Book Reviews

I read a lot of books, as reading is one of my favorite pastimes. Last year, I read 91 books. I’ve already read 11 books this year.

A friend suggested I use Goodreads as a reading hub. I joined this online reading community a few weeks ago, and am really enjoying becoming a part of what goes on there. One thing I especially like is reading the reviews others wrote for the books they read themselves. Recently I decided to start doing this myself. Below are reviews for three books I read recently.

The Gifts of Imperfection

The Gifts of Imperfection is a 2010 book by social researcher Brene Brown. My review stated:

Living through a major transition during this season of my life, I was intrigued by the premise of this book: seeking and achieving Wholeheartedness. Brene Brown states it well in the subtitle of the book: “Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.”

Society has a way of demanding conformity to its expectations and values, if you ever hope to “fit in.” This runs counter to the supreme value of consciously and deliberately living as your authentic self, instead of forcing yourself to conform to the dictates of some societal role or job description. At this point in my life, I’ve lost all desire to fit in or succumb to society’s cultural demands. Instead, I’ve decided to spend the rest of my life pursuing Wholeheartedness, as Brene postulates its three elements: Courage, Compassion, and Connection.

I thought one of the most valuable ideas in this book is to create an “Ingredients for Joy and Meaning” list. Write it out for yourself, then find ways to do those things as often as possible. This list spells out what’s happening when things are going really well in your life.

Another of the most useful things to me was Brene’s advice on how to answer the question, “What do you do?” Her answer is, “How much time do you have?”

The Gifts of Imperfection is a great guidebook for anyone embarked upon a journey of transformation, no matter its cause, duration, or destination.

Buy a ticket and get on board! The sand in the hourglass of your life is ever-dwindling, and if you’re tired of traveling the same old outworn route, here’s advice and a strategy to help you navigate to the places you should have been heading toward all along.

Immortal Diamond

Immortal Diamond is a 2013 work by Catholic theologian Richard Rohr. My review stated:

I first read Immortal Diamond last year. I read it again this year because I am currently taking a class based upon this book.

Richard Rohr is a relatively new author to me, but I’ve read four of his books since being introduced to him late in 2018. As a lifelong Catholic priest, he teaches from that perspective, which differs from my own spiritual background. However, I find little in his teaching that is contrary to my own beliefs. Rohr also has a gift for explaining Scripture in fresh ways that bring new illumination and understanding to familiar but often less than fully understood passages.

Rohr defines the Immortal Diamond as your True Self; the personhood built into your DNA by God, as opposed to the False Self, which is your ego as represented by the life you have attempted to construct by implementing your own plans and using your own resources. Somewhere in midlife, usually after experiencing one or more serious setbacks, we give up striving to make it on our own and if sincere in our surrender, move steadily toward becoming the True Self ordained for us by God.

Immortal Diamond is a worthwhile read for anyone seeking a better understanding of their own immortal soul and its place in this perplexing world we live in.

A Voice of the Warm

A Voice of the Warm is the life story of Rod McKuen, as recounted by biographer Barry Alfonso. My review stated:

A Voice of the Warm – The Life of Rod McKuen was a powerful, powerful read for me. Rod McKuen was a hero to millions of Baby Boomers in the late Sixties and early Seventies. His music moved me then, and still does. I especially liked The Sea, The Earth, and The Sky. It was one of my favorite album sets over forty years ago, and remains so today.

As I finished this book, I realized that there were many, many parallels in Rod McKuen’s life,  as described in the book, and my own. He searched for the lost love of his family all his life, as have I. If you can identify with the need to reach back through the years in search of misplaced or denied love in your early years, this will be a very good read for you.

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