I’m so excited to be back with another set of book reviews!
You may notice the blog is looking a bit different, by the way! I recently re-designed my site and re-organized my blog content and ended up archiving a lot of old posts. For the last five years, this blog has been a cross between a personal journal and a public portfolio, and I wanted to streamline it a bit. But, the book review posts have been the longest running feature of this blog, and I wanted to keep the tradition going. More about this whole re-organization thing later, though.
Honestly, I’ve just read less this year. This has been a new season for me, and I just didn’t feel like reading as much. I’ve been listening instead–to podcasts and audio books.
(A few podcasts I’m enjoying are:)
But anyway, I have actually finished three physical books since March.
In regards to the first book I read I do want to say something first. I read books by authors from both sides of the political world and cultural world. It is important to me to engage with books and ideas that are culturally relevant.
I love this quote by Karl Barth that I came across recently:
So without further ado, here’s what I’ve been reading:
I’ve always been interested in the lives of First Ladies. In particular I love Abigail Adams and Dolly Madison because their letters and history tells us that they were always seeking to have a positive influence.
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed reading about Michelle Obama’s early years. She did a wonderful job of letting the reader step inside of her world as a child and teenager. I also found her comparison of schools and mentalities on the South Side of Chicago with the schools she would attend later in high school as her academic potential was realized by both herself and mentors to be interesting.
As the book went on, she dived more deeply into expectations of her role as First Lady and learning how to deal with the constant critiques of her clothing style and health initiative. I found this part particularly fascinating, as it seems no matter what your political party or the bigger issues currently at stake, there will always be something really harmless that people will criticize anyway.
Overall it was an enjoyable read and I’m planning to keep up more reading on the First Ladies as time goes on.
by David Epstein
This book. I picked it up at the library on the New Non-Fiction shelf and it did not disappoint. I had to stop reading it over and over again to think about a concept or read part of it to Drew.
Our world today is becoming increasingly hyper-specialized. Scientists don’t just pursue one sector, they pursue a certain very-small-niche of a sector. Businesses are encouraged to have a ‘niche.’ I have found more and more TED talks and books dealing with how to become a specialized specialist in one thing or another.
In some ways, this is not a bad thing at all. But when it comes to innovation, it can be disastrous, especially when all the people you are associating with are pursuing the same niche or specialty. In many ways it contributes to confirmation bias and group think.
If you want to innovate and succeed in new ways, you need to often go outside of that hyper-specialized world to other fields entirely.
He starts with the concept of a ‘kind world’ and a ‘wicked world’. A ‘kind world’ is one where the rules apply evenly in all scenarios–like in a chess game. Someone can learn chess, and with enough practice, they will become a master of that game. A ‘wicked world’ is one where the rules are always changing and evolving and it is hard to predict the future–like the space program or technology advancements. A more abstract and analogical type of thinking is needed to deal with the unknowns of a ‘wicked world’.
The book goes so much deeper than I can here, but it was a fascinating read and one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I came away seeing how I needed to think less by routine and more analogically, drawing from innovation and concepts from other places throughout history.
Basically, don’t just think by the rules–think around the rules, outside the rules, about other scenarios and cases that are from different spheres–to understand why the rule is there and if it is actually a good rule. It’s a new take on how to see the world. I really enjoyed it.
by Mark Batterson
Drew had this book among his belongings while I was organizing them, and I grabbed it to read later since it’s been on my list for a while. (Marry a reader and they might have a bunch of books that you wanted but didn’t have yet! Win-win.)
There’s a reason this book has over 6,000 5-star reviews. It’s amazing.
I’ve never been good at praying particularly bold prayers.
I’m sort of a spiritual Thomas-ina sometimes…when I see it, I’ll believe it. (I admit this isn’t very spiritual or faith-filled, but that’s my point–this is something I struggle with.) Haha.
This book is premised around the idea that our faith spurs God to action. And our audacious faith gives him room to work in miraculous ways. This isn’t a name-it-and-claim-it concept, but it does go a bit out of my comfort zone in a good way.
This book encourages consistent, bold and very specific prayer and the author gives so many amazing examples of how God has worked in his life through this concept. I found myself asking if I could have this attitude.
Overall, it was super convicting, challenging and I will definitely read it again at some point in the future.