Saturday, March 27, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey
I’ve read this book once before, and I’ve skimmed sections of it a couple of additional times. But this time, I read it like I meant it.
This year, I’ve chosen “balance” as a theme word. Heaven knows I try; heaven knows I do not succeed. This book really addresses the issue of balance, though it doesn’t necessarily use that word. This is also one of those books, which, if read and followed properly, involves some work. Which is why it took me three months to read it.
This time around, I actually wrote a personal mission statement (which is Habit 2 in the book). In the past, I’ve thought that was a fine and dandy idea for some day in the future… Now I’ve done it! And I understand why I avoided it earlier: it takes some work. But I’d say it’s worth it, and now each day feels like a mini-challenge to live up to the standards I’ve set for myself. (Note: most days = Fail)
True confession: There were times when I was really not in the mood for this book. There are moments when I just don’t feel like improving myself. Sometimes I just want to read an astronaut book and eat chocolate and peanut butter. There it is.
That having been said, this is one of those books that I think can actually change a person’s life. For Gen-X slackers like me*, I’m guessing a regular dose is probably required. Yes, what I’m saying is: Re-read as necessary.
I’ll be back.
*Yes, that's written in jest. I ain't no slacker, despite the chocolate and peanut butter weakness, and I am a bit irate that we poor Gen X-ers are so characterized. I mean, really.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Do you take breaks while reading a book? Or read it straight through? (And, by breaks, I don’t mean sleeping, eating and going to work; I mean putting it aside for a time while you read something else.)
Since I tend to have between 5 and 8 books in progress at a time, I definitely take breaks from them. If I read a book straight through, it either means I'm cramming for a genre study or, more likely, that I'm completely hooked on that book.
It's actually a wonderful thing when a book feels so perfect to me that I cannot put it down. It only happens a few times each year, and I'm so happy when it strikes.
The most recent examples of this phenomenon:
The only down side is that other books just seem flat after the really good ones. Really a small price to pay, but still...
Friday, March 19, 2010
Apollo: Race to the Moon by Charles Murray and Catherine Bly Cox
This book = Triumph of the Geeks
There are hardly any astronauts in this book, which may seem weird. But.
There are tons and tons of engineers and such-like people. And they’re not nearly as exciting as astronauts, yet still this was a good book. So: happy days!
This is the book in which I first learned truly to appreciate Christ(opher
(Oh, please note: Big news: John Glenn Himself introduces this segment, and he is cute as a button.)
In the first few pages of this book, I knew I would like it, because the writing is lovely: it doesn’t get in your way, and it just purrs along nicely. When this happens, I know the author knows what he/she is doing; I actually stop and notice—and I appreciate it.
So, even though the astronauts are sort of afterthoughts in this book (and I love those astronauts), this book really makes the guys (and the one or two women) on the ground seem heroic, too.
Friday, March 12, 2010
Government Girl: Young and Female in the White House by Stacy Parker Aab
I didn’t know what to expect when I began reading this book. I often look forward to a book’s publication, and then I’m disappointed by the writing, or the tone, or the attitude of the author.
This was not one of those times.
Thank all goodness.
Stacy Parker Aab can write. So we can put a checkmark next to that requirement. She writes very nicely, in fact.
And her tone and her attitude are frank and honest and overall quite positive, even though she writes about some situations that were crummy. So we’ve got a big checkmark there, too.
Meaning: this is a darn good book that I found un-put-down-able. (And that hasn’t happened in a little while for me.)
Stacy Parker Aab worked for George Stephanopoulos and Paul Begala during the
There are, however, some creepy, icky moments she describes; in some situations, she names (real) names, and in others, there’s some vagueness.
The most mysterious thing about this book is the blurb on the front from Andrei Codrescu, who says something about how this book will spur other young people into public service. OK, that’s not what I took away from this one. What I got was: If you’re female and young, and if you’re in a setting where there is a lot of power, you need to be nothing but careful. Not because of yourself, but because of others.
OK, sighing now.
It's depressing, you know?
Anyhow, very good book... anyway.
Friday, March 5, 2010
The New Frugality: How to Consume Less, Save More, and Live Better by Chris Farrell
I’ve had a frugalista crush on Chris Farrell for a few years now.
He’s often on Marketplace Money, an NPR program I love to listen to as a podcast; he’s the guy who sometimes answers personal finance questions for listeners and sometimes does commentary. And he’s gentle and kind and perfectly lovely, and he has a soothing voice.
In his book, here’s the tone: gentle and kind and perfectly lovely; soothing voice.
How can a person not love Chris Farrell? I ask you!
The thing I like about his outlook, and about this book, is that he reminds us that we’ve got to save like mad fiends, but also that we need to live our lives today. He mentions the example of his late father, who said on his deathbed that he had had a good life. So here, the “good life” idea comes through over and over.
He’s also clear, however, that living the high life today means that tomorrow pretty much will suck. (my words, not his) Instead, it’s about finding that balance between spending on the things that one truly values, while also saving so that one can enjoy those same things in the future.
I didn’t go into this book, intending to read it as part of the ThemeQuest Reading Challenge, but it definitely fits my theme of “balance.” So… it’s in!
Thursday, March 4, 2010
In honor of National Grammar Day … it IS “March Fourth” after all … do you have any grammar books? Punctuation? Writing guidelines? Style books?
More importantly, have you read them?
How do you feel about grammar in general? Important? Vital? Unnecessary? Fussy?
Even though it certainly doesn't appear true based on the writing I do here, I am in love with good grammar.
I own a copy of Strunk and White, as well as a similar (but lesser) handbook required for a freshman college class. And we've got style manuals coming out of our ears in this house -- Chicago, MLA, and APA.
Other than reading sections of Strunk and White for fun occasionally (I am one sick woman), I cannot say that I've actually read the other manuals. I dip into them to find the information I need at the moment. (This happens at least weekly. Sometimes daily.)
One thing I adore about style manuals is that they designate the dictionary one should use in conjunction with the manual. (So the dictionaries around here have multiplied, too.)
I like structure. I do.
As a grammar-crazed weirdo, here's the error that grates most on my ear: "The data indicates..." It really should be: "The data indicate..." -- because the word "data" is plural. When I hear someone say it incorrectly even on NPR, I despair, just a little.
Since I'm also a presidential-history-loving weirdo, I also have to say this: March 4 used to be the date of presidential inaugurations! It was only in FDR's era that January 20 became the big day. So actually, today I was pondering pre-1933 presidential inaugurations and feeling all nostalgic. (Can one feel nostalgic for an event that preceded one's lifetime?)