On My Bookshelf – February 2013

On my Bookshelf_reduced

After three months of what-I’m-reading-these-days-silence, I thought it was time to remedy the void. In no particular order, here are some recent books that have graced my nightstand:

1. The Big Disconnect: Frankly, the contents of this book deserve their own post, because I found the thesis and take-home message especially pertinent. The book delves into the link (and growing trend) between technology and loneliness. Dense in parts, and ironically disconnected (the middle section is an unnecessary, albeit fascinating, history lesson), the take home message is still loud and clear – as technology inextricably weaves its way into the very fabric of our lives, seemingly to bring hyper-connectivity, we’ve become more and more isolated from people and reality. B+

2. Crazy Love: A call to total abandonment to God, this book was very reminiscent of Radical. While I found the writing style maddeningly simplistic, the message was clear – the American church (obviously applicable to North America as a whole, and thus Canada) has fallen away from the truth, generally reduced to meet self-seeking desires. A

3. Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone: An admittedly guilty pleasure; my recent read-through of the first installment of this series must put me around the 10th time. Always entertaining, downright funny in parts, and less dark than the movie portrayals. Not everyone’s cup-of-tea to be sure, but always a solid hit in my books. A

4. 50 People Every Christian Should Know: This was an interesting compilation of mini-biographies, most being for relatively obscure Christians (but including spiritual “greats” like Spurgeon). By #30 I was waning, simply because I found the biographies really started to run together. A great resource though, inspiring, and very easy-to-read. B

5. Mister Pip: Unique. Unexpected. I understand why this book has won/been nominated for a variety of prestigious awards. Reminiscent of Lord of the Flies (a classic I greatly disliked), the book is set during a civil war on a remote island. Shan’t say more, but it’s a good one. A

6. A Long Way Gone: memoirs of a boy solider: A horrifying look at the life of a child soldier in Sierra Leone. Especially poignant since my parents entered Sierra Leone on their last trip to Liberia. I couldn’t put this book down, and finished it in two sittings (weeping by the end of it all). Difficult to read (emotionally), but gives such a perspective into war and the tragic loss of innocence. Not my favourite writing style, but the thoughts are articulately conveyed. A-

7. Love and Logic – Magic for Early Childhood: My only real parenting read these past few months. A simple book with refreshingly concrete examples. Some of the methods I don’t wholeheartedly agree with (timeout suggestions are a bit extreme) but the overarching theme of logical consequences is helpful. Again, the use of specific examples was wonderful; while they do discuss general theories, they frequently provide a “script” of sorts for dealing with common issues from bad eating habits to tantrums at the grocery store. A-

8. All Natural: A Skeptic’s Quest to Discover If the Natural Approach to Diet, Childbirth, Healing, and the Environment Really Keeps Us Healthier and Happier: When I got this book, I was convinced it would be a “skimmer.” One of those books where I read small, pertinent sections and dismiss the rest. I was surprised to be hooked – this was a well written, relatively unbiased look at the delicate balance between natural approaches and modern technologies (from C-sections to antibiotics, raw milk to clear cutting) – think of it as a broad Food Inc. Fascinating, a great writing style, and the perfect blend of research/first-hand experience. A

9. Happier at Home: The second in the Gretchen Rubin Happiness series, this was another good book. Simple suggestions for streamlining and de-cluttering our lives. Again, I don’t always agree with her premise, especially as she generally equates happiness as something WE can achieve on our own (ie: distinct from spiritual joy/happiness/fulfillment found in God). But I’ve implemented a number of her suggestions, and her anecdotes are memorable (and come to mind frequently). I did skim portions of the book, preferring to read the concrete examples she provided, but will re-read this again in the future. A-


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