Non-Fiction Round Up

I’ve been reading quite a bit of non-fiction over the past few months, so I thought I’d share some of the more interesting titles along with a short review of each. I try to read both in and out of my comfort zone so I get information from all viewpoints.

Confessions of A Secular Jesus Follower
by Tom Krattenmaker

Tom Krattenmaker is a USA Today columnist on religion whose writings have appeared in many publications. In this book, he shares how one can follow the teachings of Jesus without confessions_jesusprofessing to be a born-again Christian.  I was pretty fascinated by this book. As a life-long conservative Christian, it was hard to wrap my brain around the concept of a secular Jesus follower. The author is very clear that he follows the teachings and examples Jesus set forth in His time on earth but he rejects the notion of salvation or heaven/hell.

While I think it’s commendable that he’s choosing to live his life the way Jesus taught, I feel he misses the point of Christianity all together. We’re saved by grace and have a sin nature so even if we try to lead a perfect life, we can’t. Which is why not everyone will simply do good because they can – without Jesus as our Savior, evil and sin creeps in causing all that is bad in this world.  Still, this was a really interesting read and very thought provoking. It sparks a little bit of a challenge to Christians and non-Christians to live more compassionate lives.

The Happiness Effect: How Social Media is Driving A Generation to Appear Perfect at Any Cost
by Donna Freitas61gcHkEepOL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Social media is meant to connect us to each other, especially when families and friends live hundreds of miles apart and friends. While it’s a great tool for keeping in touch, it’s also turning us in to narcissists, bullies and liars.

In this book, Freitas  interviews over 200 students and it’s mostly essays on how social media is affecting them. While the book was interesting, it wasn’t quite what I expected. Maybe it’s because I’m in the generation that uses Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter constantly but I didn’t find out anything that shocking. I would definitely recommend it as a source for a research paper and others who might be interested in how social media is affection our youth’s culture and perception of the world around them.

Women Who Work
by Ivanka Trump

51kauwY0hJL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_ A guide for women starting out in their careers with the intention of equipping the reader with the best tools and advice on how to navigate interviews, shifting careers, taking on leadership roles and balancing family and work.

The good: there is some worthwhile advice here for young women starting out in their careers although I doubt most people will get past the Trump name and actually give it an unbiased read.

The bad: Ivanka was born in to privilege. That’s not to say she doesn’t work hard but she definitely has had an advantage over most people. Also, she relies way to heavily on quotes and thoughts from other people to flesh out the content, which I feel is lazy writing.

The verdict: not terrible but there are better reading options out there, like…

#GirlBoss
by Sophia Amoruso

A self-made entrepreneur, Sophia Amoruso went from sketchy teen to successful owner18667945._UY475_SS475_ of the online Vintage shop Nasty Gal. I especially LOVED the fact that right off the bat, she states #GirlBoss is not feminist manifesto and opens with:

“Is 2014 a new era of feminism where we don’t have to talk about it? I don’t know, but I want to pretend it is. I’m not going to lie — it’s insulting to be praised for being a woman with no college degree. But then, I’m aware that this is also to my advantage: I can show up to a meeting and blow people away just by being my street-educated self. I, along with countless other #GIRLBOSSes who are profiled in this book, girls who are reading this book, and the girls who are yet to become a #GIRLBOSS will not do it by whining — but by fighting. You don’t get taken seriously by asking someone to take you seriously. You’ve got to show up and own it. If this is a man’s world, who cares? I’m still really glad to be a girl in it.”

AMEN. I get so tired of today’s whiny feminists. I’ll admit, if it hadn’t been for the Netflix show that I randomly decided to watch, I probably wouldn’t have picked this title up, but I found it to be funny, truthful and pleasantly surprising.

Daring to Drive 

by Manal Al-Sharif

In 2011, Manal Al-Sharif filmed a video of herself driving a car down the streets of Saudi Arabia. Even though there are no laws existing stating women can’t drive, it’s culturally unaccept51DTuKgAgeL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_able for women to do so. Her video went viral, she was arrested for “driving while female” and so began her path to activism.

Al-Sharif’s paints a very real picture of what it’s like for a woman to live in an Islamic country. The book is heartbreaking at times – her parents (and later her husband) beat her and both she and her sister are child victims of genital mutilation.  For a time, she embraces Islamic extremism until 9/11 happens and she begins to question how that strain of her religion could carryout such a horrific act.

An inspiring and eye opening memoir that will challenge and enlighten readers. I highly recommend this title for anyone seeking to understand Islamic culture and Women’s rights abroad.