Category Archives: What I’m Reading

What I’m Reading, December 2017

One year ago today we were in California for our daughter’s college graduation.

This year is more typical: snow, basketball, busy at the store, getting ready for Christmas. Our out of state college kid is home for Christmas.  That makes mama happy.

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit.

On to this month’s books–

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When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

I’m tempted to go back and re-read this book now that I know the ending.

The plot was slow moving until all the pieces starting falling into place and it made sense.

From goodreads–

“Winner of the 2010 Newbery Medal. Miranda is an ordinary sixth grader, until she starts receiving mysterious messages from somebody who knows all about her, including things that have not even happened yet. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she’s too late. For ages approx 9-14.”

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Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

A Chinese boy and Japanese girl are assigned to kitchen duty at their all white public school.  This is the forties and anti-Japanese sentiment is high.  Their friendship transcends prejudice.

Sweet story that takes an inside look at Asian cultures functioning in the U.S.

I liked it, even though the story was slow moving and a little predictable.

Five stars for being wholesome.  Recommended for all ages.

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Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

Echo tells the stories of four different children growing up in four different times and places.

They all have a love for music.

To be perfectly frank, I was underwhelmed by this book. It just left me feeling kind of flat. I could see the common thread woven throughout so it felt predictable.

None of the sequences were long enough to really identify with the characters, so it was more about plot than characters.

It’s a long book, but not necessarily a long read.

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The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks

A fascinating read.

I don’t agree with everything as I have some different philosophies of life than the author does.

The books focuses on how people sabotage their own success when they hit the upper limit of what they believe they deserve in life.  There might be something to that.

I also think he’s on to something with the zone of incompetence, the zone of competence, the zone of excellence and the zone of genius.

Good mental fodder.

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The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Staner

Michael outlines seven simple questions to use while coaching.

His context is managers coaching their employees, but I think the principles are transferable to other situations.

His emphasis is on listening better, giving less advice and helping people solve their own problems.

Though simple, the questions are profound.  They build on each other and are designed to get to the heart of the matter in a short amount of time.

Insightful.  Actionable.

What are you reading this month?

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Breaking Free From the Poverty Culture: Four True Stories

I started this post thinking I had found four books that painted a realistic picture of the poverty culture.

What I didn’t realize was how much they have in common.

They are all overcomer stories.

They are all about boys who grew up with single mothers.

They outline a path of what it takes to beat the odds.

They are also well-written.

These stories stand out because they are unusual. Most boys in similar circumstances are not able to break the poverty cycle in their lives.

(Note: This post contains affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, a percentage of your purchases goes to support this site.)

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Hillbilly Elegy is masterfully written.

The only thing I didn’t like about this book was gratuitous language.  Sometimes language in a dialogue can prove a point, but there’s no good reason for it to be in the narrative.

That being said, I love the social analysis wrapped around a boot-strapping overcomer’s story. J.D. Vance emerged from an impoverished childhood to graduate from Harvard and become a successful lawyer.

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Ben Carson and his brother grew up in a single parent home in Detroit.

Ben credits his mother for the impact on his life that resulted in all of them breaking out of the poverty culture.

She valued education, discipline, the importance of reading and making wise decisions in the use of her resources.

In turn, Ben came to see poverty as a temporary state.  He could see the way out.  He developed a vision for his life.  He eventually attained some of life’s greatest successes as a pediatric neurosurgeon.

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An inspiring story, well told.

“The true story of an 11-year-old panhandler, a busy sales executive, and an unlikely meeting with destiny.” This is another book that makes me philosophical.  The culture of poverty at work again.  And, once again, it’s not so much about the money.  It’s the opportunities, the education, even the relationships that are poor.  And that plays out into material lack.  The whole mindset has to change.  The way you believe about yourself has to change.  The way you believe about your destiny has to change:  are you a victim of your circumstances or do you control your fate? Now that is a good question that I’ve been wrestling with a lot.  Who’s in control of my life, me or God?

Laura Schroff reached out to Maurice in a gesture of friendship and began a relationship that endured three decades.  She nurtured her unexpressed maternal instinct.  He grabbed a lifeline out of a culture of poverty. It’s interesting that one thing he latched onto when he saw a healthy family in action was the idea of everyone sitting down at a dining room table to eat together, to talk and share life.  That was missing in his home.  It just goes to prove that building a culture—even a family culture— has to do with what you value and believe, not about money.

Everything was not idyllic in Laura and Maurice’s relationship for the next thirty years.  This is real life and when is life always smooth sailing?

  

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Note: Heads up for language.

I didn’t really understand apartheid until I read this book.

Seeing how it played out in people’s lives is sobering.

Trevor Noah has a white father and a black mother.  In South Africa, it was illegal for his father and mother to procreate.  His very existance was against the law, hence the title, Born a Crime.

It’s mind-blowing to think about the world and the life that Trevor Noah was born into. It’s a cautionary tale, especially for those who have a vote in their government’s laws and leaders.

I liked Noah’s personal and relatable writing style as well as the occasional political commentary.

**********

Four boys growing up in poverty with single mothers. What did it take for them to break free?
Self-awareness? A caring adult? Purpose in life? A belief that things could be different?

I see four common factors.

  1. The involvement of a caring adult. In some cases it was their mother, sometimes it was someone else.

2.   The importance of staying in school and finishing.

3.  The belief that things could be different.

4.  A vision for their lives.

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Man’s Search for Meaning

Vicktor Frankl wrote Man’s Search for Meaning after surviving a stint in a Nazi concentration camp.

With a background in psychiatry, he studied the people in the camp looking for why some survived and why some gave up and died.

He found that those that had the will to live felt they had a mission in life to complete. In his own case, it was to finish the book he was writing and to see his wife again.

“Man’s search for meaning is the primary motivation in his life and not a ‘secondary rationalization’ of instinctual drives. This meaning is unique and specific in that it must and can be fulfilled by him alone.”

“Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.”

If the runaway success of Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, is any indication people are desperate to find meaning in life.

But, what Frankl proposes is not just general, but a specific, unique mission only possible to be fulfilled by an individual.

“Frankl was once asked to express in one sentence the meaning of his own life. He wrote the response on paper and asked his students to guess what he had written. After some moments of quiet reflection, a student surprised Frankl by saying, ‘The meaning of your life is to help others find the meaning of theirs.’
‘That was it, exactly,’ Frankl said. ‘Those are the very words I had written.'”

 

 

 

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What I’m Reading, November 2017

On the home front, looking at the carnage of two rotten trees in our front yard makes me philosophical about loss.

I think it’s good to remember, to try to make sense of loss, to let yourself feel the sadness.

I also think it’s helpful to focus on what’s left, not necessarily on what’s gone.

Linking up on Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit.

(Note: This post contains affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you, a percentage of your purchase goes to support this site.)

On to the books–

 Buy now from Amazon

The Secret of Story: Innovative Tools for Perfecting Your Fiction and Captivating Readers by Matt Bird

I am fascinated by story.  I believe with every fiber that story is one of the most powerful teaching tools, and probably the most underutilized.

I found Matt Bird’s observations to be insightful and helpful.  His field of expertise is TV and film, but I think a lot of the principles he’s discovered are universally applicable.

Here’s a few gems:

“You must write for an audience, not just yourself.”

“Audiences don’t really care about stories;  they care about characters.”

“Your story is not about your hero’s life; it’s about your hero’s problem.”

Good stuff.

 

 Buy now from Amazon

Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist

Five stars for being a wholesome, well-written YA.

It’s interesting to stop and think about what it’s like to be blind from birth. How impossible it is to picture anything. What it means for your social interactions.

Add the fact that you’re sixteen years old and transferring from a blind school to a public school.

This is an engaging, feel good story. Satisfying.

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Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Viktor was a prisoner in a concentration camp in Germany. But, he was also a psychartrist. So, he analyzed the fellow prisoners, the ones who had given up hope and died and the ones who had the will to live.

He concluded that everyone needs to find their own reason for being on the planet: their life’s work. He had a book he was working on before he was imprisoned and he was also married.

Focusing his thoughts on finishing his book and seeing his wife again sustained him during the horrific experience of the concentration camp.

  Buy now from Amazon

Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday

The main premise of this book is that traditional PR, marketing and advertising with it’s big budgets and campaigns are no longer necessary for success.

Ryan Holiday should know. That was his field.
But today the playing field is leveled with desktop publishing, everyone as a photographer and social media taking your message viral.

I believe in some ways it’s easier than ever to get your message out. In other ways, you have more competition because everyone has access to what used to be only available to a few.

The challenge now is to stand out and be noticed in an avalanche of everyone promoting their message.

What are you reading this month?

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What I’m Reading, October 2017

Whew!  What a month.

Since September 15th, I went to Tribe Conference and my youngest turned 18.

Soccer season wrapped up with a heart break game.

We’ve had unusually warm weather, which is good for me.

On to the books:

  Buy now from Amazon

Fearless by Eric Blehm

I’m fascinated by the story of Adam Brown’s life.  He had some high highs and low lows.

The whole narrative around NAVY seals is interesting, but Adam Brown stood out, even it that elite group.

His journey to becoming a highly decorated SEAL is certainly not conventional.

What can I tell you that will let you know what a great book this is?  I don’t know how to describe it without spoilers.

I don’t know how to tell you what I was impressed with, what I was surprised by, how it all played out, because I want you to read it.

Okay, the interesting thing to me about Fearless is the addictive personality and the success as a Navy Seal.

He was a good kid. He did good when he was focused on the football team. But, when he got sucked into drugs he fell hard.

He got so many commendations for his work in the military.

He was able to deal pretty well with transitioning from his work to family life. He had lots of determination and drive.

He slipped up once after a few years of service and lots of commendations. He should have lost his job.

It was the recommendation of the father of one of his childhood friends that actually got him into the military service. Without that person sticking his neck out on the line, he couldn’t have done it.

 

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This Undeserved Life
by Natalie Brenner

It’s the pinnacle of compassion to see life through someone else’s eyes.

Natalie Brenner gives us a chance to do that: to walk her road with her, to feel her pain and know her sorrows.

She teaches us that everyone’s story matters, not just celebrities and newsmakers.

Transparency about our stories destroys the glittery facebook highlight reel that we imagine everyone else is living. Perceptions are not reality.

Her story isn’t just about fertility, adoption and parenthood. It’s also about relationships, calling and identity.

Natalie has given us the gift of her story.

 

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Reading People

by Anne Bogel

Reading People is a good way to get a quick overview of some of the personality frameworks. Some I was familiar with, some I wasn’t. I find personality fascinating.

It’s easy to see the practical applications and helpfulness of the different frameworks when Anne shares personal stories of how they have helped her.

I’m recommending this book to young people because it’s so important to know yourself. Having a vocabulary and reference points is so helpful for teams, co-workers, spouses and family members.

Highly recommended.

  Buy now from Amazon

Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday

Writers want to write best sellers.  Lots of books don’t sell well.  I’m a bookseller, I know.

The premise of this book is that it’s a better goal to write a book that will be enduring, that has good enough content to sell over a long period of time, not just spike to a best seller list and disappear.

He has a good point.

We often don’t look to the long view.

This is a challenge to consider what your body of work will be long term and not strive for long term wins.

Of course, the majority of the population can’t write a best seller or a perennial seller, but every author in the history of the world started unpublished, so there’s that.

 

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If I Perish by Esther Ahn Kim

Esther was a Korean imprisoned for her faith by the Japanese in the thirties and forties.

Quite a story. I learned history that I didn’t know before.

She endured quite a bit of physical hardship. Songs, scripture and prayer was the lifeline for the Christians in the prison.

God answered some prayers in miraculous ways, but other times the prisoners suffered a lot.

Many believers today are persecuted for their faith, but we’re not hearing their stories much.

What are you reading this month?

 

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What I’m Reading, September 2017

September means soccer around here.

I’m feeling a little nostalgic because it’s our last season as soccer parents.  Our baby is a senior in high school, so an era is ending.

The weather’s been great for watching soccer games–not too hot, cold, rainy or windy.  You never know in Indiana.

Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy’s Quick Lit for September reads.

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Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Before You Were Ours is a tragic tale with a hopeful ending.

This is not a feel good book, but it is well-written.

It touches on the trauma that children go through when their nuclear family is destroyed.

It traces the children of a riverboat family who were abducted and institutionalized in the South in the early 20th century.

Interspersed with that story is the story of a modern day teen in foster care who makes friends with a elderly widow, never dreaming that their childhoods carried similar threads.

This is the first Lisa Wingate novel that I’ve read, but I will be looking for more of her books.

It reminded me a little of Orphan Train.

 Buy now from Amazon

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

What if you lived in a small kingdom where the prince chose his bride from the graduates of the Princess Academy?

What if you had the chance for an education that would never be possible otherwise?

I loved this middle grade novel for telling a tale of what could be, the power of knowledge, friendships and courage.

One of my favorite parts of Princess Academy was how they snuck in principles of Commerce and Negotiation. It was fun how that played out.

There were a few weird and whimsical twists, but every fairy tale needs a little magic.

 Buy now from Amazon

Unselfie by Michele Borba

Michele Borba was in town last week to speak to the teachers in our district.  She’s gaining a following in our area.

I liked the stories of all the schools that developed programs or implemented teaching that turned the school community around or changed a classroom.

It gives you hope for the kids of this generation. It certainly is a fight, though, with the phones and digital devices.

I liked the support she gave for developing empathy by reading, especially fiction.

Lots of good tips on practical ways to teach kids empathy.

Lots of stories and good examples of kids at school and home demonstrating empathy.

It gives a good breakdown of the elements of empathy and the why it is such a critical trait for our kids.

 Buy now from Amazon

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Heads up for language and thematic elements.

The first half of the book was slow moving and a little confusing.

The second half was riveting.

A journalist is on assignment on a small luxury cruiser.  She notices some strange things happening, but when she looks into it, her story is called into question.

Good suspense.  Good resolution.

 

 

 

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6 True Adventure Stories that are Page Turners

What is it about adventure stories that draws you in?

It’s facing and overcoming adversity. The choices made. The sacrifices made. What the human body can endure. Giving up versus pressing on.

The thing about true stories is you know, generally, how they’re going to turn out. But, the draw is finding out how they got there.

True adventure stories are inspiring.

Reading or hearing someone’s story creates hope within us that we can also survive, endure and triumph.

(Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no additional cost to you.)

  Buy now from Amazon

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

The pathos of the story draws you in.  Joe Rantz is an almost Dickensonian hero.

Tracing the background of some others on the champion rowing team puts you in the boat with the rowers and has you cheering with the crowds on the shore.

I love the real life lessons of leadership and teamwork, and wonder how to transfer these lessons to other teams.

The up close and behind the scenes glimpses of history are instructive and sobering.  So much to glean from this book.

  Buy now from Amazon

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing

It’s little hard to put my finger on what I like about the book so much.

It’s a good study in leadership and teamwork. It’s an amazing triumph over the elements, even though the primary mission wasn’t accomplished. The feat was bringing back everyone home alive.

The decisions that had to be made; the feats of survival; the human interaction; the challenges that they faced. These are the elements of the story that draw you in and keep you turning pages.

 Buy now from Amazon

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken tells the story of Louis Zamperini, Olympic runner World War II soldier.

Zamperini faces so many incredible circumstances in his life before he turns 30.  The perseverance and resilience he displayed in the face the multiple titanic challenges is an inspiration.

Knowing his background and family intensifies the story.

The final resolution is satisfying and heart warming.

Aside from the story, the writing is a work of art.

  Buy now from Amazon

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

In 1996, eight mountain climbers lost their lives while attempting to summit Everest.  Jon Krakauer is a journalist and climber who survived and wrote about it.

To me, one of the most interesting dynamics is the role of leadership and teamwork in summiting as well as personal, individual responsibility.

One of the critical factors in the deaths of those on the mountain in 1996 was the enforcement of the turn around time.

Hall, the team leader, had been so strict about that for other teams, but with this one, he wasn’t.  He didn’t communicate clearly whether the turn around time was one o clock or  two clock.  On the actual summit day, people were summiting at 4 and 5 o clock.

No one seemed to know that there was a storm blowing in.

There’s a lot of competing forces at play:  people who spent a lot of money to summit, the commercialization of summiting, magazines that would pay a lot for the story, advertisers looking for heroes.

There’s also different teams that were summiting and the different philosophies of the team leaders.

Should a leader be making decisions that are unquestioned?  Does that actually put his team at greater risk because they don’t follow their own wisdom?  Actually, the genius of Hall’s leadership was to make the decisions ahead of time, not in the heat of the moment.  And the actual breakdown came in not following through with those wise decisions.

The safety net wasn’t there when it needed to be.

The bottom line is, it impossible to erase all the risk.  That’s one factor that makes the challenge so attractive:  there is an element of risk involved.  Defying death is part of the victory.

“The true story of one man’s miraculous survival after a mountaineering mishap high in the Andes of South America.”

 Buy now from Amazon

Touching the Void by Joe Simpson

I’ve been on the prowl for another great family read aloud, along the lines of Endurance and Unbroken.  Even though Touching the Void and Into Thin Air are incredible true life accounts, I didn’t think the writing was of the same caliber as those two.

There’s a lot of climbing terms and concepts that I didn’t understand and it took a while before the story became compelling.  If I hadn’t known what was coming, I’m not sure I would have stuck with it.  The account is a testimony to the human will to survive.  Although it was only given a passing reference, it’s also a testimony to the prayers of Joe’s mother.

It’s fascinating to me to analyze the decisions you make in the face of death.  What motivates you to keep going when it’s hopeless and what motivates you to give up?

 Buy now from Amazon

The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston

It took 100 pages for this story to really get good. But, when it did, I was hooked.

Who can resist the search for a lost city? There’s quite an appeal to explore virgin territory, untouched by human hands for centuries, but yet once a thriving civilization.

The book took a left turn for the last fourth and covered tropical diseases, almost leaving archeology in the dust. I found the information interesting, but it certainly wasn’t where I was expecting the book to go.

 

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What I’m Reading, August 2017

This month has been stressful, in spite of the fact that we took a week’s vacation with the kids to celebrate our thirtieth anniversary.

I am thankful for the chance to get away and build stronger relationships and store away good memories.

Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy’s August QuickLit.

Camino Island by John Grisham

The story begins with a theft of rare manuscripts from a university library.

Then we’re taken to a Florida bookshop and an undercover operation to recover the manuscripts.

John Grisham’s stories are easy to read. You can figure out the characters and stay with the plot without a lot of work, even if you’re stressed.

I’m not sure I would have noticed that, except that I heard him say something about not introducing more than 5 new characters in the first few chapters.

There’s some elements I didn’t like about Camino Island. I might not be reading John Grisham any more, since I seem to be growing an increasing sensitivity to those elements.

I wish I could combine the strengths of some authors with others.

It was interesting to see a story about the bookselling world, even if it was cheapened by taudry scenes.

The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston

It took 100 pages for this story to really get good. But, when it did, I was hooked.

Who can resist the search for a lost city? There’s quite an appeal to explore virgin territory, untouched by human hands for centuries, but yet once a thriving civilization.

The book took a left turn for the last fourth and covered tropical diseases, almost leaving archeology in the dust. I found the information interesting, but it certainly wasn’t where I was expecting the book to go.

A Place of Refuge by K. M. Gross

The story is set in Montana and revolves around Dani, a young woman escaping an abusive relationship and Matt, who’s dealing with grief and loss.

A Place a Refuge is recommended for young readers, say 12-16. I liked the moral tone of the book.

Kudos to the author for her debut novel.

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

The Kitchen House traces several decades of whites and blacks during slavery in the South.

I can’t really say I liked the story line. Like the author herself said, it has some disturbing elements.

But, the story is compelling. Tragic, really, what the people of the time endured. The twisted and convoluted relationships. The evil that existed. The foundational beliefs that paved the way for so much that was twisted and convoluted.

It wasn’t graphic, given the nature of the subject matter.

Unfortunately, it rings true.  If you really want to understand the times, you have to understand the undercurrent that runs through the story.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Orphan Train traces two orphans: a girl from modern times and one from the early 1900s. It’s interesting to see how the philosophy of orphan care has changed in this country, especially knowing some great foster parents and some of the inside pros and cons of the foster system.

I liked the book, except for one passage that was too graphic.

It was a fictional account, but the amazing fact is that 250,000 children rode the train over a period of several decades.

What are you reading this month?

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Stop wishing you read more: one simple key to reading more books

Every year, almost 5 million people google how to read more as part of their research for New Year’s Resolutions.

It comes in behind exercising and eating right, but it’s on the list of things people want to do to improve their lives.

I remember wishing I read more.  I didn’t google it and I didn’t make it a New Year’s Resolution, but I was feeling it intensely.

I still wish it sometimes, but not as often and not a strongly, since I discovered the simple key to reading more.

 

The key to reading more is to surround yourself with irresistible books.

Goals and challenges can help.

Accountability and support systems are good.

But, achievement will be almost effortless if you are surrounded by irresistible books.

The challenge will no longer be, how can I make time to read? But, how will I get my cleaning done, how do I get a full night’s sleep every night? How can I get my work done?

Not just great books, not just bestsellers, not just books that are famous, but books that are irresistible to YOU.

Finding them and getting access to them is your challenge.

How do you find them, the irresistible books?

First of all, you have to answer the question Why am I reading?

Am I reading to be educated or entertained? Do I want to learn or escape? These are the two main reasons people read.

The exceptional writers are the ones who can entertain while teaching or instruct while entertaining.

So, you mainly want to escape and be entertained? Where do you find great books? The plethora of books available makes finding ones you love a daunting task.

You could go by bestseller lists, by GoodReads or Amazon reviews, what your friends are reading, book clubs or bloggers. There’s so many great resources on the internet now to find books you love. Pinterest, instagram, twitter.

So, you’re interesting in learning? To scale up your business, to take up a new hobby, to rocket your side hustle. Or to improve your spiritual, emotional or relational life. To understand what’s happening in the world or in politics. To understand a cause or join the conversation.

This is the best time in history to connect with people with the same interests as you. You can find them online. You can find out what they’re reading and what they’re writing.

Surrounding yourself with irresistible books has never been easier.

Even with the disappearance of bookstores. Even if you’re not close to a library, the possibilities are greater than ever. There’s audio books. There’s ebooks. There’s used books–sometimes cheap online, sometimes not. There’s free books from people building their businesses.

Some people don’t consider the time that they’re exercising or commuting or cleaning the kitchen as a good time to read. But, if you add audio books into the mix, all of a sudden windows of time for reading open up.

 

Find books you love.

When you are surrounded by books you love, then it’s no longer a problem of finding time to read, it will be a problem of finding time to clean or mow the lawn or sleep.  It won’t be a matter of finding time to read.

I think this is the key. I really do. I owe a lot to Modern Mrs Darcy for helping me to find books that I love. Not that everything I’ve heard on podcast or read about in her blog have been winners, but I found out about a lot of books that I wouldn’t have otherwise. It gave this fiction snob a reason to believe that there are novels out there that I like. I had about given up hope. It felt like all the wholesome novels were not well-written and the well-written novels were not wholesome.

“Throw your phone in the ocean.”

Even with print books and ebooks, there’s the time you spend waiting, there’s the time you spend on your phone or watching tv or engaging with social media.

Austin Kleon’s number one rule for reading more is “Throw your phone in the ocean.” Nuff said.

 

 

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What I’m Reading, July 2017

 

July is a good time to be grateful for the good ‘ol USA.

May we never take for granted the freedoms we have, the sacrifices of those who have gone before and the foundational truths that benefit us every day.

I’m loving summer mornings.  It’s so great not to have to be out of the house by 7:30.

Not a lot of books finished this month, due mostly to an overindulgence in Blue Bloods episodes.  Gotta love summer schedules.

(Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links, which means at no extra cost to you, a portion of your purchase goes to support this site.)

Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy’s Quick Lit for July.

Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins

This book is a game changer.

It challenges long held beliefs and deconstructs myths.

Real Artists Don’t Starve doesn’t just refer to painters and sculptors, but writers, poets, and creatives of all types.

The twelve principles that emerged from Jeff studying creatives are supported by success stories from today and throughout history.

I love lots of them, but my favorite is about C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and the literary group they belonged to, the Inklings.  They shaped each other’s art.  It debunks the myth of the lone genius and highlights the need to work in collaboration.

This message of Real Artists is important for young people who have been told to put their dreams on hold in favor of a steady income.

It’s also important for older people who have not pursued their dreams believing in the inability of artists to make a living.

It’s time for a paradigm shift and Jeff Goins is leading the way.

.  Buy now from Amazon

  Buy now from Amazon

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval is a fantasy story that revolves around two sisters wanting to escape an abusive home.

They are enticed by the promises of Caraval and the chance to win their hearts’ desires.  The rules of the game put everything they know and believe to the test.

I can recommend this book to young people.  It’s great to see a YA book with traditional values.

The story was intriguing enough to keep me to the end– high praise for a fiction snob.

I think we’ll be seeing more of Stephanie Garber.

 Buy now from Amazon

Hallelujah Anyway by Anne Lamott.

Even though I don’t agree with all of Anne’s theology and less of her politics, I love her writing.

Hallelujah Anyways is classic Anne.

I can’t say it’s one my favorites, though. Bird by Bird, Operating Instructions and Some Assembly Required rank up there at the top for me.

I like her definition of mercy– Radical kindness. Need more of that.

 

 Buy now from Amazon

Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon

Successful book marketer, Tim Grahl, included Show Your Work! on his list of 11 Best Book Marketing Books.

As a bookseller, I’m fascinated with the world of book publishing and marketing, especially in the days of great industry upheavals.

There’s a lot of misbeliefs about selling and marketing your book.  Probably number one is all you have to do is write a great book and wait for it to be discovered.

Authors really have to do a lot of networking, platform building, audience rapport and building relationships with influencers.

One of the points that Austin makes, that is also made in Jeff Goin’s Real Artists Don’t Starve is that you need to practice in public.  Show people the process, whether it’s rough drafts or behind the scenes work or works in progress.

Get feedback in the middle of the creative process, don’t create in private and wait for the big reveal.

You know, though, the way I see it, sometimes you have to guard the gate if you create in public, because haters are out there and their feedback is unnecessarily discouraging.

I’ll be checking out some more on Grahl’s list.

Hope you had a great book reading month!

What are you reading?

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