#1 "RFK" by C. David Heymann
Like any good Democrat and lover of politics, I have admired the life of Robert Kennedy from afar. I was born long after his assassination and since he didn't have to suffer through the world of 24-hour news channels, he has remained a mythic figure to me. I picked up this book with the intention of learning more about the man, his family, life, leadership, and those things that only great research can provide. When I finally turned the last page, I was left conflicted. On one hand, seemed to be a brilliant politician who generally cared about people without regard to their economic standing. On the other hand, was a womanizer, rarely present father, philander, and a pure politician. As I sat with this new knowledge, something became abundantly clear to me; those who we admire have multidimensional lives. While they should be admired for the good they do in this world, they shouldn't be idolized. They are human beings filled with faults and failings.
#2 "Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism" by John Shelby Spong
Long before September 11, 2001, I found myself saved from the clutches of hell. At the age of five or six, I accepted the fact that Jesus Christ was my lord and savior. My faith in him and the Holy Bible would save me from eternal damnation. Ten years later, I would attend Falls Creek with the belief I was being called to minister to youth. I decided once again to accept God's wisdom and follow without questioning. If he thought I could and should do it, then I was going to do it. Then 9/11 happened...
To read the entire review, click here.
#3 "A New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle
It has been a long time since I sat in a church pew. If you read the review linked above, you now understand why. There are things I miss about faith traditions, though. I miss the quiet, calm sense of reflection that can only occur when one is forced to pray, meditate, and focus. "A New Earth" is the third book by Eckhart Tolle that I have read. I picked up each one with the same goal; learn how to focus my life on the now outside of religious practice. While Tolle uses faith traditions to influence his works, they come across as humanistic, which I greatly appreciate. Since I finished this book months ago, I have learned to take advantage of quiet moments, furthered my practice of reflection, dealt with chaos better, and learned to own the moment. I don't know a person who couldn't benefit from that.
#4 "A Brother's Journey" by Richard Pelzer
Dave Pelzer has written several books about his journey out of a home consumed with horrific child abuse. If you haven't read, "A Child Called It," "The Lost Boy," and "A Man Named Dave," I highly recommend you do. They are very challenging reads due to the level of violence, but I believe they are essential reading for any parent and educational professional. "A Brother's Journey" is written by Richard Pelzer, Dave's brother. It speaks to the psychological and physical abuse he endured after Dave was sent to foster care. The book is just as challenging and heartbreaking, but once you finish it you'll have a better understanding of why child protective services across the country take the actions they do to rescue an entire family.
#5 "Listen to the Warm" by Rod McKuen
I have been writing poetry since I was a little kid. I am also embarrassed to say in that scope of time I have read very few books of poetry. "Listen to the Warm" is an effort on my part to correct a wrong. While the book was given to me by a dear friend in hopes of easing a transitional moment in my life, I used the words to reinvigorate my love for poetry. Mr. McKuen possesses an awe-inspiring ability to paint a perfect picture with only the necessary amount of words. Much like Hemingway, I wish this is a talent I possessed. Books such as these serve as an inspiration as I work to become a better writer.
Be good to each other,