Recent Reads

In the past few weeks, I have read (actually listened) two great books.  My new car habit is to have at least two books along for the many rides that I take.  It takes 20 minutes to drive to and from work. That is 40 minutes of “reading” that I cannot waste!  And that is the shortest drive in my weekly routine.  This new habit has become a great comfort to me, and I feel as though the characters or the authors (depending on the genre) are like friends riding with me…spinning their tales or imparting their wisdom.

If anyone would ask me what my favorite kind of book to read is, I would not be able to answer that well.  In fact, I would have to answer with only what I prefer not to read: science fiction.  Why?  I honestly do not know, but I am just not into aliens and other world when I am reading.  When I watch movies, I am fine with a little Star Wars, etc.

And…I digress…back to my current reading list…

half broke horsesThe first book was Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls (author of The Glass Castle which is also a compelling read).  This novel is somewhat biography and somewhat tale.  By her own admission, Walls brings the spirit of her grandmother’s life story – beginning in 1900 – to life with some author liberties.  I was completely and totally captivated by the main character – Lily – from whose perspective Walls write the novel.  From the first sentence to the last, I found that I learned from Lily, wanted to be Lily, and resonated with Lily.  Even though there were parts where we might butt heads, for the most part I think that Lily and I would have made great friends.  From her perseverance to pursue her dream of teaching to her frustration with injustice in the world, I find her to be a kindred spirit with whom I would love to have coffee and simply listen to her tell stories.

microtrends

On the complete other end of the genre spectrum is the other book I have listened to over the past few weeks – Mircrotrends  by Mark J. Penn who was a senior level advisor to both Bill and Hillary Clinton.  Over the course of 10 disks, Penn takes readers/ listeners through 75 small trends (read the book to find out what the definition of a microtrend is).  Trust me when I say that Penn has picked trends that will interest just about anyone!  Trends in parenting, the trends in singleness, religious trends, and so much more.  If you are into numbers (I am when they are fun!), you will love this book.

There is plenty to think about from reading this book as well as plenty to argue with (mostly in your own head).  The best part, though, is that he uses humor, personal examples, and story to illustrate the numbers.  In his conclusion, he used an example about the number of jam options in a grocery store.  Consumers will actually be overwhelmed by 24 jam choices to the point that we don’t buy jam.  In contrast, having only 6 jam choices boost sales.  It made me think of the school choice law in Minnesota.  Smart books do that to you, and that is what this book did to me.  Very cool!

What are you reading lately and would you recommend it?  If you are not currently reading (or listening) to something, why are you not?

Images of both books taken from amazon.com.

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