So, in a world of mobile device recorders, cameras on every corner, and video blogs (vlogs), it seems the number of people who read for pleasure is shrinking. Yeah, even I will probably start vlogging for The Single Father’s Guide Blog and other projects that I have in the pipeline.
|Original Dust Jacket for Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath|
Even though I don’t read as much as I used to or want to, I still read. As often as not, the books I’ve read have, in some way, found me rather than the other way around. When talking to someone I believe to be interesting and knowledgeable, I may ask that person, “What book that you’ve read has made the biggest impact in your life?” Then, I read that book.
Not necessarily implying that I am particularly interesting or knowledgeable, these happen to be the books that have made the biggest impression on me during my life.
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Story: Steinbeck masterfully relates the long and painful journey of the Joad family, farmers who are forced to leave their Oklahoma dust bowl farm and travel to California where they hope to start a new and better life.
The Lesson: The best, most heartrending, and most astounding end to any fiction I’ve read suggests that in the face of tragedy and profound sorrow, humans have a surprising capacity to love other humans.
His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair Proof Marriage by Willard F. Harley
The Story: Based on the premise that both women and men have specific needs in a relationship, the likelihood of an affair outside of a committed relationship increases when one partner perceives that one or more of those needs aren’t being met. Harley lists the typical top five needs for women and those for men. Not surprisingly, the women’s needs and men’s needs aren’t the same.
The Lesson: I've been told this book has been used by marriage counselors for couples who are dealing with an infidelity. Counseling after infidelity is like Feng Shui in the lobby after the plane hit the first tower. As such, I suggest this book for my brothers who are in a relationship and who want to prevent infidelity. Not surprisingly, a woman’s most important need is communication and that need is often most effectively met by her partner listening to what she says. By the way, a man’s most important need, obviously, is physical intimacy.
The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley
The Story: While the term, millionaire, doesn’t carry the gravitas that it once did, amassing assets in excess of one million dollars isn’t anything to sneeze at. Americans who are able to accumulate wealth measured using seven figures or more frequently have a number of important behaviors and characteristics in common.
The Lesson: Ironically, the kind of committed relationship one has with a romantic partner is a significant variable in creating wealth. The make of car one drives, whether a person owns a small (or large) business, and other seemingly unrelated factors are also correlated with wealth accumulation.
Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
The Story: Howard W. Campbell Jr., who moved with his family to Germany from the United States when he was a child, is a renowned playwright, one-half of a “Nation of Two” with his actress wife, Helga, and a Nazi propagandist during World War II. He’s also an American spy. Now that the war is over and he's living in New York, Campbell narrates the the series of improbable events including reuniting with his beloved wife, being discovered by a Nazi hunter, and his trial as war criminal.
The Lesson: “We are who we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
The Story: The plight of young U.S. Army officer, Robert Jordan, who is charged with rallying a band of Spanish guerrillas to help him dynamite a bridge during the Spanish Civil War.
The Lesson: Includes the best-written chapter of any novel in the history of fiction. The chapter depicts, with unusual candor, the meaning of love and love’s place in a man’s heart in the context of fighting life’s everyday battles. (Reading Hemingway is like getting repeatedly punched in the face with a wet boxing glove. If the reader can endure the beating, the story and the lessons are worth the effort.) P.S. It tolls for thee.
Well, I guess that’s enough for now. It’s not likely many folks will have time to read these books, anyway. I believe they’re all available via audio book, though. If you do read or listen to one or more of these books, maybe you’ll say to a friend during a conversation, “I learned about this book in a blog post that I read. You might enjoy it.”
Mention the blog, too.