The Bookshelf, April 2019, part 2

Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World, by Cal Newport. Is it wrong that I read this on my iPhone? This book is really good. It mostly says what I already thought and felt, but with research and tips and some hard, hard truths. Like: its okay for people on the fringes of your life to fall off the radar when you stop clicking “like” on their posts. Better to have real life conversations than little shots of dopamine from hearts on Instagram posts. I’m working on adapting a lot of what he writes about.

Mystics and Misfits: Meeting God through St. Francis and Other Unlikely Saints, by Christiana N. Peterson. This book gives a good overview of the lives of the saints, through Christiana’s personal life and family journey. I skimmed some parts, but still found it an uplifting book. I especially appreciated her reflections on being a “stayer” while people came and went from their intentional living community. We feel that, as long-term expatriates, and the fulfillment and losses that are inherent in staying resonated with me.

Inheritance: a Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love, by Dani Shapiro. This was lovely, as is everything Dani Shapiro writes. It brought up fascinating conversations with my family about the difference between genetic connection and family culture. How would you feel if you found out in your 50s that your parents are not your parents? Or, one of them isn’t? And they are gone, so you can’t ask what they knew?

Scapegoats: How Islamophobia Helps Our Enemies and Threatens Our Freedom, by Arsalan Iftikhar. I finished reading this on Easter evening, the day 290 Sri Lankans were slaughtered in horrible terrorist attacks, and just weeks after the equally horrible attacks in New Zealand. There is a deep, deep problem in the world with people turning to violence, playing god with bombs and guns, and it is heartbreaking and infuriating. And never okay. This book will be a challenging read if you’ve bought into the lie that only Muslims are terrorists. Iftikhar meticulously breaks down that facade and presents a far more accurate picture. Hard to read, because of all the pain caused by violence, but really, really important.

Atomic Habits: an Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones, by James Clear. This is an easy read (haven’t finished it yet, but almost), really practical and helpful. Kind of in the same genre as Digital Minimalism. As a staff team in Djibouti, we are discussing goal setting and planning for the coming school year, and the way James writes about the differences between goal setting and system development was especially useful.

Man. I need to read some fiction or something light. My goodness, I read a lot of serious books. Any fun, but not-put-downable book recommendations for me? I need some levity in my life these days.

What are you reading?

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