How well do you know what you're thinking?

I write books. I dream characters who really don't exist. I get inside their minds, or they in mine. I mold their mysteries like clay until the story's done. Then I look for a publisher, the books comes out, and I dream of readers who also don't exist.

Even unread, those characters remain quite real to me, as if I really know their worlds, their struggles and pains and rewards. Which kind of begs the question, do I know real people as well as I know them? And how well does anyone know anyone else? Or themself?

Mindwise by Nicholas Epley suggests we all have a sixth sense which we employ in predicting other people's thoughts and behavior. It's an interesting book, though I don't always agree with the experimental results - I found myself coming up with other reasons for behavior, rather than the one being postulated. But that's just me. All the same, it's  full of fascinating, often amusing experiments, and some seriously disturbing statistics. Enjoy with some seriously dark five-star coffee.

In contrast, 99 Creative Wows Words of Wisdom for Business by Randi Brill offers soundbite suggestions on how to read and speak to our own mindset and other people's. It's beautifully presented in single page graphics, well-organized and color-coded. It's also filled with some remarkable apt aphorisms - perfect encouragement for an author in search of readers perhaps. Pleasingly readable, enjoy this with a pleasingly drinkable, lively two-star coffee.

Two Dogs and a Parrot by Joan Chittister uses the author's experience with dogs to illustrate how we can learn what we and others are thinking through relationships with our pets. Learning how wounded pets break through without becoming broken might be a powerful way to see how wounded we ourselves (and our friends) are. Meanwhile... well, there are dogs! Enjoy this balanced blend of animal stories, quiet theology, and intriguing psychology with some well-balanced three-star coffee.

David Bouchier's An Unexpected Life isn't trying to teach readers anything. It's a fascinating memoir that invites readers into the author's mind. The story's told in chapters that read like well-wrought essays, each leading clearly into the next, yet each with its own distinct timeline, location and theme. The author's English, now living in the States. He's older than I, and he doesn't have kids. All the same, I feel like I've sat drinking French wine with him and listening to his tale. We might have swapped memories of Cambridge. He might have encouraged me to find listeners since I'm failing at finding readers. His voice and his sense of humor held me in thrall, so enjoy this one with a seriously smooth, well-balanced three-star coffee.

Then there's The Grandma Syndrome by Judy Greene: a novel with a cleverly disguised lesson, a curious parable perhaps, and an overtly Christian tale that succeeds in conveying points of view without aggressively trying to convert. An eleven-year-old girl needs a grandma to look after her, but gets her high-flying, super-successful, hyper-healthy, slim and aggressively powerful aunt instead. The parable intriguingly invites readers to see how we see each other and how others see us. Points of view are radically changed. And faith--well that's a major part of it, but not the punchline--after all, there might be touches of magic too! Enjoy this intriguing tale with an elegantly complex four-star coffee.

So... to see ourselves as others see us; to see others; to see, or not to see. They were all good books, very different from each other. Enjoy!


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