Saving Our Sons Book Review

Author: Michael Gurian
Book Link

My interest in this book stemmed from an interview with the author on the Art of Manliness podcast.

While I hadn’t read any of his previous works, I was agreeing with what Gurian was speaking about:

There’s something wrong with the boys of our society.

As someone who was in a support position in a high school, I noticed that for every girl struggling with school, there were at least 5 boys.

The stories were similar: unmotivated, doesn’t care, parents are struggling with him at home and (some) spend all night playing video games.

What’s going on here?

This is the question Gurian is trying to answer using the latest brain scans in neuroscience and the latest findings in scientific research in genetics and epigenetics.

As a clinical practitioner and founder of the Gurian Institute, he is on the front lines with this every day.

However, before he can even get to what’s happening with boys and how we can help them, he does address the elephant in the room…

The Dominant Gender Paradigm.

The DGP (as it’s then referred) is the framework that men are privileged and we won’t entertain any other notion until there’s equity for women.

Gurian stresses the importance of empowering women for true equity, but it can only come if we properly mature our males in a way that is natural to them.

I found myself putting this book down and ruminating with my own thoughts several times.

There were many points I agreed with, based on my own observations in working with young people, and some I would challenge (mainly his solutions).

Overall, an eye-opening read and one that will challenge you.

The Danish Way of Parenting Book Review

Authors: Jessica Alexander, Iben Sandahl
Book Link

My wife pulled borrowed this from the library and while I’m always skeptical of books about parenting, especially since they rely on anecdotal evidence rather than actual study, I made a casual glance of it.

Then, I read it straight through.

Denmark has always consistently ranked #1 as the country with the highest levels of happiness. Yes, trying to measure such a subjective emotion has its faults, but the country always comes out on top.

Why?

If you had to put me on the spot, I think that’s what this book is about, rather than an actual parenting style. It’s more of how to be a decent person and pass that along to your kids.

While there are tips and strategies to use with young ones, the crux of it is still in the behaviour of the parents themselves. They break it down into the acronym parent, which overwhelmingly plays into my confirmation bias.

P – Play… which I wrote an article on Lifehack about here and was the main subject of my Master’s thesis.

A – Authenticity… wrote a few posts about that on this site herehere and here.

R – Reframing… take a moment before exploding on a situation and consider a new way to look at it. Here’s an example.

E – Empathy… you know, taking a look at the whole person and trying to understand their emotions and responding appropriately.

N – No Ultimatums… give respect, get respect and keep the bigger picture in mind.

T – Togetherness… spending quality time with your family in a cozy area, without screens — can you imagine?

The strength of this book is that it was originally self-published, which means there was no pressure from the authors to pad the chapters in order to hit a page count. It’s straight to the point and can easily be read in an afternoon.

If you’re not going to pick it up for parenting advice, it would still be good to read on what you could be doing in your own life.

Warnings Book Review

Authors: Richard A. Clarke, R.P. Eddy
Book Link

The full title of this book, Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes, is a reference to Cassandra, the princess of Troy. She was cursed by the god Apollo to be able to see the future… but unable to persuade anyone of it.

This book is an examination on two fronts: who were the Cassandras of some of our great catastrophes that could have been prevented and then moves into an examination of today’s potential Cassandras.

Between these two sections is a chapter on what they’ve coined, “The Cassandra Coefficient.” It’s a formula they came up with based on previous Cassandras to apply to people today on whether they’re an actual Cassandra or just a raving lunatic. They never flat out tell you, “Yes, this person is a Cassandra.”

Instead, they leave it up to you to decide.

I rather enjoyed part one because it was fascinating to hear about the people who were absolutely correct and largely ignored. It kind of pisses you off in a way. The catastrophes ranged from the Challenger spaceship blowing up to the Fukushima meltdown, the cause of the Gulf War and the 2008 economic crisis.

What I appreciated most is how quickly those chapters moved. There was no need to belabour the point — they happened and we didn’t prevent them. Here’s who called it. Next.

Part two is where my interest peaked and waned.

I was very much interested in the upcoming crises experts are predicting and definitely wanted to hear what they had to say . My only issue is where the first half moved quickly, this part dragged on a little too much for me.

I get each one of those chapters could be an entire book in themselves (and in some cases, they are), but it ruined the flow as a narrative.

That aside, it’s definitely worth picking up and reading to help you get a handle on what’s happening today… and for our future.

Man’s Search for Meaning Book Review

Author: Viktor Frankl
Goodreads Link

This is a quick read, but there’s a reason there are over twelve million copies of it in print worldwide. A reader survey for the Library of Congress put this book in one of the top ten books that can change your life.

First published in 1946, Frankl gives an account of what it was like to be a prisoner in Auschwitz. Through the devastation and disturbing account of what went on, we manage to hear the voice of a man coming out of the other end who chooses to move forward with purpose.

In the shadow of his experience, he synthesizes a new school of thought known as logotherapy, which holds our true purpose in life is to find meaning. In everything we do, in order to find fulfillment in life, we should always be pursuing something that gives us meaning.

His words resonate even stronger for us today. A few quotes:

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

“Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him.”

“So live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!”

“I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.”

I would have to agree with the reader survey: truly a top ten book for life.

Black Privilege Book Review

Author: Charlamagne Tha God
Book Link

Not going to lie — this is one of the best books I’ve read this year.

From page one, you can see the honesty bleed off the page. Every sentence, every story and every word of advice comes across so incredibly authentic, it overpowers any other inspirational verbiage others only attempt to sound real about.

As someone who has gone from the bottom and worked his way to where is now: syndicated radio DJ in New York, podcaster and having his own show on MTV…

Charlemagne knows what he’s talking about.

The language is raw and he makes no apologies about it. In fact, he points it out at the beginning of the book and it just works.

Throughout the stories of his life, he drops NUMEROUS gems that any young person needs to hear. Here are a few (of the many) I highlighted:

“When someone offers to help you, tell them exactly what you want. Don’t beat around the bush. If you’re not crystal clear about what your ask is, chances are you won’t get anything.”

“We’re taught the only accurate sign that we’re moving forward towards success is making money. We get caught up sweating the results instead of embracing the process. Even though embracing the process is the only way you’re ever going to get what you want out of life.”

“Being active on social media can amplify the work you’re doing, but it is not work unto itself.”

If you’re only going to read one book this year and you’re looking for something motivational, this is the one.

Clutterfree with Kids Book Review

Author: Joshua Becker
Book Link

I’ll admit, this is the second time I’ve read through this book.

The first time was just before kids and I was curious to see how my perspective changed since having them. I’ll admit, not much has changed (about clutter… everything else… well…)

Becker does a great job at outlining the ideas behind living a clutter-free household. However, if you’re already familiar with the idea, which my wife and I strive to be, there will be a few good nuggets of wisdom in here, but nothing groundbreaking.

It would probably be best to start with the author’s blog where you’ll find a ton of great articles. If the task of reading through it all seems overwhelming and you’re looking at your house going, “I really need to get rid of this stuff,” then make the jump into the book.

Here were a few choice quotes that I gleamed this time around:

“As soon as you start thinking about the end of your life, you begin to live differently in the present.”

“Turn off the television. Go outside. Live life, don’t just watch it.”

“Why would I want what everyone else has when they all want what I already possess?”

“Parenting is 100% parents trying to shape lives and 100% children choosing their own life.”

This book is a good foray into the world of living with less and proving it can be done with families living in the suburbs.

However, consider it more of an introduction manual than an advanced course.

Turning Pro Book Review

Author: Steven Pressfield
Book Link

As someone who reads The War of Art by Pressfield every year, I’ve grown quite attached to his writing.

Turning Pro was another attempt at an evergreen book that calls each of us to our higher selves. It doesn’t take long to read and that is for two reasons:

1. It’s not that long of a book.
2. Once you get started, you don’t want to stop.

Turning Pro is a look at the world between an amateur and a professional. It speaks about how the world looks when we live within our shadow selves and how it looks when we move towards our true calling.

The words amateur and pro are merely his terms for a life before self-revelation and life afterwards.

To be honest, it’s one of the most religious books I’ve read without being a book about religion (although he does speak about religious imagery and dips a bit into the Kabbalah near the end).

I could almost highlight the entire book, but here are a few choice quotes:

“The pain of being human is that we’re all angels imprisoned in vessels of flesh”

“The amateur fears that if he turns pro and lives out his calling, he will have to live up to who he really is and what he is truly capable of.”

“The payoff of living in the past or the future is you never have to do work in the present.”

If you’ve never been introduced to the works of Pressfield, this wouldn’t be a bad place to start. At the very least, you’ll see firsthand some beautiful writing that resonates with every human being.

Luna Book Review

I picked up this science-fiction curiosity out of interest since others who reviewed it stated it was like “The Martian,” another book I thoroughly enjoyed.

This doesn’t quite have the cleverness of “The Martian,” but it stands up in its own right.

The story starts right away with the Earth getting nuked several times over. Who caused it?

No one knows for certain, but once a nuke is in the air, retaliation occurs and it’s game over for humanity. The people who have a front-row seat to the firework show is a crew of military personnel heading to the moon where a space base has been built.

The perspective follows one of the crew members, Max Hardy, who seems to be able to do it all without breaking a sweat. Then again, larger than life characters don’t bother me if I’m just looking for good entertainment.

While the book kept my interest at the beginning, it took a while for me to really get hooked. After that point, I was all-in and reveled at how situations were taken care of and how problems were dealt with. Whited did a great job of never prolonging anything longer than needed and for that, I’m thankful.

Barking Up the Wrong Tree Book Review

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book, but picked it up on a whim after reading the first few pages at a bookstore.

First, if you’ve read any articles, blog posts, or books on success principles, there’s no new ground being broken here.

Instead, what Barker offers is a new narrative to deliver the information. Every chapter is loaded with stories, which makes the book a compelling enough read to get through. While the stories appear to be random, he ties them together in a way that fits his points.

At the end of every chapter are the key takeaways and call to action items. You could probably get all the information you need just from those summaries, but then you wouldn’t be quite as entertained.

My favourite section was Barker using Genghis Khan as a positive example of work-life balance and the section on relationships.

Some choice quotes:

“We always think we need more: more help, more motivation, more energy. But in our current world the answer is often the exact
opposite: we need less. Fewer distractions, fewer goals, fewer responsibilities. Is that so we can watch more TV? No. We need less of
those things so we can go all in on our priorities.”

You wouldn’t say “I got my dream job. Whew, now I can stop working,” but people frequently do something akin to this with relationships because “it was meant to be.”

If you’re a motivational junkie who wants another hit, or someone who is just never satisfied with their level of success, the book is worth the read.

Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son Book Review

This book was definitely written for a male audience, in case the title wasn’t an indicator, and you can find it for free just about anywhere.

Aside from the examples given and the language used, you would be hard pressed to figure out this was written in the 1900s. Some of the advice given in this book were true gems and stark reminders that some wisdom is timeless.

Here were a few choice highlights of mine:

“I want to say right here that the easiest way in the world to make enemies is to hire friends.”

“And when a fellow whines that he’s being held down, the truth is, as a general thing, that his boss can’t hold him up.”

“It isn’t what a man knows, but what he thinks he knows that he brags about. Big talk means little knowledge.”

“Education will broaden a narrow mind, but there’s no known cure for a big head.”

Reading it felt like listening to my dad’s lessons to me growing up. While young, I only listened to them in passing and considered his advice from a bygone era. As I aged, I realize how valuable many of those lessons were and relevant to my own life.

That’s what reading the letters felt like most of the time. A dad telling his son, “You think you know what you’re talking about, but you don’t.” Sometimes this isn’t true, but for the most part, it takes most men until their middle ages before they figure out their dad was right.

Oh – if only youth wasn’t wasted on the young!

The book is worth a gander into if you’re willing to pull it apart for your personal use.