The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The Little PrinceThe Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can’t believe that I have never read this before. “The Little Prince” was brought to my attention when I read “What if?”. When I mentioned “The Little Prince” to Deb she said she read it when she was young and remember loving it.

Well I’ve read it and she (Deb) has reread it and we both absolutely love it. The story is about a little prince that leaves his small planet and the people he meets on his journey. “The Little Prince” is a parable that teaches us what is truly important in life, to be attentive not only to the things we love but also to the problems in our lives.

I’m happy that I read this when I was older (and Deb is happy she reread it). Even though I think this is a good book for children I also think that like youth it is wasted on the young.

One of the few books I recommend reading over and over through the stages of ones life.

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What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical QuestionsWhat If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was one of my favorite reads of the year. Humor was the fabric that his book was written on. Every question and answer was interesting and entertaining, I found myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion.

This book has the ability to make science (and math) interesting and fun. Randall Munroe does a great job of explaining the answers using the science and math in a way that anyone can understand.

I would recommend this book to anyone especially young teens.

As mush as I enjoyed this book there is one story I would like to hear. The story about a NASA Roboticist (Randall Munroe) telling his friends and family that he is going to become an internet cartoonist, you know drawing stick figures and stuff… (after reading the book and visiting his internet cartoons site, I think he did the right thing).

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The Quarry by Iain Banks

The QuarryThe Quarry by Iain Banks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With Iain Banks being my favorite writer, this being his last book, and the circumstances (Banks finding out he was dying of cancer after he wrote the book). “The Quarry” holds a little more meaning for me than most books I have read. On the Surface “The Quarry” is about a man dying of Cancer and one last weekend spent with his friends. For me the story is about more than dealing with dying it’s also about the living and life going on. All the character in “The Quarry” are complex and real. Most are not likable and all are flawed. Guy (the one dying) sort of blackmails his friends to visit him by mentioning an old video that would be embarrassing to all, he mentions they might want to look for it before he dies. The story is mainly told through Guy’s adult son/caregiver who is slightly autistic or has asperger’s syndrome. A point of view that allows you to see the situation from both the inside and the outside. The story from the inside is about his dad dying and what it’s like to deal with it up close and personal, the outside is watching how his dad’s friends (several are “A” holes) deal with it and with each other. I liked “The Quarry” a lot and really enjoy the depth of the characters and their flaws.

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Blue Horses: Poems by Mary Oliver

Blue Horses: PoemsBlue Horses: Poems by Mary Oliver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I won this book as a “first reads” from Goodreads. This is also the first book by Mary Oliver that I have read, but it won’t be the last. The poems in “Blue Horses” are short, sweet and have a Zen like feel of mindfulness. As a reader I was able to feel and experience her connection with nature, the beauty, and peace that surrounds her. After I read the last poem I did something that I had never done before, I didn’t close the book I just turned back to the beginning and began again. I shared the book with my wife and she loved it as much as I did, now we both are looking forward to reading more of Mary Oliver’s work.

If there is a negative to “Blue Horses” it is that it is too short (less than 100 pages). Recommend to anyone who likes poetry or would like to start reading poetry.

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All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot SeeAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An orphaned German boy and a blind French girl, whose lives are on a collision course during World War 2. “All The Light We Cannot See” is a lengthy (over 500 pages) but fast read. Once I started reading it I couldn’t put it down. The writing is exceptional and the story is beautiful. A couple small fragments of the story were predictable but, it did not matter because the path of the story more than made up for the one or two things I had figured out before I got to it. There is so much about this book to love. I especially loved where the title came from and what it means (straight up and metaphorically) and I also loved how the ending of the book she was reading (20,000 Leagues Under The Sea) related to the end of “All The Light We Cannot See”. Well done from the beginning to the end.

There is some darkness to the story (violence, cruelty, and death) but it is a story that took place during World War 2. I would still recommend this book to everyone YA and older.

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Peace Is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh

Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday LifePeace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thích Nhất Hạnh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wonderful read, wish I had read it long ago. “Peace In Every Step” gives you the building blocks to finding peace, mindfulness, and making the world a better place for everyone. It all starts with conscious breathing and a smile, it’s that easy. Every step after is just as easy, the only catch is that you have to practice the steps.

I’m not a Buddhist and even after reading this wonderful book I have no desire to become one. However, I feel that no matter what religion or spirituality you follow or don’t follow, this book is worth the read. And that everyone that does read it will be closer to peace, more mindful and a little more enlightened.

I am not one for mandatory reading lists but if I ever made such a list “Peace In Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh would not only be on that list but it would be towards the top of that list.

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The Way of Chuang Tzu by Zhuangzi, Thomas Merton (translator)

The Way of Chuang TzuThe Way of Chuang Tzu by Zhuangzi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After finishing and enjoying “Chuang Tzu: Basic Writings” I was still hungry for more Taoist writings. “The Way of Chuang Tzu” satisfied that hunger. It has many more “poems” and stories to help direct the reader towards the Tao. There was some overlap in stories between the two books but I feel that both should be read. Again I was all ready familiar with many of the stories but they are stories worth reading again and reading them from the original source. Some of my favorite stories are: Flight from the shadow, The useless, True man, and Chuang Tzu’s funeral. If you are interested in Tao, Zen, Buddhism or just looking to explore alternative ways of thinking this book has something for you. A great book to read and read again.

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