Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is insanely long, and worth every moment you spend with it. I've been inspired, intrigued, and downright glued to this book for the last 6 months. I knew the basics about Washington when I began, but had very little idea about his character or long chain of monumental achievements.
Chernow does an very thorough job capturing the nature of a complex and iconic figure. I felt I came to begin to understand the man and the mystery he exudes. I thought the complexities of slavery, partisan politics, relationships, and many other large parts of Washington's life were handled in a way that did not pass judgement on our first president.
This book is very long, and isn't for the casual reader. However, if you have any desire to better understand the origin of the United States of America then you really should invest the time and give this book a shot.
Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus by Kyle Idleman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book gave me lots of opportunities to reflect on my faith, character, and relationship with God. Probably more than anything, Kyle's blunt and clear invitation to self examine in the context of "fans" and "followers" provided for me some of the best articulation of the balance between believing and following. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I have often been accused by other Christians that I am living a works-based lifestyle. After reading this book I was encouraged that there are other Christians who see more to following Christ than simply professing faith in Him.
Kyle's continuous analogy of relations between husband and wife to our personal relationship with Jesus elucidated some excellent points. Faithfulness, giving all of ourselves, serving out of love rather than guilt or fear, coming to KNOW, and forgetting yourself, to name just a few. The tone of the book is direct and invites somewhat difficult yet important questions.
The path of discipleship has never been easy or comfortable. The author uses stories and moments of the Bible in a very helpful way that reveals the different characteristics of fans and followers. These scriptural accounts reminded me of what Joseph Smith once said, "A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation." Obviously Jesus said it best with His simple, "Come follow Me."
It is very refreshing to read a work like this that is willing to explore and discuss the more difficult and challenging aspects of being a true follower of Jesus Christ. I feel I can be better after reading this book, and in my mind that is well worth the read.
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I am a graduate student in Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University. I enjoy writing, hiking, and spending time with my family.