Book Reviews

I maintain an evolving list of influences. It helps me think through which books have greatly impacted me.

I rarely encounter such life-changing content. Consideration-worthy items pop up at most once per month, and these thoughts usually arise from momentary passion as opposed to enduring resonance. The majority fade, forgotten.

Last weekend visiting Maya’s mountain in Vilcabamba, I had the immense pleasure of finishing 3 books. Two of them didn’t do much for me.

The first book, Fight Club, was great as a movie. I shouldn’t talk about it too much, but start with the writing if you aren’t familiar and want to enjoy both. Going in the other direction doesn’t work. (Loved Tim Ferriss interviewing Palahniuk and Norton.)

The second book, Better Than Good, was one of the only Zig Ziglar texts that I could find from San Francisco’s e-collection. He’s often cited by Seth, so I thought it would be worth a try. After a few pages, however, there were too many references to God and too few insights for me to continue. I guess I didn’t really finish this one…just decided to be done with it.

But the third book, Educated, leapt onto the list! Bill Gates was right, it was even better than I had heard. In case this gem hasn’t yet reached your ears, here’s my synopsis:

Tara Westover shares how she grew up without school until she was old enough to escape her cult-like family. Surviving abuse, neglect, and near-death to land in a foreign academic world, she eventually managed to get a PhD.

After devouring all 300+ pages in a single evening, I sent the author a thank-you email. I tend to do that when inspired. This book had some of the most brave and powerful writing I’ve ever encountered. I cried multiple times as I journeyed vicariously through arbitrary pain and increasingly meaningful struggle.

Digesting Dr. Westover’s humbling memoir, I’ve hit a creative slump—in a good way. I’m re-visiting my preconceived notions of what a book can be and what it can do.

I’m looking forward to posting a few notes for each book I read going forward. (Like my reflections on life logistics, these may or may not coincide with the weekly blog email.)

Even if the bar is raised so high that I can no longer visualize my own memoir taking shape in the same way as before, through blogged book reviews I can at least practice weaving a bit of story and insight together, narrating as I go.

Let me worship the sacrament of the written word with an open mind and a grateful heart.


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