Mel’s Musings about Books, Quotes, and other Stuff: Everyday History, by Alice Archer

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One of the reasons I read books is to find myself in them. I want to be seen and touched and get impulses for my life. Not every book does that, and that’s quite alright, actually, but I’ve had this idea that I wanted to share with you all what speaks to me on a more personal level in this new column of Mel’s Musings about Books, Quotes and other Stuff.

When I take something away from a book that doesn’t, however, necessarily have to reflect on the quality of the book itself and whether I enjoyed it or not. Although I will probably mention something about this as well, and I’ll try not to get spoilery (warnings will follow if).

Enjoy 🙂

archer-alice-everyday-history-coverEveryday History by Alice Archer has been out for some time, actually, and came highly recommended by some reviewer friends of mine. Some others didn’t like the book, however, because of it’s unique writing style, but that is rather a plus for me, so I wanted to give this a try. Sometimes I do know myself well 😀 and I’m greatly digging the book so far.

Moreover, I can relate very much to one of the two protagonists. Henry has not been living his life to the fullest for a long time, or maybe ever. Something in his past is holding him back. He’s afraid and ashamed, but he’s decided to move on, to dare more, and to not be satisfied with a half life any longer. Also not with half love, which is a very important aspect in this book.

This speaks to me a lot right now. Not wanting to be satisfied with the limited life I am leading is something I just recently started working on. My circumstances are quite different but that doesn’t matter. It’s the basic thought that counts for me.

I’ve started a cognitive behaviour therapy at the beginning of the year. My life has been only manageable for some time now, with a tendency to be less and less manageable, and I feel like I can’t live to my full potential. For a long time I thought I had to just live with it, but what if I actually could do something about it?

It took me a long time to get to this point (um, we’re talking years and years here). But even knowing it would be good to get help, doesn’t miraculously make everything better. It’s hard to get up, especially since this is one of the problems. I don’t act because I’m afraid, because I think that everything’s too much and too hard, that I will fail and that everyone will see me fail. But on the other hand, I also feel like I have to change, that I have to achieve something, because how else can I not always depend on others? How else will I get a job and have a hopeful future?

These contradicting thoughts are paralysing me.

I remembered that I had told Jean a sad story about my lack of direction and the pressures of my self-imposed expectations.

Now, cognitive behaviour therapy helps people change their thoughts and behaviour in order to lead a life that feels more fulfilled, and it empowers them. It aims at relearning and shaping new thought and behaviour patterns, and the good news—science says so— is that everyone can do this, until the day they die. It’s never too late and it’s gonna be successful. It will take a while—like one to two years in average—but to me it’s utterly worth it. Heh, I know I just started and it’s work, I tell you, but I can already see some results and I believe it’s gonna help me a lot.

Reading about Henry’s new beginning was very confirmative for me. It gave me hope and a perspective, and that’s pretty wonderful. If you’d like, you’re very welcome to share some of your stories with me about when a book helped you take action or confirmed that you’re on the right path.

All in all, however, I’m really torn about this book. The first half was amazing, but the second was kinda not. While the first half really consumed me, I even skipped 15% in the second half, because I couldn’t stand it anymore. The dragging on, the moving in circles. It felt so orchestrated to me.  Apart from being able to relate a lot to Henry, the idea of everyday history was fascinating to me, but some other stuff I couldn’t get behind… I loved the unique style of narration—okay, not the dragging middle part, that was just over the top—and I don’t think I find the whole story totally believable, but I don’t care that much about it, I guess. So while this book spoke to me it’s far from perfect and I settled on a middle rating.


Headstrong Ruben Harper has yet to meet an obstacle he can’t convert into a speed bump. He’s used to getting what he wants from girls, but when he develops a fascination for a man, his wooing skills require an upgrade. After months of persuasion, he scores a dinner date with Henry Normand that morphs into an intense weekend. The unexpected depth of their connection scares Ruben into fleeing.

Shy, cautious Henry, Ruben’s former high school history teacher, suspects he needs a wake-up call, and Ruben appears to be his siren. But when Ruben bolts, Henry is left struggling to find closure. Inspired by his conversations with Ruben, Henry begins to write articles about the memories stored in everyday objects. The articles seduce Ruben with details from their weekend together and trigger feelings too strong to avoid. As Henry’s snowballing fame takes him out of town and further out of touch, Ruben stretches to close the gaps that separate them.


Alice Archer has questions. Lots of them. Scheming to put fictional characters through the much so they can get to a better place helps her find answers. She writes stories about men finding themselves and falling in love, because doing so feels like healing. She shares them with the hope that others might find some healing too.

Alice has messed about with words professionally for many years as an editor and writing coach. She’s pretty much drenched in words from dawn to dusk and beyond. There are ink stains on the bedding from her habit of writing sloppily in notebooks in the dark.


Purchase Everyday History from:

Dreamspinner Press

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