Book Reviews 

compiled from my monthly newsletter!

 

tosha

What I’m Reading:
Outrageous Openness: Letting the Divine Take Lead by Tosha Silver
What It’s About: 
It’s about surrender to what is, turning our lives over to something greater, mysterious, and wiser than our ego minds. It is about opening up to Life, intuition, and Divine guidance. In entertaining stories and anecdotes, Tosha Silver delivers hilarious lessons on radical trust and supreme attention to the subtle graces in our day to day.

What I Like About It:
I pretty much love this book. The chapters are little bite-sized pearls of playful wisdom. The writing is down to earth, flamboyant, and fun. Silver is urging us to be totally open and gives real life examples of what happens when we practice from that place of relaxed confidence in life. She offers guided practices that support this kind of approach to life. In a few chapters, she has short suggested rituals to help us let go of attachment when things feel tough or we notice we’re grasping towards an outcome. I love that she offers a refreshing alternative to a lot of the Law of Attraction hype that is out there. Instead of wishing and striving for what we want and suffering, Silver focuses on putting our faith in the divine/Universe/God/Life to bring us what we need, bringing an attitude of curiosity, acceptance, and generosity towards ourselves and others.

What I Don’t Like:
There were a few moments I felt myself cringing at some of the language, which strayed into positive affirmation territory. Changing our thoughts can be powerful but I am on high alert for anything that might lead to bypassing our true feelings or neuroses and just covering them up with happy smiles and words instead of doing the work to transform them. Also, the author offers a multitude of examples of unexpected gifts, things working out magically during challenges, and lots of abundant blessings! That’s fabulous…and I question whether it is a result of her “outrageous openness” or if she has particularly excellent luck. If the average human took up her principles of Divine Order and lived by them, would we experience as many miraculous happenings and last-minute rescues? Only one way to find out!

Overall:
Totally readable, inspiring, and fun!

Quotable:
“Some spiritual groups believe that as we evolve, all the details of our individuality are buffed away into sanitized white-light sameness. Any uniqueness is derided as ego. You see this where members mimic an idea of how to be spiritual; personal style,language,and mannerisms are erased and punished. An eerie, jargon-slinging, one-size-fits-all Stepford-seeker emerges. And the other route? Well, maybe it’s the raucous celebration of God’s diversity, just like nature. The way a lush field of wildflowers bursts open every spring, each type different, colorful, and bedazzled…So, what if the highest expression of the personal Divine is You, precisely as You are in this very moment,in all your full, authentic, and wounded glory?”

If you like this, check out: 
Sera Beak’s Red, Hot and Holy: A Heretic’s Love Story

Intuition: Knowing Beyond Logic by Osho


 

 

ndys

What I’m Reading:
Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham & Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D.

What It’s About:
The book is centered around a 25-year study that Gallup conducted that involved 2 million people and many more millions of dollars. The research aimed to identify prominent strengths that contribute to people’s ability to excel in work and life. Through in-depth interviews Gallup delineated 34 distinct patterns of human talent (things like Achiever, Empathy, Fairness, Harmony, Learner, Responsibility, Strategic and so forth) and developed an online tool to allow readers to find their own talent profile–that is their 5 most dominant strengths with tips on how to enhance and get the most out of their natural gifts. The book’s main “revolutionary” argument, the authors claim, is that while you can mitigate your weaknesses and do damage control by attending to them, the real power lies in developing your areas of strengths. Those who focus and perfect their natural talents excel more so than those who expend a lot of effort trying to correct their weaknesses.

What I Like About It:
It’s a fast & accessible read in business psychology. The authors offer numerous real-life examples and anecdotes to illustrate key concepts. They present thestrengths of many of the traits and characteristics that are commonly seen as negative–for instance, what someone might label “impulsive” could be reframed as quick to move into action, ready to perform. Reading up on my own strengths felt validating and affirmed my current choice of career direction. It’s fun to self-discover and ponder how I can both improve my talents and put them to use more in daily life. The book’s message feels hopeful in that utilizing our strengthshelps us feel fulfilled and brings satisfaction. In this way, the book promotes work that allows for us to use what makes us feel good in order to succeed. That sounds great to me!

What I Don’t Like:
The title. It might be better named: For 22 bucks, Go Online and Discover Your Strengths. As a radical librarian, I want information to be accessible and easy to use, especially knowledge that enhances people’s self-awareness and self-esteem. I also want resources to be transparent about what they are offering at what cost. But checking out this book from the library or buying a used copy will not get you your strengthsprofile.
The book explains the research and theory behind the StrengthsFinder, but the book itself doesn’t help you identify your strengths. While there is a chapter that describes each of the 34 themes, reading them and guessing what yours are, doesn’t always match the reality. On the other hand, you could skip the book and just pay $9.99 to do the StrengthsFinder assessment online. Either way, you have to pay up to take the online interview, and when you do, it’s a one-time test that you would need to pay for again each time you wanted to re-take it to see if anything changed over time or if you just weren’t convinced of the results. 
When the online test brings you to your profile featuring your top five, you also get access to a short video, each of which of mine starred one white man talking about how awesome his strength is and how he uses it on the job. Maybe the lack of diversity is unsurprising but it is still ridiculous and inexcusable.

I think this is an awesome tool of self-awareness and can help my coaching clients look at where in their lives they can put their strengths to use or transform their careers to allow themselves to truly shine. I appreciate that this was a costly and extensive research study and understand its value needs to be upheld in some way. I wish Gallup could be more creative and democratic in creating such a way that we as coaches and everyday people–through libraries or schools–could access the resources without great cost. $9.99 isn’t bad for some of us, but would prefer that for this cost it would allow an individual to retake a few times or to share the test with a couple of people. Our strengths complement each other and work together, so understanding the talents of those around us would provide valuable insight. If only those who can pay the full price for a new book or a business that can fork over the huge costs to get all their employees to take the test, we lose out in overlooking how best to work with and nurture the strengths of those in our communities who might most benefit from the affirmation this kind of exercise provides–those who have fewer resources. I ask, who is this research really benefiting at this cost? On that note, get the gist of the book here, for free. 

Quotable:
“As you build your strengths, sometimes making great progress, sometimes slipping back, take comfort from the fact that this is how a strong life is supposed to be lived. This process–act, learn, refine, act, learn, refine–clumsy though it may be, is the essence of strong living. Strong living asks you to be bold, to be perceptive, to listen for performance feedback from the outside world, and, above all, to keep investigating yourstrengths despite the many influences pulling you away from them. Carl Jung captured the spirit of it best when he said ‘Fidelity to the law of your own being is an act of high courage flung in the face of life.'” 

If you like this, check out:
for those wanting more self-discovery: The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson

for those curious to read more psychology and what it takes to thrive: A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers will Rule the Future by Daniel Pink


 

sacred-economics

What I’m Reading:

Sacred Economics: Money, Gift & Society in the Age of Transition by Charles Eisenstein
What It’s About: The history of gift exchange and money from ancient times to today. Eisenstein predicts and celebrates the coming collapse of capitalism and outlines smarter and more sustainable policies around money for a near future. Eisenstein pinpoints usury (interest), the very foundation of capitalism, as the cause of our current woes. Usury, he claims, brings out the worst in people, promotes and encourages greed, and by requiring growth at all costs, destroys and depletes our planet and our spirits. Eisenstein offers some tangible ideas on how to create a new kind of money system that would bring out our best, that would reward people based on their gifts rather than forcing us to work in meaningless jobs, and he highlights things that people are already doing to move in the right direction.

What I Like About It: Eisenstein offers a life-affirming alternative to cynicism and despair. He gives practical examples of how to start in our own personal lives and communities. In calling on us to infuse magic back into objects, Eisenstein celebrates materialism, not as a culture of endless consumption but one that treasures our belongings, attributes personal and spiritual value to them, and respecting from where and whom our things come. Also, i am loving the cover art!

What I Don’t Like: I wanted a softer, more flexible and dynamic word than “reify” when describing the jump from imagining to actualizing a more humane and sustainable economic model. And, he makes it sound so easy! I love the beauty of the author’s beliefs, but I expect there will be a little more struggle and resistance from the top to truly let go of capitalism as our formal economic system. While there are many powerful ways we can shift things from the bottom-up, an official money model that includes negative interest rates, taxing resources and unearned rents on property, carbon taxes, and a basic income for everyone, does require some cooperation from the powers that be and that doesn’t feel realistic just yet. he also makes some broad and at times, absurd, claims and generalizations that are not backed up by research.

Overall: The personal is political. The fact that this is an impractical and inspiring dream strikes a chord for me as I am building a business and looking to leave the security of the traditional work world. So impractical and so necessary! Even if Eisenstein’s predictions and preferences for this particular new money system and policies end up being completely wrong, this is the kind of book we need that offers possibility, starts conversations and inspires more alternative visions that we will keep refining as we collaborate around creatingThe More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible. 

Quotable: “If we want to outlast the multiple crises unfolding today, let us not seek to survive them. That is the mind-set of separation; that is resistance, a clinging to a dying past. Instead, let us shift our perspective toward reunion and think in terms of what we can give. What can we each contribute to a more beautiful world? That is our only responsibility and our only security.”

If you like this, check out: TJ Jackson Lears’ Fables of Abundance, this article on the anti-work movement, or join the author’s online course linked here: http://spacebetweenstories.net/

 

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