I am continuing along my path to read fifty books in 2020 and I’m way ahead of where I thought I would be. Read on to learn about books twenty-one through twenty-four.
Run the Mile You’re In, Ryan Hall
I’m healthy for the first time in 2020. I missed a planned marathon last weekend due to over two months of no running. Now it’s go time. Hard training starts NOW. Just one problem… I don’t feel like it. Like at all. My head isn’t in the right place. I’ve lost a lot of my fitness. I have to start all over.
I needed a read to get me back in the zone. After pulling for his wife, Sarah, in last week’s Olympic trials, I decided to give Ryan Hall’s book a try. Ryan is the American record holder for the half marathon with a 59:43. He is also the only American to break the 2:05 full marathon mark. That’s flying!
Ryan is a devout Christian which makes this book as much a religious read as a running book. No, I take that back. This is definitely a Christian book disguised as a running book. The book is broken down into twenty-six chapters, one for each mile of the marathon, with twenty-six different lessons and corresponding Bible teachings.
This is a simple read with a good story. It’s not some literary masterpiece but it is what I needed to read with my current mindset. I recommend to all my Christian running buddies.
Living with the Monks, Jesse Itzler
I am a big fan of Jesse Itzler. We have a lot in common. We’re both entrepreneurs who spend our time beating the hell out of our bodies. We both have some ghetto in our backgrounds. I read his first book and even took one of his online courses. I loved them both. Ladies, you may know Itzler best as the husband of SPANX founder, Sara Blakely.
Itzler’s first book, Living With A Seal, told the story of when David Goggins, a former NAVY Seal and ultra-marathoner, moved into his house and put him through 31 days of ass kickings. The book was amazing and really funny. It’s a real page turner that I could not put down. At the time, Itzler just called Goggins “Seal” to hide his identity. But it’s not easy to hide a former Seal who is African American, an ultra-marathoner and who just so happens to have the world record for pull-ups. There’s only one person on Earth that badass. Introducing me to Goggins, who has since released his own book, Can’t Stop Me, was a game changer. I’m not going to spend a bunch of time here going into Goggins. You probably know who he is. If you don’t, go on YouTube right now. You’re welcome.
All to say, Itzler’s first book was really great for me so I had high hopes going into this book, where he tells the story of living with monks. It’s definitely a message I need right now. It does fall in line with a lot of the stoicism I’m currently studying. However, this book was a bit disappointing.
For starters, Itzler moved in with the monks for two weeks. That’s hardly enough time to even warrant a book. Here it seems like he just did the bare minimum to be able to write a book. If you’re going to write a book about it, do something freaking epic. He did that by having Goggins beat the hell out of him for a month. This on the other hand just seemed lazy, something Itzler is definitely not at all.
Itzler learned a lot, mostly about disconnecting and slowing down in this high paced digital world, but that’s not life changing. He could have learned the same from just “social distancing” and turning off his phone. Most relevant for me was this idea of being fully present in what you’re doing, which I wrote about a few weeks back in my review of “Wherever You Go There You Are.”
Once again I enjoyed Itzler’s story telling, but this book was a let down for me. Unplug and be present. There, I saved you from having to read this one. In spite of my take on this book, I’m still a big fan of Jesse Itzler and I will definitely invest in future courses and books.
The Rise of Skywalker, Rae Carson
Warning: Heavy Star Wars Episode 9 Spoilers!
There are certainly things I didn’t like in The Rise of Skywalker. They shouldn’t have brought Palpatine back. They did nothing in the previous two films to establish him as this trilogy’s villain and then they just drop it in the opening crawl. They should have kept Rey as the child of no one special. The whole “surprise! I’m your relative” thing was already done in the biggest twist in movie history. Besides, the whole idea that anyone could be a Jedi was the entire reason for Episode 8’s broom boy ending. Mostly what annoyed me was that it was as if no one got JJ Abrams and Rian Johnson on the same page. One single person should have had control of the story, like Kevin Feige has with Marvel.
Still… I tried to ignore that for one simple reason – I believe people are too judgmental of movies when they should just enjoy a two (or three) hour escape from reality. Movie critics are the worst!
Now, with all that said, there is one huge issue with The Rise of Skywalker that Abrams could not fix. It was just out of his control. Episode 7 was Han’s story. Episode 8 was Luke’s story. Episode 9 was supposed to be Leias. Unfortunately Carrie Fisher died leaving Abrams with old footage from the previous two movies to work with. As a result, we didn’t get Leias final sorry as we should have. That’s why Star Wars fans should read this book.
It’s not a ton, but this book fills in the gaps that we missed in the movie. There’s more detail about her Jedi training, her relationship with Rey and her conversations with Luke prior to her death. All of those are important to understand Leia’s full journey.
There are other details that you may have read reported online. We get to see how Palpatine came back and we learn more about Rey’s father. All that is cool but what’s truly important is the added Leia content.
I’m not saying that everyone should run out and grab this book but all Star Wars nerds definitely should.
The Right Side of History, Ben Shapiro
I’m a Republican political consultant but I’m no fan of conservative mouthpieces. I don’t listen to Rush or Hannity. I never listened to O’Reilly. For the love of God I don’t listen to Ann Coulter.
I prefer to think for myself. I base my opinions on logic rather than emotion. That’s why my one exception to the rule is Ben Shapiro. Sure, Shapiro has said a few inflammatory things. That’s always going to happen when one talks for a living. Still, I find Shapiro to be a well studied, intelligent and logical conservative.
In “The Right Side of History” Shapiro makes the argument that Americans are starting to forget what makes this nation so great. In this case, it’s our foundation of Judeo-Christian values which are being supplanted by secularism and materialism. America has lost any kind of purpose that tied us all together which only leaves complete individualism.
During this crisis everyone from politicians to celebrities are screaming “we are all in this together” but for the decades following WWII we haven’t been in much together at all. Our actions are selfish, fueled by ideas of liberal individualism. This liberalism is destructive to both self and society. As we lose any kind of purpose based on spiritualism we begin focusing solely on materialism.
He writes: “America is struggling right now and a lot of ways. But it’s the largest struggle is the struggle for our national soul. We are so angry at each other right now. That anger is palpable. Where did it come from? It came from the destruction of a common vision. We used to believe in the founding vision, supported by a framework of personal virtue called from Judeo-Christian morality. We used to see each other as brothers and sisters, not the “1% versus the 99%” or “the privileged versus the victims.” We weren’t enemies. We were a community, forged in fire and tethered together by set of values stretching back to the Garden of Eden – a community of individuals working to understand the value of each other as images of God, a community of individuals who believed in our own capacity to change ourselves and the world around us.”
I liked this book. I really enjoy Shapiro’s deep knowledge of history. I really have only one problem with this book. He spends a couple hundred pages explaining the problem and how we’ve seen this same recurrence throughout human history, but he only spends a few pages describing a solution.
As I read this book in the midst of a national crisis I could not help but wonder if, like WWII or 9/11, some good might come of all this. Perhaps this crisis will teach us how to be nation of brothers and sisters who work together for a common purpose. Perhaps I dream too big.