It’s summertime and I have a bit more time to read. There’s no school activities for the kids, and Nora is off school also, and frequently on the road, visiting people and places.
Here’s what’s on my nightstand. None of these books are new, but I like each of them for different reasons.
BTW, I don’t get paid to recommend anything, so what you see is what I think.
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight (2016)
I love biographies and autobiographies. You might have seen my discussion of Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton biography.
My first emotion as I started reading Shoe Dog was of annoyance – how is it that someone so gifted in business is also such a good writer? So I googled “shoe dog ghostwriter” and was relieved to see that Pulitzer-winner J.R. Moehringer assisted on this book.
Really, this is a fantastic book. It intimately and eloquently tells the story of how Knight took a business school idea and $50 from his father, and turned it into one of the largest and most iconic athletic brands.
The fascinating part, of course, is the intense struggle. How close Knight and Nike came to disaster dozens of times. How close we came to not having what we take for granted today: a swoosh on every corner.
For a moving portrait of how potholed the road of entrepreneurship really is, I recommend Shoe Dog.
When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert (2014)
Most people who have any measure of success often look to share that success with those who are less fortunate. But how best to do that?
Often, we give money. Because it’s easy and we don’t have to personally get our hands dirty.
When Helping Hurts posits that these financial efforts to help others, while well-intentioned, often do more harm than good. To the recipient…and the donor.
The solution? It depends, but it needs to be rooted in Jesus.
It depends on whether the poverty is caused by tragedy (natural disaster, illness), economic environment (no employment opportunities), or lack of initiative. A one-time need like a hurricane might indeed be aided by cash, but other scenarios often require a more-nuanced approach that requires time, energy, and relationship-building.
Just as important, the authors argue, is the ultimate goal. It’s not to make the materially poor all over the world into middle-class Americans, who often lead spiritually-barren lives. Rather, it’s to restore people to what God created us to be: people who glorify God and love our neighbors.
When Helping Hurts will make you think twice the next time you cut a check for charity. And that’s a good thing.
Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words by Bill Bryson (2002)
I’m a Bryson reader from way back. I’ve particularly enjoyed his humorous and educational travel memoirs, many of which are based in his adopted UK (he’s originally from Iowa). A Walk in the Woods is his Appalachian Trail adventure best seller.
If you’re a Bryson fan, you know he’s a stickler for proper English – word choice, syntax, and grammar. He’s a former copy editor, and he knows his stuff.
Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words isn’t a book that you read in a week or cover to cover. And it’s not a very good reference book as it’s not comprehensive. Confused about the difference between “who’s” and “whose?” Too bad, it’s not in there.
It’s a spurt book that I’ll read while sitting on the can, or in the five minutes between slipping into bed and zonking out.
I’ll randomly open it, and appreciate what makes English so devilishly difficult to master. Things like:
- Just deserts (not desserts)
- Stalemates don’t end – a stalemate is the end, whereas a standoff or deadlock can end
- Big Ben is the bell, not the clock
If you live in Baltimore, let me know if you want to borrow one of these. Just remember that the Bryson book spends a lot of time in the bathroom.
What are you reading this summer?