This week’s books could not be any more opposite, but I love them equally. Both are nonfiction, my favorite genre, and while their topics are nothing alike, they both have such profound lessons that they are well worth your time and money. I recommend buying your own copies because you will want to highlight and underline something on every page!
Without further adieu, this week’s selections.
Undone: A Story of Making Peace with an Unexpected Life by Michele Cushatt.
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This book had me at the subtitle. I saw it recommended on social media, which is where I hear about a lot of what I choose to read, and from the minute the Amazon Prime fairy placed it in my mailbox, I was enamored. Both the story and the writing style are beautiful, and Cushatt will make you cry and silently whisper “Amen.”
The back cover says, “She never expected a devastating divorce and single motherhood. Or a second marriage marred by the challenges of a blended family. Undaunted, Michele worked hard to put her upside-down life back in order. Until, at the age of thirty-nine, she received a cancer diagnosis. And eight months later, she opened her near empty-nest home to three little ones in crisis. The resulting chaos proved far more than she could contain.”
Michele Cushatt’s life certainly became undone, and she has faced more unexpected hardships in a short period than the vast majority of people ever do. Yet she has not turned to bitter whining or faithless “why me’s?”. She has doggedly continued her pursuit of true intimacy with Christ, and this book is ripe with honesty. I guess that’s why I love it so much - it resonated.
My unexpected life did not involve a cancer diagnosis, but I cried as I read these words: “I’ve talked to countless other cancer survivors, of all extents and varieties. The one commonality we all share is the unexpected grief. Even when we’re given a good shot at a long life, even when we have great doctors and the hope of positive outcomes, we experience a deep and profound loss. Cancer is a thief, stealing what we didn’t even know we had until it was too late. The innocence is gone, replaced by an acute awareness of the dark flip side of life.”
Regardless of whether your life has included unexpected tragedies that changed everything, Michele has a word for you. Her greatest lessons are on faith, and this is one of my favorite quotes: “...faith in the middle of the unknowns is the only real kind.” Yes, and amen. Buy this book, and buy extra copies for those you love who are in the middle of life-changing hardships. They need its truth and hope.
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath & Dan Heath
|Click here to purchase from Amazon.|
Love. This. Book.
If you ever need to say anything that people should remember, this book is a must. Teachers, this should be required reading before you teach another child. Businessmen, pastors, speakers of any kind - you need this information.
Reminiscent of Malcolm Gladwell’s books, this one is chock full of stories and unexpected trivia that will make you scratch your head and say, “Duh! Why didn’t I think of that?! How did I go 35 years without knowing that?”
I cannot tell you how many notes I made in the margins for myself to “try at school!”. The brothers Heath explain in detail what they call The Curse of Knowledge, which is basically when we become experts in something and forget what it’s like not to know it. (For example - try teaching a child to tie his shoes. Your patience slows to a trickle as you just can’t get how he doesn’t get it. The Curse of Knowledge.) This is what teachers are up against every single day. What is great about the book, though, is that you actually learn how to combat it. Practical knowledge is embedded in every chapter. For example, they talk in great length about the importance of being concrete in what you say and do. Forget being abstract - concreteness rules.
When a group called Beyond War was trying to raise public awareness of the reality of nuclear weapons in the Cold War, they wanted to make the statistics more concrete. So a leader began carrying a metal bucket to meetings. He would drop a single BB in, saying, “This is the Hiroshima bomb.” He would describe the devastation in detail. Then he’d drop in 10 BBs and say, “This is the firepower of the missiles on one U.S. or Soviet nuclear submarine.” As the book describes, “Finally, he asked the attendees to close their eyes. He’d say, ‘This is the world’s current arsenal of nuclear weapons.’ Then he poured 5,000 BBs in the bucket (one for every nuclear warhead in the world). The noise was startling, even terrifying. ‘The roar of the BBs went on and on… Afterwards there was always dead silence.’”
The statistics alone weren’t enough to provoke reaction. The concrete comparison to BBs was. Concreteness is just one of the qualities the Heath brothers say is necessary to make something memorable.
Throughout this brilliantly-written book, the authors get to the core of why we remember some things and don’t remember others. It’s because of what they call “sticky ideas,” which have 6 key qualities: simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotional, and stories.
A fascinating read and practically useful resource, Made to Stick is a book for everyone.
So there you have it - two books I love and think you will, too. Do you have any books in particular you want me to review? Any specific questions? Let me know!