Book Review: The Endurance

This was an incredible story!  The full title of the book: The Endurance:Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition. Like the Lincoln book, it’s a story of tremendous leadership.  Also similar to that book, it starts out really slow.

But, this really is a great adventure and story of hardship.  It was a totally different time than we live in now and the stuff that these guys went through is incredible.  When you read this story you will understand the depth of Shackleton’s leadership genius.  These guys should have been dead, or at least should have been losing their minds, but they didn’t.  I really want to tell you what happens, but you have to read the book

Some of my favorite quotes about Shackleton from the book:

“He would be remembered not so much for his own accomplishment- the 1909 expedition that attained the farthest South- as for what he was capable of drawing out of others.”

“At the core of Shackleton’s gift for leadership in crisis was an adamantine conviction that quite ordinary individuals were capable of heroic feats if the circumstances required; the weak and the strong could and must survive together.”

“The mystique that Shackleton acquired as a leader may partly be attributed to the fact that he elicited from his men strength and endurance they had never imagined they possessed; he ennobled them.”

I really like that last one.  I need to figure out how to ennoble people; cause that sounds like something worth being remembered for.

Book Review: Team of Rivals

I think we have learned by now that my “Book Reviews” aren’t real reviews.  They just tell you if I liked a book and why.  I never write about the ones I didn’t like.  Although, I would be happy to tell you privately which books I didn’t like! Ha!

If you like history, or reading about great leaders, or you want to improve your character, then this is the book for you!  All three of those apply to me, so I really loved it.  The full title of the book is Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. As you can tell by my last post, I am a big fan of Abe.  Basically this book talks about how he wasn’t really equipped to be president, but he surrounded himself with the people who had the skills he lacked.  In his case, that meant everyone that ran against him for the presidency.  That seriously took some balls!

The Mercury Newspaper said about him, “He has called around him in counsel the ablest and most earnest men of his country.  Where he has lacked in individual ability, learning, experience or statesmanship, he has sought it, and found it. . . . Force, energy, brains, earnestness, he has collected around him in every department.”

So I highly recommend this book.  It starts out a little slow, but by the end you grow to love the guy.  And I seriously wonder how he put up with so much disrespect and whining in his cabinet.  He had an unending source of patience!

To end this “review” I am going to share a cool story from the book.

In 1908, in a wild and remote area of the North Caucasus, Leo Tolstoy, the greatest writer of the age, was the guest of a tribal chief “living far away from civilized life in the mountains.” Gathering his family and neighbors, the chief asked Tolstoy to tell stories about the famous men of history.  Tolstoy told how he entertained the eager crowd for hours with tales of Alexander, Caesar, Frederick the Great, and Napoleon.  When he was winding to a close, the chief stood and said, “But you have not told us a syllable about the greatest general and greatest ruler of the world.  We want to know something about him.  He was a hero.  He spoke with a voice of thunder; he laughed like the sunrise and his deeds were strong as the rock.  His name was Lincoln and the country in which he lived is called America, which is so far away that if a youth should journey to reach it he would be an old man when he arrived.  Tell us of that man.

I hope that I can become this kind of humble leader that knows her weaknesses and isn’t afraid to ask for help.

Read

Most adults don’t like to read.  I don’t know how I didn’t know that, but it’s a shocking fact (to me) that I have just recently discovered.  When people find out they have to read a book, even if it’s a short one, they absolutely dread it.  I LOVE to read, so this is a very difficult fact for me to grasp.

This post has two focuses: to give you some major benefits to reading and to suggest some books that would be good to get started on.

I googled “benefits of reading” today and found several lists that I have compared.  If you want to take a look at some of them, I recommend this one, this one, and this one. The bottom line is that reading makes you a better person. Here is why:

  1. It is an active mental process.
  2. It improves your vocabulary.
  3. It improves concentration and focus.
  4. It improves your memory.
  5. It reduces stress.
  6. It improves your discipline.
  7. It gives you something to talk about.
  8. It makes you a better writer.
  9. It improves your reasoning skills.
  10. It builds self-esteem.

If you don’t want anything on that list for your life, then you can stop reading now.  But, if you were intrigued by that and realize that you may be missing some of those things, then I have some suggestions for you.  If you are just starting back to reading, don’t start with something too heady.  Maybe start with some fiction.  The only suggestion that I have for you as far as content is that you read something that is entertaining, but that you also learn something from.  Even if it’s just something small.  Here are my suggestions:

  1. The Twilight Saga- I am hoping I didn’t just lose most of you by saying that.  I am serious though.  You will be entertained, but it’s not as mindless as some think.  You may not really expand your vocabulary (except for the vampire terms that are completely made up), but you will expand your imagination.  This is completely fiction, so your mind has to work overtime to get a mental picture.  I can’t stand science fiction (that’s right, I hate Star Wars), but this worked for me somehow.  I personally think it’s a great starting point.
  2. Redeeming Love- I don’t know anyone that doesn’t like this book.  Even my non-reading friends have read this book and loved it.  It speaks right to the heart of a woman and you actually learn a Bible story without even realizing it.  It’s an incredible love story and you learn some history with it.
  3. Mark of the Lion Series- For those of you that loved Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers hits another home run with this series.  What I love about these three books is that you get the incredible story that sucks you in, but you also learn a ton of history.  They are set in ancient Rome right after Jesus died.
  4. Andy Andrews Books- This guy is the king of coming up with a relatively short but intriguing story that teaches life lessons.  My favorite is The Noticer followed by The Heart Mender and The Traveler’s Gift.
  5. Chasing Fireflies- Charles Martin is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.  This story, based around the hope of foster care, really touched my heart.  As a result, I have 5 more of his books on my reading list for this year.  You feel like you are a part of the story.

I think five is a good number for now.  I hope that some of you have been at least slightly inspired to start reading.  It’s worth it to just set out some time each day to do, even if it’s just a few minutes before bed.  Someone told me that you actually get dumber watching TV, so this has to be better than that, right?

If you have any great book suggestions for people that don’t like to read, please leave them in the comments section!

Book Review: Atlas Shrugged

I decided to read this book because it is said to be the second most influential book in our society (second only to the Bible).  That was enough to convince me to buy it.

It is basically the story of two groups of people: the extreme capitalists and the extreme socialists, and what happens when capitalism falls to socialism.  While very exaggerated, I thought it was a very good read.  I liked how Rand emphasized the importance of actually working for a profit and how she portrayed what happens when hand outs are the way of life.  She vividly describes the dangers of power hungry politicians and the honor that comes from working your way to the top.

I did not agree with her ideas of “every man for himself” and the idea that our joy comes from ourselves and living for ourselves.  But that goes along with Rand’s atheistic views, which are very different from my relationship with Christ.  On that same note, that viewpoint left little room for mercy, which would also be a way to destroy a nation in my opinion.

I think with every book, though, you have to take some and leave some.  I definitely recommend reading this book though as it gives some great perspective.

When I see things happening around the world and in our own government, I now sometimes find myself asking “Who is John Galt?”

Book Review: Under the Overpass

This was an incredible story of two college aged guys choosing to live homeless for 5 months on the streets of 5 American cities.  Their stories of interactions with other homeless people and those of us that are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus are both encouraging and heartbreaking at the same time.

It’s a quick read and I highly recommend it!

Book Review: Plan B

I love the subtitle of this book: What To Do When God Doesn’t Show Up the Way You Thought He Would.

This was an amazing book.  I was drawn in from the first chapter and was disappointed when it ended.  It could just be the season of life that I am in, but we have all faced a plan b in life, so we can all relate.  Pete makes this really relatable and tells a lot of great stories throughout.  It’s also full of great incites.  We all know I love quotes, so here are my favorites for this book:

“We get ourselves into all kinds of trouble when we assume God must think and feel as we do.”

“Your dreams may not be happening, and things aren’t turning out the way you expected, but that doesn’t mean your life is spinning out of control.  It just means you’re not in control.  It’s in those moments you can learn to trust the only one who has ever had control in the first place.”

“Despite what your current circumstances are telling you, God is for you.  He is there. He is working things out for your good.”

“Constant contact with the Creator is essential for transformational living.”

“I’ve noticed that even those of us who have trusted our heavenly Father with our eternities often have a tough time trusting him with our tomorrows.”

“When people ask me how they can know God’s wil for their lives, I tell them the best first step is to know God.  Beyond that, I really don’t have any steps.”

“We must decide if we are going to put our faith in what God does or in who God is.”

“You can give your love and devotion to a particular dream, but eventually that lover will disappoint you.  It’s possible, in other words, that part of the reason you feel so shattered and so broken in the midst of your Plan B situations is that you gave your love and devotion to your plans and dreams instead of God. It’s something to keep in mind. Because no matter how worthy, no matter how compelling, no matter how good- a dream makes a worthless god.”

Book Review: The Traveler’s Gift

This was a good read.  I wouldn’t put it on my list of the best books I have ever read, but it has some good incites and it’s a good story.  As always, Andy Andrews gives some good lines of stuff that really hits you to the core.  One of my favorite books still is The Noticer.

Some of my favorite incites from this book:

“It is never the duty of a leader to struggle for someone else; a leader must encourage others to struggle and assure them that the struggles are worthwhile.  Do battle with the challenges of your present, and you will unlock the prizes of your future.”

“A person who moves neither left nor right is destined for mediocrity.  When faced with a decision, many people say they are waiting for God.  But I understand, in most cases, God is waiting for me!  He has given me a healthy mind to gather and sort information and the courage to come to a conclusion.”

“Most people fail at whatever they attempt because of an undecided heart.  Should I? Should I not? Go forward? Go back? Success requires the emotional balance of a committed heart.  When confronted with a challenge, the committed heart will search for a solution.  The undecided heart searches for an escape.”

“A committed heart does not wait for conditions to be exactly right.  Why? Because conditions are never exactly right.  Indecision limits the Almighty and His ability to perform miracles in your life.  He has put the vision in you- proceed! To wait, to wonder, to doubt, to be indecisive is to disobey God.”

“A person without a dream never had a dream come true.”