.01 What I'm Reading
I love books. I love reading books, talking about books, hearing lectures on books, and knowing what books other people are reading.
So I am beginning a new series called What I'm Reading. In this series, I am going to list the books I read (or listen to — I’ll mark the difference) during the week. I will also provide some of my thoughts about the book.
I would also love to know what you are reading — let me know in the comments.
Fair warning: Some weeks, I will read up to four books. If you see four books listed — this is not a good sign. It means I am neglecting things that I should be doing, and I am reading instead. Feel free to call me out, as my family is probably waiting for their dinner.
Book: How to Live on 24 Hours a Day, Arnold Bennett (digital)
How to Live on 24 Hours a Day was written by Englishman Arnold Bennett. This is an incredibly short book on how one can make the most of their 24 hours. It has been on my list for quite a while as just about every time management book I read references this book.
What I Like
The thing I like most about this book is that it was written in 1905, and yet I feel that we could just sub a few words and phrases — iPhone for "newspaper," vegging out in front of the TV for "staring-off in your chair," and car or bus for "train"—and you would think that it was written about life in 2019.
In this book, you will find that people still complained about their commute from the suburbs to the city, whined about how tired they were at the end of the day, and complained they never had time to do the things they actually enjoyed.
Really - little has changed about our collective mentality in society.
Especially the thought, "there has never been a society that moved so quickly or had so much to do" — which was repeatedly mentioned in this book — seems to be a phrase repeated in each age. We love to think we have different reasons to be stressed; when we would find a reason to be stressed out in any given decade.
I think it is important to note that this book isn't really a time management book. There isn't much about "time blocking" (and no this isn't because it is a new concept - even Ben Franklin time blocked) or how to get a lot done in one day. This book is more a prescriptive on how to get more out of life — not on how to get more done. And that is quite a difference if you really think about it.
Overall, I would recommend reading this book. Though it doesn't necessarily walk through step-by-step instructions on how to budget your time. It helps you think through your daily commitments on a philosophical level and that internal discourse, I believe, does lead to actual time-budgeting and change.
In the end, I think that whether you are a time management guru or live and die by your "type-b-ness" we would all do better to do as Bennett suggests.
Remember that one's own time, and not other people's time, is the material with which one has to deal; that the earth rolled on pretty comfortably before one began to balance a budget of the hours, and that it will continue to roll on pretty comfortably whether or not one succeeds in one's new role of chancellor of the exchequer of time (pg. 35).
Book: The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard (audio)
The Divine Conspiracy, written in 1998, explores what it is to be a disciple of Christ. Willard uses the Sermon on the Mount (or the Discourse on the Hill as he calls it) as a foundation to work through what it looks like to live in Christ on a daily, minute by minute, basis. Willard works through this on an individual level and then on a corporate level on how the church can better "make disciples of Christ."
I was first introduced to Dallas Willard through Richard Foster. Or more accurately, I was told by a friend when reading Foster's Celebrations of the Disciplines that it was actually Willard who influenced Foster's ideas. I enjoyed Celebrations of the Disciplines but wasn't motivated to read any of Willard's books until I read Soul Keeping by John Ortberg.
Though Soul Keeping is about how to take care of your soul, it also reads as a mini-biography of Dallas Willard's life. That book introduced me to a thinker that has influenced me and unraveled me in the way only one other author - C.S. Lewis - ever has.
What I Like
The Divine Conspiracy wrecked me and turned me upside down in the best/worst ways possible.
I think what unraveled me the most about this book is it forced me to confront the pharisee in the mirror.
I continuously strive to live "rightly" and to also live out the Sermon on the Mount. However, working through this book made me realize that I genuinely treat the Sermon on the Mount as a checklist to complete.
And Willard helped me realize the Sermon on the Mount is not a checklist to complete, but should be the natural position of my heart. In other words, my heart should be so naturally aligned with the heart of Jesus that I do not have to try to live out the Sermon on the Mount. Instead, living out the Sermon on the Mount should be evidence that I know and love Jesus.
I honestly could write a whole book on this book, but I will leave it at this; if you are a believer — read this book.
Book: The Lady's Confession, George MacDonald (old-fashion book)
Honestly, I started reading George MacDonald because C.S. Lewis read George MacDonald - and I love C.S. Lewis. Up until now, I have only read his children's books. For years, I have heard my dad talk about how The Curate of Glaston is one of his all-time favorite trilogies.
So earlier this summer, I finally decided to dive into the world of Glaston.
The Curate of Glaston is about a curator who has a spiritual awakening and how his revival impacts the curator's community.
The Lady's Confession is the second book in the trilogy and is about a woman who has a secret which once confessed has a domino effect on the community around her.
What I Like
What I love about McDonald's stories is that they don't have "perfect" endings.
McDonald was first and foremost a preacher, and these books are pretty heavy on the theology side. However, he doesn't write his characters to be his puppets who come to know Christ and then poof! everything is fixed.
He writes his characters as real people with questions and uncertainties. He allows his moral characters to falter. And unlike many other Christian fiction authors, his Christian characters make huge mistakes; and the characters that are not believers are not immediately marked as "bad."
Admittedly, The Ladies Confession is my least favorite in the trilogy (I am currently reading the third book). But definitely worth a read!
Now it's your turn! What are you reading?