#50in55: My Absurd Goal to Read 50 Books Before 2016

I love to read! I’m a pretty fast reader! With these super powers combined I’ve decided to attempt to read 5o books over the final 55 days of 2015. Some suggest that I might miss out on something reading at this pace but I’m not reading books faster than normal — just more often than normal (I’m looking at you Netflix). Here’s my takeaways from the books I’ve read so far:

1 – How to Become a Really Good Pain in the Ass – Christopher DiCarlo

Rating: ★★★✯☆ [3.5]

Quick Review: I really enjoyed this book. It was a strange book to begin with because those closest to me know this title is something I perfected quite some time ago. 😉    — [are emoticons allowed on blogs?]

The heart of the book is critical thinking and sound arguments, wrapped up in a humorous but forthright tone. Anyone interested in critical thinking and questioning should enjoy this book.

2 – Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity – David Allen

Rating: ★★★★✯ [4.5]

Quick Review: When you set a goal of fifty books in fifty-five days [#50in55] you would be wise to begin with a book like this. David Allen does an excellent job of helping you set aside some of the more traditional concepts of organization and change them up. It’s about mental clutter as much as it is about physical clutter on one’s desktop (Analog or Digital). If you’re an organization/get-things-done kinda person you will appreciate this title and all the tips/ideas in includes.

3 – Legacy Code (Book 2) – Autumn Kalquist

Rating: ★★★★★

Quick Review: I’m a sucker for sci-fi and Autumn Kalquist’s stuff hooked me. She’s a self-published author who has really captured my attention. I’ve become an evangelist of sorts for her books amongst my friends/family. The books are relatively short and inexpensive. I will read anything Kalquist writes for the foreseeable future.

4 – The Gospel of John, An Actual Translation – Roy Blizzard III

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Quick Review: The formatting for this ebook was almost unreadable. I haven’t read the ‘dead tree’ version so it may be better. I value Blizzard’s desire to show the Ancient Jewish imagery and language in the Gospel of John and I will likely use it as a resource at times but I probably won’t recommend it too often.

5. Jonathan Livingston Seagull – Richard Bach

Rating: ★★★★★

Quick Review: Stop reading this blog and go read this book! Seriously – go now! This is a beautiful parable about life, living, and being. I had been recommended this book by some dear friends and only regret not taking up their recommendation sooner. If you like short stories with depth and beauty you’ll find this to be a go-to book for a long time to come.

6. One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories – B.J. Novak

Rating: ★★★★☆

Quick Review: Great. Meh. Funny. Meh. Engaging. Meh. This is seemingly the pattern the book takes. There are amazing stories and pretty mundane [meh] stories. I waffled a bit on the rating because there are many stories that should’ve been edited out but other ones are quite excellent. How does one rate a book like this? I’m an optimist so I went with a 4 instead of a 3 — but reader be warned you might not like these.

7. Humble Inquiry – Edgar H. Schein

Rating: ★★★★★

Quick Review: I’m a sucker for Questions! This book helps the reader understand the value of a good question. We’ve been trained to be ‘The Answer Person’ when in all reality the best leaders tend to be the best questioners. I was told that Schein’s other books are equally excellent.

These are the first seven of my #50in55. I’ve actually read 13 so far, but you’ll have to wait for those reviews!

What are you reading? What are your recommendations? Please post your ratings/reviews/recommendations in the comments section below [this could be one blog post where folks want to ‘scroll down’].

May 31, 2007 (MySpace)

Reading

I had a great ‘reading-time’ this morning at a coffee shop and thought I’d share with you some of the amazing things that I came across…I am currently working (read::laboring and loving) my way through – God in Search of Man, by Abraham Heschel

“When the soul parts from the company of the ego and its retinue of petty conceits; when we cease to exploit all things but instead pray the world’s cry, the world’s sigh, our loneliness may hear the living grace beyond all power.”
• How was that for a warm up? Mmm…Corporate reality is too often missing in our narcissistic culture – what could this world look like if we truly entered into the cry and sighs of the world!!!

“We must first peer into the darkness, feel strangled and entombed in the hopelessness of living without God, before we are ready to feel the presence of His living light.”
• This seems so counter to what we would ‘want’ and/or ‘expect’ but it is so true…

“Israel is not a people of definers but a people of witnesses: ‘Ye are My witnesses’ (Isaiah 43.10).”
• This comes following a fairly long response as to how our ideas of ‘proving’ God actually miss the point of what our call is! What a great take – that we aren’t the proof providers of God rather we are the ongoing witness of His Manifestation in our lives – and in the lives of those around us! Mm-mm Good!

“We do not have to discover the world of faith; we only have to recover it…it is not an unknown land; it is a forgotten land.”
• One more facet of the redemptive nature of God and His creation…

“Just as clairvoyants may see the future, the religious man comes to sense the present moment. And this is an extreme achievement. For the present is the Presence of God. Things have a past and future, but only God is pure presence.”
• That is for all you existentialists out there!!! Hehe

“It is within man’s power to seek Him [God]; it is not within his power to find Him.”
• This is interesting – one I am going to chew on for a while!

“It is not easy to attain faith. A decision of the will, the desire to believe, will not secure it. All the days of our lives we must continue to deepen our sense of mystery in order to be worthy of attaining faith.”
• Ah – could this be the idea that Paul is referring when talking about ‘Working out one’s faith’?

“God is of no importance unless He is of supreme importance.”
• One of my favorite Heschel quotes – sounds Kierkegaardian

“God is not indifferent to man’s quest of Him. He is in need of man, in need of man’s share in redemption. God who created the world is not at home in the world, in its dark alleys of misery, callousness and defiance.”
• This is quite a provocative thought…

“The words, ‘I am a stranger on earth’ (Psalm 119.19), were interpreted to refer to God. God is a stranger in the world. The Shechinah, the presence of God, is in exile. Our task is to bring God back into the world, into our lives. To worship is to expand the presence of God in the world. To have faith in God is to reveal what is concealed.”
• Just building upon the previous quote…amazing perspective

Anyhow…just wanted to share some things that jumped out at me today… I’d love to hear your thoughts on these quotes and/or whatever it is that you are currently reading or pondering!

don

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>Interesting…not my cup of tea!

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I really wanted to love this book! When I first received it I looked on the back and saw this quote, “OK, so the church is broken, now what?” I was immediately engaged – my interest peaked! You’ll probably love this book if you are already angry at the evangelical movement – for you to find a voice that tends to your wounds; I am grateful.

The first thing I’d like to mention is that the format of this book feels like you are the third wheel of an IM discussion about you and to you without you getting to put in your own two cents. They said their reasoning for creating the book in this way was to make the reader feel like a part of a discussion – that didn’t work for me…though I am certain that there will be many that find this approach refreshing and maybe even better at holding their attention. I found the responses to not be genuine to real conversations – there is never disagreement and there is a lot of unnecessary dialog between the authors. At the end of the day it felt less conversational and more scripted.

The book begins by stating some great questions and explaining the journey of each of the authors to where they are currently (neXus). They talk about no longer fitting within the current structures of the Evangelical Movement – saying it’s not about the people just the structure and sub-culture (this is like saying, “Hate the sin not the sinner” – which feels like hate when you’re the sinner). They allude to the evangelical movement as not being open to dialog yet turn and disregard the evangelical movements discussion(s). You can’t tell someone they aren’t listening or willing to talk and then refuse to listen or talk.

The part that I found to be the most fascinating is that though they speak about how they are so much different than the rest of the church because of their highly evolved grace gospel – I found them to not be gracious at all about any view other than their own. In fact there were several parts throughout the book where I was offended by, what they’d probably call – playful banter…it felt more like mocking to me. This aspect of their personality came through when speaking about the “old-covenant” – in fact their handling of many of their doctrines felt very much like the evangelical movement…they weren’t saying anything new except that they felt it was “absolutely bizarre” to make “reading the Bible daily a central evidence of growing faith.”

It seems that as a reaction to the often oppressive teachings of many churches (the notion that to become more like the Christ is to become more perfect – therefore performance driven) they’ve thrown out any semblance of personal responsibility for participating in God’s creation. They encourage you to participate but it feels like they are saying that participation is a bonus.

Much of the biblical exegesis was poor at best – and even if it was good – most wouldn’t know because they give no reason for going against long held understandings…many of the long-standing beliefs need to be reworked and questioned but please don’t state as matter of fact your view dismissing tradition and not give any real support.

I’d be interested in reading more from these gentleman and it sounds like what they are attempting to do with neXus is a great thing – God’s Kingdom needs to be more inclusive but we shouldn’t disregard the great cloud of witnesses that have gone on before us.