I was told that A Swiftly Tilting Planet is amazing. It’s the third book. I listened to A Wrinkle in Time, and fine. I listened to A Wind… and, it was okay. Traveling to a boy’s mitochondria turns out to not be my bailiwick, but Proginoskes and Blajeny were fun. I will go on!
Part rising star autobiography, part intro to the world of fine dining, part leadership principles, the whole book is full of tasty courses from the hors d’oeuvre to the afters. A friend recommended it to me in January, but I procrastinated on getting a copy. In the meantime he recommended it to a whole bunch of people and then they all started talking about it so I could resist no longer.
I should have remembered Guidara and his restaurant, Eleven Madison Park, from a Seven Days Out episode that Mo had us watch a few years ago. The story is fun, even Legend; I wasn’t too many pages into the book before I cared about the author and his team.
Hospitality is a Christian virtue, and there is application to be found far beyond four star restaurants. How can you pay better attention to others, serve them, even surprise them? Hospitality is not exactly generosity, and it’s definitely not necessarily luxury. “Hospitality is about creating genuine connection” (loc. 1912), especially since “the human desire to be taken care of never goes away” (loc. 131), and comes with an opportunity “to make magic in a world that desperately needs more of it” (loc. 354).
Hospitality is potent, and something Christian cultures should develop. This book is a great encouragement toward that end.
If you would have told me fifteen years ago that I would love fiction, I would have so non-fiction laughed in your face. If you would have told me that my favorite novel would be in the sci-fi genre, I might have encouraged you to book a flight on a SpaceX rocket. Yet here we are.
Deeper Heaven is more than a commentary, it’s a sort of celebration of C. S. Lewis’ Ransom Trilogy: Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength. We focused on this trifecta at our most recent Fiction Festival, and I thought I’d read Hale’s book as part of my preparation. Well worth it.
She references Michael Ward’s book, Planet Narnia, and especially the medieval cosmology/astronomy Lewis so clearly loved and threaded into Narnia and these earlier planetary books. I enjoyed Ward a lot, and I think anyone can read his stuff. But if you’re just getting started you might find Hale’s orbit a bit more inviting.
Glad presence. That’s the standard for a good culture (home, school, business), and it’s the standard for the leader who wants to set—or elevate—the tone of a good culture.
This is my second time reading the book. I picked it up again because I recommended it to a guy who’s part of a team that needed some cultural heart-replacement. And while I still think some of it is repetitive rah-rah, it does put the responsibility in the right place: the one you see in the mirror.
I find the principle easier to envision than to embody. The grumblers and malcontents can get to me, and it’s also been a challenge to compensate for low energy and internal meh. That said, not blaming others or letting ourselves off the hook are evergreen reminders. Try a “presence reboot” and be the person you want the group to be full of.
by Dan Sullivan and (actually written) by Benjamin Hardy
If you have great ambitions you likely have great discouragements. The higher your ideals, the lower the chance you reach them. While it’s good to have good wants, it’s also crucial to have good perspective. This book encourages those who pursue big goals to practice even better gratitude.
The gap is the measurement between where you are and where you wish you were. The gain is the measurement between where you were and how far you’ve come. A focus on the gap likely leads to discouragement and frustration. A grasp of the gain promotes a positive frame and makes further progress desirable; you work out of good feelings rather than out of anxiety and pressure.
Here is the diagram:
The gap and the gain is a sticky idea, one that I won’t soon forget. And I’m only giving the book itself 3 out of 5 stars. A friend of mine recommended it, I’m glad I read it, and again, the concept has legs. But you see the whole track after a couple laps, and after a certain amount of repetition you just get tired, not better trained. It could also use a bit more warning: it’s not for the non-ambitious. Couch potatoes might be better being a little more frustrated.
If you are big-visioned and if you are big-struggling with how far away you seem to be from reaching the vision, this might edify you. You could also just try being more thankful, which never hurts.
A friend recommended this to me while he was waiting in the Emergency Room (for what turned out to be a brain bleed that kept him in the hospital for a week). I figured I should at least read his final recommendation (!), which, praise the Lord, he is recovering and it can just be a plain ol’ recommendation.
I really enjoyed it. It’s about ideas, and what makes some ideas not only better than others but also more transferable. The book provides a framework (and examples and exercises) in order to communicate well. Idea templates can be be more freeing than frustrating for creative persuasion.
The authors didn’t use the word, but it’s very much about Rhetoric, which I’m teaching as a class for the first time this year at our school. There’s a high likelihood that I make this part of my curriculum in future years.
It’s only been two years since I last read THS, and it was, perhaps, even better on my fifth time through? Our 7th annual fiction festival is coming up in March, and the theme is “Why Christians Shouldn’t Be NICE.” So it will have a Ransom trilogy focus, with special attention on the third of the three. I wanted a running start, so I started a plod read with Out of the Silent Planet last summer, got through Perelandra, and just finished THS. I had forgotten how (bloody) bloody the damage is at the end, and of course it couldn’t have happened to NICEr guys. THS couldn’t get any higher on my list of favorite fiction books, though it did root its position more securely.
I didn’t read A Wrinkle when I was 12-16 years-old, which is apparently the intended target age, but my wife said I she thought I’d probably really like books two and three in the series, and so I figured I should read the first. I listened, and I LIKED it!
I cared about Meg and Charles Wallace, and I have a son named Calvin. I’m curious about dystopian stories, and why not check out a dystopian narrative for teens in particular? The various supernatural powers and astronomy were bonus. So even though I’m not a free will guy, it still worked for my edification, and I’ll get on to A Wind in the Door.
I’ve read a lot of books in this genre, so many, in fact, that I committed to not ready any new (to me) books about GTD/productivity in 2022. Instead I chose my top twelve to review, one for each month, which I did, more or less.
The one exception was Essentialism which I started on December 29 of 2021; I made allowance to finish it. Which I did in January, and which I decided would be my book to review in December. Here’s my actual review.
McKeown gives good reminders. Though by a different guy, it relates to this tweet:
It also really relates to The ONE Thing, which I had just finished reading before McKeown’s book. It is sort of KonMari for your calendar not just your closet.
What is required is courage for decisions about what is important. “[T]he deeper I have looked at the subject of Essentialism the more clearly I have seen courage as key to the process of elimination” (Loc. 1659, emphasis mine). And I didn’t know this, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot. “The Latin root of the word decision—cis or cid—literally means ‘to cut’ or ‘to kill.’…You can seen this in words like scissors, homicide, or fratricide” (Loc. 2036). So when we decide, we are deciding what to cut. There must be cuts. Something(s) will be cut. Will we cut what is not essential?
We need to eliminate multiple meaningless activities and replace them with one very meaningful activity. (Loc. 2058)
You probably don’t need to read the whole book, but we all need to decide what to do with our four thousand weeks. It turns out that I chose as my theme for 2023: BUDGET, applied not only to money but also to minutes (and meals and Mo), and it’s impossible to avoid decisions. So GET WISDOM (Proverbs 4:5, 7). And GET CUTTING.
Work with me here for just a second. I like the Burger King Whopper with cheese. I order it as is. Before I eat it, I wipe off almost all of the toppings: tomato and onions and pickles and lettuce and condiments. I carefully choose a couple pieces of the more greenish-looking lettuce to replace on the burger, and then dig in. I like the overall flavor, but still have some texture issues.
This book is way more filling if you can scrape off the parts about theistic evolution and man’s free will. This book is worth the work to do so, I’m just warning before you take a big bite.
Lewis identifies the “problem”:
‘If God were good, He would wish to make His creatures perfectly happy, and if God were almighty He would be able to do what He wished. But the creatures are not happy. Therefore God lacks either goodness, or power, or both.’ This is the problem of pain, in its simplest form.
He answers the question pretty well, not only in terms of what our sin deserves, but especially in terms of how God uses suffering/pain/troubles to not let us be satisfied with anything less than Himself. So:
God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.
This is not from a detached position. There’s no Lewisian Stoicism.
When I think of pain—of anxiety that gnaws like fire and loneliness that spreads out like a desert, and the heartbreaking routine of monotonous misery, or again of dull aches that blacken our whole landscape or sudden nauseating pains that knock a man’s heart out at one blow, of pains that seem already intolerable and then are suddenly increased, of infuriating scorpion-stinging pains that startle into maniacal movement a man who seemed half dead with his previous tortures—it ‘quite o’ercrows my spirit’.
Lewis has chapters on Hell and Heaven which are also connected and good, and overall he accomplishes his goal to provide “a little courage” and “the least tincture of the love of God.”