Llew's Reviews

Archive for June, 2007

The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout

Sunday, June 24th, 2007 by Miss Laura

sociopathnextdoor.jpgI read this non-fiction work on sociopaths to help me better understand the villains in the fantasy series I have been reading. That and because Ben made me. He wanted me to read this book and a graphic novel series wherein one man anally rapes another with a jackhammer. I chose to delve into this one first. Go figure.

Martha Stout, who is a clinical psychologist, specializes in helping people who have suffered from “psychological trauma” which sometimes happens in the form of being manipulated by a sociopath or a person who has absolutely no conscience, no capability to love, and no ability to form real bonds with others. In addition to the infamous sociopaths Ted Bundy and Charles Manson whose sociopath ways cause them to murder and maim, there are many sociopaths who simply go undetected even though they are also manipulating and controlling others, just generally on a smaller scale.

The book is filled with many case studies, and tips on how to detect and how to handle the “next door” sociopath. I’ll spoil the tip on how to handle them – you don’t. You simply cut your losses and run – without associating any more or trying to best the other.

Also, a lot of the suggestions in the Thirteen Rules for Dealing with Sociopaths in Everyday Life are common sense or at least things I naturally do any way. Rule #5 is “Suspect Flattery.” I almost always distrust compliments, especially if egregious. Rule #9 is “Question your tendency to pity too easily.” Sociopaths work through getting others to pity them. If they find themselves trapped or their game coming to an end, they will try to extort you with pity:

“If, instead, you find yourself often pitying someone who consistently hurts you or other people, and who actively campaigns for your sympathy, the chances are close to 100 percent that you are dealing with a sociopath. Related to this – I recommend that you severely challenge your need to be polite in absolutely all situations. … Sociopaths take huge advantage of this automatic courtesy in exploitive situations. Do not be afraid to be unsmiling and calmly to the point.”

I’ve always found that while I always try to be a good person, which I know it’s sometimes safer and wiser to not always be a nice person. Although, I am never overt about this. I’m not a bitch. I’ve been told many times that I’m “too nice” but I’m never really too nice. Not in situations where other people might naturally think I’m cruel. It might be common sense to me because I grew up in circumstances where I learned some things a bit earlier than others.

The book isn’t as paranoia inducing as it sounds, although it does point out that 1 in 25 Americans are sociopaths. It’s just a very easy and interesting to read primer on Sociopaths and how to deal with them, which is handy when statistics say you will most likely know at least one in your life.

His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman

Friday, June 22nd, 2007 by Miss Laura


I finished this series, and I STILL don’t have my own armored bear. CHEATED.

A good side to being behind the times and getting to this series so late is that I could read them all at one time. If I had to have waited for months or years in anticpation for the trifle that book #2 was I would have cut someone in front of their own daemon. “The Subtle Knife” was just a slapped together stepping stone in between two really good books. I was really happy with how the story ended, even though (or maybe because) it wasn’t your usually Fairy Tale/Happily Ever After conclusion.

Before I started, I had heard this series detailed as the “Anti Narnia” which is quite the apt description. At first, I thought I would get annoyed with all of the incredibly obvious parallels but it didn’t turn out to be TOO preachy. It was more than I like, but not insufferable. I still don’t quite understand how it turned into such a bestselling series. It’s OK but I can’t see myself highly recommending it to anyone over something else.

I Consign You And Your Golf Shoes To Lower Wacker Drive

Saturday, June 16th, 2007 by Miss Laura

“I listened to Karen Woo give an explanation of photosynthesis once,’ he said. ‘God only knows why they were discussing photosynthesis. They hung on her every word, like she was a PBS Special. Her explanation didn’t even involve sunlight.– from Then We Came To The End by Joshua Ferris

Before I was a hundred pages in, I had already taken to reading passages out loud to Ben. It’s like a book version of “The Office” and just as hilarious. However, it’s not a cohesive enough story you could really fall into and fall in love with for the plot’s sake. I’m still making Ben read it though, even if it’s just for the fact he will – ever so sadly – be able to relate to it.

Uglies Trilogy by Scott Westerfield

Thursday, June 14th, 2007 by Miss Laura



What a lame-o ending to an otherwise good story and series.

Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

Thursday, June 14th, 2007 by Miss Laura

In honor of Harry Potter coming out I’m focusing most of my reading on YA series. I finally got off my duff and started this trilogy which I should have been done with ages ago. So far, it’s really good!

It was a little slow to begin with, but by the end I was smacking myself that I hadn’t already bought the second book in the series so I could immediately hop into the next novel. Of course, that would be the only time in my life I wanted to plunge myself into a knife, subtle or not.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Thursday, June 14th, 2007 by Miss Laura

A book so sad it was hard not to rip the pages out just to have some freaking tissue.

Who knew there could be a book even more depressing and heart wrenching than the Kite Runner? At least this time I knew better than to read it while in a public place so I wouldn’t be sobbing in front of the masses.

Stolen Child by Keith Donahue

Thursday, June 14th, 2007 by Miss Laura

Good story with a horrible dissatisfying ending that was just… weird.

Actually, let me change that to “Good-ish” story because it was rather slow to get into but I really liked the concept. Parts of the story were just lovely, but not enough to carry the entire tale through.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Thursday, June 14th, 2007 by Miss Laura

Pretty good … for a Mormon.

I knew I finally had to get off my duff to read this one when my teenage niece was talking about how she read it “way back in” like she was a Nam Vet. At least I got it in before I turned 30 – whew.

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