Wednesday, July 11, 2012

May/June Books

The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever. This is a very short, basic book about what actually constitutes sharing the gospel, and the hows and the whys of sharing Christian faith. 

Speaking of Jesus by Mack Stiles. This one is also about evangelism. It is longer and has more anecdotes. I'd recommend this one and the one above because I remember feeling like I got a lot out of them at the time. However, I should reread them both. I initially read them in early May not long after Isla was born and most of  what happened during that time is pretty hazy.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. I couldn't put this down! In this book Malcolm Gladwell argues against the idea of a self-made man and posits that success is the intersection of hard work and opportunity. I love Malcolm Gladwell's writing, he has a way of upending conventional wisdom. In this book, I'm very nearly convinced, he's revealed why I never succeeded in math. However, even though I think his ideas are superbly intriguing, upon reflection, I also think he oversimplifies and makes some dubious connections. For example, he suggests that Asian countries produce many mathematical geniuses due to the skills built during centuries of tending rice patties. Maybe it's true, but it also seems a little fantastical. I have no knowledge that any of my forbears tended rice patties. But I do have some relation to the Hersheys of the Hershey's Kiss which explains why I'm not good at math and why I love chocolate. His overarching point, which I readily agree with, is that our histories, backgrounds and cultures often play much more of a role than we realize in our lives. 

Into Thin Air by John Krakauer. I also couldn't put this down and finished it in two days. It's the true story of the Mount Everest climbing disaster of 1996 in which 12 people died in a storm while attempting to summit. Peter is a mountaineer at heart, if not in practice. We have a small collection of mountaineering books and this is one of them. It's pretty exciting (but sad) even if you're not a mountaineer (which I am not.).

The Other 8 Hours by Robert Pagliarini. This is a time management book. It is an easy read, engaging and had some good suggestions. I'd suggest it as a helpful springboard to begin thinking about time management. I was most interested in the time management aspects but he also gives entrepreneurial advice as well. 

168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam. This is another time management book. It also is an easy read, engaging and has some good suggestions. She argues that you should focus on your core competencies (things that you do well that cannot be done nearly as well by anyone else) and minimize, outsource or ignore everything else. This is an interesting approach. But many of her suggestions seem to be better suited to two-career families who can afford a laundry service, cleaning service and cooking service. I'd love to outsource cleaning my ridiculous shower which I'm never sure is actually clean, but that's not really feasible right now. 

To End All Wars by Adam Hochschild. Peter and I both listened to this and it was great to be able to discuss it with someone. I found this book fascinating. It's about WWI from a British perspective and particularly from the position of war resisters in that country. This author definitely has a bias. But I knew nothing about WWI before I listened to this so I learned a lot. It is amazing how many threads of history tied into that event including the women's suffrage movement, the Bolshevik revolution, the international socialist movement, and the end of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Very interesting.

Divergent by Veronica Roth. I'm undecided on this one. Like the Hunger Games, it is a dystopian young adult trilogy. I felt that it didn't have nearly the insight that the Hunger Games did (perhaps it's not fair to compare the two.) but I liked it enough that I'm going to read the second book in the series.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. This is probably my favorite book out of this list in terms of sheer enjoyment. The characters feel like they're your friends, the writing is clever and the story is thoughtful. It's also an easy read, and  I'd definitely recommend it!

Thunderstruck by Eric Larson. I listened to this. It's about the intersection of a famous murder mystery and the advent of wireless telegraphy. I liked the end where the two stories actually came together but in general it sounds more interesting than I actually found it to be. There were a lot of dry sections on the ins and outs of telegraphy.

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