For the Love of Books

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”
Charles William Eliot

Check out the New York Times article, “What You’ll Be Reading in 2017”  here.

heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 1 of 7: Take the time to read

2017

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It’s a new year, ladies and gentlemen!
May it be a good one for all of us!
This year, the inspiration for my New Year’s “Revelations” stems from some of the sage words and wisdom of the great philosophers  and literary figures of all time.
I hope that some or all of these revelations resonate with you.

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Take the time to curl up in a comfortable chair and read a book. Read, not skim. A book, not a tablet or computer screen.  Turn your phone off, close your computer and let yourself be transported into a beautiful piece of literature, a gripping bestseller, an interesting biography, or a thought-provoking work of non-fiction.  Reading is quite simply the best therapy in the world. It’s right up there with music, dance and art. Therapy aside, reading helps you to relax and de-stress.  And, of course, there is something to be said about learning new things, opening up your mind and… actually stimulating your mind.

 “The art of reading is in great part that of acquiring a better understanding of life from one’s encounter with it in a book.”

André Maurois

I have always been a bookworm. As a child, when my friends would knock on our door and ask my mother whether I was coming out to play, I would tell them that I was in the middle of a good chapter and would come out when finished. Several hours later, I would join them and smile sheepishly as they rolled their eyes at me.

“I consider as lovers of books not those who keep their books hidden in their storage chests and never handle them, but those who, by nightly as well as daily, use them, thumb them, batter them, wear them out… who fill out all the margins with annotations of many kinds, and who prefer the marks of a fault they have erased to a neat copy full of faults.”

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A decade ago, I used to read at least three books a week and as 2016 drew to an end, I realized that I had read only 20 or so books throughout the year. For me, that is unacceptable! It’s also simply not in character. Clearly my priorities were all wrong. This will change in 2017.

So I encourage each of you to pick up a good book and take the time to savour each word. Then pick up another.

Happy reading!

P.S. In case you’re wondering, this is not a photo of me. I hail from the Baby Boomer generation. This is a photo of a young Millennial who is clearly enjoying a good read.

10 Great Books to Read this Summer

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Summertime is that wonderful season when everything slows down just a tad. It’s when all the bookworms come out of the woodwork –– to grab that enticing novel, inspiring non-fiction or juicy biography that they finally have the time to read. Work attire is hurriedly replaced by t-shirts, shorts and flip-flops.  And with tall, ice-cold glasses of their favorite libation, they curl up comfortably and begin their summer reads.

These are my (heatherfromthegrove) top picks – all sitting on my bookshelf, waiting to be read. I just poured myself a glass of white wine and grabbed a book I’ve been dying to read: And the Weak Suffer What They Must? – by Yanis Varoufakis. Now, off to my comfy chair on the patio…

Enjoy!

– Heather

(PS – Hover your mouse over the book titles and authors’ names to get the link to the Amazon and Author’s Bio URLs)

FICTION

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 1. All the Birds in the Sky – by Charlie Jane Anders

“Patricia is a witch who can communicate with animals. Laurence is a mad scientist and inventor of the two-second time machine. As teenagers they gravitate towards one another, sharing in the horrors of growing up weird, but their lives take different paths…When they meet again as adults, Laurence is an engineering genius trying to save the world-and live up to his reputation-in near-future San Francisco. Meanwhile, Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the magically gifted, working hard to prove herself to her fellow magicians and secretly repair the earth’s ever growing ailments.As they attempt to save our future, Laurence and Patricia’s shared past pulls them back together. And though they come from different worlds, when they collide, the witch and the scientist will discover that maybe they understand each other better than anyone.”

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 2. The Man Without a Shadow – by Joyce Carol Oates

“In 1965, neuroscientist Margot Sharpe meets the attractive, charismatic Elihu Hoopes—the “man without a shadow”—whose devastated memory, unable to store new experiences or to retrieve the old, will make him the most famous and most studied amnesiac in history. Over the course of the next thirty years, Margot herself becomes famous for her experiments with E. H.—and inadvertently falls in love with him, despite the ethical ambiguity of their affair, and though he remains forever elusive and mysterious to her, haunted by mysteries of the past….”

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 3. They May Not Mean To, But They Do – by Cathleen Schine

A “hilarious new novel about aging, family, loneliness, and love.”

“The Bergman clan has always stuck together, growing as it incorporated in-laws, ex-in-laws, and same-sex spouses. But families don’t just grow, they grow old, and the clan’s matriarch, Joy, is not slipping into old age with the quiet grace her children, Molly and Daniel, would have wished. When Joy’s beloved husband dies, Molly and Daniel have no shortage of solutions for their mother’s loneliness and despair, but there is one challenge they did not count on: the reappearance of an ardent suitor from Joy’s college days. And they didn’t count on Joy herself, a mother suddenly as willful and rebellious as their own kids…”

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 4. Unspeakable Things – by Kathleen Spivack

“A wild, erotic novel—a daring debut—from the much-admired, award-winning poet, author of Flying Inland, A History of Yearning, and With Robert Lowell and His Circle: Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Elizabeth Bishop, Stanley Kunitz, and Others. A strange, haunting novel about survival and love in all its forms; about sexual awakenings and dark secrets; about European refugee intellectuals who have fled Hitler’s armies with their dreams intact and who have come to an elusive new (American) “can do, will do” world they cannot seem to find. A novel steeped in surreal storytelling and beautiful music that transports its half-broken souls—and us—to another realm of the senses.”

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 5. Shelter – by Jung Yum

“You can never know what goes on behind closed doors.

Kyung Cho is a young father burdened by a house he can t afford. For years, he and his wife, Gillian, have lived beyond their means. Now their debts and bad decisions are catching up with them, and Kyung is anxious for his family s future….

… As “Shelter” veers swiftly toward its startling conclusion, Jung Yun leads us through dark and violent territory, where, unexpectedly, the Chos discover hope. “Shelter” is a masterfully crafted debut novel that asks what it means to provide for one’s family and, in answer, delivers a story as riveting as it is profound.”

NON-FICTION

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6. Evicted (Poverty and Profit in the American City) – by Matthew Desmond

“From Harvard sociologist and MacArthur “Genius” Matthew Desmond, a landmark work of scholarship and reportage that will forever change the way we look at poverty in America.”
 
“In this brilliant, heartbreaking book, Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed by a heroin addiction. Lamar, a man with no legs and a neighborhood full of boys to look after, tries to work his way out of debt. Vanetta participates in a botched stickup after her hours are cut. All are spending almost everything they have on rent, and all have fallen behind…”

TheBook 7. The Book – by Keith Houston

“We may love books, but do we know what lies behind them? In The Book, Keith Houston reveals that the paper, ink, thread, glue, and board from which a book is made tell as rich a story as the words on its pages―of civilizations, empires, human ingenuity, and madness. In an invitingly tactile history of this 2,000-year-old medium, Houston follows the development of writing, printing, the art of illustrations, and binding to show how we have moved from cuneiform tablets and papyrus scrolls to the hardcovers and paperbacks of today. Sure to delight book lovers of all stripes with its lush, full-color illustrations, The Book gives us the momentous and surprising history behind humanity’s most important―and universal―information technology.”

WhenBreath8. When Breath Becomes Air – by Paul Kalanithi

“At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. 

When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.”

“I guarantee that finishing this book and then forgetting about it is simply not an option. . . . Part of this book’s tremendous impact comes from the obvious fact that its author was such a brilliant polymath. And part comes from the way he conveys what happened to him—passionately working and striving, deferring gratification, waiting to live, learning to die—so well. None of it is maudlin. Nothing is exaggerated. As he wrote to a friend: ‘It’s just tragic enough and just imaginable enough.’ And just important enough to be unmissable.”— Janet MaslinThe New York Times

cityofthorns9. City of Thorns (Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp) – by Ben Rawlence

“To the charity workers, Dadaab refugee camp is a humanitarian crisis; to the Kenyan government, it is a ‘nursery for terrorists’; to the western media, it is a dangerous no-go area; but to its half a million residents, it is their last resort.”

“In City of Thorns, Rawlence interweaves the stories of nine individuals to show what life is like in the camp and to sketch the wider political forces that keep the refugees trapped there. Rawlence combines intimate storytelling with broad socio-political investigative journalism, doing for Dadaab what Katherinee Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers did for the Mumbai slums. Lucid, vivid and illuminating, City of Thorns is an urgent human story with deep international repercussions, brought to life through the people who call Dadaab home.”

Varou10. And the Weak Suffer What They Must? (Europe’s Crisis and America’s Economic Future) – by Yanis Varoufakis

“A titanic battle is being waged for Europe’s integrity and soul, with the forces of reason and humanism losing out to growing irrationality, authoritarianism, and malice, promoting inequality and austerity. The whole world has a stake in a victory for rationality, liberty, democracy, and humanism.”

“Varoufakis delivers a fresh look at the history of Europe’s crisis and America’s central role in it. He presents the ultimate case against austerity, proposing concrete policies for Europe that are necessary to address its crisis and avert contagion to America, China, and the rest of the world. With passionate, informative, and at times humorous prose, he warns that the implosion of an admittedly crisis–ridden and deeply irrational European monetary union should, and can, be avoided at all cost.”

Happy reading! 

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Cat and Book photos via pixabay.com.

Books That Make You Think

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If you are in the mood to read a book (or two) that will make you think, give you some new perspective, and maybe even answer some of those existential questions that have been lurking in the corners of your mind…. then you may want to get yourself a copy of any one (or all) of these seven books, listed below.

Caveat:
If you are looking for a light summer read, these will not fit the bill.
They are not fiction. They are not self-help books.
They are, however, very interesting, thought-provoking works of non-fiction.

The Road to Character
by David Brooks

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heatherfromthegrove’s Rating:

5

About the Book:
“In The Road to Character, David Brooks focuses on the deeper values that should inform our lives. Responding to what he calls the culture of the Big Me, which emphasizes external success, Brooks challenges us, and himself, to rebalance the scales between our “résumé virtues” — achieving wealth, fame, and status — and our “eulogy virtues,” those that exist at the core of our being: kindness, bravery, honesty, or faithfulness, focusing on what kind of relationships we have formed.”
About the Author:
David Brooks is a bestselling author and an op-ed columnist for The New York Times.  He appears regularly on “PBS NewsHour,” NPR’s “All Things Considered” and NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He teaches at Yale University and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The Theft of Memory
Losing My Father. One Day at a Time.
by Jonathan Kozol

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heatherfromthegrove’s Rating: 

5

About the Book:
“Jonathan Kozol tells the story of his father’s life and work as a nationally noted specialist in disorders of the brain and his astonishing ability, at the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, to explain the causes of his sickness and then to narrate, step-by-step, his slow descent into dementia.”
About the Author:
Jonathan Kozol is an American writer, educator and activist – best known for his books on public education and his fifty years of work among our nation’s poorest and most vulnerable children.

Them
 Adventures with Extremists
by Jon Ronson

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heatherfromthegrove’s Rating:

4 stars

About the Book:
“As a journalist and a Jew, Ronson was often considered one of “Them” but he had no idea if their meetings actually took place. Was he just not invited?  Them takes us across three continents and into the secret room…  Ronson’s investigations, by turns creepy and comical, reveal some alarming things about the looking-glass world of “us” and “them.”  Them is a deep and fascinating look at the lives and minds of extremists.”
About the Author:
Welsh journalist, documentary filmmaker and bestselling author of  The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry and So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.

Why Does the World Exist?
An Existential Detective Story
by Jim Holt

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heatherfromthegrove’s Rating:

5

About the Book:
“This runaway bestseller, which has captured the imagination of critics and the public alike, traces our latest efforts to grasp the origins of the universe. Holt adopts the role of cosmological detective, traveling the globe to interview a host of celebrated scientists, philosophers, and writers, “testing the contentions of one against the theories of the other” (Jeremy Bernstein, Wall Street Journal).”
About the Author:
Jim Holt is an American philosopher, author and essayist. He has contributed to The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, The American Scholar, and Slate.

Gotta Find a Home
Conversations with Street People
Book 1 of 4
by Dennis Cardiff

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heatherfromthegrove’s Rating:

5

About the Book:
“Dennis Cardiff has been involved with street people since 2010, when he began to reach out, on his own, to some of the people without homes who he encountered in his daily life. In his new book, he documents conversations he’s had with them over the past 4 years and, in the process, gives those who are often robbed of their humanity a human face. Written in diary form by month, and including some of Cardiff’s own poetry, the author chronicles the lives of people who are often ignored, feared or reviled.”
About the Author:
Dennis Cardiff is a Canadian writer, author, poet and artist. 

Nickel and Dimed 
On (Not) Getting By in America
by Barbara Ehrenreich

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heatherfromthegrove’s Rating:

4.5 stars

About the Book:
“Millions of Americans work full time, year round, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that a job — any job — can be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 an hour? To find out, Ehrenreich left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find, and accepted whatever jobs she was offered. Moving from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, she worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing-home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. She lived in trailer parks and crumbling residential motels. Very quickly, she discovered that no job is truly “unskilled,” that even the lowliest occupations require exhausting mental and muscular effort. She also learned that one job is not enough; you need at least two if you want to live indoors.”
About the Author:
Barbara Ehrenreich is an American author and political activist.

In Defense of a Liberal Education
by Fareed Zakaria

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heatherfromthegrove’s Rating:

4.5 stars

About the Book:
” Fareed Zakaria argues for a renewed commitment to the world’s most valuable educational tradition. Zakaria eloquently expounds on the virtues of a liberal arts education – how to write clearly, how to express yourself convincingly, and how to think analytically. He turns our leaders’ vocational argument on its head. American routine manufacturing jobs continue to get automated or outsourced, and specific vocational knowledge is often outdated within a few years. Engineering is a great profession, but key value-added skills you will also need are creativity, lateral thinking, design, communication, storytelling, and, more than anything, the ability to continually learn and enjoy learning –precisely the gifts of a liberal education.”
About the Author:
Fareed Zakaria is the Emmy-nominated host of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, contributing editor for The Atlantic, a columnist for the Washington Post, and best-selling author of The Post-American World and The Future of Freedom.

Help Fight Hunger

“The war against hunger is truly mankind’s war of liberation. “
— John F. Kennedy

My objective for writing  Casualties of The (Recession) Depression, was to raise awareness that, despite the rhetoric we hear (that we are in a “recovery”), millions of American middle-class people continue to experience severe economic hardship and challenges.  Hunger, homelessness and joblessness are problems that are not just relegated to the chronically poor — but to a growing number of middle-class men and women, as well.  The threat of  this class extinction is very real.

In this country and in this century, it is abominable that over 50 million people live in food-insecure households (over 19 million are children). 

Well-respected non-profit organizations, such as Feeding America and (on a global level) The World Food Programme (a division of the United Nations), make it their mission to fight hunger…  one person, one household, and one community at a time.

But, they can’t do it alone.

I decided to launch a 3½-week Help Fight Hunger campaign – beginning tomorrow (August 14) at 8:00 AM (EDT) and ending on Saturday, September 7, 2013, at 5:00 PM (EDT) —  For every $20 book purchased directly from my website, I will be donating $5 from the proceeds of each book sale to either Feeding America or The World Food Programme (the purchaser chooses).

Please read the details below (click on the picture to zoom in  for a better read).

It’s a start…

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Relax and Recharge Your Batteries

Relaxing and reading at the beach

“It is both relaxing and invigorating to occasionally set aside the worries of life, seek the company of a friendly book…from the reading of ‘good books’ there comes a richness of life that can be obtained in no other way.” 
― Gordon B. Hinckley

It’s time to turn off the computer and recharge.  What better way to enjoy a summer weekend than to  soak up some sun and relax outdoors with that book you’ve been meaning to read for some time?  For me, it’s been “one of those weeks” and so, I think I’ll heed my own advice.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Cheers,

heatherfromthegrove

 

Image via greenallianceblog.org.uk.

 

More summer reading

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“I guess you can call me “old fashioned”. I prefer the book with the pages that you can actually turn. Sure, I may have to lick the tip of my fingers so that the pages don’t stick together when I’m enraptured in a story that I can’t wait to get to the next page. But nothing beats the sound that an actual, physical book makes when you first crack it open or the smell of new, fresh printed words on the creamy white paper of a page turner.” 

― Felicia Johnson 

Well, three weeks of poetry, fiction and non-fiction have come and gone, here at heatherfromthegrove. I hope you found the selections interesting and perhaps even added them to your own summer reading list.

Below, are just a few more for you to consider.  I’ve listed them by genre and category  (only the book title, author and thumbnail book cover). Please scroll slowly, all the way down.

Happy reading!

Cheers,

Heather

POETRY:

living-things-collected-poems-anne-porter-paperback-cover-artLiving Things: Collected Poems (2006), by Anne Porter

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Phenomenal Women:  Four Poems Celebrating Women, by Maya Angelou

FICTION:

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The English Girl, by Daniel Silva

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman

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Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card

NON-FICTION:

Category – Cookbooks

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Greek Revival: Cooking for Life, by Patricia Moore-Pastides

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Jerusalem: A Cookbook, by Yotam Ottolenghi

Category – Memoir

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Bossypants, by Tina Fey

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To Heaven and Back: A Doctor’s Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again: A True Story, by Mary C. Neal, M.D.

Category – History > North America > Canada

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Along the Shore: Rediscovering Toronto’s Waterfront Heritage, by  M. Jane Fairburn

Category – Mainstream Political and Economic Commentary  > United States

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Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of Descent, by Edward Luce

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The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future, by Joseph E. Stiglitz

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Casualties of the (Recession) Depression, by Heather Joan Marinos

Category – Mainstream Economic Commentary  > International

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BreakoutNations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles, by Ruchir Sharma

Image (at the very top) via meetup.com.

heatherfromthegrove’s non-fiction spotlight for today: “Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell

♦ ♦ ♦

Monday, July 22 – Saturday, July 27

NON-FICTION

 @ heatherfromthegrove!

Enjoy some good summer reading.

♦ ♦ ♦

 outliers

“Do you see the consequences of the way we have chosen to think about success? Because we so profoundly personalize success, we miss opportunities to lift others onto the top rung…We are too much in awe of those who succeed and far too dismissive of those who fail. And most of all, we become much too passive. We overlook just how large a role we all play—and by “we” I mean society—in determining who makes it and who doesn’t.”

Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success


True to form, bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell (Blink and Tipping Point) takes us on an intellectual expedition into the realm of high achievers – über-successful people like Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and the phenomenon known as “The Beatles.”  An “outlier” is, in Gladwell’s own words, “a scientific term to describe things or phenomena that lie outside normal experience.” In the context of his book, outliers “are the men and women who, for one reason or another, are so accomplished and so extraordinary and so outside of ordinary experience that they are as puzzling to the rest of us as a cold day in August.

Dispelling the notion that extremely successful people attain success because they make it happen –through their own smarts, tenacious drive, willingness to hustle and, good old-fashioned hard work,  Gladwell points out that there are many extremely intelligent, highly gifted, hardworking people for whom success has been an elusive mistress. Therefore, the common dogma of “You are the author of your own destiny. You make your own success.”  does not apply in many cases. In this book, Gladwell asks us to shift our focus from what successful people are like,  to where successful people come from.  He argues that one’s culture, family background and upbringing play a significant role in the makeup of a high achiever.

Clear, witty and intelligent, Outliers offers a new perspective on what it takes to achieve extreme success. Granted, success does rely – to a great extent – on individual effort. However, what should not be ignored is the degree to which outside factors, such as people and circumstances, affect a person’s success or failure.  Therefore, we (as a society) have the ability to help shape people’s lives, and  (if directed in the right way and with the best intentions) for the better.