Friday, April 25, 2008

Do You Believe? by Antonio Monda

The subtitle of this book is Conversations on God and Religion.

I viewed it more as a poll on whether those interviewed believed in God, the afterlife and religion. Now those polled included a number of heavy hitters in literature and culture including Saul Bellow, Richard Ford, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Jane Fonda and Martin Scorsese.

“Deeply moving, Do You Believe? is a truly compelling book, bound to become a classic.”— Commonweal

I skimmed through a lot of the book. Some of the respondents provided interesting answers and perspectives. Some of the respondents were not so interesting. The chapters were relatively short (between 7-10 pages). The respondents were divided between believers and non-believers.

It's not a classic for me. I would have preferred picking this book up at my library for free if they had it compared to buying it at Barnes and Noble as I did.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Two Books for Baby Boomers

I read two books aimed at baby boomers approaching or over the age of 50.

The non-fiction book, Leap! What Will We Do With The Rest of Our Lives by Sara Davidson provides stories of various people (some celebrities) in how they overcame health, career, relationship and financial issues after 50. Davidson offers the advice and life lessons from Carly Simon, Tom Hayden, Ram Dass and Jane Fonda to name a few. This reader's circle of friends and acquaintances does not carry the same cachet. Frankly a number of these people are certainly well off financially and are not going to have the same challenges and issues that I (and most other people) may face.

However it was interesting to see how Davidson faced her own issues (relationship, career etc.) and that will be very instructive to many readers (particularly women). Davidson's book does offer some good insights and advice for baby boomers in this phase of life.

I also read Eureka: A Novel by Jim Lehrer. This book is great for us old guys over 50. The main character, Otis Halstead, is a 59 year old husband, father and corporate executive who goes through a dramatic (and entertaining) midlife crisis. Halstead tries to recapture things and moments from his youth that he missed, much to the consternation of his wife, family and friends.

Is Halstead crazy after purchasing an antique toy fire truck, BB gun and red 1952 Cushman Pacemaker motor scooter? Or is he more sane than the psychologists assigned to treat him for his crazy behavior?

I loved the story and finished the book in one day.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Catholic's Take on the Pope's Trip

I found this Time's article by Tim Padgett, a Catholic writing on the Pope's visit to the United States to be very wise.

He points out that many Catholics believe that you do not have to follow the rules from Rome and other teachings to be a good Catholic. You accept what is good from the religion and ignore what is bad or not reasonable.

Padgett's conclusion:

"Still, the love most U.S. Catholics have for their church may never again be unconditional. It has to be earned, and simply wearing a collar or a habit won't do the trick anymore. Pope Benedict XVI took some positive steps toward earning it last week. But he needs to realize that his American flock, as good Catholics like Boccaccio did before us, follows a religion more than it follows a church."

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Brain Rules by John Medina

If all my science texts were like Medina’s book when I was in school, I’d learn a whole lot more than I did and with a lot more interest.

I really enjoyed Brain Rules, the book and the accompanying DVD. The DVD was a great idea. It summarized the book in an entertaining and engaging way. Medina employed the “visual” to support what he wrote in the book.

Medina’s book was very user-friendly in describing the parts and functions of the brain. If you had no interest in how the brain works, Medina offered a number of practical takeaways to improve your thinking with chapters on:
*Sleep and Rest
*Improving Memory
*Reducing Stress
*Paying attention (We don't pay attention to boring things)

I enjoyed reading the book. Very user-friendly for those with or without a scientific bent.