What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Moon That Turns You Back’

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Updated 22 April 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Moon That Turns You Back’

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  • The book contains various poems, some experimental, some soaked in grief, some documenting the mundane, but always with a purpose. She perhaps sums it best when she writes: “I remember so you can forget”

Author: Hala Alyan

The first time I heard Palestinian-American artist Hala Alyan speak was when she acted in the starring role in Lebanese-American filmmaker Darine Hotait’s 2015 short film, “I Say Dust.”

In those 15 minutes of beautifully shot frames, you visually travel through time, space and various emotional states as Alyan leads the way.

Both Hotait and Alyan were deliberate in showcasing their Arab-centric stories of belonging and identity. Alyan’s fierce eyes were kind but intense on the screen; her movement was soft but firm and when she spoke, she left you speechless — but in the best way.

In the film, she was the epitome of poetry, and now you can explore Alyan’s words further with her latest work, a book of poetry titled, “The Moon That Turns You Back,” which was published in March this year.

For the past decade or so, Alyan has explored stories of complexities of identity and the impact of displacement, especially in relation to the Palestinian diaspora. In this latest collection, her writing takes us through Brooklyn, Beirut, Palestine and places that exist in between or in fragmented memories.

Alyan said that she does not have just one middle name, she has six, and not a single one of those are her mother’s. She writes evocative and concize lines such as “A city full of men still has a mother,” and “every time I tell the story, I warp it,” and her poetry is vividly descriptive with lines such as “lipstick like a sliced finger.” She also writes relatable lines such as “I’m terrible at parties, secrets and money,” and “a body is a calendar of breaths.”

The book contains various poems, some experimental, some soaked in grief, some documenting the mundane, but always with a purpose. She perhaps sums it best when she writes: “I remember so you can forget.”

Alyan is an adjunct assistant professor of applied psychology at New York University after earning her doctorate in clinical psychology from Rutgers University. She has also published several novels and well-received essays. She won the Arab American Book Award in 2013 and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize in 2018.

 

 


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Color in Nature’

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Color in Nature’
Updated 25 May 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Color in Nature’

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Color in Nature’

Authors: Justin Marshall, Thomas Cronin, Sonke Johnsen, Ron Douglas, Anya Hurlbert, Jane Boddy and Fabio Cortesi

This beautifully illustrated book unlocks nature’s colorful purpose, revealing how creatures see color as well as shedding light on the important part that it plays in animal behavior, from reproduction and communication to aggression and defense. 


What We Are Reading Today: The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality

What We Are Reading Today: The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality
Updated 24 May 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality

What We Are Reading Today: The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality

What We Are Reading Today: Birds of the Middle East

What We Are Reading Today: Birds of the  Middle East
Updated 23 May 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: Birds of the Middle East

What We Are Reading Today: Birds of the  Middle East

Authors: Richard Porter, Oscar Campbell, & Abdulrahman Al-Sirhan

The Middle East is home to some of the most spectacular birdlife in the world.

It features 180 superb color plates depicting some 900 species and subspecies as well as 646 color distribution maps that show the breeding range for almost every species.


Book Review: ‘The Undiscovered Self’ by Carl Jung

Book Review: ‘The Undiscovered Self’ by Carl Jung
Updated 23 May 2024
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Book Review: ‘The Undiscovered Self’ by Carl Jung

Book Review: ‘The Undiscovered Self’ by Carl Jung
  • Loss of personal responsibility, the author suggests, can lead to the rise of mass movements and, ultimately, totalitarianism

“The Undiscovered Self,” written by Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung in 1957, delivers a warning about the dangers of modern collectivism, arguing that individuals are increasingly losing touch with their true selves.

Loss of personal responsibility, the author suggests, can lead to the rise of mass movements and, ultimately, totalitarianism. 

The book offers a prescription for individual psychological development and moral autonomy as an antidote to society’s collectivist forces.

Jung explains the structure of the psyche, with the conscious ego and much larger subconscious, which contains universal archetypes, as well as personal complexes and shadows that shape our behavior.

The book emphasizes the importance of understanding and integrating the unconscious rather than just relying on the conscious mind.

Jung also explores the notion of “self,” defining “individuation” as the process of integrating the conscious and unconscious to become a whole, individualized person. 

This requires embracing one’s shadow side and personal complexes, not just the socially acceptable persona. 

True individuality and freedom come from this process of self-discovery and self-realization, Jung believes. 

He encourages individuals to take responsibility for their psychological development, a process that involves introspection, self-knowledge, and a willingness to confront the unconscious. 

For additional reading, I would recommend “The Red Book,” which outlines the development of many of Jung’s major theories. 
 


What We Are Reading Today: The World Atlas of Rivers, Estuaries, and Deltas

What We Are Reading Today: The World Atlas of Rivers, Estuaries, and Deltas
Updated 22 May 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: The World Atlas of Rivers, Estuaries, and Deltas

What We Are Reading Today: The World Atlas of Rivers, Estuaries, and Deltas

Authors: Jim Best, Stephen Darby, Luciana Esteves, & Carol Wilson 

From the Congo and the Mekong to the Seine and the Mississippi, Earth’s rivers carve through landscapes before coursing into the world’s oceans through estuaries and deltas.

“The World Atlas of Rivers, Estuaries, and Deltas” takes readers on an unforgettable tour of these dynamic bodies of water, explaining how they function at each stage of their flow.