let the reader dissect verse and understand a poem’s mechanics. The novice or experienced poet is gently encouraged to experiment with rhythm and word choice and to proactively investigate what constitutes a successful piece.

The authors use clear language and a kind approach to be frank about publishing expectations. Discussion of themes should spark inspiration but, if the instructional chapters fail, the final third holds a series of exercises so that the preceding intricacies can be put into working practice.

I felt that stronger diversity amongst the referenced poets could have taken the learning further and given the book a more universal appeal. But as a writer who naturally gravitates toward poetry, The Poets Companion has deepened my grasp on verse and on what makes a successful poem.

Highly recommended to anyone who loves reading or writing poetry, or to those who are curious about the how’s and whys of its impact.

 

4 Stars.

‘How to Find Fulfilling Work’ by Roman Krznaric – Book Review

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The lowdown:

We all hate our jobs. Well, I hated my job, which is exactly why this book ended up in my handbag. That, and my adoration for The School of Life and anything connected to Alain De Botton. In How to Find Fulfilling Work, Roman Krznaric gives compact advice on how we can use our passions and talents to create a meaningful career and live a simpler existence.

Supporting his advice with statistical data and an historical perspective on the evolution of work, Krznaric asserts that nothing is beyond our reach so long as we consider hybrid careers and direct our potential toward ‘wide achievement’: excelling in multiple areas rather than swallowing the popular notion of specialisation.

The book itself is neatly set into five sections in an attempt to keep a daunting topic easy and forthright; instead of quoting journal articles, examples are made of Hollywood movies and notorious personalities.

What I liked:

I felt less alone in my discontent. The use of case studies helped disprove the idea that something is wrong if we don’t find our work fulfilling. Dissatisfaction at work is widespread and does not discriminate amongst industries or personal temperament.

Exercises in brainstorming empower the reader to think outside the box and break a potentially scary change into manageable baby steps, often by recruiting others to provide suggestions and/or an element of mentorship.

What I didn’t like:

Although the content was reassuring, I felt I was already one step ahead of Krznaric’s ideas. This is possibly just a personal impression due to months of career-change rumination; those just beginning to feel restless may be enlightened by the suggestions on offer.

Also, the exercise that suggested sending a mock personal ad to ten people was beyond my reach. Yes, I could have scraped together some friends and family to throw ideas at me, but I couldn’t get past the fear that they’d think I was circulating chain mail. Again, maybe just me.

Verdict:

For those who have ever wondered if there’s more to life, this pocket-sized manual will prove that there is. Encouraging and written with kindness, How to Find Fulfilling Work is for anyone wanting to get a sense of value and meaning out of their working life. As John Burroughs said, ‘Leap, and the net will appear’.

4/5 Stars

‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking’ – Review

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Social media is currently favouring the introvert, the empath, and the highly-sensitive type, so it’s no surprise that bookshelves are becoming populated with literature exploring these trends.  ‘Quiet’ is a book about the power of introversion, which challenges the Western expectation of ambition and turns to biological and social studies to provide a hefty backing.

Chances are you’ll pick up this book as an introvert looking for self-validation. But what of the reader who identifies as a gregarious extrovert? According to Cain and the multiple studies she cites, an outgoing, chatty extrovert often has less intelligence and originality than those who opt for peace and solitude.

Cain asserts that a show pony may get the attention but the nerdy brainiac will ultimately inherit the earth. She makes introversion so appealing that I suspect many readers will come away convinced it defined them to a T, relieved that, finally, someone understands them, whether this is true or not.

The audience seems to be the savvy, upper middle class US business person.  Many of the discussions focus on the implications of introversion in the workplace and while the book employs examples to back the arguments, I found it too limited in its corporate focus.

Cain only seemed to interview wealthy, successful types, defining them by their job roles and career trajectories. This consistent use of famous and successful figures only serves to alienate those sensitive readers who already feel they aren’t up to scratch. I’d personally have liked some gender-based discussion – a large portion of CEO’s and interviewees were male – with more focus on relationship interplay or motherhood to potentially expand the dialogue further.

‘Quiet’ might have lost me quickly and this would have been a shame considering the more personal, human element which evolves in the final third. It was here I identified why I felt so uncomfortable at school and why I had to use excessive force when dragging myself to nightclubs ten years ago.  According to Cain, the key is finding your ‘sweet spot’, that precarious balance that meets your need for alone time with your desire to be with others and get the job done.

‘Quiet’ outlines what it means to be born with an introverted temperament. It certainly allowed me to understand myself better but, for those seeking information outside of the work arena, you’d best not rely on this book alone.

3/5 Stars.