Monday, January 11, 2016

End of 2015 reading.

Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity and Thrive by Barbara Fredrickson  I read a ton of books in paperback and this was an audio read for me. As such, it is one that I will come back to as a paperback soon.  Of the many books I read on issues of “happiness” this one was ground in the single work of a single researcher, sharing her work.  As such, it was different from the collected work of others books I read and this one I would benefit from reading in paper form. It is harder for me to track details of books I audio read, as I’m a visual learner, but a good “read” that I’ll come back to.

The Secret Chord: A Novel by Geraldine Brooks.  King David of Hebrew Scripture is important to my scholarship and professional life and I knew this “historical fiction” would not be “perfect” as it would have to take liberties.  That being said, I did not like it.  Of course, persons can make their own choices about how to discern and characterize the life of David! It is clear to me that my sense of who David was among the characters of the Bible, is different than Ms. Brooks.

Good Mourning by Elizabeth Meyer.  An enjoyable light read about a girl coming to terms with her life, and the lives (deaths) of very wealthy persons dying.  I learned some insider information about the funeral industry, though nothing too surprising.  In a trite way, I enjoyed this book.

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in theCivil War by Karen Abbott.  I love books that cause me to rethink things/situations I “thought I knew.”  I’ve never claimed to be any kind of expert on the Civil War, though this book opened up my perspectives on how some women played truly key roles in ways I had simply never thought of before! Delightful to rethink and reframe my sense of history, and include new persons in the drama of what took place.

Doctored: The Disillusionment of an American Physician bySandeep Jauhar.  Part biography, part critique of the systems in place for American M.D.s.  Of course I learned some new data, though I found the biographical aspects to be overbearing for what I was hoping to find in the book.

Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World'sStolen Treasures by Robert K. Wittman.  I enjoyed this book very much.  Again, perhaps because it caused me to think about entire groups of people who have lives I had never given really thought about.  I mean, in theory I know there are persons who are expert art thieves and in theory I know there are detectives who work these cases, but now I know so much more!

Forgiven: The Amish School Shooting, a Mother's Love, and aStory of Remarkable Grace  by TerriRoberts.  Terri’s son is the person who entrapped and then shot the Amish school children – primarily girl’s.  This is her story of forgiveness. While important and I’m “for” stories of forgiveness to move us . . . this one focused too much on Terri, was too redundant, and in a silly way, gave too much emphasis to her sun room. 

The Way of the Wise: Simple Truths for Living Well by Dr.Kevin Leman.  Trite stories that illustrate Biblical Wisdom.  The reviews by others far outweigh my sense of the importance of this book.

The Valley of the Shadow of Death: A Tale of Tragedy and Redemption by Kermit Alexander.  This was an audio-book for me, as I covered quite a few hundred miles in the middle of the night.  For that purpose, it was fine.  I enjoyed the story overall, though the book could be 1/3 if not 1/ 2 shorter if redundancies were faithfully edited.  It was “too long.”

Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy byDonald Miller. I do not understand why people think Donald Miller is important and what he has to offer.  This book is about his needing to come to terms with his own failures in intimacy and his bedwetting childhood.  Really.

Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a PolygamousSect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs by ElissaWall.  Just about everything about polygamy and sister wives astounds me. Yet more, I am confounded by men marrying teens! Book was too long with redundancies, though intriguing to me in several ways.  I did not like and found it quite painful to read about the suffering and family problems Elissa and her family endured.

Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook inAmerica by Susan Campbell Bartoletti.  This book was simply intriguing.  I’d never given any thought to Typhoid Mary and I learned a lot about public health and health policy – and Typhoid fever and a slice of American history in this tale.

The End of the Rainbow: How Educating for Happiness—NotMoney—Would Transform Our Schools by Susan Engel.  A good read for persons engaged in Education, though the aim of this book is at the Elementary Level - and perhaps some Secondary schooling.  Engel tells stories of schools she has visited while offering some studies that validate her claims.  

The Power of Patience: How to Slow the Rush and Enjoy MoreHappiness, Success, and Peace of Mind Every Day by M.J. Ryan.  I barely had the patience to read this "book."  I probably skipped some chapters.  It's 2-3 page story after story about learning to be patient.  That's it.  Here's my summary.  Be Patient - sometimes stories prove it is a good thing.

Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar: How Self-Education and thePursuit of Passion Can Lead to a Lifetime by James Marcus Bach.  A high school drop-out who signed on early with Apple gives his principles on why education is not necessary and how you can let your own passion guide your life.  Perhaps this is a testimonial to what Dr. Ken Robinson would say is most urgent (?).  Not much here.

The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life YouWant by Sonja Lyubomirsky.  This book would be on par with the Positivity book I audio-read as "most compelling" for how it offered actual case studies and commentary on those to validate claims about how we can be happy.  With deliberate and clearly focused practices, undergirded by studies that validate each claim, this book offers practical ways to "be happy" in the life you lead. Of the many books I read on happiness in the past weeks, this is "the one" I'd come back to.  Though, as noted, I need to get my hands on the paper version of Positivity.

The Law of Happiness: How Spiritual Wisdom and ModernScience Can Change Your Life (The Secret Things of God) by Dr. Henry Cloud.  Read the reviews, and save yourself the time of reading the book.  I honestly have no idea why this book has so many 5 star reviews.  It was simple, and not scientifically based, truisms.

Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion by Sam Harris. An atheist writes about the need for spirituality and mindfulness.  I was a bit taken back by some of Sam's observations and trite statements about religions, though, it was intriguing to read, too.  "In my view, the realistic goal to be attained through spiritual practice is not some permanent state of enlightenment that admits of no further efforts but a capacity to be free in this moment, in the midst of whatever is happening.  If you can do that, you have already solved most of the problems you will encounter in life" (page 49). Good, but this will not transform the social order unless we can get everyone to at peace in the hear-and-now, while also sharing the wealth of the world for all.

What Happy People Know: How the New Science of Happiness CanChange Your Life for the Better by Dan Baker & Cameron Stauth. Flip to page 256-257 and review their chart.  Anything that doesn't make sense to you, read about in the book, skip the rest.  It's "all" in the two page chart. If you've read anything on the study of happiness and the exploration of social/neuro-science issues with mindfulness/happiness/gratitude, this book will not be compelling.

How We Choose to Be Happy: The 9 Choices of Extremely HappyPeople--Their Secrets, Their Stories by Rick Foster & Greg Hicks.  I enjoyed the book.  A quick read overall.  A good mix of some research (little, but some) and some stories. The format of the book made for quick reading, as well as the simple concepts. `

Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam M. Grant.  This book had inspiring stories, though I'm not sure that they demonstrate that they can be replicated. No real research backs up the claims that Mr. Grant makes, only some stories of experiences he has collected.  The book felt like a re-working of other concepts that could be read (and substantiated) elsewhere. Not compelling.

The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson.  I had read this before, and of course, have come back to it.  Robinson's premise "rings true" with me, though it seems impractical and perhaps impossible for *every human.*  I love the idea that we should discover our passion and work within the frame of what drives us.  Unless you meet and read Robinson's work in your mid-teens to early 20's though . . . resetting one's life to find what he articulates can not be easy.  Further, some people (many people) may not be exceptionally good at anything, and many people may simply lack any passion whatsoever.

What Happy Companies Know: How the New Science of HappinessCan Change Your Company for the Better by Dan Baker.  I'm not sure I can faithfully say that I read this book, as much as I reviewed it.  The authors have essentially packaged a plethora of other studies on the themes of happiness and business.  There is no central "do this" but rather an encyclopedic collection of "any of these things" have worked for some companies.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink.  The central section of this book, Part Two: The Three Elements was good.  Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose are integral to our drive, our motivation, or ability to thrive.  People are no longer working in environment that help them to thrive, and they need more Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose. Agreed.

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