Great Books to Read Now


I'm immersed in another of Brene Brown's books: Daring Greatly. It's one of the best books I've ever read.

In a chapter entitled "Mind the Gap" Brown talks about the difference between what we say and what we do.  She says: 


In my experience, I can tell a lot about the culture and values of a group, family, or organization by asking these ten questions:
1. What behaviors are rewarded? Punished?
2. Where and how are people actually spending their resources (time, money, attention)?
3. What rules and expectations are followed, enforced, and ignored?
4. Do people feel safe and supported taking about how they feel and asking for what they need?
5. What are the sacred cows? Who is most likely to tip them? Who stands the cows back up?
6. What stories are legend and what values do they convey?
7. What happens when someone fails, disappoints, or makes mistakes?
8. How is vulnerability (uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure) perceived?
9. How prevalent are shame and blame and how are they showing up?
10. What's the collective tolerance for discomfort? Is the discomfort of learning, trying new things, and giving feedback normalized, or is there a high premium put on comfort (and how does that look)?


I like researchers and writers who stir the pot. James A. Lindsay's Everybody is Wrong About God stirs the pot, kicks the hornet's nest, and slaps you in the face . . . in a thoughtful way. It not only challenged me to consider what social and psychological needs faith and religion have filled in my life. It forced me to categorize my beliefs and label them - something I'm generally not comfortable doing.

He looks at theists and atheists and explains why pitting the two against each other is futile. He describes his own beliefs as post-theistic ("where even atheism is irrelevant"). His argument is non-confrontational. He even points out that it is unwise to underestimate Christians. This was crucial to keeping my interest in the book. I don't give credence to an argument that demeans its opponent.

For example: "Christians are simple-minded and backwards." 

You lost me. People of all beliefs can make stunning and terrible choices. 

I'm still digesting this book and will be for some time. It will either forge your faith, or break through hollow beliefs.


The last book I read aloud to my kids was Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. I may be about 30 years late on this bandwagon, but I still loved this story. A young boy's plane crashes in the wilderness. He is the sole survivor and must find shelter, food, and keep himself from going crazy. 

I laughed and cried. Stories are powerful. This one cuts through the distractions of civilization leaving the reader in the woods with Brian Robeson, without any of the comforts we pile around ourselves so we don't get too hungry, too quiet, or feel dirt under our fingernails.

Pros: My kids gained a new appreciation for their home and their lifestyle. They also played "survival" for weeks after starting this book.

Cons: They peed in the backyard (because "it's part of the game, Mom!")

Still worth reading.

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