Review of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast

So, I just finished this little book called What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Mornings–and Life by Laura Vanderkam.  And, when I say little, I mean little.  I listened to the audio version which was just over an hour long.  The kindle edition is only $2.99 and the audible  is $2.95.  I really encourage you to check this book out.

If you are like me, then you mornings are absolutely crazy.  A mad dash of trying to get ready for work, eat breakfast, feed the kids, and get out the door on time.  But, there is a better way to spend our first hours of the morning.  This books talks about how the most successful people are very purposeful about this time period and use it to focus and transform their lives.

Read the book and think seriously about how you typically spend this time.  I’m going to take the next few weeks to try to implement some of the ideas she talked about.  We’ll see how it goes!

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Notes on Anathem

So, I finished Neil Stephenson’s book Anathem several weeks ago and have been wanting to write something about it, but I’ve struggled over where to begin. This is a very large book, and can be difficult to get through at times, but in the end I found it to be a very satisfying journey.

First I’ll talk about the world. The vastness of the world he has created and the detail he goes into to describe it rivals that of Tolkien. It takes place in a world that is almost, but not quite, ours. While reading the book you are educated on much of this world’s history to understand how it got to the state it which we find the characters.

The protagonist is a man named Erasmas who lives in the concent of Saunt Edhar. This is much like a monastery but where the god who is studies and worshiped is math and science. Stephenson has created an entire new dictionary that he uses when telling this story. But learning the terminology is not too hard of a challenge as each new chapter begins with a new definition. I’m sure the print version of the book has a glossary, but since I was listening to the audio version, I did not have this tool. I became so familiar with the terms as I was reading the book that I began to think of my iPhone as a “Jeejah”.

Much of this book reads like a metaphysical lecture. The characters must dive into the depths of mathematics, astronomy, and philosophy to solve the mystery of an seeming alien ship that has presented itself. And the journey is fascinating.

I don’t want to go any farther for fear of spoiling the book. But, if you are a fan of hard science fiction, and the size and depth of the book does not scare you away, I highly recommend reading this.

Book Review: Hood (The King Raven Trilogy, Book 1) by Stephen R. Lawhead


I have been a fan of Stephen Lawheads books ever since reading The Dragon King Trilogy as a kid, and his novels keep getting better and better with time. When you read a Lawhead book you can expect an imaginative tale steeped deep in history, his personal study of the history surrounding the time in which he places the book. In the Pendragon Cycle, for example, Lawhead paints a very realistic portrait of King Arthur.

With that in mind, Hood does not disappoint. Hood is Lawhead’s reimaging of the story of Robin Hood. Based on his study of the history, he places Robin Hood in Wales, not Sherwood Forest. There is a section at the back of the book that explains this decision. This change really works, though, making it feel like you are reading about a person who really lived.

Lawhead’s Robin Hood is Bran, a reluctant prince who would rather be out the ladies than at the castle being a prince. When his father is killed and land taken by the Norman invaders, Bran’s natural reaction is to just run away to his relatives. This book tells the story of him figuring out what it is he is supposed to do. It’s a story with a deep faith, and very colorful characters.

The story drags a little bit in the center, but picks up in the end leaving you wanting to immediately rush out and buy the second book in the series, Scarlett.

I think this is going to be another great Lawhead series, and I highly recommend the book.

How I doubled the number of books I read…

I love reading books. But, with a family and a job and responsibilities at the church, I found myself having less and less time to read every day. And my backlog of “To Read” books just keeps growing larger and larger. So, I found a solution.. audio books.

A couple of years ago I got into the habit of listening to podcasts on my drive to and from work. I have since discovered that podcasts are only an entry drug 🙂 One of my favorite podcats, This Week in Tech, started advertising Audible.com. I figured I would give it a try. And I loved it! I spend an hour in the car each day, going to and from work, so that’s an additional 5 hours of reading every week.

The only problem was that books on Audible are inexpensive for audio books, but they still end up costing more than I like to pay. That’s when I realized that my local library has audio books on CD. And their selection is huge. So, all I do is go to Amazon to research the books I’d like to read and check out the reviews, then I go to TulsaLibrary.org to reserve the books. The library emails me when they come in and I drop by the desk and pick them up. Most audio books that I have tried so far are between 7 and 10 hours, so I have been able to listen to them in the first 2 weeks that the library lets me keep them.

As easy as that, and I’m “reading” 26 more books every year and chipping away at my huge “To Read” list.

Book Review: Defying Hitler by Sebastian Haffner

This is the story of Sebastian Haffner, a man who lived in Germany during Hitler’s rise to power. I loved hearing the story from the perspective of the average German. I can’t imagine living in such tumultuous times, but reading this book gives me a glimpse. The best part about it is the fact that it tries to answer two very important questions: how on earth a regime like the Nazis could rise to power, and how almost the entire nation where corrupted by them. It’s a wonderful story that I would recommend to anyone that is the bit interested in that period. Remember, it’s by understanding the past that we can best keep from repeating it.

Books

I’ve read several books lately that I’ve been meaning to post reviews for here on the site. But, I never seem to have time to sit down and write good lengthy reviews, so I figured I’d give just a quick run-down of some of the good ones.

East of Eden by John Steinbeck
This is a beautiful novel that tells the story of two families in the late 19th to early 20th century who relive the biblical story of Cain and Abel several times. I liked it because it was a wonderful exploration of human character and the battle between good and evil that goes on in all of us, and the redemption that is possible. It’s a great book — I’m definitely going to have to read more Steinbeck.

The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien
I was really excited to read a new complete Tolkien novel — the first new one to be published in 30 years. It’s a story that takes place during the pre-Lord of the Rings history that is covered by the Silmarillion. It starts out reading much like the Silmarillion, as it is covering the history and getting you prepared for the story, but after getting the background completed the narrative reads easier and closer to the style of Lord of the Rings. I loved it and thought it was a great and tragic story. A must read for any fans of Tolkien. And you don’t really have to read the Silmarillion first. If you’ve never been able to make it though it, this novel does a good job of covering the necessary history beforehand. But, I’d recommend reading the Silmarillion just to fill in the gaps between this old Middle Earth history and that in the Lord of the Rings.

Right now I’m reading 1984 by George Orwell. It’s a very scary glimpse at a society in which the government exercises complete and total control over everything. It was written 30 years ago, but I believe it is very timely for today.