It’s that time of the week and here is my weekly review of books I have been told to read and those I actually read.
Books People Told me to Read
1. If Mayors Ruled the World: Dyfunctional Nations, Rising Cities by Benjamin Barber (cities are increasingly populated and influential and I reserved it at the library)
2. Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data by Charles Wheelan (not sure if I’ll pick this up, but it’s intriguing to say the least)
3. Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up by Patricia Madson (plan to pick this up, if you’ve read this, let me know your thoughts….)
Book(s) I Actually Read
1. Still Foolin Em by Billy Crystal
You may remember Crystal from film (City Slickers or When Harry Met Sally) or from comedy sketches on television or from hosting the Oscars and for me, I simply enjoy when books are a relief and as good as any sitcom. Crystal’s book is hilarious, at times moving, and always interesting. His previous book entitled 700 Sundays was entertaining, but for different reasons and the fact that he’s been highly successful, consistently in the public eye, yet he’s been married to the same woman for nearly 4 decades which is impressive and fresh air. If you on the road a lot, the audio version won an award for best audio performance last year.
2. King Rules by Alveda King
I grew up a small town boy in rural Illinois, 90 minutes west of Chicago. We were a predominantly white, Dutch farming community that isn’t the same neighborhood that Martin Luther King Jr.’s family occupied, nevertheless, the recent book by MLK’s niece, Alveda, reminded me of my childhood. King takes the reader in to the world of the Civil Rights Movement from a different angle, namely through the family life of MLK. The book is divided in to 10 chapters representing 10 rules that encompass a history of the King family legacy as well as admonitions to live by.
King Rules include “Get a Good Education”, “Work for Peace,” and “Fight for Justice”. Conservatives will enjoy the traditional view of family revealed in the first few chapters; progressives will get excited about the chapters dealing with community, justice, and peace. Alveda King, then appeals to a wide audience and frankly it’s at times fascinating insight in to an extraordinary time period and an enduring civil rights figure. Sharp commentary intersects with solid storytelling.
“…successful people forskaing the communities that fostered them to move in to more desirable neighborhoods…Whenever inner city entrepreneurs decide to take their money uptown, they leave a hole in the community….”(p. 109)
Doesn’t that spark a conversation inside you? On pages 134-142, we are re-introduced to MLK’s six principles of non-violence which are not only timely in a violent world, but virtually timeless in a 24/7 internet world. What happens if social media embraces language that “seeks reconciliation, not the defeat of an adversary”?
Overall, this is a compelling read, with little treats like the King familiy tree chart, a little section near the end entitled “If Uncle ML Could Tweet” and others. It’s openly Christian and openly challenging. It’s not a difficult read, but it’s not easy either–meaning this: King Rules reminds us that values do matter and who we are will impact those around us, beginning in the home and then moving outward.
Some people will want to criticize some elements of the book because it does set up the King family as an example. And perhaps, that’s the glaring weakness of the book. Is the book full of wise words? Yes. Is it because the King family did things so well? I am not sure. But, frankly, I don’t see that as the main point. The main point is that we can learn things from the lives of great men and MLK was a great, gifted, fallible, imperfect, beautiful man.
This is worth picking up. In fact, read this and then read MLK’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail and you may just be stirred to act on a few things.
(Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 )