March 19, 2015

You Have a Brain {a review}

There comes a day when a child becomes an adult. In between those two extremes we find the teen years. Having two, almost three, teens in my home, I try to look at the teen years as a time of intense preparation. It is a unique time to grow and learn. A time like none other in the human life. A time to make the most of opportunity.

So, when I saw a book entitled You Have a Brain: A Teen's Guide to T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G. by Ben Carson, MD, I had to at least take a look at it. I am ever so glad I did!

Carson begins the book with a short autobiography outlining some of the major events in his life, which helped shape him into the man he is today. In the second part of the book, Carson systematically explains the T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G. acronym. Together, the two parts encourage teens to take charge of their lives and to do something of value with their brains. In the appendix, readers will find a "Personal Talent Assessment" to complete.

Reading through the book, I was struck by the easy going tone of Carson. Additionally, while the audience is teens, the book is not 'dumbed down' or condescending in any way.

The events Carson shares are relatable and purposeful. His life is inspirational and his words are full of wisdom. He shares specific incidents like a couple of long distance moves, harming a friend, and choosing between music and science. Though not every teen will experience these, the thought process, emotions, and choices serve as a model for other experiences. It was also refreshing how Carson related some menial events which at the time may have seemed ho-hum, but really helped prepare him for later in life. His job as a crane operator was not in the medical field at all, but the experience and understanding of how to operate a crane came in quite handy later in life during surgeries of precision. Using this example and others, Carson helps teen readers understand how experiences will shape and prepare us for adult life.

The second portion of the book, Carson unpacks T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G., letter by letter. He fully explains each concept, like talent, insight, and in-depth learning. Then, he shares practical ways he grew in that area and how teens can as well.

Despite not being in the target audience age group, I found the book informative and motivational for me personally as an individual (with a brain) and as a mom with four children. Obviously, anyone can glean wisdom on how to go further in life at any age. We can all use some motivation to do better. The greatest gem I found in the book, though, was how to help my children do better in tangible ways. I know the book wasn't written for this purpose. However, when I read it, I found it is a treasure chest of ideas for parents of teens and soon to be teens. Some of those ideas include finding mentors for my children in specific areas and encouraging them to take on more responsibilities in their own areas of interest.

Bottom Line
This book is a keeper! I know I've shared before how I typically give a review book to our church library after I've read and reviewed it. However, this time, instead of giving the book away, I simply recommended the library pick up its own copy. I want all my children to read this book before it gets donated.

~ Dorie

Fine Print: I received this book as part of the BookLook Blogger program. This review is in exchange for a copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.

January 28, 2015

Living Well Spending Less {a review}

For years now, many online writers have shared a word for the year. It is a word which directs, describes, and determines a path for the year. I've had my share of word of the year as well. This year is no different, except that I haven't displayed my word for all to see yet. Truly, I am just not ready to do so. I can most assuredly say that my word has a lot to do with living well. Doesn't everyone's word? Isn't that what we all, on some level, hope to do? live well?

When I saw the title Living Well Spending Less on a listing of possible books to review, I immediately thought the timing couldn't be better. New year, new word, new you! So, I quickly nabbed a spot for review.

The Book
Divided into two main sections, Living Well Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life, by Ruth Soukup, attempts to tackle a broad spectrum of topics. However, the main premise of the book is defining the good life and showing readers how to live it without going broke in the process. Soukup intertwines personal life experience into the pages.

In the first section, Living Well, Soukup considers what the good life really is. She offers readers a shift from main stream cultural thinking to a more sound definition of a life lived well. Individual topics include contentment, goals, time management, and decluttering.

Spending Less, which is the second section, builds upon the foundational thoughts established in the first section. In this section, Soukup offers ideas to help readers spend less. Though there are numerous, specific money saving tips mentioned, this is not the main focus. Creating a mind set of frugality and stewardship is the point of the second section.

Each individual chapter, regardless of the section, begins with several related quotes or Bible verses and ends with action points to motivate readers to practice what was suggested in the chapter.

My Thoughts
The premise for the book is outstanding. Who doesn't want to live well and not break the bank at the same time? The delivery and set up of the ideas are perfect for modern readers. However, the ideas presented are not ground breaking or new. These are commonsense, practical tips that have been around for a very long time. Perhaps that is the beauty of the book? By taking what we all inherently know, Soukup presents it in a way which promotes our understanding and challenges us to action.

Ways to Use the Book
While a straight through reading is easily done, this book would lend itself well to a 12 week personal or small group challenge. The chapters are of an ideal length for such an undertaking, and the quotes, tips, and action points within each chapter could serve well as talking points for a small group.

What I Will Do with My Copy
Here's the bottom line: I liked the book. I would even recommend the book to others to read and use. However, I won't be keeping my copy. My bookshelf is limited to books I either love or books I will need to return to in the future. This book, while well done, doesn't fit either of those criteria. I'll be donating my copy to our church library for others to freely read. It is my hope that it will be a blessing to those who do.

~ Dorie

Fine Print: I received a copy of this book in exchange for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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