Tag Archives: book reviews

Book: Between The Lines: Understanding Yourself and Others Through Handwriting Analysis

90% is backed up by common sense; 10% relies on crystal balls

Fills the gap between science and the supernatural. Conversation material; not pure science.
227 pages, ★★★★

Handwriting samples collected over a long period of time can hint at character of the author. That’s the theory behind graphology. This book takes us logically through literally hundreds of handwriting features (from wide letters to thread formations to repressed lower loops) and gives us illustrated examples of each (most of them from famous people). Between the Lines was my first introduction to graphology.

The start of Between the Lines can be explained by common sense. Fast writers are impatient. People who write in perfectly straight lines are well-organised. People who write in capital letters are aggressive. But later in the book, when the handwriting features become more technical, the connection of these explanations to reality becomes more tenuous (or, at least, unexplained).

Toward the end of the book, Between the Lines ventures slightly into horoscope territory. It tells us that people who write numbers illegibly are untrustworthy with money; that people who omit letters are not telling the whole truth; that people with blotchy writing are sensual (Casanova is the given example). This book lacks data evidence throughout (only one or two anecdotes are provided), and only the first half of the book resonates with common sense.

The most insightful area was the chapter on signatures. Do you sign your name larger or smaller than the rest of your writing? Do you sign toward the left or the right of the paper? Does your signature conceal or emphasize any part of your name, or contain additional features? The signature—and the letter t—are two of the most revealing features in graphology.

For me, graphology is to psychology as horoscopes are to astrophysics.

Yes, I’m now analysing people’s handwriting (privately) out and about where I see it. But no, I’m not using it to judge them. For me, daily-life graphology will remain nothing more than harmless fun. For me, graphology is to psychology as horoscopes are to astrophysics.

I shopped around to find the most concise, comprehensive introduction to the handwriting analysis before settling on this book. If you don’t like Between the Lines, then blame the field of graphology, not the book. ★★★★

Book: Gender Trouble (First Read)

What does this book say?

Judith Butler‘s complicated brain in prose. A conversation piece.
209 pages, ★★

I love women, but even I see Judith Butler’s brain as a incomprehensibly tangled mess.

As someone who persistently tried—and failed—to ‘fit in’, Judith Butler wrote Gender Trouble in an attempt to understand her own identity. She didn’t feel fully-accepted into any socially-constructed identity, so in Gender Trouble, she carved out her own.

I care less about what she writes than about why she writes it. Contemplating the differences between men and women on a philosophical level is pointless for most of us, but it would be of great inspiration to someone in similar shoes to the author. Actually, the author said in an interview, “Gender Trouble was an attempt to understand how my family and myself failed to comply with Hollywood norms”. Voilà.

“Gender Trouble was an attempt to understand how my family and myself failed to comply with Hollywood norms” — Judith Butler

My first impression was “this book is unintelligible”. I had a dictionary at hand for words like phantasma, cathexis, exogamy and phallogocentrism but not all of them were there. After 80 pages, I retreated to YouTube and Wikipedia in search of summaries and author interviews. I side-tracked onto Slavoj Žižek videos before going back to the book. Most of it still looks unintelligible to me.

Despite not really understanding this book, Gender Trouble made an excellent conversation piece. This book stimulated hours of discussion in my living room (even though nobody fully understood this book); we talked about sex, lesbians, equality, sexual identity, and most interestingly, why some people feel compelled to write books about it all.

One reading is clearly not enough. I missed 100% of the humour and 99% of the point. Maybe that’s because I’m a man. Or maybe it’s because I’m just stupid. I promise to read it again.

I prefer Slavoj Žižek as a philosopher. ★★