I’m going through my cyclical “I hate the internet” phase. I find it happens more frequently when my Facebook feed gets clogged with political garbage and/or stories that grieve and infuriate me. I’m especially wary of links that lead me to sites crowded with ads. I can’t even tell where the story is, because ads are all sprinkled through the post. And every time I try to scroll up, I accidentally click on something and I’m whisked away to some on-line offer. And don’t even get me started on the trend to take me through the article PAGE BY PAGE (“next” “next” “next”). It takes 30 minutes to read a stupid 500-word article.
That is the current state of affairs. I’m a little bitter.
When I hate the internet, I stop clicking on links altogether and I open up books instead. (actual paper books…remember those?) I think it’s good for my soul to hate the internet every now and again.
I’ve read several mediocre books lately, which makes these good books stand out all the more. In this list, there’s something for everyone.
Eat Fat, Get Thin: Why the Fat We Eat Is the Key to Sustained Weight Loss and Vibrant Health, by Mark Hyman. I couldn’t put this book down. But, then again, I’m a food geek and devour books about nutrition. (Devour books about nutrition…see what I did there?) If you’ve ever demonized saturated fat and loaded up on pasta in an effort to lose weight or maintain your health, you’ll want to read this. Well-documented, authoritative, but not boring.
All the Places to Go . . . How Will You Know?: God Has Placed before You an Open Door. What Will You Do? by John Ortberg This book is all about hearing God’s voice (another passion of mine). John Ortberg is smart and funny. I love that combo in a book about spiritual things. I wasn’t expecting to like this one as much as I did. It’s really good.
Out of Sorts: Making Peace With an Evolving Faith, by Sarah Bessey. In this book, Sarah explains how she rejected the faith of her youth, examined it piece by piece, and eventually came back full circle–but wiser and more discerning. I like this book because I’ve taken a similar journey. I never rejected my faith entirely, but I have deeply examined and rejected major elements of the denominations to which I belonged. If you’ve ever done that or feel like you need to do that, this book is for you. Plus, Sarah is just a really good writer.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), by Mindy Kaling. Okay, this one was a book I picked up in desperation at the beach last week. I brought 2 fiction books that I just COULD NOT GET INTO! One of those fiction books came highly recommended by just about everyone on the Internet. After trying for 3 full days to like the 2 books I brought with me, I ditched them entirely for this one. Mindy Kaling is hilarious. I read this book from cover to cover in one day and then gave it to my daughter to read (she likes funny, too).
I’m really weird about fiction. I LOVE a good story, well-developed characters, page-turners, cliff-hangers, and all that. But I HATE sad stories, dark stories, stories with graphic violence, stories with graphic language, stories with graphic descriptions of sexual encounters of any sort, stories with children or women in peril, and most Christian fiction (which I find to be poorly written and shallow and hokey).
That pretty much eliminates every fiction book out there.
In the last year, I have only read two fiction books that meet all that criteria.
The Rosie Project: A Novel, by Graeme Simsion. Oh my word…I LOVED this book. It is so witty and smart. I fell in love with the hero in this story at the very beginning and cheered him on until the very last page. As I was grabbing the link for this post, I saw a sequel, and I screamed. Thank God for Amazon Prime. I will have the sequel in my mail by tomorrow.
Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes. I read this book last year on the beach. It doesn’t meet EVERY element of the above criteria (I won’t tell you which one, because I don’t want to spoil it for you), but I could not put it down. This one was released as a movie on June 3, so you need to read it NOW before you see the movie! There is also a sequel, which I am currently reading. I’m withholding my endorsement until I’ve completed it. (I will say, so far, so good.)
In the last few months, I’ve decided I like to listen to podcasts while I walk and cook. I’ve tried several and ditched several. Here are the ones that currently keep my coming back
Donald Miller’s StoryBrand Podcast: I love everything Donald Miller does. (Remember when I met him?) This podcast is especially relevant for writers, business leaders, or anyone wanting to build a brand or tell a story.
Dave Ramsey’s Entre Leadership: This podcast is in a similar vein as StoryBrand–not in content but in audience. It’s mostly for business leaders (of which, I am not), but there are good takeaways for writers and leaders of any kind.
Phil Vischer Podcast: Phil Vischer is the creator of Veggie Tales. (Remember when I met him?) This podcast is more like talk radio. He talks with two friends about current news, politics, religion, controversy…it’s fun and lighthearted, but also, deep and philosophical. He sometimes has guests. It’s good. And I promise the little jingle he does at the beginning of each podcast will forever be cemented into your mind. (You’ve been warned)
Hope*Writers: This is my new favorite podcast and biggest surprise. This is the work of sisters Emily P. Freeman (Chatting at the Sky) and Myquillyn Smith (Nesting Place). If you are a writer, you will want to listen to this. It is so well-done and relevant. Every week, I feel like someone climbed inside my brain and extracted my concerns, and then addressed them.
Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast: I’ve been listening to Focus on the radio for years. But now, I just listen to it while I walk.
Ted Radio Hour: This is the podcast of NPR, which complies various TED Talks and then examines the topic in detail. I don’t listen to this one every week, but I do scan the topics for things that interest me.
Poddy Break (Tim Hawkins): Tim Hawkins is a Christian comedian. I’ve seen him live twice. My whole family loves him. His podcast is relatively new, so I feel like he’s working out the kinks. But I like it enough that I keep coming back. Plus, I love the name.
Q4U: I’m always looking for good podcast and book recommendations. What are you reading? What are you listening to? Please share!