WOW! That was awesome. I knocked out my 50 book goal in half the time. I found some amazing gems, some of which were truly life changing. I hope I’ve helped you find something that can change your life too.
Here are the final five book reviews. I shouldn’t write “final.” This journey will not end. The goal was to create a new habit by publicly stating a big goal. That’s how I became a runner. I figured it would also work in my attempt to become a ferocious reader. It has. The journey will continue for the foreseeable future.
No, I’m not going to extend my goal to 100 books in 2020. I’m going to slow down, not in reading, but in quantity. I have some really thick bios I want to knock out this year.
These last five books were all pretty amazing:
The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley Ph. D & William D. Danko Ph.d
Who do you know that’s a millionaire? How about your next door neighbor who has driven the same care for 15 years? How about that guy driving the Tesla and wearing the custom suits?
According to this book answer may surprise you. The authors didn’t set out to write a how to book like most. Instead they analyzed millionaires to find common traits. Here are a few:
They are extremely frugal and live below their means.
They concentrate on building wealth instead of making money.
They would rather be financially independent than flashy.
They were not supported financially by their parents.
They do not financially support their adult children.
They are constantly paying attention to the market to find opportunities.
They went into the right occupation for them.
Concentrating on long term wealth instead of immediate money is something I’ve been concentrating on for the last two years. I learned that from the Rich Dad, Poor Dad books. Money is a means to an end and not the end itself. Money should not be stored away like a squirrel stores nuts. As it’s said “don’t work for money, make money work for you.”
I really enjoyed this book. Anyone looking to build financial wealth and gain true financial freedom should read this one.
Discourses and Selected Writings by Epictetus
There are many ancient Stoics but three stand above the rest because of their writings – Seneca, Emperor Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus. Epictetus was a slave turned teacher who didn’t actually write anything down. His words have been passed down to us by one of his students in the form of Discourses and The Enchridion, the latter being more like a Cliff’s Notes version of Stoicism.
Earlier this year I devoured Seneca and Marcus Aurelius quickly. In fact I’ve already read Meditations by Aurelius twice more since. It is the one book that remains in my bag at all times. Epictetus on the other hand I took in slowly. I read a page each day for three months, meditating throughout the day on what I read.
Like I wrote in my review of Seneca and Aurelius, it’s hard to describe a book so life changing and so full of advice that fundamentally evolves the way you think and act. So instead of trying to summarize this book, I will simply let Epictetus speak for himself and strongly urge you to read this book, along with those of Seneca and Marcus Aurelius:
Keep the prospect of death, exhale and all such a parent tragedies before you every day – especially death – and you will never have an abject thought, or desire anything of excess.
It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.
It is not events that disturb people, it is their judgments concerning them.
There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power or our will.
Don’t hope that events will turn out the way you want, welcome events in which ever way they happen: this is the path to peace.
Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control.
Freedom is secured not by the fulfilling of men’s desires, but by the removal of desire.
If anyone tells you that a certain person speaks ill of you, do not make excuses about what is said of you but answer, “He was ignorant of my other faults, else he would not have mentioned these alone.”
Any person capable of angering you becomes your master; he can anger you only when you permit yourself to be disturbed by him.
There is so much more in this book. I will be digesting it for years to come. You should definitely read this.
Crucial Conversations by Patterson, Granny, Mcmillan, & Switzler
A short review this time…
So many times in life we shy away from the crucial conversations we desperately need to move forward in life, both personally and professionally. Maybe we don’t want the drama. Maybe we are just too shy. Many times we are just too scared.
These conversations don’t have to get overly emotional and you don’t need to stress about them. There are strategies to help you tackle them and move on. You learn those strategies in this book.
I recommend Crucial Conversations to everyone in business, so much so that it’s the next book in the Push Digital leadership book club.
Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi
This was a tough one to read. Tough, because it is deep and so full of facts that it must be consumed slowly. And more so, tough, because it opens up so many wounds by making our historic atrocities so transparent and relevant to today’s circumstances.
As a history book, I loved it. Kendi is brilliant and one of the best researchers I’ve ever read. It’s like a 600 page timeline. It jumps from date to date so full of facts that at times it’s damn near impossible to keep up with Kendi. It’s a history that every American, especially those of us in the South, must know and fully understand. We cannot say “that’s in the past” as everything happening today is because of the past, thus the past is the present. That’s the majority, the first four parts of the book, and it’s wonderful.
Then comes Part 5 where Kendi turns from historian to political activist. I have many disagreements here. Kendi believes any criticism of welfare programs is racist, as if every government program isn’t full of fundamental flaws. I’ve been on welfare. I’ve seen the flaws with my own eyes. My own father told me that he doesn’t work “because government pays me to stay home with you.” He became lazy, a drug addict, a criminal and eventually he became dead because of it. My father was a white man.
I saw my neighbors, both white and black, waste their lives away sitting on their couches smoking cigarettes and never even trying to get a job. These aren’t accusations. These are experiences. My experiences. That doesn’t make me racist. It makes me aware of my surroundings.
At the same time, I saw people use welfare as a temporary safety net while getting more training or searching for a job. That’s what my mother did. That’s why I know welfare is needed.
But in Kendi’s view, any and all criticism of welfare is a campaign tactic to pit whites vs blacks to gain political support. Does that happen? Absolutely! However, Kendi never admits that these government welfare programs absolutely do have the many flaws pointed out by these politicians. And those flaws are causing minority communities A LOT of harm.
Kendi doesn’t just attack every Republican. He goes after Bill Clinton for the Crime Bill and for claiming that Black people must take some personal responsibility. The latter is quite frustrating as Kendi is fully against personal responsibility and feels that any mention of such is racist. Even Bill Cosby (before his downfall) and Barack Obama is called racist for promoting hard work, personal responsibility and good parenting. He argues that it just produces more racism. I don’t get it and Kendi poorly supports his argument.
My biggest issue is that while he brings to light so many atrocities, Kendi becomes lost in accusations of subtle racism such as the movies Avatar and Rocky. Somehow, Rocky is all about the white man beating down a black man, but Kendi never mentions that it’s the black man who won at the end of the first movie. If the movie is about a white man beating down a black man, and that’s one big ass IF, the result is that no matter how hard the white man works, he still won’t keep the black man down. Seems to me that’s anti-racist.
I do agree with Kendi’s view on the War on Drugs. We now have states profiting from marijuana sales while too many, especially black men, spend years behind bars while prisons become overcrowded for the same reason. Additionally there’s is just no explaining away the differences between crack and cocaine sentencing. It’s racist.
Kendi does not give a solution to the problem. He believes the key is to put more anti-racists in power. If President Obama isn’t included in that list then I don’t know who is.
Despite his stretching and my political disagreements based on personal experiences, I found this book to be both enlightening and needed in today’s world. Kendi is a brilliant historian. We must fully understand the past to understand today’s obvious racial disparities. This book should be read by all.
I look forward to starting Kendi’s second book “How To Be An Anti-Racist” next week.
WOW! My goal 50 books in 2020 is DONE!
What a wonderful book to hold as I cross that finish line.
So much of what we call happiness is thrust upon us from external forces. We are told that riches, fame and approval will make us happy. Most of the time they leave us empty, especially when compared to the internal feelings we acquire from our soul. These are the positive emotions we get when we see a sunset, read a great book, play with our kids or cross a finish line. These are the things we truly love. It’s the difference between being empty and being nourished.
Anthony De Mello was a Jesuit priest who wrote down these 32 meditations just before dying. In these short meditations he teaches us how to seek true love rather than the emptiness the world tells us we should pursue, that which our cultural programming tries to define, but which is actually undefinable. We either have it or we don’t.
De Mello challenges us to open our eyes and to see more clearly that our ill conceived attachments are not making us happy and we must shed them if we are to truly love. Those attachments stop us from loving other things and love excludes nothing. It’s like loving drums so much that when you hear a symphony you only hear the drums, which stops you from hearing the beautiful music of the entire work.
Obviously this passage hit me square in the jaw:
”You were bent on winning an election and in the din of battle it was impossible to hear the songs of birds: Your ambition drowned out every other sound. You were faced with the possibility of a serious illness or the loss of a loved one and you found it impossible to concentrate on anything.”
This is a small book. In fact it’s so small that I have the pocket version. You can read it in one day. I opted to read it over a month so that I could meditate on each, well, meditation. That seems to be what De Mello had in mind. This is another life changing book that must be read by everyone.
And with that I complete my journey of reading 50 books in 2020. I would have never imagined knocking it out in half the time. My journey is far from over. The point was not to cross a finish line and to yell “look at me!” The whole point was to create a new habit. While I will not slow down the reading, the number of books I consume will slow down. I’m about to dive into some thick biographies. So, let’s see how far I can go in 2020.