Books I Read in June 2011

Christian Living

Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

I read through this book slowly and also went through the 30-day study included at the end. I really benefited from the focus on gratitude, and this book spurred me on to further study about gratitude and contentment. (I plan to share more of that study after I finish the one on heaven; it’s taken me even longer to process what I’ve learned about contentment!)

A couple take away thoughts:

  1. Because of what Christ did for me through His life, death,and resurrection, I can be thankful for all the spiritual and material blessings He has given me. I don’t deserve all the good things that have happened to me and that I have received, so I am thankful for God’s grace to me. And I have not received the punishment that I do deserve, so I am thankful for God’s mercy to me.
  2. Nancy recommends keeping a gratitude journal, and I’ve begun doing that. This journal helps me focus on the good things God has given me and keeps me from complaining (as much!). I’ve been learning to turn complaints around to things I can praise God for.

The Art of Divine Contentment by Thomas Watson

This book by a Puritan pastor was a challenging and slow read because of the language and style, but I loved the outlines, scriptural support, and creative imagery. Watson gives a very thorough treatment of the subject of contentment. I’ll share more about this book soon.

Comforts from the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick

This is an excellent book of daily devotional readings about how the gospel applies to our everyday lives. I was greatly encouraged and strengthened in my faith, and I plan to read this book over and over to let the truths sink in even more.

Fiction

Coma by Robin Cook

A med student discovers a disturbing pattern of otherwise healthy patients not coming out of a coma after simple surgeries. She finds out the shocking truth and realizes her life is in danger because some powerful people want to keep the truth hidden.

This book freaked me out! I made the mistake of reading most of this book late at night, and when I finished it, I had trouble sleeping. I don’t do well with horror fiction, and parts of this one seemed all to realistic for me. Other parts were over the top–I thought the violence escalated too quickly and unrealistically. I do like medical fiction, however, and there are several copies of Cook’s books floating around our house (my mom likes medical fiction, too), so I’m currently reading Outbreak, which is about the Ebola virus.

My Man Jeeves and Right Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

I love P.G. Wodehouse’s witty, breezy style, and I especially love the Jeeves and Wooster stories. These books make for great light reading.

The Eyre Affair and Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde

While browsing through my local library, I found the latest installment of the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. I had read The Eyre Affair while in grad school, but when I moved to Guam, I didn’t continue reading the series.  (As it turned out I had also previously read Lost in a Good Book, but I didn’t recognize the title or remember the story line until I got about half-way through.) Now I am several books behind, but I think I will catch up quickly; I’m going to pick up the next two books when I go to the library next week.

These books are almost impossible to explain because they’re a mixture of mystery, comedy, sci-fi, fantasy, werewolf stories–pretty much every genre imaginable. For a good review and a better stab at describing the book, I recommend this one in the Washington Post. I definitely recommend these books for a fun, post-modern, bizarre read.

The Hunger Games Trilogy: The Hunger Games,  Catching Fire, and Mockingjay by Susanne Collins

I quickly got caught up in these futuristic, distopian stories about children fighting for their lives in the annual Hunger Games. I read all three books in two days. The concept, while disturbing, was also believable, and I immediately felt attached to the characters and cared about the outcome for each one.

Non-fiction

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

I’ve read and enjoyed Gladwell’s previous books, The Tipping Point and Blink, and this one was just as informative and interesting. I learned all sorts of things about why people succeed (for example, birth date, ethnicity, and ancestors) that we don’t normally associate with success. Americans love “rags to riches” stories and generally attribute success to hard work, although a number of factors also contribute to success.

One of my favorite chapters was about the role one’s birth date plays in situations with a cut-off birth date, such as sports teams and school. Those with a birthday right after the cut-off get moved into the next year and succeed because they’re older and more advanced in motor skills than those at the end of the year.

Although the stories were sad and hit home because of my connection to Guam, I also enjoyed reading of the great change that took place in Korean Airlines after the disastrous Flight 801 and many other plane crashes that occurred in a short period of time. Researchers found that the deference shown to superior officers and the language and respect required prevented the lower-ranked officers from making clear warning statements to the higher-ranked officers. When the pilots began communicating in English, they avoided the language and respect issues, and now Korean Air is one of the safest airlines in the world.

Gladwell appropriately and touchingly ends the book with a tribute to his mother and grandmother, as he shares how their lives contributed to his success.

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6 thoughts on “Books I Read in June 2011

  1. This sounds like a fascinating read. I listen to Book TV on many Saturdays, but have not heard this one discussed.

  2. Is Coma Robin Cook ‘s first book. I love his writing. In early 70 s, I worked with him at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

    • Cool–you worked with Robin Cook! I think Coma was his second novel. . . at least, it’s the second book listed on the all-knowing Wikipedia.

    • Oh, you’re navigating fine. I figured you were referring to Outliers since it was the last book I mentioned. I learned so much from that book and keep talking about it. Malcolm Gladwell has a neat writing style and he simplifies arguments so non-economists/psychologists can follow them. I think this was my favorite of his books so far, but I did like The Tipping Point a lot.

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