Book Review: The Physics of Everyday Things by James Kakalios

Have you every wondered what made your toast spring out of your toaster at the right time? What about the timer on your coffee pot, or the clock inside of your smartphone? Maybe you think about it often, maybe not much at all. For the curious mind and casual reader alike, The Physics of Everyday Things is an examination of physics, but for those of us who are less-than-physics savvy. Highly recommended for those who want to know how the world works, but don’t know quite where to start.

 

Book Review: Approval Junkie by Faith Salie

What’s the wildest thing you’ve done to win approval? Go without eating? Wear less makeup? Undergo an exorcism?

If you’re anything like Faith Salie, of NPR’s Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me and author of Approval Junkie, you’ll relate well to this hilariously serious collection of essays. Salie spent most of her life wanting to please others, and ultimately, herself. She talks about winning her high school’s beauty pageant and the meticulous planning it took to snag the crown, Aqua Net hair and all. Or, baking a cake: She could just go buy one, but did she? Hell no. That’s the price you pay to win approval.

Or, perhaps you’ve spent your years wanting the approval of a spouse. Faith surely did. She abided by her ex-husband’s (known as WASBAND) bizarre rules and wishes. Throughout the pages of Approval Junkie, you’ll find similarities with your own life: especially if you are a woman.

Approval Junkie is highly recommended for those who have done just about anything for a gold star or a comforting word.¬† You’ll find that ultimately, the only person you have to please is yourself.

Lola: A Review

Lola by Melissa Scrivner Love is a journey to a world that few of us will ever know. In the heart of Los Angeles, gangs rule portions of the city. With drugs, crime, and family ties deeply entrenched, Love takes us into the mind of the titular character: Lola. Described as a loyal girlfriend of a drug lord, Lola is the picture of a typical girl. She supports her boyfriend in the Crenshaw Six, and plays the role wonderfully. However, what many do not know is that Lola is the leader of the gang, and the boys are merely her backup. Lola is a story for those who crave difference and suspense.

Book Review: Human Acts by Han Kang

From the author of The Vegetarian, Han Kang’s Human Acts is a riveting tale of one young boy: Dong-ho. Killed in the riots in 1980s South Korea, Dong-ho’s life echoes between the lives of a prisoner, journalist, and his own mother. We hear from a corpse searching for his friend, a journalist hoping to avoid censorship, and a factor worker desperately seeking justice. For anyone interested in rising stories and intertwined lives, Human Acts is a must read.

 

Book Review – Love, Henri: Letters on a Spiritual Life by Henri J.M. Nouwen

If you’ve studied religion in any capacity, odds are you have heard of Dutch-born Catholic priest, Henri Nouwen. With Gabrielle Earnshaw as editor, Nouwen’s letters come to life as though he had written them yesterday.

Dealing with issues such as faith, loss, and a range of human emotion, Henri’s letters are uniquely touching. As a priest and monastic, Henri was well in-tuned to the struggle of life of those outside of the church’s walls. He writes letters to families whose children have passed away and a letter to a man trying to reconcile with his son and girlfriend. For any stage of life, it seems that Nouwen wrote a letter.

I highlight suggest Love, Henri for those who are new to religion, old adherents, and those who love to peek at the personal.

Book Review: A Call to Mercy by Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa: Her name is common in our households, whether you are Catholic, Protestant, religious, or non-religious. Her acts of kindness and mercy among the poorest of poor in Calcutta and beyond have resonated with our hearts and minds for decades. In A Call to Mercy, Mother Teresa’s acts of kindness are highlighted and put into a practical aspect for the common reader.

A Call to Mercy is not just autobiographical, however. There are accounts of those who worked with Mother Teresa in India and beyond. Within the pages, there are stories of those who worked in London, New York, Haiti, and South America among society’s most rejected beings. However, the book does not shy away from the hate and anger that was sometimes directed at Mother Teresa. For example, when Christopher Hitchens published¬†Hell’s Angel, a derogatory documentary about Mother’s work, Teresa simply said she would pray for and love Hitchens.

Finally, each chapter coincides with a work of mercy that all Christians can participate in. Readers are encouraged to forgive wrongdoings, bury the dead, pray for their brothers and sisters, and to educate the ignorant. These are but a few of the works of mercy highlighted in the book, and with each work, we are given the writings of Mother Teresa and a devotional thought and prayer.

For those who want to do more in the world around them, but may not be able to move to the most destitute places, A Call to Mercy is a wonderful start. The book simply calls Christians to do as Jesus would do, in whatever place or situation they may be. Highly recommended for faith-based readers and casual inquirers alike.

Book Review – Life of the Party: The Remarkable Story of How Brownie Wise Built, and Lost, a Tupperware Party Empire by Bob Kealing

Tupperware. It’s an American household name that has spawned parties and the eternal question: “Where’s my Tupperware seal?!” Though a popular brand with a cult-like following, few Americans actually know the history of Tupperware, it’s popular party sales technique, and of Brownie Wise – the woman who brought party sales into our national mindset. For fans of Americana and product history, Life of the Party is an excellent read.

In addition to digging into the beginnings of Tupperware and party sales, Kealing focuses most of the book’s energy on Brownie Wise. A young divorcee with a son to support, Wise took to selling Tupperware in a home-party medium that caught the attention of Tupperware founder, Earl Tupper. From there, Wise and Tupper formed a strong, but often strained relationship, in order to build the plastic empire.

Perhaps one of the strongest aspects of the book arrived at the end: Kealing notes that Brownie never considered herself a feminist. She knew she had to work to support her son, and she went out and did it. Wise created a path for many women after her in the Tupperware business (this reviewer included), but also in the field of business.

Highly recommended, Life of the Party is a read for both men and women who want to make a change, but also desire to understand how the personal and business aspects of life often intertwine.