What I'm Reading (No. 16): making today matter and my April recap
Make Today Matter by Chris Lowney
Lowney is an interesting guy. As a young man out of high school he became a Jesuit seminarian, but left that to work — oddly enough — for JP Morgan for nearly 20 years, ultimately making it to the rank of Managing Director. In 2001, however, he left JP Morgan (retired, I suppose?) to become a writer and leadership consultant. Since then, he's written a number of books on the topic, including the most recent Make Today Matter (120 pages, 2018).
I'm generally not one to enjoy leadership-type books or really anything in the self-help/self-improvement category. I tend to think they all say the same things, and that people generally know what they need to do to improve themselves, they just don't do it. So they read self-improvement books, thinking that alone will actually make them better.
Sometimes, though, just sometimes, the message is motivating enough to actually make a difference. Many books in the genre talk about changing your whole life around or impacting the whole world for good. Lowney, on other hand, brings the message wayyy down. His point is to make small changes in the course of your daily life, and impact your little corner of the world. In turn, those effects will ripple out, not to the whole world necessarily, but at least to your community, which is where it really matters. It's a way more doable premise than "Change your life!" or "Change the world!"
While there isn't really admittedly anything new in Make Today Matter, it's a really inspiring little book, and mine ended up full of underlining of Lowney's pithy, proverb-like admonitions.
He'll also be on the Art of Manliness podcast here in a month or so; I'll send that link along when the episode goes live.
Books Read: 10
Longest Book: The Looming Tower (480 pages)
Shortest Book: Make Today Matter (120 pages)
Top 3 (in no particular order):
The Monk of Mokha — Really re-inspired my coffee game, and particularly, my home roasting. The Yemeni coffee that I bought directly because of this book was probably the best I've ever made, and was on par with the best coffee I've ever had. I'm not tooting my own horn; I'm tooting Yemen's horn.
The Looming Tower — We're just about finished with the Hulu series, and it follows the true story fairly closely, though it does focus far more on the American characters than the Middle Eastern ones (understandable for a TV series, I suppose). This is a book that'll stay with me a long time.
Gilead — I'm still thinking about Robinson's moving novel. It feels like one I need to let marinate for a couple years and then re-read, knowing the story and being able to really digest all the beautiful, poetic language and insights.
I also finished In the Land of Giants. It's a translated "non-fiction novel" (self-described as such) about a Spanish yeti-hunter who ends up living and dying in the borderlands of Pakistan and Afghanistan. This read was for my book reviewing side gig, and I did not like it. The blurb was very intriguing, as was the actual story itself, but the organization and some of the author's choices on what to focus on (like a whole chapter on the main character's sexuality) were not good. Made for a real slog, to be honest. Skip it.
I finally finished some Dickens that I've been reading since the beginning of the year. Will share next week.
I now, perhaps oddly, have a desire to dig in to Tolstoy's hefty Anna Karenina. Anyone read it? Thoughts? I've heard, through the grapevine, that my mother-in-law loved it, and she's hard to please when it comes to books.
I've started my Civil War reading with Battle Cry of Freedom. I'm less than 100 pages in (of 900 or so), but I'm hooked. I'm not quite connecting all the dots, since I don't really know much about the Civil War to start with, but it's a lucid account which is nearly universally agreed upon to be the best single-volume history of the war. Will share with you all — a long time from now — when I finish.
That's all for this week — I'd love to hear your favorite reads in April! Thanks for your time and inbox space.