Friday, August 23, 2019

More from early 2019

Aware: The Science and Practice of Presence--The Groundbreaking Meditation Practice by Siegel M.D., Dr. Daniel

It's hard for me to distinguish this book from many others I've read. This has much more science, and great practical insight, data. Though, since it is much longer than others, I'm not sure it is as accessible.

From Amazon: "An in-depth look at the science that underlies meditation's effectiveness, this book teaches readers how to harness the power of the principle "Where attention goes, neural firing flows, and neural connection grows." Siegel reveals how developing a Wheel of Awareness practice to focus attention, open awareness, and cultivate kind intention can literally help you grow a healthier brain and reduce fear, anxiety, and stress in your life.  Whether you have no experience with a reflective practice or are an experienced practitioner, Aware is a hands-on guide that will enable you to become more focused and present, as well as more energized and emotionally resilient in the face of stress and the everyday challenges life throws your way."

I like this practitioner's take on the insight he uses from the book in his practice:

More available at this PDF link:

Games without Rules: The Often-Interrupted History of Afghanistan by Tamim Ansary

I tried to get a good audio read of this book, though it proved difficult.  I'm a visual learner, and tracking names/locations to this region of the world where I know so little (Afghanistan) "taxed" my ability to stay focused.  I needed a map and a key to better follow the audio version - or, I need to come back to the print.
From "Five times in the last two centuries, some great power has tried to invade, occupy, or otherwise take control of Afghanistan. And as Tamim Ansary shows in this illuminating history, every intervention has come to grief in much the same way and for much the same reason: The intervening power has failed to understand that Afghanistan has a story of its own, a story that continues to unfold between, and despite, the interventions.  Games without Rules tells this story from the inside looking out. Drawing on his Afghan background, Muslim roots, and Western and Afghan sources, Ansary weaves an epic that moves from a universe of village republics--the old Afghanistan--through a tumultuous drama of tribes, factions, and forces, to the current struggle.
Ansary paints a richly textured portrait of a nation that began to form around the same time as the United States but is still struggling to coalesce; a nation driven by its high ambitions but undermined by its own demons, while every forty to sixty years a great power crashes in and disrupts whatever progress has been made. A compelling narrative told in an accessible, conversational style, Games without Rules offers revelatory insight into a country long at the center of international debate, but never fully understood by the outside world."

One Summer: America, 1927  by Bill Bryson 

I like Bill Bryson's take on history.  This was not as compelling as other books I've enjoyed by the author.  From "The summer of 1927 began with Charles Lindbergh crossing the Atlantic. Meanwhile, Babe Ruth was closing in on the home run record. In Newark, New Jersey, Alvin “Shipwreck” Kelly sat atop a flagpole for twelve days, and in Chicago, the gangster Al Capone was tightening his grip on bootlegging. The first true “talking picture,” Al Jolson’s The Jazz Singer, was filmed, forever changing the motion picture industry.  All this and much, much more transpired in the year Americans attempted and accomplished outsized things—and when the twentieth century truly became the American century. One Summer transforms it all into narrative nonfiction of the highest order."
The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee

A massive story, in a massive book.  So! Much! Here! So much!  From Author: Anthony Doerr, author of All the Light We Cannot See" "This is perhaps the greatest detective story ever told—a millennia-long search, led by a thousand explorers, from Aristotle to Mendel to Francis Collins, for the question marks at the center of every living cell. Like The Emperor of All Maladies, The Gene is prodigious, sweeping, and ultimately transcendent. If you’re interested in what it means to be human, today and in the tomorrows to come, you must read this book."
This book!  A ton! of data! - the history of humanity, one might say - in six-hundred pages.
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

This book is reasonably a "best-seller" and "loved by many" tale.  A "good-ol' boys" American saga, celebrating Americans.  It's no wonder it's a best seller.

A great read. From Amazon: "It was an unlikely quest from the start. With a team composed of the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the University of Washington’s eight-oar crew team was never expected to defeat the elite teams of the East Coast and Great Britain, yet they did, going on to shock the world by defeating the German team rowing for Adolf Hitler. The emotional heart of the tale lies with Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not only to regain his shattered self-regard but also to find a real place for himself in the world. Drawing on the boys’ own journals and vivid memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, Brown has created an unforgettable portrait of an era, a celebration of a remarkable achievement, and a chronicle of one extraordinary young man’s personal quest."

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg

I did not find the book compelling - though the content matters to me.  It may have been that I read through this early in 2019 and I was taxing of so much white-supremacist/white-America complicated content . . . that I couldn't take it all in.

From Amazon: "Surveying political rhetoric and policy, popular literature and scientific theories over four hundred years, Isenberg upends assumptions about America’s supposedly class-free society––where liberty and hard work were meant to ensure real social mobility. Poor whites were central to the rise of the Republican Party in the early nineteenth century, and the Civil War itself was fought over class issues nearly as much as it was fought over slavery. Reconstruction pitted poor white trash against newly freed slaves, which factored in the rise of eugenics–-a widely popular movement embraced by Theodore Roosevelt that targeted poor whites for sterilization. These poor were at the heart of New Deal reforms and LBJ’s Great Society; they haunt us in reality TV shows like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Duck Dynasty. Marginalized as a class, white trash have always been at or near the center of major political debates over the character of the American identity. We acknowledge racial injustice as an ugly stain on our nation’s history. With Isenberg’s landmark book, we will have to face the truth about the enduring, malevolent nature of class as well."

Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams Paperback – June 19, 2018
by Walker PhD, Matthew (Author)

I get it that sleep is important.  In fact, I regularly prescribe it for students, friends, persons in ministry - and for my own kids, routinely.  And!  I know when I don't get enough of it.  I've read elsewhere on sleep theory/neuroscience of sleep - and this book brings it all together. The bottom line - we don't understand sleep, we don't appreciate sleep, and we likely all need more of it.  From Amazon: "In this “compelling and utterly convincing” (The Sunday Times) book, preeminent neuroscientist and sleep expert Matthew Walker provides a revolutionary exploration of sleep, examining how it affects every aspect of our physical and mental well-being. Charting the most cutting-edge scientific breakthroughs, and marshalling his decades of research and clinical practice, Walker explains how we can harness sleep to improve learning, mood and energy levels, regulate hormones, prevent cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes, slow the effects of aging, and increase longevity. He also provides actionable steps towards getting a better night’s sleep every night."

Before buying, keep in mind this reviewer's comments: "The author went on a nauseating rant by telling us that sleep is important in 312 different ways...and yet didn't really offer any solid advice to help us get more sleep. In other words he stated the obvious, but didn't offer anything concrete or practical. I have no doubt he is an amazing sleep expert, but we all know that sleep is good for you. The challenge is figuring out how to get more of it or better quality."

Woman Walking Ahead: In Search of Catherine Weldon and Sitting Bull: New and Updated Edition by Eileen Pollack

I learned as I read from this book - though, nothing stood out to me as "ground breaking." This publisher information summarizes the books content: "This book restores a little-known advocate of Indian rights to her place in history. In June 1889, a widowed Brooklyn artist named Catherine Weldon traveled to the Standing Rock Reservation in Dakota Territory to help Sitting Bull hold onto land that the government was trying to wrest from his people. Since the Sioux chieftain could neither read nor write English, he welcomed the white woman’'s offer to act as his secretary and lobbyist. Her efforts were counterproductive; she was ordered to leave the reservation, and the Standing Rock Sioux were bullied into signing away their land. But she returned with her teen-age son, settling at Sitting Bull’'s camp on the Grand River. In recognition of her unusual qualities, Sitting Bull'’s people called her Toka heya mani win, Woman Walking Ahead.
Predictably, the press vilified Weldon, calling her “"Sitting Bull’'s white squaw”" and accusing her of inciting Sitting Bull to join the Ghost Dance religion then sweeping the West. In fact, Weldon opposed the movement, arguing that the army would use the Ghost dance as an excuse to jail or kill Sitting Bull. Unfortunately she was right. Up to now, history has distorted and largely overlooked Weldon'’s story. In retracing Weldon’'s steps, Eileen Pollack recovers Weldon's life and compares her world to our own. Weldon'’s moving struggle is a classic example of the misunderstandings that can occur when a white woman attempts to build friendships across cultural lines and assist the members of an oppressed minority fighting for their rights."

No comments: