Archives For July 2013

I credit my mother and grandmother for giving me such a great love for books when I was young. I didn’t get into reading for pleasure fully until after college when it was evident that no one was forcing me to read something anymore. I was free and read primarily history books, which are my first love. As I have grown in reading, I have realized that I need to expand my reading lists to become a better reader and thinker.

I was always amused in the movie You’ve Got Mail, when Tom Hank’s character Joe Fox is asked to read Pride and Prejudice while Meg Ryan’s character Kathleen Kelly reads his favorite, The Godfather. Despite their best attempts, they still were able to read each other’s books and discuss them together. If they didn’t ask each other to get out of their comfort zone, they would otherwise not be able to discover and be challenged by a new read.

I divide my reading lists up in the following genres:

Fiction, Classic Literature, History & Biography, and Motivational/Faith.

This past vacation, here are four books that I thoroughly enjoyed and have stirred me in one way or another.

FICTION

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

Mel Brooks’ son Max Brooks did a tremendous job with this book. I listened to the audiobook because I thought it would be fun to hear the first-hand stories out loud and loved it. I have not seen the movie yet but this was worth the read. A good fiction book helps your imagination develop and take you to a place to dream. It also is what my father in law refers to as “chewing gum for the mind.” Although this is an apocalyptic thriller, for me it accomplishes a lot for my imagination, is entertaining, and well-worth the read.

“Most people don’t believe something can happen until it already has. That’s not stupidity or weakness, that’s just human nature.”

worldwarz

CLASSIC LITERATURE

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

I remember as a high school student loving The Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway’s masterpiece that earned him a Pulitzer and Nobel Prize. Now as an adult, my fascination for Hemingway has only grown and I’m committed to reading through his classic works. I am enamored by World War I and his semi-autobiographical take on love and war was both beautiful and tragic. I’d encourage you to read through a classic from your youth as you will rediscover why it remains on a best-sellers list even 80 years later.

“Why, darling, I don’t live at all when I’m not with you.”

farewell to arms

HISTORY & BIOGRAPHY

The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert Edsel

My mother recommended this book as I am interested in World War II History. If you don’t usually enjoy history books, anyone who appreciates the value of fine art will appreciate this book. I am not necessarily an art history lover but I was intrigued by the reason our allied governments established this group to help save and restore some of the greatest artwork in history and protect it from Nazi Germany in their retreat during 1944 and 1945.

“There are fights that you may lose without losing your honor; what makes you lose your honor is not to fight.” -Jaques Jaujard

monuments men

MOTIVATION/FAITH

Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie

I like reading a book that helps me to become a better person, a better parent, or develop a stronger faith. My wife had ordered a pair of TOMS Shoes recently and they sent their founder, Blake Mycoskie’s book about the story of TOMS, his entrepreneurial ideas, and why giving matters in a for-profit business. As a businessperson and entrepreneur at heart, I loved the book and the company’s story of “one for one”, that for each sale of a pair of shoes, they give another pair to a child in need around the world. We get behind good stories and that is what Blake and TOMS is all about. We follow greatness when it is about giving and helping to make a better world. I read the book in that way as well as trying to excavate the nuggets of wisdom from his story. I highly recommend this for any person young and old with an entrepreneurial spirit and willing to make a difference in other people’s lives.

“The easier it is for someone to understand who you are and what you stand for, the easier it will be for that person to spread the word to others.”

startsomething

Next and Currently Reading: Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth, Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, Jon Meacham’s Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power as well as The Love Dare of Parents

For your next book, take Blake Mycoskie’s advice and start something that matters.

What are you reading and why?

The United States Golf Association (USGA) is running an amusing and compelling ad campaign focused on better pace of play on the golf course. These are some of the funniest ads to ever come out of the traditionally conservative organization. The commercials feature major golfers and celebrities like Tiger Woods, Anika Sorenstam, Paula Creamer, Arnold Palmer, and Clint Eastwood.

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Here are a couple of ads from the campaign. To fully appreciate it, watch the inspiration from the campaign in the movie Caddyshack. The line was apparently thought up by Rodney Dangerfield and not in the script. It is hard to not play a round of golf and not hear this great line.

The campaign hit a personal note for me. It was two years ago the last time I played golf on a Saturday. The round took six hours not including the time it took me to drive to and from the course. Overall it was almost an eight-hour Saturday. Our foursome did have a good time but we ultimately wanted to play a normal four hour round and left very frustrated. If that is how golf is today, I can wait until my kids grow up until they take interest in the game and want to learn.

I miss golf and am thankful for playing it as a youngster through competitive play in high school and college. It was on the course where I first understood what perseverance was and how to conduct myself by the examples of other older gentlemen. I am still young as Rodney Dangerfield says so I have time to get back to the game. I am thankful because one can play golf until the day they die unlike soccer, basketball, football, or baseball.

I wish I could say that I’m spending every moment of time exactly how I like or how I am supposed to. There are plenty of noble demands from family, work, church, and friends but every weekend when I see golf on TV, there is something that stirs me to want to get out and play. I am reminded as I walk out the door with my family that we only have this time once so my old friend, the game of golf, I shall return.

Do you have a difficult time embracing the sports of your youth because of the time it takes to play? 

Today, July 2nd, we United States citizens celebrate our independence.

Wait you say, “Isn’t July 4th our independence day, not July 2nd?”

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We celebrate on July 4th because of a little thing called the Declaration of Independence. The document was passed by the Second Continental Congress on July 4th. In fact, what we know of the signing, it was done by individuals over the next month with little drama. The real drama happened on July 2nd when it was voted upon by the delegates.

On July 2nd, 1776 the Second Continental Congress debated independence at the State House in Philadelphia. Twelve of the thirteen delegates voted for independence with one abstaining. The scene was tense with debate and their lives were on the line. We are here today because of the courage of those few. Each man knew that by voting and putting their name on this document would seal their fate if captured by the British.

This voting scene is best captured by the HBO Miniseries John Adams (2008).

In the Pulitzer Prize winning book John Adams, David McCullough noted the momentous occasion.

“So, it was done, the break was made, in words at least: on July 2, 1776, in Philadelphia, the American colonies declared independence. If not all thirteen clocks had struck as one, twelve had, and with the other silent, the effect was the same.

It was John Adams, more than anyone, who had made it happen. Further, he seems to have understood more clearly than any what a momentous day it was and in the privacy of two long letters to Abigail, he poured out his feelings as did no one else:

The second day of July 1776 will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the Day of Deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.”

So whether we celebrate our independence on July 2nd or July 4th, we should all thankful that we are celebrating in the way our founding father John Adams envisioned.

Happy Independence Day!