After thinking about the best way to share my summer reading, I just decided to share six books. I also love tea – and so to give this post some visual flavor, I will share photos of the six Talbott teas we tried this week. The teas had such colorful texture and so I am linking this post to Texture Tuesday.
First of all, for those who do NOT want to read the reviews, the Cliff notes version is given with each tea photo. So feel free to skim and go…
Now for those who want to read a bit, here are the informal book reviews:
The Next Economic Disaster was such a delightful read.
For starters, one of the online reviews I read about this book tainted my view because it inferred the book was going to scold with a “you need to be debt-free” mentality. The reviewer wrote, “We all know that too much debt is bad. But if you want to know how bad, you need to read this book.” But you see, that is Not the message of this book! This book is NOT necessarily about “too much debt” – instead – it is about the need for “restrained lending” and the need for diligence to prevent “too many problem loans” from being made. This book is about the need for balance – with appropriate capital requirements and effective restructuring laws when needed.
With smooth and succinct writing, the reader attains insight regarding certain financial areas, like how home ownership is overrated as an investment, notes about the three biggest panics of the 1800’s (1837, 1873, 1893), how this is a two-hundred year-old dilemma we are dealing with, Japan’s continuing struggle with deflation, and simple suggestions for China. And of course the host of Delancey Place would give his readers some tasty literary adjectives, which is hard to do in most genres, but especially in a book with such depth on global economics. But he sneaks in some little treats. For example, while noting that Japan and China are at opposite ends of a crisis spectrum, Vague suggests that Japan’s situation serves as a type of “Dickensian ‘ghost of Christmas future’” and he cautions that China needs a “continued deceleration of growth.”
Another gem in this book was understanding more about what was done in the United States during the crisis of 2008. Vague notes that “in the process of saving financial institutions during the 2008 crisis, such concerns were set aside in any case, and policies with enormous unfairness, wealth transfer, and moral hazard implications were enacted. But the benefits flowed to lenders and their shareholders rather than to borrowers.” He also notes how the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005 was just another part of what led up to the 2008 crisis.
I remember being at the Gammons’ house for dinner one evening in late 2005. We were sitting in their large kitchen and folks were talking about the new U.S. bankruptcy laws. I tuned most of it out, but I did overhear that the new laws made it harder for folks to file for bankruptcy. And I recall thinking this was a good thing, because it seemed like filing bankruptcy was much too easy in this country, and I just thought it should have a lot of weight. Well in this book, Vague explains that “the more in favor of the borrower the law is, the more prudent the lender will be, because the lender will know that in the event of a default, it will have less favorable legal position.” So in essence, the new bankruptcy laws they were discussing that night at dinner did not help to reduce debt losses; instead, those 2005 laws, “Emboldened lenders and led to easier credit at the very moment when prudence would have been the better course.”
So you see, this is just a great read for anyone and everyone – because even if we are not economic majors or bankers, it is important to be informed – especially when it comes to money, which is so universal. Thank you Mr. Vague, for such a dense little book that is from your heart. And thanks for writing about some complex stuff in a tasty, digestible way.
In the Letters of C.S Lewis, I really enjoyed the opening memoir written by Lewis’ brother. The book starts with tidbits about Lewis’ childhood and how he chose the name Jack because he never liked his name Clive. We are also told about some of his setbacks and it was surprising for me to read about his trials. I think too often these important and valuable growth times get pushed to the side or buried and many times we only hear about someone’s successes, while forgetting that some very hard days often precede deep thinking. And even though I know this, I think when I see C.S. Lewis quotes floating around in the world, well I just picture his successes and never realize his pain. But he endured much – and Jack’s bother writes, “For the fact that he persevered, some credit must be given to the support – both moral and material – given by his own college and his father.
Diving into the actual letters here are some of my favs:
April 2 1922
“I sat in my own bedroom by an open window in bright sunshine and started a poem on Dymer in rhyme royal.”
16 August 1949
“…I do like salt water and in all its forms; from a walk on the beach in winter when there is not a soul in sight, or seen washing past (rather like beaten copper) from the deck of a ship, or knocking one head over heels in great green ginger-beer-coloured waves.”
27 March 1951
“… got the news of your father’s death. But dear lady, I hope you and your mother are really not trying to pretend it didn’t happen. It does happen. Happens to all of us and I have no patience with the high-minded people who make out that it ‘doesn’t matter’. It matters a great deal and very solemnly. And for those who are left, the pain is not the whole thing. I feel v. strongly (and I am not alone in this) that some great good comes from the dead to the living in the months or weeks after the death…” “Certainly they often seem just at that time to be very near to us….”
From an undated letter (c. 1951).
“By the time I had really explained my objections to certain doctrines which differentiate you from us…. you would like me less.”
31 July 1954
“To pray without words when I am able, but to fall back on words when tired or otherwise below par. With renewed thanks.”
1 August 1949
“Don’t bother about the idea that God ‘has known for a million years exactly what you are about to pray’. That isn;t what its like. God is hearing you now, just as simply as a mother hears a child. the difference His timelessness makes is that this now (which slips away from you as you say the word now) is for Him infinite.
March 13, 1956
“You’ll find my views about drinks in Christian Behaviour. …Smoking is much harder to justify. I’d like to give it up but I’d find this v. hard, i.e. I can abstain, but I can’t concentrate on anything else while abstaining – not smoking is a whole time job.”
Book review #3 has been removed from this post, but I did want to note that Talbott tea was a product featured on Shark Tank and Daymond John made the deal:
Gung Ho! oh, no…..
In late summer, I did not even finish this book by Blanchard and Bowles. Reading it felt like I was reading a forced story that was trying too hard to be of substance. Also, the voice and tone of the author felt distrustful. This may sound strange, but we all know that authors impart a piece of “who they are” through how and what they write – and it felt like this author(s) had some grandiosity and pride issues to work though. Now hey – I am all for confidence and the right kind of pride, but the annoying grandiosity feeling suggested the author may have assumed they were more wise than they really area. Further, there was just something sneaky sensed here – like even with the gold sticker they chose to place on the cover – it says “Send your energy soaring,” but this is actually deceptive marketing because on first glance it looks like an award winning gold sticker.
Here is an example of an irritant from Gung Ho! – The author writes, “Normally I’d have been wary of sitting next to a stranger, but I felt the safety of a small town.” Really? Well maybe I still had Hannah Graham on my mind, and four other girls who went missing in a small town, but really it was the context of how this fictional female executive said that line- her character was too forced.
However, there were two good quotes: “The quit-but-stay option is over.” “Sometimes the only way to change a manager is to change a manager.”
Better Together: What on Earth Are We Here For? (40 Days of Community, Workbook)
The only reason I attempted to read this book is because it was on our shelf. We are still getting rid of some inherited books and I try to read some of them to see if they are any good. Well Better Together is another prime example of Christians misquoting Scripture – and pulling verses out of context to promote what “they” deem most important.
For example, Day 5 ends with using an Isaiah passage (38:19) to make a plug for attending small groups. But you see, this passage was written to Jewish people (Hezekiah) from the Old Testament days and it pertains to a father passing down truth to his children. Not all Scripture is meant to be doctrine for believers today and not all verses from the Bible can be cut and inserted so easily – yet so many churches do not get it. They take certain history passages that only apply to Jews — of that time — and then they pick little parts of those passages and insert them into messages that are erroneous. The tithing topic is always an offender, but in this book, the Sabbath is misunderstood too. Now yes, we all need a schedule that includes rest, but the whole reason the OT “law” was abolished was because of legalism and the stern religiosity that outpoured from the law. The law snuffed out the very loving essence of God – and it became religion, which is man-made – and lost the spiritual love, which is God-made.
The two commandments of the NT (love your neighbor as yourself and love the Lord with all your heart) were intentionally given because they comprehensively replaced the 613 commandments that were leading people to cold, legalistic, and unfruitful lives in the OT. I later realized that this book was not even written by Rick Warren; the cover says that Rick Warren was the “General Editor” – so the hodgepodge feel of passage misuse was likely also due to too many authors.
The Poems of Wilfred Owen edited by Jon Stallworthy was a fine read this summer. Owens is a “poet’s poet” and I think that serious history buffs would enjoy this book for sure.
Many of Owen’s poems are intense as they describe war scenes or reflections of life in battle, but Owen is indeed a master poet – and skimming the 103 poems and 12 fragments in this edition – well it was enriching. Here is a sample of his writing:
He dropped, – more sullenly than wearily
Lay stupid like a cod, heavy like meat.
And none of us could kick him to his feet;
– just blinked at my revolver, blearily;
– didn’t appear to know a war was on.
Or see the blasted trench at which he stared.
I’ll do ‘em in he whined. “if this hand’s spared,
I’ll murder them, I will.”
That’s it for me and my summer reading and tea pairings – 🙂
Have a great day….