12 Questions That Will Change Your Life

42andpointless

The instinct is to look for answers, but the truth is that questions that teach us most. It can also be that the rhetorical questions—the ones that don’t even seem to have answers—that push and push the hardest. Who do you think you are? What does all this mean? Why? Why? Why?

The right question at the right time can change the course of a life, can still a turbulent mind, or heal an angry heart. While every situation can generate its own, there are twelve questions, I think, that deserve to be asked not just once but many times over the course of a lifetime, some even many times over the course of the day. I have gathered them from some of the wisest philosophers, most incisive thinkers, greatest leaders and most awesome badasses that ever lived. I’m not saying I know the answer to any of them, but I can say there is value in letting them challenge you. If you let them. If you let them do their work on you—and let them change you.

Start now by asking:

Who Do You Spend Time With? Goethe would say “Tell me who you spend time with and I will tell you who you are.” Who we know and what we do that influences more than any other factor, who we will become. Because what you do puts you around people, and the people you’re around affects what you do. Think about your friends and colleagues: do they inspire you, validate you, or drag you down? We seem to understand that a young kid who spends time with kids who don’t want to go anywhere in life, probably isn’t going to go anywhere in life. What we understand less is that an adult who spends time with other adults who tolerate crappy jobs, or unhappy lifestyles is going to find themselves making similar choices. Same goes for what you read, what you watch, what you think about. Your life comes to resemble its environment (Ben Hardy calls this the proximity effect). So choose your surroundings wisely.

Is This In My Control? Epictetus says that the chief task of the philosopher is to make the distinction between what is in their control and what is not—what is up to us and what is not up to us? We waste incredible amounts of time on the latter and leave so many opportunities on the table by mislabeling the former. Our actions, our thoughts, our feelings, these are up to us. Other people, the weather, external events, these are not. But here’s where it comes full circle: our responses to other people, the weather, external events are in our control. Making this distinction will make you happier, make you stronger and make you more successful if only because it concentrates your resources in the places where they matter.

What Does Your Ideal Day Look Like? If you don’t know what your ideal day looks like, how are you ever going to make decisions or plans for ensuring that you actually get to experience them on a regular basis? It’s important to take an inventory of the most enjoyable and satisfying days of your life. What did you do? Why did you like them? Now be sure that your job, personal life, even the place you’ve chosen to live takes you towards these, not away from them. If you don’t want an office, don’t set up an office. I run my company remotely. If you enjoy being in harness and that’s what makes you feel good, then you’ll probably need something that has a lot of responsibilities and set requirements. If you enjoy influence more than material success, then make sure you pick something that allows for that. If you’re a quiet person, then you need a lifestyle that will let you be quiet—not one that forces you to be constantly not yourself. If you thrive on attention and collaboration, then pick accordingly. If you want to live in the same place for a long time, maybe buy a house. If you don’t—God, please don’t. And on and on and on.

To Be Or To Do? One of the best strategists of the last century, John Boyd, would ask the promising young acolytes under him: “To be or to do? Which way will you go?” That is, will you choose to fall in love with the image of how success looks like or you focus on a higher purpose? Will you pick obsessing over your title, number of fans, size of paycheck or on real, tangible accomplishment? He said that in life there is a roll call and it sorts people by their answer to this question, the doers and those who simply pretend. Which will you be? Which have you been?

If I Am Not For Me, Who Is? If I Am Only For Me, Who Am I? The alternative translation of that last part is “If I am only only for me, what am I?” The answer is “the worst.” The question comes from Hillel the Elder (also happens to be a favorite quote of Reid Hoffman, the venture capitalist). It doesn’t make you a bad person to want to be remembered. To want to make it to the top. To provide for yourself and your family. But if this is all you want it is a problem. There is a balance. Think of someone like General George Marshall, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for the Marshall Plan, who had the same traits that everyone has— ego, self-​interest, pride, dignity, ambition—but they were “tempered by a sense of humility and selflessness.” When he was practically offered the command of the troops on D-Day he told President Roosevelt: “The decision is yours, Mr. President; my wishes have nothing to do with the matter.” It came to be that Eisenhower led the invasion and performed with excellence, Marshall’s opportunity to change history came soon after—winning the peace prize and saving Europe as Secretary of State.

What Am I Missing By Choosing To Worry or Be Afraid? As Gavin de Becker writes in The Gift of Fear, “When you worry, ask yourself, ‘What am I choosing to not see right now?’ What important things are you missing because you chose worry over introspection, alertness or wisdom?” Another way of putting it: Does getting upset provide you with more options? Obstacles in life make us emotional, but the only way we’ll survive or overcome them is by keeping those distracting emotions in check—if we can keep steady no matter what happens, no matter how much external events may fluctuate. The Greeks had a word for this: apatheia. It’s the kind of calm equanimity that comes with the absence of irrational or extreme emotions. And so when you find yourself indulging in those emotions, one way to get yourself back on track is simply by reminding yourself of the cost they incur: That you’re missing something by being nervous, scared, or anxious. That you’re taking your eye off the ball to do it. Can you afford that? Probably not.

Am I Doing My Job? The three-word command from Bill Belichick, Nick Saban, Sean Payton, Jason Garrett: Do Your Job. The last thing the great John Wooden would say to his players in the locker room before a game was, “Well, I’ve done my job.” So the question is: Are you doing yours? Do you even know what that job is? It’s important to remember that we can be very busy—exhaustingly busy—and still not be doing our job. We can be caught up in the things that don’t matter, we can be interfering and encroaching on someone else’s job, we can be just plain procrastinating. All these things keep us working—but not on the job that actually matters.

What Is The Most Important Thing? If you don’t know what the most important thing is to you, how do you know if you’re putting it first? How do you know if you’re taking the right steps to get it. Maybe the most important thing to you is family. Awesome, so that’s your priority. What it means is that not only do you have to start measuring yourself by family-related metrics, but you have to stop comparing yourself to people with different priorities. Maybe money is the most important thing to you. That’s perfectly fine. Know that and own it—as Michael Lewis writes, the problem is the lying to yourself. You have to know and own whatever it is. Only then can you understand what matters and what doesn’t. Only then can you say no—can you opt out of stupid races that don’t matter, or exist. Only then is it easy to ignore “successful” people, because most of the time they aren’t—at least relative to you, and often even to themselves. Only then you can develop the quiet confidence that Seneca called euthymia—“the belief that you’re on the right path and not led astray by the many tracks which cross yours of people who are hopelessly lost.”

Who Is This For? If you’re making something, selling something, trying to reach people you have to be able to answer this question. It is shocking how many entrepreneurs, writers, salesman, even politicians never bother to stop and go: Who the hell is my audience here? The result is that the message is out of tune or the wrong group is targeted (and failure usually follows). Every creative must stop and really think about who their audience is. What do these people want? What do they need? What value am I offering them? Don’t try to get lucky. Don’t follow your hunch. Get it right. Ask the question, make sure the answer is clear.

Does This Actually Matter? The reason that wise people never let the very real fact of their mortality slip too far from their mind (memento mori) is because it helps them ask this question: Given the shortness of life, does this thing I’m thinking about, worrying about, fighting about, throwing myself into even fucking matter? Sadly, the answer is usually no. We want to ask ourselves this question before we throw good time after bad, before we waste more life than we have to. “You could leave life right now,” Marcus Aurelius reminded himself, “Let that determine what you do and say and think.” In light of that, does this thing you’re so worked up about actually matter? As Stephen Colbert, a man who has experienced unimaginable tragedy has recounted, “Momentary disappointments can be seen,’ as my mother used to say when we had a heart-breaker, ‘in the light of eternity. This moment is nothing in the light of eternity,’ and that opens you up to the next moment if you don’t put too much weight on the moment where you are failing right now.”

Will This Be Alive Time or Dead Time? Early on in my career I had a pivotal conversation with author Robert Greene. I was working full-time at a really good job but planning my next move, saving my money and thinking about what I might do next. I told him I wanted to write a book one day, but I wasn’t sure what, how or when or what about. He told me, Ryan, there are two types of time: Dead time—where we are just waiting and Alive time—where we are learning and active and leveraging. And then he left it there with me to decide which I would choose. Alive time or Dead Time? So let that question catch you the next time you find yourself sitting on your hands or goofing off as you wait. Let it jolt you back into line. Pick up a book, pick up a pen and get back to work. Resist the temptation to get distracted with silly politics or wanderlust. Make the most of every moment as you prepare for the next move or the next event. If you want to be productive, be fully alive.

Is This Who I Want To Be? Our mind has the cunning ability to make the distinction between what we do and who we are. The problem is that this is complete nonsense. You can’t be a good person if your actions are consistently bad. You can’t be a hardworking person if you take every shortcut you can. It doesn’t matter that you say you love someone, it only matters if you show that you love them. Remember Cheryl Strayed’s line: “In your twenties you’re in the process of becoming who you are, so you might as well not be an asshole.” This is true for life itself. You are what you do—so ask yourself whenever you’re doing something: Is this reflective of the person I want to be? That I see myself to be? How we do anything is how we do everything. It is who we are. So ask this question about every action, thought and word. Because it adds up in a way that no amount of self-image or belief ever will.  

**

Last question. Sort of. It comes from the great Viktor Frankl, the psychotherapist who survived the Auschwitz and wrote many beautiful books. He tried, as best he could, to try to address that perennial question that every philosopher and hungry young person has struggled with: What is the meaning of life? Frankl struggled with this question too, surely the horrors of a concentration camp and the loss of one’s entire existence will do that to you. But he found that the answer was simple, though there was a problem how the question was posed. You see, he said, it is not us who get to demand of the world, “What is the meaning of life?” Rather, he said, life is demanding that we answer the question with the actions and decisions we make. That we create meaning in our choices and our beliefs. I think we create it in doing our best to challenge ourselves with the questions above:

What am I for?

What is my job?

Who do I want to be?

What’s up to me?

What does a good day look like?

Some are simpler than others, sure, but the answers rarely are—and the act of asking is the most important thing.

Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/ryan-holiday/2017/09/12-questions-that-will-change-your-life/

4 Creepy Things That Secretly Control Your Personality

Hey, did you know that your thoughts can make brain tumors grow faster? Your mind is made of meat that is arranged in precisely such a way as to not know it is meat. This is why so much of your personality is dictated by seemingly random nonsense you’re not even aware of. Such as …

Whispering: Hey, David Wong’s new novel — the third in the NYT bestselling John Dies At The End series — is FINALLY OUT NOW.

4

Your Fear Of Germs Determines Your Politics (And Maybe Everything Else)

Go listen to literally anyone talk about the dangers of foreigners, minorities, or gays, and count the seconds until they either compare them to a disease or simply accuse them all of having/spreading diseases.

The Guardian

Buzzfeed

Liberty GB

This is going to be one of those “Now that you see it, you can’t unsee it” situations. It sounds ridiculous at first, then starts to become grossly obvious the more you look around. We referenced a study a while back in which scientists could get people to be less racist merely by washing their hands first. At the time, that seemed to me like one of those oddball results, like the one that found you can make a person smarter by having them wear a lab coat. But no, it turns out it was but a glimpse into the dark, swirling demon lurking within the soul of humanity: our primitive fear of germs.

The theory says that over the centuries, certain people and groups evolved with a higher paranoia toward infections, due to living in regions/climates where that sort of thing was more of a threat. Meeting another tribe thus meant encountering diseases you had no immunity to, and to this day, their descendants will instinctively be more untrustworthy of other cultures and tightly regulate “unclean” behavior. In groups, they form societies that are fiercely nationalistic and insist on flamboyant outward displays of such (like, say, Confederate flags on pickup trucks) to signal to one another that they’re “safe.” They also enforce strict sexual morality (to prevent the spread of STDs). Over time, they tend to gravitate toward dictatorships, submitting to the strongman promising to protect them from the contaminated outside world.

Hey, did you know Hitler’s rise occurred right after the Spanish flu ravaged Europe? And that he was comparing the Jews to disease pretty much from Day One?

Experts say that the rise of democracy and progressive ideas in general can be attributed to science conquering many of the infectious diseases that were dominating our decision-making up to then. Still, those habits are passed down through both genes and culture (particularly in warmer climates), and it’s easy to see it today. You can hook conservatives and liberals up to a brain scan, and the conservatives react more strongly to disgusting images, even if they insist that stuff doesn’t bother them. Other studies show that right-wingers tend to be more obsessive-compulsive, feeling a unending urge to purge their surroundings of disorder.

But wait, there’s more! A recent study found that belief in a vengeful god tends to make people more cooperative toward strangers. This, they theorize, helped primitive societies expand, overcoming the natural mistrust they had for one another. Now open up your Bible and count the number of times God punishes a society of unbelievers by unleashing a plague. (“We must cooperate under the same rules, or else we both will get infected!”)

Now check out how we remain obsessed with the concept of an apocalyptic world-ending plague to this day, even though such a thing would be all but impossible in reality. (Note how everyone shat their pants at the mere mention of the word “Ebola.”) In pop culture, it usually comes in the form of post-apocalyptic fiction like The Walking Dead. You know, that show in which our heroic tribe of survivors continually runs from the infected, until they meet another tribe and find out they can’t trust them? A show that exploded in popularity right when America was in the middle of a panic about globalization?

That’s right, the fear of germs dominates our entire culture from the ground up, but people still don’t think twice about eating at buffets. THAT SNEEZE GUARD ISN’T GUARDING SHIT.

3

Lead Destroys Your Sense Of Morality (And Lithium Might Improve It)

Hey, remember how in Batman Begins, the villains’ plan was to release a fear toxin in Gotham City that would turn the populace into a violent, mindless horde? And how Batman had a flock of bats he could summon when he needed them, but then completely forgot about in future movies? Well, that first one really happened! Only the effect was global and happened over the course of decades. What follows may be one of the most terrifying cautionary tales in the history of technology, and we still don’t fully grasp the scale of how badly we may have fucked up here.

The unpronounceable chemical Tetraethyllead is the “lead” they’re leaving out of “unleaded” gasoline. When cars were new back in the 1920s, they added it to fuel to help prevent engine wear. They already knew lead did weird things to the human brain at the time (studies had already shown that people getting water from lead pipes were more likely to commit murder), and that these engines would be releasing tiny particles of it into the air everyone breathed. But honestly, how many people would be buying these “automobiles,” anyway?

More than half a century and hundreds of millions of cars later, governments finally started cracking down on lead emissions because they suspected they were, unsurprisingly, messing with people’s brains. As we touched on here, in one city and country after another, as unleaded fuel was banned, the violent crime rate started dropping. A lot.

Lead, as it turns out, permanently destroys cells in the brain’s prefrontal cortex, the part responsible for “emotional regulation, impulse control, attention, verbal reasoning, and mental flexibility.” You know, the part you think of as your morality, or soul. Lead kills that. Multiple studies on this keep turning up the same horrifying result.

“Wait,” you say from your mad scientist lab, “is it possible to do the opposite? Is there a chemical that keeps that part of the brain healthy?” Sure! In fact, it’s already happened. You know how some people take lithium as a treatment for bipolar disorder? Well, lithium also occurs naturally in the environment, and places that happen to have more of it in their drinking water have less violent crime. Oh, and their suicide rates are up to 40 percent lower. Holy shit!

So yes, we should start adding lithium to the water supply to create world peace. I mean, I don’t want it in my water. Other people’s.

2

Your Moods May Be Controlled By Your Shit

There are about 40 trillion microbes in your intestines. That’s far more cells than make up your actual body. If they were people, they’d populate 5,400 Earths. The point is, your body’s shit factory houses an entire galactic federations’ worth of beings, and to an extent that science does not yet fully understand, it appears that they’re the ones running the show. When scientists dug through the turds of dozens of kids, they found that “children with the most genetically diverse types of gut bacteria more frequently exhibited behaviors related with positive mood, curiosity, sociability and impulsivity.” Different gut bacteria = different personalities.

OK, well, there surely are other explanations. Maybe outgoing kids tend to eat different diets, and that changes their gut microbes? Because they’re eating … adventurous party food, I guess? Or maybe they have different hormones or something, and that changes their digestion? Really, anything is better than believing that, for instance, the decision to ask your current partner out on a date was truly made by a pulsing ooze of microscopic blobs swimming in your shit.

Well too bad. Another study found that eating “probiotic” fermented foods decreased social anxiety. Another bunch of researchers found they could make someone give more to charity if they fed them eggs first. An experiment on mice was able to reverse goddamned autism symptoms by adding in a single species of gut bacteria. Someone else followed up by doing fecal transplants on autistic children to fix gastrointestinal issues, and found that it appeared their neurological symptoms improved along the way. Here’s a giant summary of dozens of studies on the “Your shit is controlling your brain” theory which you and your shit can peruse together.

You probably want to dismiss this whole thing. You may even feel a knee-jerk urge to dismiss it out of hand, and not devote any further thought to it. An urge that you can feel … in your gut? Nice try, shit.

1

You Have Probably Brainwashed Yourself Into A Completely False Idea Of Who You Are

Here’s an important question almost no one thinks to ask: Do cult leaders believe what they’re saying? After all, L. Ron Hubbard clearly knew his new religion was a scam at first — he borrowed its mythology from his own sci-fi stories, which he wrote to make a quick buck. But by all accounts, he later spent endless hours “auditing” himself to try to purge his soul of the evil alien spirits — you know, the ones he had invented years earlier. It’s almost as if by repeating his ludicrous lies, he indoctrinated himself.

That, it appears, is exactly what happened. And almost every deranged cult leader in history followed that exact path. Do you remember that weird terror attack that happened in Tokyo in 1995? A Japanese doomsday cult unleashed nerve gas on a subway, killing a dozen people (which would have been thousands if they hadn’t fucked up the release of the gas). The cult was led by a guy named Shoko Asahara, who had been a small-time con artist going back to his teenage years, running a number of scams which he eventually expanded into lucrative businesses. He sold snake oil cures out of an acupuncture shop for a while, then started putting ads in sci-fi magazines offering to teach mind powers like telepathy and levitation — for a reasonable fee, of course. In less than a decade, he went from telling silly lies to get cash from gullible dupes to unleashing nerve gas in order to trigger Armageddon, believing that he and his followers would then ascend to inherit the Earth.

That’s weird, right? That garden-variety shitheads wind up joining their own cults in suicide pacts to fulfill some “prophecy” that they themselves wrote late at night over a bottle of wine? But that, my friends, is the magic of the human brain. Not only can it be reprogrammed by anyone who knows the method, but it can also reprogram itself, unintentionally, without realizing it. But that could never happen to you and me, right? Haha. Ha.

OK, let’s now think about all of the little self-deceptions we pile up through the day — like how nearly everyone thinks they’re an above-average driver, even though that’s obviously impossible. Well, you remember George Costanza’s rule that the key to lying is making yourself believe it? There’s a theory that humans evolved self-deception specifically because it helps us deceive others. In order to survive, you need other humans to cooperate with you. In order to make sure they do that, you need to be able to convince them you’re great. In order to convincingly tell that outrageous lie, you need to make yourself belief you’re great.

You lie to yourself, then you believe the lie, then you make others believe the lie which you now believe is true. It’s lies all the way down. This is why if you go to a primitive tribe without access to mirrors or clear reflective surfaces of water and show them a reflection of their own faces, they freak the fuck out. (“They were paralyzed; after the first startled response — covering their mouths and ducking their heads — they stood transfixed …”) Living their lives without a clear reflection as a reference, they each had built up in their minds an idea of what they surely must look like. Maybe they always secretly assumed they were among the most attractive, despite their public shows of humility. Then bam, the disgusting reality was suddenly staring back at them. “That’s what I look like?”

Well, if you had a magic mirror that could reflect back upon you exactly how others see your attitudes, mannerisms, emotions, habits, etc, it would be the same, only about a hundred times stronger. A hand clasped over your mouth, feeling sick, staring at the “reflection” of a total stranger. Anyway, buy my book. Oh, wait, one more thing …

You can now get rid of the ads on Cracked and also help keep us from having to put up paywalls by throwing us a small wad of sweaty internet cash. If you like what we do and want us to keep doing it, or just feel bad about blocking the ads for 5,000 straight visits, here you go. It costs less than dirt. I mean it’s literally less than this actual bag of dirt you can buy. Thanks for your support, either way.

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For more from David Wong, check out 6 Reasons Good People Turn Into Monsters and Your Brain Needs Silence (And Probably Isn’t Getting It).

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Read more: http://www.cracked.com/blog/4-creepy-things-that-secretly-control-your-personality/

Become A Mad (Tech) Scientist With Arduino, Hack The Planet

This piece was written by the people who run the Cracked Store to tell you about products that are being sold there.

If you love taking things apart and then reassembling them into a hodgepodge of calamity like Sid from Toy Story, then you might be interested in this Arduino Enthusiast E-Book Bundle. Arduino is an opportunity to take your inner Frankensteinian tendencies into the electrical realm, and this collection will guide you through that process.

What Is Arduino?

Arduino is a microcontroller, which is just another term for a simplified computer on a single integrated circuit. Think of it like a digital brain that you can program. It takes a variety of electrical inputs through an array of digital and analog pins, so you can make use of optical sensors, buttons, motors, and other electrical components. Writing code to process input data and control mechanical parts is done with a simple free editor, and compiling it onto the device is as easy as plugging in a USB cable and hitting play. Becoming the hero AND the villain of your own science fiction film has never been so easy.

Why is it so popular in the maker community?

Arduino is hardly the only single-board microcontroller out there, but what makes it stand out is its accessibility. Arduino assumes that you aren’t trapped in a time vortex in 1996 and that you already own a computer. This allows it to stay cheap and avoid a complex operating system setup. Arduino also lends itself well to larger-scale projects needing multiple interfaces, which would be otherwise infeasible with more expensive boards. That said, we do apologize to all of those poor souls who were accidentally trapped in the Portal of Ceaseless Screams and No Computers on their way to see Space Jam. You are not forgotten.

What can you build with it?

What CAN’T you build with it, you jock?

Sorry. You didn’t deserve that. You’re a pal.

With such an open-ended platform, you’re really only limited by your imagination. You can take sensor input from almost anything to create interactive systems with real-time data monitoring, mechanical movement, and wireless communication, or just keep it simple with hobby electronics projects.

The Arduino Enthusiast E-Book Bundle includes eight comprehensive books filled with interesting projects that tackle topics like wearable’s, robotics, and smartphone communication. Here’s the full reading list:

— Arduino Wearable Projects – $35.99 Value

— Arduino Electronics Blueprints – $35.99 Value

— Arduino Development Cookbook – $35.99 Value

— Internet of Things with Arduino Blueprints – $31.99 Value

— Arduino by Example – $31.99 Value

— Arduino iOS Blueprints – $27.99 Value

— Arduino Robotic Projects – $26.99 Value

— Arduino Android Blueprints – $26.99 Value

So go pick it up. You’ll be building ROBOTS. The most we can do is put together a hot dog that doesn’t fall apart when you pick it up. The Arduino Enthusiast E-Book Bundle is available in our store for 88 percent off the usual cost, just $29.

Only Cracked Alumni make it into the revered Doctors Association. So grab your Thesaurus and buckle up. It’s gonna be a bumpy night.

Continue your brain workouts by checking out Become A Cracked Scholar With These Learning Bundles.

Read more: http://www.cracked.com/blog/become-mad-tech-scientist-with-arduino-hack-planet/

Becoming by Fouad Azim

Story Summary

This is a story of blooming love and betrayal, about children coming of age, of conscience and the sociopaths who lack it; it is a story about trust and how true love empowers and heals us. In the end, it is a story about humanity and the eternal struggle between good and evil.

Nyla and Junaid are classmates learning about the world around them and in the process discovering themselves. They must endure and survive a path fraught with confusion and peril if they hope to emerge victorious, though not necessarily unscathed. They will learn of innocence and its loss, about how budding love can be snuffed out if not cared for and its formidable power when nurtured and protected. They will become closely acquainted with evil, with its insidious presence in plain sight and how it mangles and corrupts those it touches. They will have to confront and defeat it if they can. If you think you recognize some of the characters described herein, it is only because the human experience around the world and in the different cultures is not unique, and we all share some of the same burdens and the joys of similar emotions and trials as we go about learning to find ourselves.

The setting is the foothills of the Margalla Mountain range, a part of the lesser Himalayas, north of Islamabad in Pakistan, during the 1990s.

http://amzn.to/2xwmgHB

Pacific Book Review

Author Fouad Azim has written Becoming, an emotionally gripping novel about young love in the1990’s Pakistan which will enthrall readers.

Becoming tells the story of classmates Nyla and Junaid. Junaid is a shy young man who comes out of his shell once he falls in love with the intelligent and independent Nyla. Their fledgling romance is threatened by the jealousy of Jahal, an emotionally unstable boy who is determined to break them up. Nyla and Junaid must overcome Jahal’s wicked actions and other obstacles to discover true love.

This book is a unique coming-of-age novel about young love in a land far away from the United States, which is still a universal story. Junaid’s sensitivity and devotion to Nyla is admirable and makes him a relatable protagonist. Nyla is a strong character that isn’t just a passive love interest for Junaid. She’s a self-sufficient young woman that is brave throughout Becoming as she fights the cultural traditions that try to keep her from Junaid. Jahal is the perfect antagonist as the psychologically disturbed villain of the novel. Though he commits horrific acts, Azim’s writing doesn’t limit him to a one-dimensional monster. Jahal is more of a wounded soul than a soulless anti-hero.

Azim’s writing is evocative and poignant. The hills and caves of Pakistan are described so vividly that readers can imagine they are in the rugged terrain of the South Asian countryside. He also easily captures the complicated social lives of teenagers and how fraught young relationships can be in Becoming’s dialogue. Though there are some cultural differences between Western and Eastern culture in the book, the universal themes of the novel comes through to the readers. Azim also expertly handles sweet romance and dangerous drama throughout the novel. This story has exciting and suspenseful moments which will leave readers wanting more.

Becoming would be best for fans of the Kite Runner and Khaled Housseni. The novels both have similar stories about friendships in South Asian countries and both authors write masterfully about love. This book would also be good for fans of historical fiction, especially of fiction set in countries outside America. The novel would be perfect for readers of all ages. Becoming could would be great for young Pakistani or South Asian culture in general will learn a lot from this book as well. Fouad Azim’s novel shows how love can conquer hate, making Becoming an unforgettable novel which all readers will love.

http://www.pacificbookreview.com/becoming/

Former President Clinton gets TV deal for upcoming White House ‘thriller’

The TV rights to an upcoming novel co-written by former President Bill Clinton has been acquired by Showtime, the premium cable television network said late Friday.

Showtime Network Inc. called the novel, co-written with bestselling author James Patterson, a “powerful, one-of-a-kind thriller.”

“I’m really enjoying writing this book and working with Jim,” Clinton said in a statement. “I can’t wait to see Showtime bring the characters to life.”

The network said the novel — titled “The President is Missing” — has “the level of detail that only someone who has held the office can know.”

Showtime chief executive and President David Nevins said getting the rights to the novel was “a coup of the highest order” for the network.

The novel is scheduled for release in June 2018.

“The White House is such an exciting world to explore and is made even more so with the unique insights of a former president,” Patterson said. 

Clinton, a Democrat and the country’s 42nd president, has published several nonfiction books including “Putting People First: How We Can All Change America.”

Patterson holds the record for most No. 1 New York Times bestsellers by a single author, selling more than 380 million copies worldwide. Among them is “Women’s Murder Club.”

Showtime won a bidding war for the book’s rights.

The networks affiliation with CBS, and the corporation’s boss, Leslie Moonves, helped seal the deal, according to the Associated Press.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/09/23/former-president-clinton-gets-tv-deal-for-upcoming-white-house-thriller.html

Darcy and Fitzwilliam – Synopsis, Excerpt

Darcy and Fitzwilliam: Synopsis

Darcy and Fitzwilliam: A tale of a gentleman and an officer. A sequel to Jane Austen’s magnificent ‘Pride and Prejudice’ this humorous story is of two romances, one involving the handsome Fitzwilliam Darcy, the other his cousin, Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam. Darcy is handsome, elegant, proud and a besotted newlywed to his beloved Elizabeth Bennet. Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam is his older cousin, a veteran of Waterloo, fun loving, charismatic, and about to fall head over heels with a beautiful American widow. A charming tale of love, of great friendship, of children and of an irritable old aunt, Lady Catherine deBourgh.

Darcy and Fitzwilliam: Excerpt

VOLUME TWO, CHAPTER FOUR

It was when they approached the footman who would announce them that he saw her, her simple presence outstand¬ing amidst a multitude of inbred and odd-looking individuals gushing and fawning over each other. Wearing an outmoded, drab gown meant for someone much larger and much, much older, she was tenderly patting stray locks of a young girl’s hair, adjusting the bow on the back of the girl’s dress, in short, fussing about the girl like a mother hen with her lone chick. He was thunderstruck. Even without the feathers, paint, lace, and jewelry, she far outshone the posturing aristocratic ladies surrounding her, who competed in vain for attention.

At this distance, the youth she tended to appeared to Fitzwilliam as little more than an infant—small, frightened, and frail. However, it was not the anxious-looking girl who was causing him concern, drawing his offense. It was the activity surrounding the two that began to fuel his indignation, the admiration of the many men milling about ogling his Beauty, commenting upon her shimmering blonde hair. Fellow soldiers gaping and drooling over his Beauty’s eyes as they sparkled with amusement within a perfect, heart-shaped face, long, dark lashes lowered now to her task and shadowing his Beauty’s cheeks.

It was a testament to her good looks that those who circled overlooked the other grander, more-opulently gowned women, to be drawn instead by a loveliness that appeared both alien and delicate at once.

The young girl nervously whispered something, and the Brown-Eyed Beauty laughed gently, her face softening as it tilted to the side, lighting up with open joy, her eyes twinkling in devilish delight. Deadly dimples suddenly appeared.

Instead of being charmed, Fitzwilliam was furious.

“Why do you look as if you’ve just gotten your foot caught in your stirrups?” As he followed Richard’s rapt gaze, looking across the ballroom in the same general direction, Darcy discovered the object of his interest. “Ah. Well, well, well…” he muttered.

“What?” Fitzwilliam turned momentarily toward his cousin.

“I take it that is the woman about whom all your fuss has been?”

After one or two tense moments, Richard responded. “Yes, Darcy,” he bit back icily. “That is the woman about whom, as you so haughtily say, all my fuss has been. What of it?!”

“Nothing. Nothing at all.” Still he hesitated, staring.

Seeing Darcy’s reaction, Fitzwilliam bristled. “You wish to make some sort of observation, brat? Yes, that is the woman, and please do not stare at her like some sort of bedlamite.”

“Well, pardon me, Your Worship. She’s just not what I had expected.”

“What do you mean by that?” Fitzwilliam glared. “She is the most beautiful woman in this room, if not the whole city.”

“Jesu, calm yourself, Richard. I didn’t say she wasn’t. It’s just that she’s so… so…”

“So… what?”

“Well…” Darcy’s eyes made a quick appraisal of the woman in the distance. “Well, for one thing, she is rather plainly dressed for such a grand assembly, and she does appear rather foreign-looking with those cheekbones. Here’s an aside. Whatever happened to your dream of a deathly pale, full-bodied, and terminally ill English Rose due to inherit an estate the size of Kent? Hmm? In case you had not noticed, this young woman is very healthy and quite slender and apparently poor. At the very least, you must admit that she doesn’t have the usual voluptuousness of which you are known to be so fond.” Without even looking at his cousin, he could feel his eyes boring into him. He sighed.

“She is not that slender,” Fitzwilliam said coolly. “And you are still staring at her. I don’t like it, I tell you.”

Darcy rolled his eyes in exasperation. “Please try and behave as an adult. I’m sure you’ve seen them about—emulate.” The air crackled between them. “All I am saying is that she has a leaner frame than the average woman you prefer. She is tall and slim and, well, frankly, she appears small-busted.” Darcy eyed her critically and then turned to look at a furious Fitzwilliam. “Maybe it is just that the dress is so huge. Stop scowling at me!”

He sipped calmly from a glass of wine he had just been handed by a footman. “Merciful heaven, aren’t you suddenly the sensitive one! I have nothing against the woman at all. She is quite as lovely as you say, perhaps more so.” Fitzwilliam’s green-eyed rage was turning boiling red from his struggle for control. “And she is definitely not your type.”

Fitzwilliam stiffened. “Aside from your previous gibberish, what is it about her, exactly, that you do not consider my type?”

Darcy hesitated for a few tension-filled moments before proceeding at his peril. “Truthfully? All right. Well, she’s not at all fussy or overly made-up. She’s naïve-looking, soft, elegant, and pleasant. None of those are your usual requirements—in fact, quite the opposite.” Darcy and Fitzwilliam stood glaring at each other before Darcy finally broke rank and turned back. He then gestured toward the woman under discussion. “I mean, she really is quite beautiful, to be sure. Oh, and my goodness, what an exquisite smile she has, such luscious, full lips. And dimples, too? Good God!” He chuckled and shook his head. “No, she’s definitely not your type at all.”

“All right, that does it. I should call you out.”

“Well, think about it. You could actually grow to love this woman, then where would you be?”

“Never mind about all that. I don’t care for the way you are looking at her, brat, with your insolent eyes. And how dare you comment upon her lips, goddamn it. You’re almost drooling.”

Darcy turned to coolly assess his cousin. “You should be medicated.”

“You were leering at her.”

“I was not leering, you apelike menace! I was asked my opinion.”

“Aha! Well…you are the demented one—you were never asked for your opinion, and I, above all people, know a leer when I see one, and I certainly don’t need your approval. I was merely pointing her out to you.”

“What’s going on, gentlemen?” Georgiana returned to their side after freshening herself. The carriage ride had been long and blustery, a frigid winter storm approaching with snow and sleet threatening to descend upon London at any moment.

“Oh, Fitzwilliam has finally lost what little was left of his mind. He is annoyed with me for glancing at his newest obses¬sion,” Darcy whispered loudly. “He is also exceedingly upset because I have been pointing out to him the many ways in which she would not suit him at all.”

“Really? What fun! May I take a stab? Where is she?” Darcy indicated the far corner where the beauty was standing.

Fitzwilliam threw up his hands and turned his back on them. “I am leaving you both. I know neither of you. Good-bye.”

“Oh, how charming she is and how different are her features! Truly a paragon!” Georgiana gushed. A slightly mol¬lified Fitzwilliam waited. “And not your type at all, Richard. Definitely not!” Georgiana’s clear assessing gaze darted from the beauty to Fitzwilliam and then back to the beauty. He turned slowly around and faced her.

“Et tu, Judas?” He crossed his arms over his chest.

“Heavens, Richard, just look at the color in your face! Are you feeling all right?” She regarded him with great concern.

 

ORDER DARCY AND FITZWILLIAM ON:

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Darcy and Fitzwilliam Book Reviews

“Laugh until your sides ache and then laugh some more…Delicious…” – Linda Banche Reviews

“It is absorbing. It is intoxicating. It is excellent.” – Jane Austen’s World

 

Orange County Register

This sequel to “Pride and Prejudice” focuses on the friendship between Darcy and his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam. Wasylowski delves deeper into why Caroline Bingley continues to pursue Darcy and how Lady Catherine de Bourgh grows to accept Darcy and Elizabeth’s marriage …

 

Booklist

Married life is bliss. At least that is what Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam’s cousin Fitzwilliam Darcy would have him believe. But Richard has no intention of stepping into the parson’s mousetrap until he encounters America widow Amanda Penrod at one of London’s innumerous balls …

 

Historical Novel Reviews – Feb. 2011

Karen V. Wasylowski has turned out one of the former, a charming and believable rendering that offers the reader a look at the men in Pride and Prejudice. Austen would no doubt welcome Darcy and Fitzwilliam, an amusing and witty interpretation …

 

Jane Austen’s World and Jane Austen Today

A soldier stands in the background, far away from the shaded beauty of the stairs directly below you. You can barely see the red-backed, leather-booted militia man but you can tell he walks with purpose, conviction. He’s looking to the right as if he’s about to turn into the lane and boldly move off into the next phase of life with his head held high, confident in his poise and precise in his footfalls…

Kelly Yalke Deltener – Jane Austen Sequel Examiner

Karen Wasylowski’s first novel, Darcy and Fitzwilliam, is a foray into the Austen adaptation world that focuses on what could be considered the world’s first modern bromance….

Jessica Hastings – suite101.com

Completely unique and never seen before, Karen V. Wasylowski has continued the Pride and Prejudice tale Jane Austen began, but with a focused look at Mr. Darcy and his cousin, best friend and confidant; Colonel Fitzwilliam. This intriguing novel had me guessing right from the cover, as to the contents of its literary prose, and I was quickly assured…

 

Austen Sequels

Darcy and Fitzwilliam, Karen Wasylowski’s debut novel, chronicles the lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam, cousins and best friends. At 481 pages, Wasylowski isn’t playing around. She divides the novel into three parts: one focuses on Darcy, the second on Fitzwilliam, and the third on “family.” Darcy and Lizzy are happily married, and expecting their first child. Darcy is the proud, tall…

 

Calico Critic

From Goodreads: A gentleman cannot survive without his best friend…Fitzwilliam Darcy and colonel Fitzwilliam couldn’t be more different. Darcy is quiet and reserved, and carries the weight of his responsibilities on his shoulders. His affable and vivacious cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam is a confirmed bachelor whose military feats have made him a hero…

Darcy and Fitzwilliam: Shelley DeWees Review

Imagine, if you dare…

A soldier stands in the background, far away from the shaded beauty of the stairs directly below you. You can barely see the red-backed, leather-booted militia man but you can tell he walks with purpose, conviction. He’s looking to the right as if he’s about to turn into the lane and boldly move off into the next phase of life with his head held high, confident in his poise and precise in his footfalls. The beautiful spring day is made better by the vision of sun dappled ferns and leaves scattered haphazardly on the stones, billowing around as if they’ve just been disturbed by something….a man….a cloaked man, running after the soldier with a clear demeanor of distress. He runs as if he’s got something to say, something important.

Mysterious. Intriguing, you might say. Gracing the cover of Darcy and Fitzwilliam, Karen Wasylowski’s debut novel, the scene seems to speak, “Yes. Open me. Read me. It will prove interesting.” My senses were tingling, but guardedly. It was going to be a compelling tale of male bonding and growth, perhaps interspersed with a few allegories of debauchery and decadence. Was I about to stumble into a literary man cave? A wordy representation of a place where no female ought to poke her nose? Though the contemptible word “bromance” was used in the author’s own description of her work, her “baby” as she called it, I was moved to give the whole liking it thing a real shot, a good ‘ol college try. With such a lovely cover, it had to be better than a bromance, right? Would a sneaky look into a man cave be that bad?

Well, no. This story is amazing. It’s not just a glimpse into the idle lives of the extremely rich and entitled, and certainly not a flippant narrative of a life unbridled by the constraints of the middle class. It’s not just drinking and billiards, gambling and shooting, and it’s certainly not what I thought it would be (the man cave analogy is officially rebuked). This is a visceral tale that positively drips with social commentary, tackling problems that few Austenesque writers would attempt to undertake.

Ms. Wasylowski weaves a brilliant account of two separate lives, those of a married, measured, quiet man whose strength is in the details, and another loud, energetic, sometimes irksome chronic bachelor who uses his charisma to get what he needs out of life. I’m sure you know which is which, but I bet you’ll be surprised at just how engaging these two characters are. The book itself is divided into two volumes, the first of which deals with Mr. Darcy and his new bride. They’re happy but not irritatingly so (how refreshing), and in fact they engage in a knock-down-drag-out brawl within the first seven chapters! Elizabeth and Darcy slowly figure out their new life together, discovering flaws, faults, one giant secret, and stirring up all kinds of interesting social issues in the meantime. Sexual disparities show up, and Elizabeth marvels at her ignorance and jealously while Darcy is forced to deal with the formidable Lady Catherine DeBourgh (who, in this representation, is a feisty and delicious character). Later on in volume two, the life of Fitzwilliam “Richard” Darcy is explored more thoroughly, and the reader watches helplessly as his greed and foolishness finally catch up with him. What is he to do? Searching for answers at the bottom of a hip flask hasn’t been working out. He’s looking to find someone to spend his life with, but is forced to sift through piles of societal restrictions once he’s found her. England’s position on women, marriage, homosexuality, alcohol, even America’s treachery come into the picture, not tiptoeing over but literally smashing his dreams. What’s a guy to do?

There is little else anyone can say to you, clever reader, except this: Read this book. A cutesy romance of love and lace it is not. Darcy and Fitzwilliam is a gripping interpretation of life in Regency England, bravely attempting to bring issues of tension to the table. Domestic violence, alcoholism, harsh words, sex, royalism, and loathsome small-mindedness abound, and all through the vision of Jane Austen’s characters.

It’s intoxicating. It’s absorbing. It’s excellent.

Shelley DeWees

Sons and Daughters – Synopsis, Excerpt

Sons and Daughters: Synopsis

JANE AUSTEN’S ‘PRIDE AND PREJUDICE’ CONTINUES…

SONS AND DAUGHTERS, a sequel to Karen V. Wasylowski’s ‘DARCY AND FITZWILLIAM’ (which was itself a continuation of Jane Austen’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE), again follows the iconic Fitzwilliam Darcy and his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam. Now we see the two battling best friends as loving husbands and doting fathers, older and a bit wiser, making the sacrifices, the difficult (and frequently unpopular) decisions that men must make for the good of their families and we see their large brood of offspring – the ‘Fitzwilliam Mob’ – grow from childhood to adolescence then on into adulthood. Along the way, Darcy and Fitzwilliam are viewed by their children first as heroes, then as the enemy, but eventually as mortal human beings and the children’s adored champions once again.

 

Sons and Daughters: Excerpt

Have you come up with any reasonable story yet?” Hands in his pockets Fitzwilliam glared down at his sons.

Amanda shook her head in doubt. “Tell me again what sort of punishment this is meant to be.” The two little fellows sat side by side on the bottom step of the front staircase, scratching elbows and knees, looking anywhere but at their father.

“Well, since neither will tell me which one dropped the flour bag I am making them sit here until they come up with any plausible explanation.”

“I’m still a bit vague on this. How will that help you determine which one to punish?”

“They’ll have to decide together. If they‘re able to come up with one convincing tale I’ll accept it. But they cannot leave that step until they do agree on one.”

“And you are certain this is the position you wish to take?”

“It is.”

“I will never understand you.”

“It was me, Papa.” Mark winced when his brother’s sharp elbow dug into his side. “Well, it was.”

“No, Papa, it was me,” countered Matthew.

“See, not good enough. You still don’t agree. Now, give it another go.” The little faces leaned toward each other.

“I’ll share a secret with you both – if you tell me the truth the punishment will be less severe.”

“It was me,” whispered Matthew.

Mark nodded. “Yeah, it was him. But he’s very young.”

Fitzwilliam tried not to chuckle as he took a glum faced Matthew by the hand. The two walked silently into the library and when they reappeared a few moments later Matthew was rubbing his bottom, but evidently was not overly upset since he hopped up onto his chair and immediately began reaching for food.

“Before either of you eat, I want you to apologize to your cousins for that unprovoked attack at our front door.” With the wives fussing over baby Luke elsewhere, and the Fitzwilliam day maid hiding in a cupboard, the two fathers were the only functioning adults in the room.

“But it was though, Papa – provoked, I mean. First, to be clear on this, what exactly does provoke mean?” Precise to his core and always good natured Mark was duty bound to explain the twins’ abysmal behavior. However, he was also a detail man and, as usual, becoming bogged down with them.

“It means you are nasty boys and it means that you are wicked.” Kathy crowed, taunting with her little sing song voice, smiling cheerily at her older brothers because anytime they were in trouble was a cause for celebration. “It means you cannot have cake ever again and crows will peck out your eyes.”

Anne Marie cheered at that, she even clapped.

“Anne Marie Darcy, do not encourage your cousins.” Darcy reprimanded. “They seldom require it,” he muttered as he brought his daughter’s plate closer to her.

“Kathy, where do you learn such nonsense?” Fitzwilliam grasped her little cup of milk before it toppled from the table but failed to save her silverware.

“They’ll peck your eyes out, Beef!” shouted Matthew and Georgie, retaliating as always in unison. “And eat your brains – if they can find any! Yeah they will!” Matthew expanded on their previous comment and stuck out his tongue.

“Enough. All of you. Anyone who is shorter than I will henceforth cease to speak.” Darcy’s commanding voice sounded severe as he cut into edible pieces the small ham slice that had been sitting, untouched, before his daughter for nearly twenty minutes. “Eat something, Anne Marie – anything. I beg of you. At least one bite. How does your mother succeed with this and I do not?”

“Mama sings to me.”

“Yes, she sings to me also. How lucky we both are. Now eat at least the little bit that is on this fork. Please.” He turned to Mark. “And, ‘unprovoked’, my charming young hooligan, means that there was no just cause for the attack, neither upon your Aunt Lillibet nor upon your uncle – old what’s his name.”

Mark Fitzwilliam laughed heartily at what Darcy had just said, as if Darcy were the wittiest man alive.
Actually, hunger had overtaken his senses and he wanted done with all questions. He reached for his fork. Darcy’s arched eyebrow stopped him cold.

“No, Mark, you must answer the question first. Explain why you are tossing flour from the windows.”

“The salt is locked away.”

There was momentary silence.

“Darcy, you’re getting nowhere with this vague line of questioning. When it comes to my children you must attack with precision, leave nothing ambiguous. Watch carefully and learn. Matthew, what provocation – close your mouth, Mark – what purpose was there for your attack upon Uncle Wills and Auntie Lillibet?”

“It wasn’t meant for Uncle Wills. We love him and Auntie Lillibet.” Matthew reached for a jar of preserves but could not get them without unsettling the pitcher of milk; his father immediately righted the pitcher and brought the jar nearer. “Thank you, Papa. Put the strawberries on my scone?”

“Please…?” Prompted his father.

“I already said you could, Papa.”

“No, no, no, that is not what I meant, son. You should say…never mind. Now, these are not strawberries, Matthew. These are raspberries. Do you understand me, boy?” Fitzwilliam placed a large dollop of the raspberry preserves onto his son’s scone and then sliced the scone into several smaller pieces. He pushed the plate over to Mathew.

“Well, never mind then.”

“Whatever is keeping your mother so long?” Fitzwilliam mumbled as he stretched to look over his shoulder.

 

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Sons and Daughters: Amazon Reviews

By S.C.Mema (5 Stars)

I love this book. The story follows Fitzwilliam and Darcy, cousins and best friends, through their early lives as young married men and fathers. Fitzwilliam marries the American woman he adores, much to the chagrin of his family, as Elizabeth and Darcy establish their lives at Pemberley.

It’s all of the typical up’s and down’s of married life, but told with sparkling wit and banter. Of course, the Bingleys are there, too, and we see the interactions between the three families, and the friendships that develop and thrive between the children.

All of the plot threads were wonderfully developed and woven within the context of the story. My favorite involved Alice, the youngest Darcy daughter. She was always in trouble with her mama, and usually as a result of something the older siblings and cousins had done. Of course, that endeared her all the more to her papa and uncles and aunts. And to see her at the end of the story with — (you didn’t think I would actually tell you that, did you?)

I have not read the first book in this series, but this book stood alone as a story, and I had no problem following it. I now have the first book and look forward to spending many hours enjoying the part of the story I missed.

I loved, loved this Fitzwilliam and Darcy.

 

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