The Two Best Parts From The Fault in Our Stars

I read The Fault in Our Stars over the weekend. It was really good. It had much better writing than I expected. I’m all in on John Green. Here were my two favorite clips, both dealt with pain and suffering which I suppose I’m dealing with right now.

And then he broke down, just for one moment, his sob roaring impotent like a clap of thunder unaccompanied by lightning, the terrible ferocity that amateurs in the field of suffering might mistake for weakness.

That’s just beautiful. This maybe even more so.

I missed the future. Obviously I knew even before his recurrence that I’d never grow old with Augustus Waters. But think about Lidewij and her boyfriend, I felt robbed.

I would probably never again see the ocean from thirty thousand feet above, so far up that you can’t make out the waves or any boats, so that the ocean is a great and endless monolith. I could imagine it. I could remember it. But I couldn’t see it again, and it never occurred to me that the voracious ambition of humans is never sated by dreams coming true, because there is always the thought that everything might be done better and again.

The value of reading to children

I recently read a piece from Bible Study Fellowship on the importance of reading to children and I thought it was worth sharing.

Raising your child to be a reader has so many benefits. It is informational. It stimulates the imagination. It increases vocabulary and a love of words.

It opens avenues for conversation and helps to teach character qualities, good lessons and offers role models — all while increasing the skill that is so instrumental in biblical understanding and Christian growth.

There are seemingly endless reasons to raise children who are voracious readers but the ability to discern and know the Bible as well as put other pieces of literature into its context will always be near the top of the list.

The 20 best books I read in 2013

This is something I wrote at the beginning of 2014 for Medium. Since I started this blog I figured I could just migrate the stuff I wrote for Medium over here.

I always make it my goal to complete 20 books in a given year. For some reason (usually of my own doing, or not doing) I’ve never actually reached this mark…until last year.

Finally, with a few days left on the calendar, I closed the spine of my 20th book. Here they are, ranked:

1. Bringing up Bebe — A book on how the French parent by an American mother in the No. 1 slot? You bet.

Most of the best books I’ve ever read are thought-provoking how-tos wrapped in an entertaining story. This one was no different and changed the way I view parenting forever.

2. Someone Could Get Hurt — I rarely emit laughter while reading but I was like Jimmy Fallon under the influence of nitrous oxide with this book. The phrase “it’s funny because it’s true”? That pretty much sums it up.

3. On Writing Well — The best book I’ve ever read on writing. Granted, my collection is limited, but I could tell how serious the author was about not only writing but editing well — something I’m still struggling to grasp.

4. Why We Write — Another amazing book on writing and doing it well. Contains blurb-y chapters from nearly two dozen scribes on why they do what they do. The “because I can’t do anything else” excuse got old, but it’s still an idealists dream book.

5. Crimes Against Logic — Not so much for the author’s views but for how he teaches logically coming about those views. I love that folks with vastly differing opinions can share logic, it brings us together in that way.

6. An American Caddie — A really cool story that made me wish I was back in college. About a guy who travels to Scotland every summer to caddie at the Old Course. A coming-of-age read, really, and a great one at that.

7. Straight Flush — A breezy Ben Mezrich read on the folks who created As with most Mezrich stories I’m sure liberties were had by all but that didn’t make me enjoy it any less.

8. Home Game — Malcolm Gladwell has called Michael Lewis the best writer of our generation and though I don’t agree I think he’s a pretty brilliant communicator, anyway. I’m impressed by how much he leaves out of his books — you can tell he cut the filler and only brought the goods. Appreciated.

9. David and Goliath — Speaking of Gladewell…this is my least favorite book of his I’ve ever read but that’s like notating your least-favorite Kevin Durant 40-point game. Still great.

10. Steal Like an Artist — I read this at the very beginning of 2013 and we’ve accumulated three kids since then so I don’t remember a lot of it but it includes a lot of great quotes like this one:

“If you ever find that you’re the most talented person in the room, you need to find another room.”

11. Divergent — I try to bang out one semi-teen drama series a year. Last year it was Hunger Games, this year it was the Divergent series.

I thought Divergent was less entertaining but more thought-provoking than Hunger Games which is probably a good thing.

12. Insurgent — I think the second half of the second book in a three-book series is probably the toughest part of the series to write. Veronica Roth nails it, though.

13. Allegiant — I liked book No. 3 in this series [searches for infinity key, can’t find it] better than the third Hunger Games book.

14. Humility — Tough read at times but maybe that’s because I’m not intelligent enough to decipher it. This was maybe the quote of the year for me:

“Yes, let us ask whether we have learnt to regard a reproof, just or unjust, a reproach from friend or enemy, an injury, or trouble, or difficulty into which others bring us, as above all an opportunity of proving Jesus is all to us, how our own pleasure or honor are nothing, and, how humiliation is in very truth what we take pleasure in. It is indeed blessed, the deep happiness of heaven, to be so free from self that whatever is said of us or done to us is lost and swallowed up, in the thought that Jesus is all.”

15. The Man Who Quit Money — Crazy story about a guy who lived decades without possessing a single monetary unit. Seemingly impossible but his tale has something everybody can take from it.

16. Start — Jon Acuff’s newest. He’s hurt by his prior success because now we (I) expect so much of him. This was good and I gleaned a lot, still. Like this:

“People are mistaken when they think chasing your dream is a selfish thing to do. As if perhaps being average is an act of humility. As if perhaps wasting the talents you were given is proof that you’re a considerate individual. It’s not.”

17. Into the Wild — You’ve likely seen the movie (I haven’t) about the kid from Georgia who moved to Alaska to get away from the madness of life. A tragic ending but a fun, thoughtful read.

18. The Power of Half — It kept feeling like this should have been an amazing book but it never really got there for me. Good premise — give away half of what you make — but the execution never hooked me.

19. The Art of Being Unmistakable — I liked how short it was but it felt like a mishmash of every “do what you love” book and article I’ve ever read. Not enough originality.

20. Dead Solid Perfect — A novel from Dan Jenkins. I expected to be “wowed” and I was just “oked.” It wasn’t bad, and it was certainly a fast read, but not my favorite book of the year, for sure.

What I Learned: Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 2.42.54 PM

The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs

I thought this book was going to be better than it actually was.

This book’s title is everything. It’s everything I want you to learn and to know and to understand. Maybe it isn’t everything but it sure implies everything.

I did like that Jacobs encouraged reading a variety of literature. He’s not hung up on high-brow reads an he understand the joy of being lost.

This was beautiful:

“This is why attentiveness is worth cultivating: not just because it is good for you or because (as Gallagher also says) it can help you ‘organize your world,’ but because such raptness is deeply satisfying. It is, really, what Whim is all about; what Whim is for.”

May you always pursue what being “rapt” brings.

Photo via NPR