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Sunday, September 15, 2019

"Living a Life you Love" by Joyce Meyer

I listened to this book as an audio book CD while driving around in my car.  It is both positive and uplifting.  While geared towards woman, the lessons taught in the book apply to everybody.  Meyer emphasizes how all people are created equal, regardless of age, weight, race, ethnicity, and so on.  She also notes that God loves all people.  Thus, all people deserve to be happy and love their life.  There are many examples in the book, from donating to charity to calling up a friend.  Meyer goes on about the delight found in helping others and fostering friendships.  This book is written from a Christian perspective, so be aware of that.  Religion aside, Meyer makes a very good case for not only why people should love their lives but also how to go about doing so.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

"Start Here: Master the Lifelong Habit of Well-Being" by Eric Langshur & Nate Klemp, PhD

I listened to this book as an audio book CD while driving to and from work.  Much to my surprise, this was not a book about nutrition, diet, and exercise, but rather a book about mindfulness, meditation, and tranquility.  The authors combat stress, anxiety, worry, anger, and other sour emotions by encouraging listeners to stop, notice, and rewire.  Stop the negative emotion and calm down.  Notice where one's thoughts are directed.  Rewire thoughts to align more closely with reality and peace.  A common phrase used in the book is the question "is it true?".  All too often, we make up stories in our heads about ourselves and others that are simply not true.  For instance, if a boss is moody at work, that doesn't mean the boss hates us.  Perhaps the boss has a stomach ache or didn't get enough sleep the night before or is having family troubles.  Who knows.  It does no good to jump to conclusions, especially if those conclusions do more harm than good for our well being.  

Monday, August 19, 2019

"Living Without Stress or Fear" by Thich Nhat Hanh

I listened to this book as an audio book CD in my vehicle.  The title really struck me as something I should investigate.  After all, who doesn't want to live without stress or fear?  I quickly learned that this book is written by a Zen monk.  It covers various monk philosophies ranging from friendship, respect, love, harmony, nature, exercise, and more.  At no point did I feel the author was trying to convert me to a new religion or to convince me to become a monk.  Rather, I felt like I was sitting in on an exclusive look into the life of a monk.  I learned how all life is connected and how people never truly die (in the same sense that clouds never truly die).  I learned about how matter is not created or destroyed but instead transformed from one form to another.  I learned about the Buddha and other historical figures.  I learned how one of the true paths to "enlightenment" is simply understanding.  This book was very relaxing and I recommend it to others.

Friday, August 9, 2019

"Understanding Investments - The Great Courses" by Professor Connel Fullenkamp from Duke University

This audio book CD is all about financial investments.  It covers the stock market, bonds, 401Ks, real estate, foreign currency, and so much more.  This course is 12 CDs and very academic.  Listeners will feel like they are back in school with a professor as they learn the theory behind economics.  I would not say this is a "get rich quick" course but rather a scholarly course of how economics work.  I learned a lot but would say some parts went over my head.  Luckily, the audio book comes with a small physical book that recaps terms and concepts.  You will even use equations and spreadsheets in this course, so come ready to learn!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

"Living the Savvy Life" by Melissa Tosetti and Kevin Gibbons

There are so many fun ways for women to improve their finances that are highlighted in this book.  The savvy life is centered not around being a tightwad but rather being selective in what one purchases.  The key is to live beneath one's means and know when to splurge, bargain shop, or save.  Many practical tips and tricks are given.  Readers are encouraged to coupon clip, shop at thrift stores, only buy clothes that fit / look great, make one's home an oasis, plan meals, cook at home, and stay true to oneself.  Being savvy doesn't mean deny oneself of joy.  For example, if a woman loves designer dresses, that is fine.  She just needs to adjust her budget and save in other areas of her life so she can afford what makes her happy while not breaking the bank.  There are countless examples in the book of those who do and do not lead a savvy life.  There are famous actors who rack up thousands of dollars in debt.  There are people who complain how they can't afford to go on vacation while they sip on their daily $4 latte.  There are people who save and budget for what is important to them.  I really enjoyed this book.  It is practical yet non-judgmental.  Like being physically fit, there is a clear roadmap to follow but no shortcuts or guarantees of success without work.  I encourage all women to read this book and think about how they could be more savvy with their own finances. 

Sunday, July 28, 2019

"Debt Free for Life" by David Bach

I listened to this book as an audio book CD while driving around in my car.  While I'm not in debt, I have some family members in debt and wanted to learn more.  If there is anything I've learned from this book, it is that I never want to be in debt!  While debt is temporary and people can get out, it is emotionally and [obviously] financially difficult.  Bach explains how credit cards work and what compounding interest does to people.  For instance, if someone borrows $10,000 on credit cards, over time with interest, they can really owe upwards of $20,000 or more.  I also learned about credit counselors, debt consolidators, bankruptcy, scam artists trying to help with debt, and more.  From a law perspective, it was interesting to know that some debts can be forgiven after a certain amount of years.  It also was fascinating to learn about unclaimed money that I can search for on government websites.  Bach is a compassionate soul that really aims to help people be financially free.  Whether you're in debt or just learning about finances, I recommend you read this book.  

Friday, July 26, 2019

"The Crash Detectives" by Christine Negroni

Half story, half journalism, this book explains complex aircraft accidents to the lay reader while staying true to what happened.  Scientific details are included in a way that is not drab and monotone but rather exciting and fascinating.  Negroni briefly goes over a whole slue of aircraft accidents from the 1950s thru modern times.  She sets the story of what happened, why it happened, how human factors were involved, and how the aviation industry changed for the better.  I like how Negroni does not place blame but also does not whitewash crashes.  There are several instances in the book where someone is described as warning others but who is ignored, dismissed, and sometimes even demoted.  Negroni calls these such people the "Jeremiah's" of the aviation industry.  While the book talks about accidents, it is not graphic or overly scary.  Still, I wouldn't recommend reading this on a flight!

Thursday, July 25, 2019

"Wealth Beyond Wall Stree" by Brett Kitchen & Ethan Kap

While listening to the radio, I heard an advertisement for a free finance book when I called a number.  So I called, and, as promised, the book was indeed free.  I did not have to give any credit card or bank information to receive the book.  Now, onto the contents.  The book starts out discussing financial independence and how risky the stock market is.  There are historical charts about how the stock market crashed in the past, which is not untrue.  In order to build wealth without risking money in the stock market, the authors recommend annuities and life insurance.  While the book was interesting, I have to say it wasn't the easiest to follow.  The acronym IUL was used multiple times and only defined once or twice.  After reading the book, I am still not sure how annuities and life insurance work.  At the end of the day, money has to come from somewhere.  I got the impression that annuities and life insurance is just a really fancy piggy bank.  It holds money that will be paid later.  Since the IULs are based off of index funds, I may consider researching more into just index funds on my own.  Annuities and life insurances are not without fees, which at least the authors are honest about.  I don't think this is a terrible book, I just don't think it is the best for finance either.  Making wealth involves no shortcuts or easy hacks.  People need to work hard, save, mind their business, and take risks.  There is no zero risk high return investment.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

"Dealing with People you Can't Stand" by Dr. Rick Brinkman & Dr. Rick Kirschner

Do you have any people in your life you can't stand?  Well then, join the club!  In this humorous book, the authors go over several archetypes of people with "difficult" personalities.  Readers will understand why people act the way they do, where they are coming from, and--most importantly--how to deal with them.  While the majority of examples in this book are related to the workplace, I would argue that the information can be applied to all sorts of relationships from family to friendship to romantic.  I personally enjoyed all the fun side stories and cartoons sprinkled throughout the book.  Difficult people are hard enough to deal with and read about, but this book lightens it up a bit.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

"Come Eat With Me" by Rob Douglas

This delightful little book is a collection of short stories written almost in a diary style.  They cover tales from the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the author's own life.  In each story, the theme of eating together is woven in as hospitality is elevated.  Douglas postulates that God is the ultimate host and guest as He seeks to both serve and be served.  This book is such fun to read and really made me think.  It is a relaxing read for a bus, train, or other trip.  You can put it down for a few days and pick it up later without missing a beat.  When rewriting the Bible stories, I like how Douglas didn't just regurgitate what's already written in the scriptures.  Rather, he tells the stories thru the eyes of Bible character, adding in extra emotion and reliability.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and it quite literally gave me some food for thought!

Friday, June 28, 2019

"Rich Dad, Poor Dad" by Robert Kyosaki with Sharon Lechter CPA

This is such a fun book on finances.  Robert discuss how he had two dads growing up--a rich dad and a poor dad.  His poor dad was his biological father, while his rich dad was his childhood friend's father.  Robert's poor dad wasn't destitute...he just wasn't wealthy.  Robert's poor dad worked for money.  Robert's rich dad let money work for him.  There is much discussion about cash flow, taxes, assets, and liabilities.  A good portion of the book is also allocated to lifestyle and discussing how many people with high-paying jobs squander it all on "toys" that depreciate over time.  From reading this book, I've gotten a newfound inspiration to educate myself on finances.  I want to invest more in the stock market, the real estate market, and more.  Robert encourages readers to use their minds and learn financial literacy.  Most people are poor not because they are not smart.  Most people are poor because they are financially illiterate.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

"From Monk to Money Manager" by Doug Lynam

Knowing how many books I read and how fast I go thru literature, a friend of mine suggested I read a finance book.  He claimed I'd likely be able to get through it faster than the average person and absorb the information well enough to improve my own finances.  So, I got this book to review.  I liked the concept of a religious monk turn money manager.  This book was fascinating and taught me a lot about finances.  I learned the difference between rich people and wealthy people.  Rich people have lots of money but blow it on stuff.  Rich people often end up poor when they are older, their businesses hit hard times, or when they retire.  On the flip side, wealthy people may not have lots of money but they invest what they do have.  Wealthy people live below their means, save like monsters, and have some sort of stock options.  Another key takeaway from this book is that there are stocks called ESG stocks that are environmentally sustainable and governable.  Index funds in ESG stocks will invest in companies that recycle, help the environment, and do good in the world.  ESG stocks exclude companies that involve drugs, weapons, cigarettes, adult entertainment, etc.  Best of all, ESG stocks perform on par, if not better, than standard stocks.  These ESG companies aren't all environmental companies.  They can be mainstream companies that simply have sustainable practices and have no bad ethics.  I will take the lessons from this book and hopefully make myself a little more wealthy.  As Lynam points out throughout the book, money is not evil.  Love of money is evil.  If everyone became a little more wealthy, the world would be a better place.  Don't shun money.  Rather, use your money for good so you don't end up having to have someone else suffer by supporting you.    

Thursday, May 9, 2019

"Sex, Purity, and the Longings of a Girl's Heart" by Kristen Clark and Bethany Beal

I am a fan of Kristen and Bethany of Girl Defined Ministries.  This is their third book and is all about sex / purity.  This book is all based on Christian theology and how sex was designed by God.  Sex within marriage is how the Creator designed it.  The authors illustrate how sex is a metaphor for a relationship with God.  Sex is meant to be intimate between two spouses who have made a covenant promise to each other...just like how God has a covenant relationship with humanity.  This does not mean God has physical relations with people--by no means.  It is all just symbolic and metaphorical.  Difficult issues such as porn, erotica, adultery, homosexuality, sexual abuse, and more are covered in a way that is transparent yet not graphic.  I should note that the book is aimed at women and can be read by young girls.  There is nothing explicit in the book and no images.  What I was surprised was how there was little to no emphasis on physical consequences for premarital sex.  There was no section on sexually transmitted disease or unplanned pregnancy.  Overall, I enjoyed the book.  No matter your past, you are loved by God and can walk in your worth as a daughter of God.  Sex is not scary or bad or cheap.  Rather, sex is meant to be cherished with the one person who has committed their life to you by putting a ring on your finger!

Friday, May 3, 2019

"Soul Survivor" by Bruce and Andrea Leininger with Ken Gross

I listened to this book as an audio book CD.  I heard about it when it was referenced in another book on cellular biology.  The story is about a young boy who has nightmares related to a past life.  As early as two years old, the boy James tells his mother about fighter aircraft, past relatives, knowledge of Japan, and so on.  James even has violent nightmares where he is trapped in a burning aircraft...the very same aircraft he died in during World War II.  James' parents are torn--his mother is a believer in reincarnation while his father is skeptical.  Through years of research and tracking down veterans, James' parents begin to be more and more convinced of their child's past life.  James even made reference to being in heaven and choosing his parents when they were honeymooning in Hawaii.  Some will say this book is a hoax or made up.  I honestly don't know if this is true or not but I choose to believe it is so.  There is so much about life after death that we do not know.  God can do anything, and if God lets people come back to life multiple times, what's the big deal?  On a side note, I would like to say that the narrator of the CD is excellent.  The voice, tone, and pacing are on point.

"Girl, Wash Your Face" by Rachel Hollis

Geared towards women, this book is all about being the best version of yourself.  Various lies are detailed and confronted with a loving reality.  Hollis shares many stories from her own life.  For example, when confronting the lie that women are defined by their weight, Hollis shares her own struggles with emotional eating.  When confronting the lie that women will be happy when they have a man, Hollis shares her own struggles with her husband.  The author is Christian and makes some religious references, but the book feels very authentic and not evangelical or otherwise pushy.  Readers turn each page and feel like they are chatting with the author over a drink.  I wouldn't say this book has any new information.  Most topics would be considered common sense, but I do think it is still a good book to read.  Far too many women let lies control their life, and it's always great to have a positive reminder that everything is going to be okay and you have the power to make it so.  Girl, wash your face!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

"Love, God" by Deborah J Simmons Roslak and Linda J Orber

This devotional is a must have for anyone who could use a good pick-me-up.  Each segment is two to three pages.  They start off with a quote, some food for thought, an inspirational message, and finish off with journal prompts.  This can be read one day at a time or readers can plow through it in a day or two (whatever the preference).  While the book itself is very short, I chose to take my time.  The words are short but the meaning is deep and intense.  The authors write from the perspective of God, so it feels as if God is speaking to the reader.  While there are some Bible verses, the book itself could be enjoyed by people of all faiths.  God is often referred to as the Creator and Love itself.  There are many references to putting more love in one's life, allowing oneself to be loved, remembering one is loved, remembering God is always there, and so on.  If more people thought like this, I do believe the world would be a better place.  Live in love for you were made in love.  Love, God.  

"Girl, Stop Apologizing" by Rachel Hollis

For all the women out there who have dreams they've not yet pursued, this book is for you.  Hollis goes into the lies and excuses that hold women back from being their best...most of which revolve around other people's perceptions.  If I chase my dream, I won' be a good mom, my husband will be mad, my friends will make fun of me, and so on.  These are awful reasons to live one's life in the backseat.  After the mental work is done, Hollis moves readers onto building skills and habits that will lead them to success.  These are all about consistency and hard work over time.  This book offers no quick fixes.  Hollis shares her own journey of success in this book, being candidly honest about what did and did not work for her.  She is also upfront about her own confidence in her image, especially about her extensions, hair coloring, eyelash extensions, and even plastic surgery.  Hollis' look isn't for everyone, but she does encourage women to find whatever look makes them happy and confident.  While I didn't agree with everything in this book, I found it to be overall motivating, inspiring, positive, and stock full of good intentions.  Girl, live your life, make your dreams come true, and stop apologizing for being who you are!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

"The Biology of Belief" by Bruce H. Lipton, PhD

An instructor recommended this book to class after teaching a roomful of students about the heart-brain connection.  Lipton opens the book with a story from his own life, explaining how his unusual journey to reconcile science and spirituality began.  There is fascinating information detailed about cellular biology and whether or not matter is really all that matters (spoiler alert, it isn't!).  Energy, waves, vibrations, and more are discussed, as well as the placebo effect and religious miracles.  I loved the analogy of consciousness being like a TV station.  Even if a TV breaks, the station still exists.  It merely has to be played on another device.  In this sense, the window of opportunity exists for both reincarnation, as well as immorality.   Several fascinating studies are mentioned in this book, which has prompted me to order several others to learn more.  I will say this book spends more pages discussing the science of how cells work than going into case studies of the paranormal.  Still, I found it to be enlightening.  You are not destined to be whatever your DNA and genes are.  You can influence your future and change your cells today!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

"You are the PLACEBO" by Dr. Joe Dispenza

I listened to this audio book because an instructor of mine recommended it.  This was such a fascinating book that really got me thinking.  The placebo effect is when someone is tricked into thinking they have a cure when they don't and their body heals based on that belief.  The most common experiments are people who get a sugar pill (that they think is a medical pill) and reverse signs of their illness.  More interesting studies are those where people had knee "surgery" that essentially did nothing but knee problems went away after patients were told the "surgery" was a success (they were put to sleep during the surgery).  There were people who were blind or bleeding profusely who were healed based on the placebo effect.  There are also stories of people with nacebo effects whose bodies declined when they were told they had a hex placed on them by a witch.  Dr. Dispenza discusses stories like these and more with the ultimate goal of getting to where people do not need a magic pill or surgery.  The goal is to make your beliefs so strong that you quite literally heal yourself.  This is rather difficult and meditation for extended periods of time is encouraged.  This topic is sure to get you thinking.  If you believe in the miracles of the Bible, were those really miracles or simply placebos?  Who knows!

Saturday, April 6, 2019

"Jewish and Christian View on Bodily Pleasure" by Robert Cherry

This book focuses on the history of views on bodily pleasure from a Judeo-Christian perspective.  The history of Jews and Christians is chronicled and the author goes from BC to AD and back again.  The garden of Eden had "be fruitful and multiply".  The pagan societies had sex slaves, prostitution, and degradation of women / men / children.  Modern day Catholic priests and nuns must take a vow of abstinence while Protestant preachers and rabbis of all denominations are encouraged to marry.  Where did all of these differing perspectives come from?  Cherry traces the history of sexuality in time and space and religion.  Intimacy in marriage between a man and woman was God's design from the start, but what then do we make of the celibate Jesus and the fact that our bodies are the temple of God?  Can one hear from God at all times or only when abstaining from bodily pleasures?  The questions go on and on.  I personally think both extremes are harmful--that of never marrying and that of promiscuity.  This book was very interesting.  My only complaint is the images in the book are x-rated.  I wish these were not included.  I found the book interesting from a historical perspective, but I can not in good conscious recommend it to others with the images inside.