Monday, March 23, 2015

Review: The Centrality of Fringe Hours @JessicaNTurner @christianaudio

The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You was one of the best nonfiction audiobooks I've listened to in a while. Jessica Turner essentially writes about self-care in the midst of a busy life.

I know a lot about self-care. I've read/listened to several books on the topic. I've taught it and reinforced it in therapy and parent education groups. I still suck at it, but I'm familiar with the topic. This is one of the most down-to-earth, practical, realistic, reflective, and emotionally-connected books on the topic.

Probably the highest praise I can give for it is that somehow it actually resulted in my making some small changes in my activities, even before the book was over, to improve my self-care. The concept of fringe hours (finding bits and pieces of time throughout the day) was not terribly novel to me. I've very good at planning well ahead and being quite efficient. But I think the key that was most helpful in this text was helping me be even more aware of the prioritizing of activities, especially those that are meant to be for fun.

I think one of the strengths of this book was that it is not prescriptive nor guilt-inducing. Rather, it provides many different frames on life, time, and our choice of activities that can likely reach a variety of readers. Turner offers several practical examples of how to use time effectively to bring ourselves life. She makes a compelling picture of the centrality of making time for ourselves without overspiritualizing or overpsychologizing it while balancing that with strong substance.

My biggest criticism is that this book is really targeted toward women. It says so in the description, and the language used throughout the book reinforces that frame. Turner talks about tendencies in women, but they were all descriptive of me. As a psychologist, I don't see these trends as being unique to women, albeit there are some social pressures to conform into certain patterns. However, she may be unintentionally reinforcing some gender stereotypes. More importantly, by framing this text only in terms of women, she may have lost a massive audience who just as desperately needs to use their fringe hours (actually, I need it FAR more than my wife). But if men can get over the feminine pronouns, it can still be quite useful.

Finally, Carla Mercer-Meyer does a superb job of narration. My common complaint of nonfiction audiobooks is that they're often not read by the authors, so there's a sense of passion and personality that's lost. However, Mercer-Meyer conveys both so well that she could have been mistaken for the author. It was one of the best (if not the best) narrated nonfiction audiobook I've listened to (and there's many on my list).

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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