Friday, October 29, 2010

What's Mine is Yours

This past summer I had the chance to meet Michela Abrams O'Connor, President of Dwell Media. During this visit she recommended a new book called "What's Mine is Yours - The Rise of Collaborative Consumption." I usually have a very difficult time reading business books, but this one I found very interesting and a page turner. Fundamentally, I really believe in many of the principles outlined in this book. The world would be such a better place if we learned to share more things that tend to have "idle" time.

For example, I really don't like owning my own lawn mower or sidewalk edger. I'd rather someone else take care of and do the maintenance, but I can use it as needed. However, maybe they can use our snowblower or ladder. I think this sort of collaboration has the ability to bring us into better community and it obviously is better for the environment to have less "stuff" out there. It is amazing the toll of "built-in obsolescence" has had on our environment and economy.

Book Description: (From Publisher's Weekly)
Business consultant Botsman and entrepreneur Rogers track the rise of a fascinating new consumer behavior they call "collaborative consumption." Driven by growing dissatisfaction with their role as robotic consumers manipulated by marketing, people are turning more and more to models of consumption that emphasize usefulness over ownership, community over selfishness, and sustainability over novelty. A number of new businesses have emerged to serve this new market, exploiting the ability of the Internet to create networks of shared interests and trust and to simplify the logistics of collective use. Businesses such as bike-sharing service BIXI; toy library BabyPlays; solar power service SolarCity; and the Clothing Exchange, a clothing swap service, help users enjoy products or services without the expense, maintenance hassle, and social isolation of individual ownership. Part cultural critique and part practical guide to the fledgling collaborative consumption market, the book provides a wealth of information for consumers looking to redefine their relationships with both the things they use and the communities they live in.

To recap:

Worth Reading? Yes

Recommend to a Friend? Yes

Worth Buying My Own Copy? Yes, if you plan to share it with someone, otherwise borrow a copy!

Stars: 5 out of 5

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Out Live Your Life

I have been praying the last couple months about whether to co-lead our community outreach ministry. A few weeks ago I saw this book and put it on my "to read" list and put in a request at Mead Public Library. I figure I have no idea what I'm doing stepping forward and leading a community outreach ministry so I do what I always a book!

Book Description: (from

These are difficult days in our world’s history. 1.75 billion people are desperately poor, natural disasters are gouging entire nations, and economic uncertainty still reigns across the globe. But you and I have been given an opportunity to make a big difference. What if we did? What if we rocked the world with hope? Infiltrated all corners with God’s love and life? We are created by a great God to do great works. He invites us to outlive our lives, not just in heaven, but here on earth. Let’s live our lives in such a way that the world will be glad we did.

I actually really enjoyed this book. I've only read one other Max Lucado book, but I really like how this book is paced and the direct application that is found within each chapter. I thought the stories were memorable and illustrated key take aways very well. Loved the illustrations using Joshua Bell and Father Damien.

Often times one feels despair after reading statistics such as:

  • 1.75 billion people are desperately poor
  • 1 billion are hungry
  • Each year nearly 2 million children are exploited in the global commercial sex trade.
  • There are 145 million orphans worldwide.

Yet...there are solutions if we only had the courage to seek them out:
  • Yet, a mere 2% of the world's grain harvest would be enough, if shared, to erase the problems of hunger and malnutrition around the world.
  • Nearly 226 million people in the U.S. call themselves "Christians." From a pure mathematical point of view, there should be fewer orphans in the world.

For me, one of the most convicting prose in the book was when Lucado recounts a time when he was challenged in a span of one week with the following questions:

1. If you were a Christian German living during WWII under Hitler's rule, would you have stood up to the atrocities that were happening to your fellow Jewish German neighbors?

2. If you were living in the South during the American Civil Rights movement, would you have stood up against the injustices of prejudice and segregation?

For the first two questions, I know I would like to say "yes, I would have" - although who knows if I would have the boldness. I'm kind of a chicken who doesn't like to rock the boat at times.

So the last question that was posed to Lucado was this:

3. If your grandchildren asked you "Why did billions of people go hungry when you were young, but there was plenty of food to be shared?" how would you respond?

A very convicting question... Will our children's children look back on this time in history and be in shock that we did nothing for the least of these when we had the knowledge, technology and resources to do otherwise?

To recap:

Worth reading? Yes

Recommend to a friend? Yes

Worth buying my own copy? Yes - lots of great action items you'll want to go back and reference

Stars: 5 out of 5

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers

Shane Claiborne's book "The Irresistible Revolution" wrecked me - in a good way - when I read it last year. So I was excited to stumble across another one of his books - Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers. I usually don't pick up books on "prayer," but the title and premise of this book was intriguing. It was also a short read - 120 pages.

Book Description: (from IndieBound)
"Prayer is not so much about convincing God to do what we want God to do as it is about convincing ourselves to do what God wants us to do." --from the Introduction Activists Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove show how prayer and action must go together. Their exposition of key Bible passages provides concrete examples of how a life of prayer fuels social engagement and the work of justice. Phrases like "give us this day our daily bread" and "forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors" take on new meaning when applied to feeding the hungry or advocating for international debt relief. If you hope to see God change society, you must be an ordinary radical who prays--and then is ready to become the answer to your own prayers.

I really enjoyed this book, but found at times that perhaps I don't have big enough faith to truly live out the challenges presented in the book. There's a part of me that wants to live radically, but feels suffocated and censored to do anything about it. Living like Jesus is so hard. Yet, as I was reminded on the second to last page of the book:

"You are the only Jesus some people will ever see. We get to become the body of Christ, to be people who remind the world of Jesus. We are God's body. None of us is Christ alone, but all of us are Christ together. We are God's body in this world."

I remember feeling this way last year after reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan and Irresistible Revolution. My prayer is that I don't let this fire I feel in my heart die out to complacency again, but rather I trust God to take little steps towards becoming more and more like Jesus and loving His people.

To Recap:

Worth Reading? Yes, if you are serious about prayer and social justice

Worth Buying My Own Copy? No

Recommend to Friends? poor husband now has another book recommendation

Stars: 4 out of 5

What Makes a Book Literary?

I subscribe to "DailyWritingTips" and I thought today's post was very interesting. Made me think a bit and consider whether I have enough "literary" prose in my life.

Part of the article cited several books that have had recent appeal with mass audiences, but could be on their way to be considered "classics."

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd
The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood

I haven't read any of these...any of you? Any worth reading?

Also, what is your favorite "literary" novel (old school...not "modern")? Mine is probably East of Eden by John Steinbeck.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Water for Elephants

I have to say that Water for Elephants was a very enjoyable story to read. I've seen this book in plenty of airport gift shops for the past year, but had a friend say it was worth the read. So glad I gave it a chance.

Book Description: (from

As a young man, Jacob Jankowski was tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. It was the early part of the great Depression, and for Jacob, now ninety, the circus world he remembers was both his salvation and a living hell. A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie.

It was there that he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. And he met Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the great gray hope for this third-rate traveling show. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and, ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.

It was such a treat to get swept into the gritty and colorful world of a traveling circus during the Great Depression. To me - and probably most readers - this is not a well-studied or talked about story in history so I found most of the story so engrossing and educational. I love learning about new things in history. You can definitely tell that Sara Gruen meticulously researched this era for this book.

My favorite parts were when Jacob interacted with Kinko or roustabouts (laborers). I was eye-opening to see how Jacob straddled the two worlds of "the haves" and "have nots" and had a knack for being authentic and equally comfortable in both worlds.

I know this has been categorized as a "romantic" story, but I didn't really feel that was a strong overtone. I really enjoy romantic story lines, but this was a compelling book without the love story. Gruen does a magnificent job with dialog and pacing throughout the novel. It does have a few crude, sexually-explicit scenes described, but given the culture the book is set in it was not all that shocking and honestly added to the grittiness of the story.

I was surprised to learn (thank goodness I had finished the book) that they are making Water for Elephants into a movie. It comes out next year and stars Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon. Totally think Reese will be amazing in this film...having a hard time with the idea of Edward the vampire playing Jacob. I am so glad I didn't have his face in my mind as I was reading this story...would have totally given me a different experience. I kept picturing Ryan Gosling as I read the story! However, I hope I am pleasantly surprised and proved wrong when I go see this next year.

To recap:

Worth reading? Absolutely - a historical treat!

Worth buying my own copy? Undecided...if you like to pass along books to friends, then I would buy a copy

Recommend to friends? Yes, especially those who like historical fiction

Stars: 5 out of 5

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Catching People Reading

Today I was out for a run just as school was letting out (I live 2 blocks from a middle school and high school.) My heart was overwhelmed when I saw a middle school (maybe freshman) girl walking home with her nose buried in a book.

Do you remember doing that as a teen? I used to have to ride the school bus an hour to and an hour home from school. I remember propping my knees up on the seat in front of me and reading for nearly the entire ride.

When I was in middle school, the Indianola Public Library was located kitty corner from the middle school. My mom "trusted" me (or thought it was a good babysitter...) to go there after school to do my homework and wait until she could pick me up after she was done with work. I read SO MUCH at that library...explains why I feel so utterly at home in libraries.

But, it was a thrill to see a young person so intent on reading that she didn't see a middle-age woman huffing and puffing past her! It gave me an idea to maybe start a monthly meme on "Caught Reading" where people can post snapshots of people they know (or don't know) reading. It would be a fun people watching exercise now wouldn't it?

Friday, October 1, 2010

It's Hereeeee....Catching Moondrops Released Today

While I had the treat of an ARC of "Catching Moondrops" in June (and it is AWESOME by the way) from Tyndall House Publishers, you will want to make sure and run out to your local bookstore and pick up a copy today! Today is the official release of Catching Moondrops - the 3rd and final book of Jennifer Erin Valent's fabulous Depression-era/coming of age series.

I'm on mission to get my copies of this book series back from the friends I've loaned it out to all summer...I want to reread all three books again! If you are looking for a series to get swept into, pick up these books. I've recommended them to three people and all three ABSOLUTELY LOVED the series. No one came away lackluster about won't be disappointed!