Jon Krakauer's book recounts the life and death of Christopher J. "Alex Supertramp" McCandless, a young man who lived his life and died as he followedJon Krakauer's book recounts the life and death of Christopher J. "Alex Supertramp" McCandless, a young man who lived his life and died as he followed the self-chosen a path of an aesthete.
Krakauer's exploration and retelling of how McCandless met his end is interesting and offers plenty of insight - albeit conjectured at some points throughout the rendition - as to how someone chooses to live, the commitment it takes to survive in such a quest and the deadly results when there is a lack of preparation to meet unforeseen challenges.
The author originally wrote about McCandless' death in Outdoor Magazine and decided to expand on what he wrote, ostensibly to gain a deeper perspective of McCandless; who he was, how he came to his decision to live and the ominous repercussions tied to his Alaska adventure.
I liked the book because it seemed to capture who Chris McCandless was. More than that, because the book is fraught with literary references culled from the writing of Thoreau, Muir, Stegner and Pasternak plus many more, it is a treasure trove for readers like me. Into the Wild is a quick, interesting exploration of real world consequences replete with literary references that explore the intellectual sojourns of various writers throughout history that have attempted to speak to Man's search for the meaning of life.
The story was compelling and it would make for great classroom exploration - especially at the high school level where young adults can relate to McCandless' struggle to assert his existence and challenge himself in ways that are at times foolhardy and yet somehow admirable because they are rites of passage. It is a fascinating study of risk-taking behavior - particularly among young men. While I have heard the term 'arrogance of youth' bandied, it seems more apropos to describe it as, the 'innocence of youth.'
If anything, there are powerful lessons to be gained in Krakauer's book for people of all ages. While this book serves as testimony to the Human spirit, the sanctity of life and the importance of each and every person's right to live - even if it means dying - according to our own design, it also serves as fair warning that the reason behind such stories has more to do with what not to do, or at least, the relevance of tapping into prior knowledge and becoming informed. Those who don't, will suffer the consequences because nature - and the world for that matter - is unforgiving of ignorance regardless of whether such ignorance is rooted in lack of knowledge or deliberate rejection of information based on hubris or idealized notions rooted in romanticized self-determination.
The reinforcing message is that we can all learn something. When we elect not to, we do so at our peril. It reminds me of Louis Pasteur's observation that, "Chance favors a prepared mind."
For those who dismiss McCandless as a hopeless romantic or an arrogant kid toying with danger, I can only wonder how they must view themselves and all the loopy things they did when they were young. The fact is we all have done many things that were flat out dangerous and somehow, we survived. Some of us were lucky enough to get through the days of our youth unscathed and Christopher Johnson McCandless didn't. Lest we all forget, in these days so peppered by judgment; McCandless life was lived on his own terms but he died on Nature's terms chiefly because he was ill equipped with the appropriate knowledge required to survive in the wild. In the end however, we all learn from our mistakes if we are lucky enough to survive them.
I am reminded of the lyrics from a Paul Simon song that went,
"Now I sit by my window And I watch the cars I fear I'll do some damage One fine day But I would not be convicted By a jury of my peers Still crazy after all these years"
Tribal Leadership offers insight regarding Human nature. More importantly, it identifies how group dynamics are influenced and defined by the types ofTribal Leadership offers insight regarding Human nature. More importantly, it identifies how group dynamics are influenced and defined by the types of people who, by nature, are attracted to group interactions. The authors identify five different levels of groups based on levels of sophistication and what draws people to them.
This is more than a self-help book. It attempts to describe the nature of various tribal associations, how they come about and why they can be utilized as vectors to effect outcomes and bring about change. Considering the boldness of such an undertaking, it might seem like a daunting task. However, the authors have met their goal. This book based upon research from longitudinal studies conducted on some well known, contemporary organizations.
While the book's findings could easily be adapted as an organizational model, they effectively explain why particular associations have the potential to be destructive while other 'higher' functioning groups have the potential to bring about long-lasting, positive changes with global implications.
The paperback edition that I just finished reading has an addendum (completed in early 2011) that offers insight regarding the state of current American politics, the depressed economy and how the two were affected by "Level 3" thinking.
It is a fast read and easy to follow until the final few pages of the penultimate chapter explaining "Level 4" organizations. That is the only place it bogs down - if only slightly - and makes sense with more thorough reading.
It is too bad our politicians, media, policy wonks and bloggers cannot all read this fascinating book. It is a keeper.
Made to Stick provides insight regarding why some ideas take hold while others do not. The authors Chip and Dan Heath use entertaining stories to demoMade to Stick provides insight regarding why some ideas take hold while others do not. The authors Chip and Dan Heath use entertaining stories to demonstrate that effective communication changes people. The Heath brothers accomplish this by explaining how people think, how the reasons behind decisions are not always immediately evident and even counter intuitive.
Borrowing from successful advertising campaigns and teaching regimens, the Heaths cover some ingenious methods used by those who not only want to get their message across but, to make it stick.
It may be a stretch to classify this book in the category of meta-cognition. However, it does heavily deal with how people think and how yet others have capitalized on that knowledge to develop effective advertizing campaigns and successful educational endeavors. The worthiness of a book such as this has to do with the sway these techniques hold in recruiting change of thinking and more importantly, how easily they can be applied in other situations where change is the goal.
Don't let the length of this cursory review dissuade you from reading Made to Stick. It is a great book with many useful, practical insights....more
This book is jam-packed with information from start to finish - and the information is engaging all the way through. There is so much in the way of reThis book is jam-packed with information from start to finish - and the information is engaging all the way through. There is so much in the way of relevant information that can be beneficial for people from all walks of life. Goleman rightly points out that while cognitive ability and IQ do carry their own importance, such competencies are eclipsed by emotional competency. he makes some cogent arguments and supports them with reliable data. This book is highly recommended for anyone who has an interest in understanding Human nature and the art of communication. This is one of my all time favorite books....more
My friend Tony purchased a house two years ago because the spacious kitchen had potential; plenty of counter space and a fireplace. Last year, I remodMy friend Tony purchased a house two years ago because the spacious kitchen had potential; plenty of counter space and a fireplace. Last year, I remodeled it and it is beautiful. The layout is like a command center where Tony can roll out appetizers and entrees while chatting it up with whoever he is cooking for as they belly up to the bar.
Now Tony isn't the warm and fuzzy type. His childhood was marked by tragedy and strife. While he's never talked about it, his mother died of Cancer when he was 12 years old. Her passing left his father, a New Jersey Italian who was enrolled in the school of education, at a small town southern Colorado community college with two boys and no family to rely on.
Much to his credit, Big Tony - Tony's 'Pops' finished up his degree and settled in Albuquerque where he taught, and eventually retired from Ernie Pyle Middle School - a predominantly Latino, under-privileged working class community. Raising the boys on a teacher's salary was tough but they made it. There were times when the gas got cut off and there was little to eat. However, to his credit, both of Big Tony's boys are successful in their own right. Tony has started up two charter schools with a focus on creating socially-conscious, community-oriented citizens and his little brother Ernie is a much loved High School Football coach in Lake Tahoe, Nevada.
Tony is a no-nonsense kind of guy. He is tough-as-nails but he also has a very gentle side - very affectionate with his kids and wife - and he loves to cook. I suspect this is where he gets to play that out. Food is love and this is how Tony shows it. It is a place where he can create delicious gifts of sustenance for his family and his friends. In Tony's kitchen, everyone is a welcome guest.
So, last year, during one of Tony's meal preparation adventures, I mentioned that I wanted to enroll in a cooking class. Tony retorted, "Don't be a pu**y, all you need is a sharp knife and a cookbook." Well, I never enrolled. I did get myself a good cookbook and I am progressing quite well. I'm no Tony but I am getting better every day.
This Christmas, Tony gave me, an autographed, boxed set of Anthony Bourdain's 'Kitchen Confidential' and 'Medium Raw.' I must admit, I didn't really like Anthony Bourdain whenever I saw him on television because he presented as a bit of a food snob - someone I might not want to be around. Bourdain's, 'Kitchen Confidential' has proven otherwise.
What I find most compelling is that this is a book about a guy who works with his hands, it is the story of a craftsman and how he came to acquire the skills that all those who preceded him did - no different than the many other craftsmen who work with their hands have done regardless of their chosen field of expertise.
This is probably why the book worked for me; it has a decidedly Human side to it, it is not about perfect people living perfect lives. It is about making it through everyday struggles, dealing with the questioning and the despair. It is about overcoming hardship by never giving up and sometimes, through dumb luck that we reach a level of expertise and the sense of accomplishment when our trajectories finally do level out.
This is a book about developing a craft, building skills and earning respect through dedication and hard work. Yes, Anthony Bourdain is cocky, he is brash. But, he has earned it. Looking at him through the filter of the craftsman's perspective, I cannot help but admire him because - his delivery, albeit offensive to some - knowing who he is makes him easier to understand. He isn't an unqualified spectator, he is a doer.
Had I not received this book-set as a gift, I would have never picked it up and that was based on first impressions. Anyone who knows me knows I don't like bullies. That is why I dismissed Anthony Bourdain.
That is what disturbs me; now I am wondering about how many other books have is passed over, how many people or even professions have I elected to avoid on the basis for my ignorance? Just how many other potentially fulfilling experiences have I walked away from simply because I found them objectionable or off-putting - based on my lack of exposure - I will never know. I have friend John, who is a talented painter; his creations are so moving and real - why didn't I ever learn how to paint? Yet another friend of mine, Elaine is a linguist - what a magnificent job and I never even knew what that work entailed - how could I have missed it?
I am certain of this reality, Anthony Bourdain has made me more cognizant that I ought not be so quick to dismiss what seems to be uninteresting at first blush. Curiously, this book makes me aware of all the things I passed up - things like learning how to cook and the many other things I never tried.
Since reading his book, I now watch his show on the Travel Channel, 'No Reservations' and am always amazed at the level of respect he has for people, their cultures and their cooking methods. He is the consummate guest - completely the opposite of what I imagined him to be. He definitely has the chops to speak from the perspective of a chef and his writing offers an insight to his abilities for food preparation because the craft of writing is every bit as intricate as the ability to cook. His mind-set and personal ethics come through quite clearly. His insights and advice are solid.
He is a guy I'd like to meet in person. He may have started out in a different place but he has paid his dues. He has done some living along the way - and part of living includes making mistakes which he does not try to sugar-coat. Consequently, his Humanity comes across in a way which is not disingenuous.
Anthony Bourdain's story is a success and that he is able to tell it so articulately makes it even more engaging. He may as well be my friend Tony, his brother or their Pops, just another stand-up, tough, decent Human Being. ...more
I have never read any of Ken Follett's books but I decided to give this one a try. It is my understanding that this genre of book is not typical of thI have never read any of Ken Follett's books but I decided to give this one a try. It is my understanding that this genre of book is not typical of the spy thriller writer. This is a historical novel with multiple characters and several plots.
The Pillars of the Earth is set in the early 1100's and spans around fifty years. It centers around a Cathedral constructed in the fictional town of Kingsbridge England. Some of the major characters include Phillip, Prior of the Kingsbridge Monastery, Tom Builder and his step-son Jack Sherburg who are the Master-Builders that oversee the Cathedral's construction over nearly five decades. The story is filled with intrigue, violence, ambition, religiosity, rape, pillaging and even token sex.
I liked the book however, some of the tempocentric references transferred to the twelvth century don't seem to carry over convincingly - at least for me anyway. The gratuitous sex descriptions seemed awkward, somewhat brutish and even pornographic. I suppose they weren't altogether repulsive taken as a whole - although I found the rape descriptions to be particularly disturbing.
Follett was trained as a journalist and it showed up by the way this entire book was painstakingly written. However, its end seemed anticlimactic as the author wrapped up the loose ends kind of the way he wrote about sex; big build-up, short fuse and BAM!
Considering how much detail and effort was put into developing the story and its characters, the end seemed rushed, tidy and contrived. It lacked the same continuity with the tapestry woven through out the story. I understand the book was long nearly 1000 pages. nevertheless, this epic deserved a more detailed end to finish off the body of work so meticulously put together. I found myself frustrated with the disappointingly clunky end.
Nevertheless, I did find the book intriguing enough that I made time for the book - so much so that I read it in four days. I found myself thinking about the characters during the day and eagerly looked forward to reading what was happening to them as the story progressed. Having finished the book, I've found myself missing the characters.
I particularly enjoyed the story because of the extensive research associated with middle-ages cathedral construction. Additionally, the detailed descriptions of medieval culture and lifestyle were as entertaining as they were enlightening.
Ken Follett thoroughly researched his material - I read he took nearly ten years to develop the story. Perhaps that explains why he wrapped up the story in less than 100 pages. Ten years is a long time to invest into writing a book - maybe he just got tired of it when he reached the end.
Nearly 15 years have passed since Follett wrote "The Pillars of the Earth" and he has recently completed another book of the same genre, centering around 14th Century at Kingsbridge Cathedral. I 'm looking forward to reading "World Without End" soon....more
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien is a collection of vignettes about the war experience in Vietnam. The book details life of the foot soldier.
O'The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien is a collection of vignettes about the war experience in Vietnam. The book details life of the foot soldier.
O'Brien has an incredible ability for communicating about what motivates him to write. In doing so, he provides some powerful insights into the inner motivations for writing as well.
I mused on this book when I first read it back in June of 2005. Here's what I had to say at the time:
O’Brien’s book, near as I can tell, is about Vietnam. This author is quite accomplished in that he has drawn me into the story completely. In 18 short pages, I have already established a connection with Lieutenant Cross, a twenty-four year old kid from New Jersey whose love-struck musings about a girl he is profoundly attracted to have him in danger. She doesn’t feel the same for him but that doesn’t matter. He is obsessed with her to the point of distraction. Frankly, I am scared for the kid and I can relate to his angst over a woman who is so far and yet feels so close.
Bummer - quite often, we feel closer when we are farthest apart. Why is that? Is it the absence? Is it the reality? I wonder, how must it be to miss someone from afar knowing you may never see her again - especially in war time? I can fathom such a thought because, to know death awaits is incredibly sobering. I am familiar with that thought. It definitely clears the mind of everything but what is important. It puts you right here, right now. What does surprise me quite often is how most of us rarely think about our own mortality. Back to the story: So, what is important to the young Lieutenant is this woman he has fantasized – not the real woman – someone more powerful. Someone unavailable, inaccessible and distant but, not by miles - by emotion. She doesn’t feel the same for him. Why should she?"
That is what this book did for me. It continually stimulated a stream of consciousness and thoroughly engaged me from the beginning. It is the kind of book that stays with you . It is equally troubling as it is thought provoking. Very few writers have this ability to get into my head the way O'Brien has. So many people can grab our attention but few can keep it. I thank him for challenging me to get involved in his trek.
This disturbing book explores the implications behind killing a Human Being. Lt. Col. Dave Grossman delves into historical documents and references vaThis disturbing book explores the implications behind killing a Human Being. Lt. Col. Dave Grossman delves into historical documents and references various psychological treatises to develop an understand how and why people resolve actively taking of a life.
Contrary to what one might think, reference the topic matter of this book, "On Killing" is hardly anything about celebrating or justification to be sought when killing another Human Being. Rather, it intelligently deals with the implications and consequences for the taking of a life.
This is not a 'blood & guts' kind of book that glorifies killing. It is none the less fascinating because I don't think most people really think about what it means to take a life and have to live with the consequences once that has occurred.
As someone whose past vocation once called upon me to be prepared to take a life, I appreciate Grossman's thoughtful approach to such a difficult topic. ...more
I approached this book with some reservation because I was already aware of President Jackson's history regarding treatment of Native Americans and hi I approached this book with some reservation because I was already aware of President Jackson's history regarding treatment of Native Americans and his stand on slavery. I did however come away with a few realizations - from a perspective that I had not previously known.
Jon Meacham detailed the changes that Jackson implemented regarding the Executive branch - his examples include;
1] Jackson's usage of the veto as a political tool coupled with his expansion of executive powers and establishment of the presidency as political force which did not exist prior to Jackson's tenure as President of the United States [POTUS:],
2] being the first to completely replace his presidential cabinet thereby establishing that those members served at the pleasure of the president.
3] his introduction of legislation (Force Act) to affect change and to forecast his preparedness to act in the event someone intended to break up the union. In other words, threatening something extreme in order to get something generally perceived to be less benign.
4] his usage of executive branch to force policy change (Banks)
5] his usage of the media for fomenting his ideas and for advancing his agenda.
6] his reference to the voting populace as a mandate to implement his populist ideas - or perhaps, appealing to the masses in order to implement his agenda.
7] invoking the spoils system he was the first to dismiss federal office holders en masse.
Allowing for tempo-centric considerations regarding his bigotry, his fervent nationalism and passionate voice for the common (white) man, Meacham painted a fairly accurate picture of a man who, judged according to the prevailing sentiments of his times - and by people who shared a common Northern European heritage - he would have been a great man. His willful, obstinate, fiercely loyal nature served him well.
The Roman philosopher Herodotus said, "Soft lands breed soft men." Andrew Jackson is a good example for that axiom; he was, to be certain a tough man and the genteel world of the Washington of his time certainly proved to be a place where he could push his way around without much appreciable resistance. Perhaps the greatest nuance of his time was that he could get his way regardless of the opposition. It appears the opposition soon learned the value of having a medium (the printed press) in order to mount an effective opposition.
If any of this sounds at all familiar, I suspect it is because the author is looking back at the nineteenth century with his feet firmly planted in the 21st. Andrew Jackson's presidency seems to be quite familiar with the administration of President George W. Bush.
In short, it smacks of Rovian politics and, - to me - this is where Meacham fell short; he did not detail how such powerful nuanced re-interpretation of presidential power could have come from such an uneducated man. The constitutional law behind Jackson's vision is powerful and highly academic and yet, it seems he just had a great head for constitutional law. It makes me wonder whether it was in fact Martin VanBuren who was the brains behind the operation. We will never know from this book.
Unfortunately, the aberrant leanings president Jackson held, even during his time, were already proving to be distasteful in nineteenth century America. His deathbed statements regarding Heaven not being exclusively a realm for whites only indicates he was cognizant of the inherent injustice for slaves in the world he was living and preparing to leave shortly. Also, once the crisis of nullification had been averted the first time, President Jackson wrote about the potential role that slavery was certain to play in the future (six days before he would appoint an obscure country lawyer - Abraham Lincoln - to a low Federal Postal position in Illinois.)
Old Hickory predicted that slavery would eventually lead to a civil war. Unfortunately the president's prescient nature was accurate but he did not see himself as the instrument that would bring such an abomination to an end. While the book is an interesting read, I did not find it too cumbersome as others have alluded to. I also have a difficult time dismissing this account of his life as a 'white-wash' as other readers have contended. There are many accounts in the story which address the unfair treatment of Native Americans and his stand on slavery. For anyone to ignore that Andrew Jackson was an example of and a product of his time is to fall into the same tempo-centric trap that he fell into. Consequently, while slavery and Jackson's forbearance of long-standing treaties with the sovereign Indian nations were the order of his day - application of 2009 standards in retrospect are just as unmerited as the sins his modern-day critics are frowning upon.
To me there is a greater lesson to be garnered in looking back upon history; the wrongs can be reflected upon with an eye toward ensuring that such similar errors may be more easily understood and even avoided in the future. And, there are plenty of lessons to be learned. I could not help but notice the similarities of nationalism and invocation of populist themes in order to affect change as evidenced in our past presidential administration. It strikes me that the themes which resonated so strongly during the popular Jackson Administration were recently echoed by the Bush II reign as well. So too were the voices of opposition. This not to imply that bigotry exists towards at the same level today as in 19th century America however, there is no denying that similar shadows persist toward Latin American immigrants and Muslims in the paranoiac, post-9/11 America we live in today. The ultimate question in this or any democracy is whether majority rule trumps minority rights.
For my part, this was decent book and, while I would recommend it, it will not rank among the best books I have read. It is nonetheless, a pointed study about what happens when strong-minded personalities enter the office of president. It also demonstrates how fluid the description of the office can be and moreover, how mercurial personalities can effect the outcome of history - but, owing to contemporary experiences with our own presidencies of late, we already knew that. ...more
I've always had a tentative relationship with my religion. Like many, I take comfort in established, ritualized practices. On the other hand, I have aI've always had a tentative relationship with my religion. Like many, I take comfort in established, ritualized practices. On the other hand, I have a tough time with some of what I consider to be loopy mandates outlined by the Catholic Catechism.
One aspect about, A Prayer for Owen Meany definitely touched on Faith; how I reconcile the difference between knowing that G_d exists; and believing that his word is what has been faithfully communicated through the Bible.
Couple that with my mistrust for 'the government' and my love for the Constitution and I have the perfect setting for an exploration of what happens when the two mix.
Owen Meany is a Christ-like figure - the reluctant messiah who, for whatever reason - is tapped to make the supreme sacrifice; he is to die. It causes me to ponder how Jesus must have felt as he knew what was going to happen and how he dealt with that impending eventuality of his demise for a 'greater good.'
And what of altruism? How can one reconcile voluntary termination of one's very life when to do so involves an act so selfless that it means termination of life as we know it to exist in this dimension. It begs the question, is altruism really voluntary at all and moreover, does it make any sense?
What about those left behind? John Wheelright's retrospective recounts the life of his enigmatic friend and the events that precipitated his death. He is preoccupied with whether the senseless act of violence that killed Owen could have been avoided - whether the collision course was one of divine providence or merely the product of a self-directed destiny. In the process, John's story reveals the struggle between faith and reality; for John it was one of knowing the end result and looking back; for Owen, it was one of knowing the end result and moving toward it. While both took a lifetime to complete, I am not sure who suffered more in the end.
If this is a parallel story of Jesus of Nazareth and there are/were other people with whom he shared his earthly existence then, their spin on the chain of events that led to his death and how they perceived it opens a whole new story. I can easily surmise that their personal interpretations might vary and the depth of their grief drives them to revisit the 'greatest story ever told' for the rest of their lives.
There are also many symbolic parallels throughout the story as well. For instance, Owen Meany's initials might be related to the letter Omega - as in the Christ's declaration of being the 'alpha and the omega.' His relationship to 'John' - might this be a reference to the beloved apostle alluded to in the New Testament? How about the Mary Magdalene, perhaps an alliterative parallel to Hester - 'the Molester'; maybe an allusion to the Scarlet Letter's Hester Prynne and the attendant consequences for having dared to love a man she could never have. How about her ability to evoke emotion and enjoy adulation of her fans. Yet despite her rock-star appeal, she was powerless to save the man she loved from with his date with destiny?
So many other questions arise like;
1] Is it easier to bitch about my government when I really have problems with my G_d? Civil disobedience beats the shit out of apostasy right? My government can jail me however, according to Pascal's gambit regarding the existence of G_d; violating the treatises of my faith can doom me for eternity.
2] Is this why fundamentalists work so hard at setting a status quo in their ever-changing world?
3] What do you do when your messiah - whom you never realized to be your messiah - is now your messiah and he is gone? You no longer can see him in the flesh. Is this the point of embarkation for the trip we call 'faith'?
4] How about the irony involved in being killed by someone else whose practiced religion calls for your destruction - even if you are the messiah?
I think about mistrust of my government which also played a role in Owen's death, the zealots and the existence of evil.
Like John Wheelright, I am a religious outsider. The struggle with my faith, striving to make sense of the religion of my birth. I take in my countryman's sacrosanct professions of faith and come away unconvinced.
Among my fellow Christian believers, there is a sea of difference where one set of perspectives takes precedence over another. Those who currently hold sway doggedly embrace the notion of a vengeful G_d that endorses 'an eye for an eye.' By convention, these practitioners of faith invoke the notion of self reliance as their excuse for turning a blind eye to the plight of a poor. Since G_d only helps those who help themselves, poverty must be an indication that such individuals are sinners - abandoned by the creator and therefore - of no consequence. The G_d of Abraham - whose eye is on the sparrow - is unmoved at the growling stomach of starving child.
Only in America do we protect an impoverished unborn human's right to be born into a mean world where they are guaranteed denial of equal access to education, food and a decent quality of life. We abandon them to the mean streets of what so proudly we hail as the greatest country on earth only to hunt them down years later. They are perfect fodder for the alter of object lessons because we prosecute them and even execute them in far greater numbers than members of the middle and upper class. We conveniently deny along the way that offenses committed by the poor had anything to do with the crimes perpetrated by religious approbation of avarice, wholesale exclusion and pin-pointed bigotry. It does make me wonder just what a messiah might make of it all and that is another reason why Owen Meany's character moves me.
I freely admit my bias; I am a John Irving fan and this is the book that did it for me.
I know Irving thoroughly studied the work of Charles Dickens so his story-telling utilizes techniques invoking craftsmanship reminiscent of that prolific storyteller. Irving's writing skill is second to none. He delivers a thought provoking, haunting narrative that leaves me continually revisiting this story.
A Prayer for Owen Meany is a meaning-of-life book of the highest order. It doesn't give us answers. It gives us questions to ponder - something infinitely more valuable. It informs. It frustrates. It entertains. It evokes a broad range of emotions. It has the potential for commuting what seems at first blush a life so common into a glimpse of the divine. It is the story of one man's epiphany and his ongoing struggle to reconcile faith with reality. It is a book of revelation - all at once apocalyptic and painfully redemptive.
Any book that can communicate on so many different levels is a book that will stand the test of time. This is why I consider this story among the top three books penned by any living writer I have read to date.
This is only part of why I love Owen Meany and why, - like the opening line,
"I am doomed to remember a small boy with a wrecked voice..."...more
I originally thought Goleman's Emotional Intelligence was his best work. Now I am not so certain. Comparing the two books, the most notable differenceI originally thought Goleman's Emotional Intelligence was his best work. Now I am not so certain. Comparing the two books, the most notable difference between the two has to do with the first book's style as being more authoritative. I think this is because Goleman was on new ground. He was explaining the emergent science of emotional intelligence.
Social Intelligence offers a more relaxed delivery regarding how the brain works in social interactions. It also offers insight regarding group think. I have found it useful in dealing with my students, coworkers, and as a resource for some of my writing material. ...more