Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Reason and faith can coexist ... Right?

I'm no Bill Maher. I don't describe myself as atheist, and I don't demean people who are religious.

However, I also believe that logic should be thrown out the window with spiritual beliefs. I believe that reason and spirituality can reconcile themselves, and I can accept some spiritual beliefs.

In the West, a lot of spirituality is called "Jesus," and in the East, there are various terms, including "Buddha."

Enter Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion (2006). The basis for the title is quote from Robert Pirsig (author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance), who said, "When one person suffers from a delusion, it's called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion, it is called religion."

As an 8-year-old in Catholic school, I remember being a curious whippersnapper and asking constant questions about religious rules and dogma. Even at that age, I concluded that a lot of this stuff made no logical sense. Some people told me, "You have to have faith," but my gut told me that answer wasn't good enough. It isn't.

The God Delusion does an in-depth and thoughtful exploration of many things illogical in conventional beliefs of God. I know that atheists love the book because it supports their no-God conclusion. However, I think it's a good book for everybody because it can open eyes to illogical premises in beliefs and it shows that people who don't believe in God can have perfectly fulfilling and moral lives.
I do not identify myself as an atheist. I'm not a fan of that for myself because it would define myself with nothing, and to me, that is not good enough. If forced to say exactly what I am, I guess I would say "a humanist embracing spirituality."

If the word "spirituality" need to be replaced by "Jesus" or something else, I don't really have a problem with that. However, I do have a problem with using religion or God or spirituality as a way to divide people as opposed to bringing them together.

That's why I'm not a fan of atheists who believe they are right and that's all there is to it. The history of religion and spirituality is convoluted and complicated. Yes, indeed, there have been numerous massacres in the name of God. I do understand the argument that worse things have happened to humanity because of organized religion than positive things.

Richard Dawkins is unapologetic and unsympathetic about his non-beliefs of God, but I'm not that way because I see how many people are in different places with their faith and education. I like to think I understand them, and it's not my job to change them.

On a personal level, I'm happy to have soaked in The God Delusion and got a lot out of it. But that was more than 10 years ago. I am wondering for self-proclaimed atheists who say religion is outdated, is it possible that defining one's self as an atheist too is outdated?

The irony of recommending The God Delusion is that I imagine many religious or spiritual people would dismiss is, or be too threatened by the book. I hope that I'm wrong and everyone can read this important book.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Eat real food

As simple and fundamental as it sounds, the best advice I could give anyone on how to have a better life is this: Eat real food.

I am fascinated by our country, economics, the food industry and marketing. I remember, back in the day, where the alleged normal reaction from children would be: "Ew, vegetables, yuk. I don't want my vegetables!"

Ha! What wild marketing! ... Well, a lot of the veggies we'd get would be canned grossness, so I can kind of see that reaction. The food industry has been similar to the cigarette industry for decades, and when I realized this, my life and health became exponentially better.

Michael Pollan's enormously popular and significant book Omnivore's Dilemma (2006) could be the No. 1 book I recommend of 100 Nonfiction Books I Recommend. I deliberately put it in the personal-growth category because to me, the first step in self-improvement is to be physically healthy. Sadly, many Americans just can't get there because they have diets that include Dr. Pepper, Taco Bell, Lean Cuisine meals and bull crap.

I must say that my upgrading of food has been a work in progress, but it is so much better than 10 years ago. Cutting down on processed food was the first step, and when I shop, staying as much as possible on the outer ring of the grocery store where the food is real is crucial. Fresh vegetables and fruit, less meat, less empty carbs — that's been the key to my improved diet.
Beware of marketing! That's why The Omnivore's Dilemma is such a seminal work. It cuts through the b.s., does not obfuscate and speaks to me. So-called "healthy" processed foods have become a ginormous industry, and quite frankly, they are not healthy. They have major amounts of sodium and sugars, and while they might be perceived as convenient, it is far healthier to eat unprocessed food.

Pollan makes an appearance 2014 documentary Fed Up, and I recommend that movie, too. For many Americans, they rely on fast food, processed food, packaged food and pre-made stuff. That food has contributed to a skyrocketing of obesity and unhealthy bodies.

When we look at the dysfunctional health care issues and many of societal ills, it is more than feasible that a lot of the problems stem from diet. I will never be able to justify the abundance of Cheetos, pizza, French fries and sugary drinks on school campuses. The best word to describe the Frankenfood I see at schools is mortifying.

One shred of hope is that each generation appears to improve its diet. But here's the catch. It's for those who are educated in the subject. I'm hopeful that more and more people become educated about diet, understand that the four basic food groups was a marketing scheme and at least read The Omnivore's Dilemma.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Non-conformists unite with their art

As much as I've tried to conform to, uh, anything, I realize that I'm a non-conformist by nature. In the fabric of myself, I understand that being different, not conforming, is a positive thing. I am me, and that's how it is.

Heck, back in the '90s, glorious Arby's had the slogan "Different is good." If that phrase works for a fast-food restaurant of roast beef and horsey sauce, then it works for me. Nowadays, I am unsure what to make of Arby's new motto: "We have the meats!"

Whatever the case, I responded to Chris Guillebeau's The Art of Non-Conformity (2010) because the book gave me license to embrace my non-conformist ways and open my eyes more to unspoken assumptions that are made all of the time.

One major point to Guillebeau's book is that we should embrace life as a constant adventure. I couldn't agree more, and the book helped me see that we have a lot of power to live the adventure of our choosing.

As a Gen Xer growing up, I had it in my mind that I was supposed to go to college, then make a living ASAP. I did that. Was that really my best life in my 20s?

The good news is that I was a newspaper journalist, and adventure is a part of that gig. However, I had it in my mind that I needed to have a steady job, health insurance and do something that others would see as "respectable." All of those notions might have limited me.
Guillebeau has traveled to all 193 countries in the world. He appears to be living the life of his choosing, and I'm inspired by that. I wonder how many people actually live the life they want. Instead, I bet they often live the life they think they should, or they live the life they think their parents want.

Guillebeau promotes radical goal setting, and I like that — within reason. Too often people shoot too low with their goals, and while modesty can be a good trait, it sometimes kills risk-taking and hinders success. If a risk weren't taken with a goal, is it really a success?

Over the past few years, Guillebeau has focused on creative self-employment. He has another book coming out soon called 100 Side Hustles, and it focuses on creative ways to make money while keeping your day job.

I wonder how many of us are conformists vs. non-conformists. What do we strive for? I've dabbled in conformity, now and again, and it just feels forced. I must say it was freeing for me to accept the fact that in many ways, I am hindered by my non-conformist ways. Or am I freed?

Friday, August 16, 2019

Boy, go get a book at Target

A month after I read Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis, I was at my big-box store of choice — Target — by the check-out lines. And... holy mackerel!

There was a cardboard cutout of Hollis and a display hyping her book. The fact that this marketing could exist in the modern day gave me some sort of hope for nonfiction books.

Girl, Wash Your Face is in the genre I love and is an excellent book that can help a lot of people. Each chapter is named after a lie she would tell herself, and maybe we share that lie. Then, she would offer truisms and actionable solutions to move forward.

Similar to You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero, I have basically the same two critiques. No. 1: The audience is obviously more for women. No. 2: I couldn't relate to some of the lies, and a few chapters just didn't affect me.

However, some of the chapters did, especially in the beginning of the book. The book kicks off with chapters "Something else will make me happy," "I'll start tomorrow" and "I'm not good enough." To me, these are universal personal-growth basics that everyone should follow. But soon, the book goes into more female-focused growth, and, well, it turns out I'm a total dude.
I am such a dude, in fact, that I made sure to suggest Hollis' 30-day challenge to my wife. Hollis' involved her husband, and perhaps you can infer what it is. We have not embarked on it yet, but that does not mean I won't bring it up time to time.

Overall, I do believe that Hollis is an inspirational figure. However, here is another author in 100 Nonfiction Books I Recommend that is huge in other arenas. She has 1.5 million Instagram followers, a popular Podcast, and I continually wonder how important her books are, compared to her other endeavors.

Because Girl, Wash Your Face has sold 3.5 million copies, I conclude that her books are indeed a big deal. But her path should be a lesson to all would-be authors, that it is foolish to think books just sell themselves. She is busting herself in motivational speaking and other media, and she must have an excellent team in place.

Perhaps another title for one of her chapters named by lies could be "We can go at it alone."

Thursday, August 15, 2019

You are a badass, no matter what they say

I must confess, that I aspire to be the "teacher version of Jen Sincero."

She has written a bad-ass series and burst onto the book scene with You Are a Badass (2013). I also must give it up to her team and the cool-ass title and marketing. It's one thing to write personal-growth books, but it's another to sell more than 5 million copies.

What I like most about You Are a Badass is how the information is presented. Because I was well-versed in the personal-growth genre by the time I read Badass, I didn't have many "a-ha" moments. However, Sincero's messages are true.

The big message I walk away with is that the first step in personal growth is to have sincerely positive thoughts. If it's true that our crazy American culture is full of negativity, constant consumption and marketing, then that is easier said than done. It also may be insincere to have overboard positive thoughts of unicorns and rainbows, so then maybe what works is seeing yourself as a badass. OK. Sounds good.
I do have two minor critiques of You Are a Badass. No. 1 is that the audience likely is more female, but is that really a critique? No. 2 is that for some negative, or self-sabotaging, thoughts mentioned in the book, well, I've never had them.

Perhaps I'm delusional or overly confident, but I've never doubted my greatness. So a lot of the book devoted to potential negativity wasn't that useful for me because I maybe was further along than other readers.

Over the past three years, You are a Badass at Making Money and You a Badass Every Day have been released. In an interview about the money book, Sincero mentioned how she applied personal-growth techniques to money, and I see that as a natural progression.

Just as some people hold themselves back in life and don't give themselves permission to thrive, they also hold themselves back with wealth, too. Why?

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Asking for help is an art

Amanda Palmer used to be one of those human statues outside of museums. She wasn't a panhandler. No, she offered live art. High foot traffic trounced past, and she received enough money from tourists to survive.

In The Art of Asking, Palmer poignantly explains the significance of her nonverbal exchanges as a human statue and how so many people were desperate for just a glimpse of humanity, of connection. She received loose change or a mere dollar or two, and she gave the onlookers an item in return — a small flower.

Palmer's perspective is refreshing and unique. Her views about the importance of art remind me of what my friends and I used to say, and believe, in college. Then, as time progressed, maybe we still felt passionately about art, but it fell to the background of our lives as we conformed to being proper American consumers with our hours being blasted away through day jobs.

I learned a lot about myself through Palmer's 2015 book, and the first thing was that as a Gen Xer, I am sometimes out of it when it comes to what's popular, social media and what's viral. I had not heard of Amanda Palmer before I read her book. She has a popular band, the Dresden Dolls, and has more than 1 million Twitter followers. I had no clue.

Also, a big reason why she's so well-known is that she did a Kickerstarter campaign that raised $1.2 million in 2012 to release a solo album. She has reportedly raised $2.8 million through crowdfunding, and let's face it, a huge reason for the book is that people want to know this: Just how in the world did you do that?
What's kind of refreshing to know is that there is no short cut or get-rich scheme to be a wizard at crowdfunding. Palmer has cultivated a major following. She's networked with major players, and she is a player herself. She's unique, and in an era of cookie-cutter personalities, people respond to her.

I like her, but she receives a lot of hate on the Interwebs. Are these haters just jealous? I say, keep doing what you're doing, Amanda.

One takeaway I had from The Art of Asking was how "asking" is much different than "begging." I'm a firm believer that the world is full of givers and takes. I'm certainly a giver, and I like to think that Amanda Palmer is a giver, too.

She is committed to her music, art, Twitter life and a non-cookie cutter life. When she was giving away flowers as a human statue, well, that's giving. That's not taking. She provided a creative service for others; she has worked for what she has and her popularity.

Another takeaway is that you just can't go at things alone. Nobody would ever get anywhere alone. There would be no roads, no cars, no directions. We are all united, more than we realize, and we might as well embrace that.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Why is money such a taboo?

I avoided reading Tony Robbins for most of my life.

Too popular. Too cheesy. Not arty enough.

It turns out, though, that made a mistake and was missing out. The self-help guru has some inspirational books, and it just took a little humility for me to tap into his mindset and world.

Now, he has taken his self-help empire to the next level. His net worth is estimated at $500 million, and even though he has constantly been building his corporations, I find his points and messages genuine and helpful.

Of all of the Robbins' books out there, I recommend Money: Master the Game (2014) for multiple reasons. No. 1: I am not sure there is a bigger taboo in American culture than money. But a reasonable person might say that race or sex or religion or politics are bigger taboos.

Nah, I don't think so. In my world, talks about money were shrouded, and I believe that's how it is with most Americans. The statistics show that not only do most Americans not talk about money, but their debt and spending habits show that they have no idea what they're doing with their money.
Perhaps I come from a blue-collar world, where our conversations always about the importance of work, not how to build wealth. So I got a lot out of Money. To me, I believe it's safe to say that our most important commodities in modern living are time and money (in that order). Unfortunately, many people don't even know their own behaviors or strategies toward them.

Some basic points underscored in Money are the power of compounding and how the financial industry has changed over the past 40 years. For the average person, the main investments we face now are real estate, retirement accounts and the stock market.

In his book, Robbins interviews the biggest players in the financial industry, and those interviews are fascinating and telling. I learned that the lay person can have a solid understanding of how the financial world works and so-called experts don't really know much more than the educated lay person.

At the bare minimum, Robbins got me to look at the fees associated to my retirement accounts and investments and helped me realize that "managed" accounts are kind of a joke. I moved my stuff to thoughtfully selected, low-fee index funds on Ameritrade, and those are performing way better than with my previous b.s. managed account.

But the bigger message aren't those details. Rather, it contains some basic mantras, such as "it's not what you make; it's what you keep." Another one is, obviously, to be debt-free as soon as possible, and to know the difference between money and wealth. Money is what buys stuff. Wealth is what occurs when our money is working for us.

There is no shame in becoming wealthy. I suggest we all figure out how to do it, and wealth is not guaranteed with merely having a high-paying job.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Who gives a f***?

When everybody and their cousin liked Pearl Jam back in 1992, I didn't want to like the band. Too mainstream. Too popular. Not for me.

But darn it, I'll admit that I ended up liking "Even Flow" and "Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town."

I feel similarly toward Mark Manson and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. The book was too popular for me to like. Right? If so many people think something's cool, it's no longer cool. Right?

Well, well, I ended up gobbling up The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and felt that Manson brought an excellent, fun straight-talking tone to popular self-help topics. I loved the book.

Various personal-growth themes frequently come up for anybody who's dabbled in the genre. The strength of Manson's book is that it refuses to be overly optimistic or even cheery about the difficulty of self-change.
Another strength is that he focuses on the cognitive side of personal growth, and that's how I see it. Nearly all of our pressing problems are in our heads, and the inability to recognize that holds most of the masses back. I believe the best way to change our thoughts is to change our actions, then the thoughts will follow suit.

Manson eventually takes the book to another level when he shares a personal tragedy that occurred in his life, and by doing that, the book has much more weight than just a cool guy spouting advice in a cool way. Suffering is a part of life, and we all must learn how to deal with that. I also respond to one of his points about failing forward.

In a way, the title The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is misleading because Manson does care about his life and others — so much so, he is committed to a life on the subject. However, most people pick the wrong things to give a f*** about, and I walked away from the book with a better understanding of the importance of prioritizing and being more strong with being able to tell people "no."

Saturday, August 10, 2019

The first step in growth is mindset

I'm a fan of valuable chitchat. I just don't have time to chitchat about nothing, so if we have a two-minute exchange at the grocery store, I'll do my best to make it meaningful for the both of us.

So when a chit-chatter finds out I'm a teacher, we soon get to where I teach and who I teach, and sometimes that person says something to the effect of "well, it must be hard to teach those smart kids."

Labeling kids as "smart" or being labeled as such doesn't really help anybody, and Carol Dweck's Mindset (2006) is an important read for anyone who feels stuck in life or for anyone who felt the educational system didn't really help.

Our educational system has long glorified the idea of a fixed mindset. You're either smart or you're not, and those traits are not changing. It's a false notion because anyone can get better at anything as long as deliberate practice is enacted.

Understanding and fostering a growth mindset is much more helpful for students and everyone, really. We can all get better at anything if we embrace the challenge, adapt from mistakes and stop being so helpless. At least, that's my definition of growth mindset.
A few years back, I was delighted when my daughters' elementary school focused on growth mindset as the year's goal. Videos even were sent to the parents, and I couldn't think of a more refreshing thing to do.

A growth mindset could be applied to any aspect of our life, and it helps us not only achieve but live a fuller life. I see far too frequently that what holds individuals back in life usually is themselves and their ideas of themselves. When those ideas become healthier and positive, so does the individual.

In the school system, we have long been victims of unhealthy fixed thinking and foolish rankings. Heck, kids and schools still do it today as they compare grades, test scores and schools that still rank the kids.

In Dweck's public school in Brooklyn, the children sat in order of perceived IQ, as determined by a test, and certain kids had additional responsibilities because of their seats. Ridiculous!

I might want to go off about Howard Gardner's multiple intelligences and the silliness of IQ tests, but instead, I'll just say that I consider Mindset a necessary read for those interested in bettering themselves.

Friday, August 9, 2019

10 parenting books underscore diversity

Voila! That concludes the parenting category for 100 Nonfiction Books I Recommend. So far, 20 books have been recommended, and the last 10 were:

1. How To Raise An Adult (2015) by Julie Lythcott-Haims
2. Nonviolent Communication (2015, third edition) by Marshall Rosenberg
3. How We Love Our Kids (2011) by Milan and Jay Yerkowich
4. The Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys (1995) by Jawanza Kunjufu
5.  iGen (2017) by Jean Twenge
6. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (2011) by Amy Chua
7. Grit (2016) by Angela Duckworth
8. How Children Succeed (2012) by Paul Tough
9. Fraternity (2019) by Alexandra Robbins
10. A Promise to Ourselves (2008) by Alec Baldwin

What I realize based on the array of titles that I love is that parenting is absolutely connected to culture and upbringing. We often mimic our parents with our children, regardless if we realize it or not. Then, the United States is so diverse that various parenting styles exist within it.

I'm no parenting expert, but I am committed to being a better parent each day. The biggest thing I've learned on my journey is that parenting is a two-way street. I learn from my daughters. Maybe they learn from me, but who knows?

We're in an extremely automated world now, in which the mere questions of what it means to be human often are obscured. I'm hoping that having a baby is a wake-up call to parents to understand that human beings are much more fascinating and amazing than any of our creations.

Unfortunately, if those thoughts happen, they may soon fall by the wayside as fresh parents do and make sure to post pictures of their newborns on social media.

Our next category of recommendations is personal growth. And for avid readers of this blog, keep in mind that we don't post on Sundays during this project, but we'll have our first personal growth selection tomorrow. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Divorce advice: Stay out of court!

The year was 2008. I moved out of the house of my wife of seven years with two young girls, and I felt a lot of guilt about it.

I was raised Catholic, so I was extremely good at feeling guilt. I also had outdated views of divorce, such as "death, yes, divorce, no way."

I'm not sure how much other divorcees evolve after their first marriage, but I did. As part of my evolution, Alec Baldwin's A Promise to Ourselves: A Journey Through Fatherhood and Divorce (2008) offered candid truisms of divorce from a man's point of view.

The best advice I could give anyone about divorce is "don't do it!" If the marriage is salvageable, then save the lawyers, save the filings and get that marriage back on track. I say that and multiple it by 10, if there are kids in the marriage.

However, if it's a loveless marriage or if you know that you don't want your kids around your dysfunctional relationship, then divorce could be the right decision. If that happens to be the path, the next advice is "stay out of the courts!"

I knew going into my divorce that lawyers and the courts are a money drain — and probably an emotional drain as well. I settled with my ex out of court, received 50/50 visitation and custody and had a fair settlement. She kept the house. I will pay child support until my daughters are 18.

Honestly, that's about as good as a man can do with the courts. Thank God that my ex and I had the presence of mind not to go down the path of court dates because even when facing the pain and emotions of a divorce, we undoubtedly settled way better than with the court system.

Baldwin's book, written with Mark Tabb, is an indictment of the family law system and how the laws are stacked against men. He speaks the truth.
If a woman elects to, she can have a contentious divorce, ask for more money or more time, and the only thing a man can do is lawyer up as well and battle it out in court. Divorces can get UGLY, and Baldwin and Kim Basinger's certainly was that.

Another important thing Baldwin brings up is parental alienation syndrome, AKA P.A.S. This is the malady in which one parent, usually the man, is isolated from the kids and the other party feeds hatred toward the one isolated.

In my life, I made up my mind a long time ago that I would only talk positively about my ex, the girls' mom. It is OK to have two houses, to be loved by many people from many angles, and in my situation, the two houses work pretty well.

Women have long gotten screwed by deadbeat dads and womanizers, so it kind of makes sense that the law is weighted in favor of the ladies. That's excellent news when dealing with a scumbag man. The bad news is that for good, loving fathers, the system is against them as well.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

'Fraternity' explores modern-day masculinity

As a master of sweeping generalizations, I believe boys are struggling more than girls nowadays. I base that assessment on what I see at my high school and actual data.

At my high school, boys' emotional, social and academic skills lag behind the girls. Now, people tell me this has always been the case. But I argue that more than ever, American males are struggling because they are much more prone to video-game and opioid addition.

The telling statistic that boys also are lagging is that for the first time ever, the life expectancy for the American male went down this year. That statistic is attributed to drug-related deaths and suicide. Yowsers!

Enter Fraternity: An Inside Look at at Year of College Boys Becoming Men by Alexandra Robbins. The book came out earlier this year, and I was most fascinated with a much under-examined topic: masculinity.

Fraternities perpetuate displays of masculinity that young men do, even though many of them don't want to do it. They over-drink, talk about women like they're objects and show off to their "brothers."

One strength of Fraternity is Robbins' blend of narrative and research. She follows two fraternity brothers for a year, but then, she does some hard-core research on themes that come up. That's where masculinity comes in.
Why is drinking considered manly? Why are sexual conquests considered that? While I must say that there can be healthy aspects to fraternities, including close relationships, friendships and understanding, I believe much of their Greek-party stuff is out of date. For her part, Robbins created a balanced book, which also shows some positive parts of fraternity life.

For me, personally, I never was into the Greek life. I never pledged at my beloved Ohio State, but I did attend a few parties at frats and sororities. They tended to be ragers.

The movie Animal House came out in 1978, and then Revenge of the Nerds came out in 1984. Thirty-five years later, I believe it's safe to say that those movies are outdated and perpetuate unhealthy and/or shocking Greek life gone wrong. I still can't believe there is, in essence, a rape scene in the nerd movie and another scene in which they record sorority girls nude. That's completely unacceptable. Right?

I feel a sense of hope. Since Robbins is covering some underreported material, including masculinity and what causes a sense of belonging, I believe that boys, more now than ever, have the opportunity to grow into the best versions of themselves, not just what gets attention from others around them.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Tough lessons on what children actually need

An age-old song and dance ping-pongs back and forth between parents and schools.

"Why aren't the schools doing enough?"

"Why aren't the parents doing enough?"

I bring this up because I find that parenting and teaching are one of the same, and I had to destroy notions of what I thought each was in order to be the best parent and teacher I can be.

Paul Tough's 2012 book How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character belongs in the parenting category of books I recommend, not the education one. The reason why is that parents need to know that academic success hardly means anything in schools or the real world nowadays.

Now, a reasonable person might say, "Doesn't academic success matter with getting into college?"

My answer: "Not really."

The reason why is it's a given that a student applying to a good or prestigious university will have academic success. When it comes to elite universities, it's practically impossible to distinguish one's self by academic success alone. It's a given in today's climate.

So back in 2012, Tough put together a book with an excellent thesis, and he wrote a readerly take on the key attributes that have data behind them that make students successful. The main two qualities are grit, which Angela Duckworth also covered, and curiosity.
Or course, a looming question is what is "success." Some people subscribe money to success or maybe status. What they're really doing is playing off the idea of "making my parents proud."

But is that really success, and does that really go anywhere?

I feel that Tough's take on "success" jibes with mine, mostly because I see adapting to setbacks and seeing the world through constantly curious eyes as crucial for a meaningful existence.

I'm hopeful that parenting and schools are evolving beyond the Industrial Revolution and more focused on developing well-rounded human beings instead of mere workers. The good news is that parents of means typically have that focus, but a lot of parents, rich or poor, never really embraced adulthood perhaps because they never developed the crucial traits in Tough's book.

Monday, August 5, 2019

What's more important an 'A' or grit?

The curriculums of schools are exceptionally important. Nationwide, I'd love to see them updated in public schools, but that is such a daunting task, that I'm not too optimistic about that.

While I don't want to diminish the importance of what kids learn, I want to stress the importance of how they learn. I believe the key to education is to develop traits, more so than conventional classes.

So Angela Duckworth's 2016 book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance could have been in the education or personal growth part of this project. But I'm putting it in the parenting category because grit is arguably the most important trait any child can develop.

I define grit as courage or resolve in the face of adversity. I add on, that my understanding of grit is not only to "roll with the punches," but to embrace the punches. "Hey, Ray, I never went down, man! You never got me down, Ray! You hear me, you never got me down."
Another reason why Grit is in the parenting category is that you can't bank on it being learned in school. Explicit character instruction is either superficial or devolves into cliche. Grit could be learned implicitly, but I think there are more teachable moments at home.

"In the real world," as we Gen Xers like to say, "things don't always go your way." With the advent of personal technology and personalized entertainment, children need to understand that things "in the real world" don't revolve around them and that they need to know how to adapt to this.

We can't succeed unless we risk failure, and the more we fail, the more that may show that we're risk-taking and developing grit. As a Cleveland sports fan, I would say that my entire city is full of grit. Or maybe I'm just full of sh--!

Saturday, August 3, 2019

We can all glean ideas from tiger moms

When Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother came out in 2011, it caused quite a stir. However, upon reading it for myself, I realized that the book was misinterpreted. At least, I felt that way.

Amy Chua's "tiger mom" book does not portray her as an over-the-edge, strive-at-any-cost mom. Not really. It is, like its title says, an anthem for moms like her. I walked away from the book, thinking that I needed to push my kids more at times and not be so gosh darn permissive.

It's hard for me to think of a book more in my demographic. I teach at a school with an Asian population of about 65 percent. My daughters are half Asian, and Chua's husband is white.

I could relate to a lot of the exchanges between her and husband and the dynamic of having two much different daughters. She does retreat, at times, from traditional Chinese parenting, and I believe a lesson to all is that young parents may not think closely enough about family history and parenting style. Chua obviously does, and I recommend being proactive in looking at the parenting styles of oneself and the spouse.

I venture to say that most parents, especially from different ethnic backgrounds, have to accept the other's style or find a middle ground. In Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, those different styles are on display for the whole world to see, and I appreciate Chua's candor and letting us into her world.
Chua has become a celebrity since the tiger mom book, and I find her 2014 book also interesting, The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America co-written with her husband Jed Rubenfeld. Those three traits are a superiority complex, insecurity and impulse control.

Asians in America have long been described as "the model minority," which is definitely stereotypical, especially considering the vast diversity within the Asian-American community. However, I often do see a superiority complex, insecurity and impulse control with my Asian-American students.

The trait that strikes me as most interesting for success is insecurity. It's likely true, especially for achievers who commit to some type of hard-working life that can be spiritually vacuous. How else can we explain wildly successful attorneys?

Anyway, if you haven't read it yet, check out the tiger mom book. It's also nice to watch how Chua's life and writing career are progressing.

Friday, August 2, 2019

This blog celebrates 10 years!

Ten years ago today, I started this blog. A decade. Man, a lot has happened since then.

The biggest change in my life has got to be with my daughters, who were only 4 and 2 when this project began. Sophie will be entering high school at the end of this month, and Chloe will be in seventh grade.

Wha' happened?

Another MAJOR event in my life was the meeting of Dina in 2014 and our marriage. We celebrate our second wedding anniversary in two days.

This blog has put on display how my writing life has developed. After working for newspapers for 13 years and covering the NBA for seven years, it felt great to create this blog as a homage to Gen X pop culture. Then, my dad, the XMan, unexpectedly passed away in 2011, and I took the blog in a whole different direction.

So that is the major personal stuff in my life. But I bet all of us Gen Xers can sit back and revel in what has happened over the past 10 years to all of us. We went from flip phones to smart phones, got rid of landlines, watched the news cycle change as well as CNN and media, had Trump elected president and much, much more.

Much more happens in 10 years than ever before, and this blog will continue to follow my journey, our journey.

Maybe writing is like a golf swing. There are so many nuances, but it always goes back to the fundamentals. Write what you know. Write what you care about. Writing, and art, enhances life; it doesn't replace it. Let the club do the work.
This past year, I committed more to this blog and for the first time examined its analytics. It has gotten 1.16 million hits in its lifetime, and that averages to 9,500 views per month. Who knew? So there is traffic, even though I have no marketing plan and vow to never take advertising money.

I also committed this summer to doing daily posts and am in the midst of the 100 Nonfiction Books I Recommend. With the additional posts, I expected to see a spike in hits, but, uh, not really. Regardless, I enjoy the project and see value in it, so I'm sticking with it.

Some might say that blogs have become passe, and I've heard many students tell me "nobody reads anymore." Well, I do, and the Snooze Button Generation blog is unique and worthwhile to me — and some readers, too.

So I'm sticking with it. Man, if I make it another 10 years, Sophie and Chloe will be 24 and 22. Who knows what 2029 will look like? I hope my girls enjoy the ride of the next 10 years. I know Dina and I will.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Big Tech creates much different generation

I always thought "Snooze Button Generation" was a better name than "Generation X." But, OK, Snooze Button Generation didn't stick in the mainstream, and I accept that.

However, I think there is hope that "iGen" replaces "Generation Z." Totally better and possible. ... Maybe.

I absolutely love Jean Twenge's opus iGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood. (2017)

Normally, I don't include the subhead to the title of books in this project. However, the stuff after the colon in iGen is so totally awesome that it needs to be there.

In our modern world, it is shocking how quickly things change, and I feel embarrassed for myself and older generations who don't understand the rapid pace of change. As a teacher and father of 14-year-old and 12-year-old girls, I try my best to understand their world, but do I really understand?

In iGen, Dr. Twenge delves into many, many studies and research to synthesize what her kids, my kids and my students are doing. Generation Z, or iGen, will be the least married, least procreating generation in our country's history. I used to have ill-conceived stereotypes of Millennials and Gen Z, and her work uses data to confirm, or deny, many of these notions.
Back in 2008, I had a bizarre notion. "Why don't I get divorced and go teach high school?"

I did that. Somehow, I knew that would be the best move to be the best dad, and best person, that I could be. My premise back in 2008 was to try to truly understand current kids in order to help my parenting. It was a good move.

Of course, each generation is limited with understanding other generations, but I believe we owe it to others of different ages to try our best with understanding their worlds. With iGen, Dr. Twenge uses data to support what I see. This is, indeed, the first generation that had iPhones and iPads from the day they were born. That is a game-changer on various levels, and there are many unintended consequences of this.

Perhaps the irony of parenting is that parents often try to prepare their children for a world the parents had. Unfortunately, kids will be entering a much different world. To me, a good parent works hard to understand the time and place and helps children learn to monitor themselves.

That leads me to screen time. My personal feeling is that Google Chromebooks in classrooms in first grade is far too early. Kids need hands-on learning, and I feel kids should not have devices at home until first grade — or later.

Americans are wild when it comes to parenting. They often put the child in the center of their lives, but that may foster selfishness or self-absorption. Then, a device is handed to the kid at such a young age that emotional and social skills can become secondary to personal technology.

No doubt, it's a tricky time to be a parent or a child, and the power of Big Tech has changed an entire generation. I thank Dr. Twenge for her research and synthesizing the trends of iGen.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

How do we stop destroying black boys?

One of the most painful things that anyone can see has two parts. Part one: Go to any kindergarten classroom with African-American boys. Chances are, the boys will be smiling, engaged and pleasant.

Part two: Four years later, go to those same kids' fourth-grade classroom. It will be a shocker. The kids likely will be disengaged, in explicit or implicit battles with their teachers and often times, hardly passing fourth grade.

What happened here?

The school-to-prison pipeline starts shockingly young with African-American males, and many people and educators remain clueless about this or do nothing about it. It's a reprehensible system, and African-American males are the victims in it.

In Jawanza Kunjufu's Countering the Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys (1995), he candidly examines the systemic killing and controlling of African-Americans in America. One page 1, he quotes Neely Fuller, who stated, "until you understand white supremacy, everything else will confuse you."

Kunjufu then asks several questions, including, "Can you explain how less than 10 percent of the world's population, which is white, own over 70 percent of the world's wealth?"
To understand the impact of slavery, Jim Crow laws, the prison system and their impact on the African-American community likely can't be done with one book. But at least The Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys is a start.

On page 3, Kunjufu quotes Thomas Jefferson, who owned 600 slaves in his lifetime, and wrote "I advanced it, that the blacks are inferior to the whites in the endowments of both body and mind." I wish I were told early on in school that 10 of the first 12 presidents all owned slaves. Only the two Adamses did not.

In Countering the Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys, I respond most to the facts that go underreported and to the examining of key questions of "Would African-American boys benefit from a classroom taught by African-American men?" or "Why do African-American female college students graduate in greater numbers than their male counterparts?" and "Why do black males kill black males?"

The statistics are alarming, that 37 percent of the prison population is African-American males while only 6 percent of the United States is African-American males. If you have are an African-American male born in the U.S., you have a 1 out of 3 chance of serving jail time.

In some communities, the numbers are so high that Kunjufu points out that homeschooling can be a better answer, statistically. Easy for me to say, but I like to think I would never put my son in the school-to-prison pipeline if he faced these odds.

Nationwide, 70 percent of teachers are white women. Are they fully trained and knowledgeable enough to know the difficulties of the African-American community? Do they actually speak kindly to African-American males, or is there a hint of disdain or animosity toward them?

I put Kunjufu's book in the parenting/family section of this project because it is relevant and he also wrote Raising Black Boys (2007). Thank God that the stupid era from white people called "color blindness" is over and that there is more a shift toward the real issues and real conversations on race are more common. Or are they?

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Do we truly understand how we love?

Love can be a scary thing or a wonderful thing, and I bet we all can benefit from understanding it better.

However, a lot of people — especially men — don't open themselves to a deeper understanding of love. But their lives would be a lot more enriching if they did.

A while back a friend recommended How We Love (2006) by Milan and Kay Yerkovich, but because my relationship with my Dina felt like it was clicking on all cylinders, I opted to read How We Love Our Kids (2011).

The book helped me because I often had a problem with one of my daughters. She did things differently, and I sometimes felt flabbergasted that she didn't do things my way. I was a bit controlling, and How We Love Our Kids made me realize that it was perfectly fine that my daughter did things her way.

The one thing that used to trigger me is that my daughter didn't like to be hugged. I'm a hugger! Fuhgeddaboudit. I would practically shame her when she recoiled from my hugs, and years later, I must admit how wrong I was. It's OK not to hug.

How We Love Our Kids made me realize the many different ways we give and receive love, and it is wrong to expect others to fall in line with our style — especially our children.
I must report that my relationship with my aforementioned daughter is better than ever, and I feel it takes maturity to admit that my approach with her was off for years. It turns out that whenever there is a difficult relationship between an adult and child that it is almost always the adult's issue. Who knew?!?

Now, I must temper How We Love Our Kids. It's not perfect by any means. It's not a cure-all, and I actually disagree with some assertions here and there in the book. However, it was a good conduit for me in my effort to be a good dad. It's worth a read, for sure.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Nonviolence starts with our words

I believe that the most important element in any relationship is communication. Still, even the most skilled communicators need help with understanding others, improving their words and getting to the root of what is actually being communicated.

Tons and tons and tons of books are out there about communication, and I find Marshall Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication (2015, third edition) the most useful.

Nonviolent communication presumes that conflict between individuals exists because of a miscommunication of their needs. That miscommunication mistakenly uses forceful or manipulative language that brings up fear, shame and guilt.

Understanding nonviolent communication, what upsets me is that sometimes leaders, either consciously or subconsciously, use overt or veiled violent communication for their agendas. I truly wonder what hope our world has for improved communication, and more understanding and harmony, when our leaders often communicate so violently.

The great news about being well-versed in nonviolent communication is that it makes every conversation much easier. We can go ahead and forget about "winning" conversations or merely communicating for factual information. Instead, we can go deeper in our relationships, understand each other better and show our children how to communicate effectively and with meaning.
It is a conscious decision to place Nonviolent Communication in the 100 Nonfiction Books I Recommend category of parenting because I believe good communication must start at home. As soon as a baby is born, it communicates to its parents. The parent communicates back immediately, and healthy parents bond with the child and show love.

Just like we've come a long way with putting babies in incubators away from parents when they're born, we have come a long way with communication for those interested in improving theirs. We may live in a world of Tweets, social-media posts and one-sided communication without depth, but Nonviolent Communication is an excellent book for not only improved communication but an improved life.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Why do we keep raising CHILDREN?

As a teacher and a parent, I have been astounded by the behavior I've seen from parents. I've learned not to judge, and I don't want to come across as a "know-it-all" with parenting. After all, parenting is a perpetual work in progress. Right?

I have one guiding phrase that helps me: The point of parenting is to help your child achieve emotional gratification.

Now, that's easier said than done. But with that guiding principle, stressing the importance of self-worth, empathy, kindness, adapting and problem solving are all a part of it.

Unfortunately, many of my fellow Gen Xers have fallen victim to the parenting of the day. They've been helicopter parents or bulldozer parents, and they think that's how it should be because that's what's happening around them.

Well, thank God for Julie Lythcott-Haims and How to Raise an Adult (2015). In a United States of parenting and college admittance gone awry, Lythcott-Haims has provided parents a must-read, especially for ones with college in the future. She put into words experiences that I wholeheartedly relate to, and How to Raise an Adult is my favorite parenting book. It's a perfect pick to kick off the parenting section of 100 Nonfiction Books I Recommend.

Lythcott-Haims is a former dean of freshmen and undergraduate advising at Stanford University. What she noticed is that many parents would stay on campus as school started and would approach campus officials if there were any problem with schedules. The parents were fighting the kids' battles at college, and that is unheard for this Gen Xer. Our parents didn't do that stuff, and we thank them for that.
Teaching at an academically prestigious school, I see similar things as Lythcott-Haims. The point of parenting I see at my school is more concerned about "success" or "getting into a good college," as opposed to helping develop the individual and life skills. Many kids nowadays are taught to develop their transcript and not themselves.

As a parent, I've often pondered how much influence I have with my daughters, or even with my students. I believe the unspoken, subconscious lessons may be greater than the explicit ones. How I behave and my actions likely are more important than any "secret of life" lesson I espouse.

Shortly after How to Raise an Adult came out, I wrote about it here and identified myself as a reformed helicopter parent. I would like to report that the world has responded to Lythcott-Haims' book and similar criticism of modern-day life and parenting, but I still see repeated red flags from parents of behavior that is detrimental to kids.

The irony of parenting is that we try to prepare our children for the world we had. However, the world is evolving, and our children face much different issues and difficulties than we did. I believe we have to understand that a "one size fits all" parenting approach only works for one size and that some fundamentals like physical health, emotional health and social health are the foundation of parenting and personhood.

Sadly, Lythcott-Haims and I have seen that "being successful" often replaces health, and many parents unwittingly perpetuate an unhealthy society.

Friday, July 26, 2019

10 'big-time' nonfiction recommendations

Category one is done for 100 Nonfiction Books I Recommend. It was "big time and deserving."

Here is a recap of the authors and books recommended:

1. Outliers (2008) by Malcolm Gladwell
2. Daring Greatly (2012) by Brene Brown
3. The Year of Magical Thinking (2005) by Joan Didion
4. Thrive (2014) by Ariana Huffington
5. Tribe of Mentors (2017) by Tim Ferris
6. Leaders Eat Last (2014) by Simon Sinek
7. Option B (2017) by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
8. The Creative Habit (2003) by Twyla Tharp
9. On Writing (2000) by Stephen King
10. A Curious Mind (2015) by Brian Grazer with Charles Fishman

These are some famous authors. I feel that Joan Didion and Stephen King may be on a whole other plane than the others in the literary world, but Outliers has been on the New York Times nonfiction list for 282 weeks now and is No. 5 in nonfiction paperback. That's five and half years and amazing.

Two unexpected takeaways from this project so far: It's getting far fewer page visits than my typical posts. By the way, there have been past posts that garnered A LOT of hits. Perhaps the subject matter lessens the audience, but so be it. I love doing this, and I shall keep with it.

Another thing I realize is that these writers are all white people, although Gladwell's mother is Jamaican. The white-heavy list raises an eyebrow with me, but at least I'm aware of this. Well, the next category "parenting" has much more diversity. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Grazer makes a splash with curiosity

The final nonfiction recommendation in the category of "Big and Deserving" is a curious selection — to say the least.

It's A Curious Mind by Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman. Grazer is a famous Hollywood producer, best known for teaming with Ron Howard, and for producing A Beautiful MindSplashApollo 13 and other blockbusters.

The thesis to A Curious Mind (2015) is that it is curiosity that has helped Grazer grow, and that has been the secret to his success. He has engaged in countless "curiosity conversations" with a veritable who's who of power in the Hollywood scene and outside of it.

I typically won't be too picayune with flaws of the books on this list, but for this one, I want to make a disclaimer that 1) the book repeated its thesis so much that it became annoying, and 2) I believe there should be more to the thesis.

While I absolutely love the message on curiosity and that's a major reason why it is a quality book, it is Grazer's boldness and audacity that may impress me more than his curiosity. When he was a mere messenger starting out in the business, he would insist on having his curiosity conversations with extremely powerful Hollywood people. Guts!
Grazer continues to have "curiosity conversations" with some of the world's most powerful figures, and because he is powerful in his own right, these figures indulge him. The conversations themselves are indeed curious and interesting, and because the moguls in the book are so significant, I found the lessons from the conversations worthwhile.

I have always known that the entertainment industry is one of the most difficult, dog-eat-dog industries in the world. As soon as I arrived in L.A., a friend said, "Remember. L.A. is a city of vacuous pursuits."

I couldn't agree more. For who I am, I'm not sure I could handle a career in the entertainment industry. I couldn't deal with the politics, the difficulties, the obstacles. And for what? To write a killer script, only to have it never sold or finally sold and reworked beyond my control.

So I had my own curious mind, when reading Grazer's "Curious Mind," and I realized that he defied major odds to become such a major producer and figure. He started by, boom, walking into big-time producer Lew Wasserman's office and picking his brain with how to be a producer. Wasserman called him out on being full of it, and Grazer figured out he'd have to come up with his own film — "Splash" — to break into the world of producing.

If anything, I like that Grazer's book isn't a narrative on his odds-beating success. Rather, it focuses on the secret to his success — curiosity.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

King of writing goes intimate

I'm not a ginormous Stephen King fan, but I do respect the guy. I must say that The Shining, Cujo, Christine, Misery and much more are deserving parts of American pop culture.

In academia, I often felt King deserved more credit than he got because he didn't get the props he deserved in the academic world. Heck, perhaps those on the tenure track were upset because they found themselves unpublished and living in places like Kirksville, Mo., while King raked in tens of millions of dollars.

As a writer, I must say that On Writing (2000) by Stephen King is a masterpiece. It's the book on writing that I relate to the most because writing, to me, is not all about divine inspiration. It's more about developing writing habits, keeping things clear and building upon that.

Maybe writing is like a golf swing. Yes, in golf, it's cool to learn how to hook and draw the ball and know how to go over, under or around trees. But more times than not, it is the basics that matter the most, and if we try to get too tricky, we know it's going to be a shank.
What I love most about On Writing is that it exposes truth. To be as prolific as Stephen King, one must commit to the craft, big time, and set up a world around him that allows him to be him. The ins and outs of the craft are focused upon, rather than a paralysis by analysis reasoning of who we writers are.

We know enough about ourselves. Yes, I'll introspect. But I don't want to introspect too long so I, say, miss the Tribe game.

Why do we write? Well, the next question is "Why do we breathe?" At a certain point, writing becomes an inherent part of ourselves, and it has been an absolute pleasure that King graced the world with his methods and process.

On Writing goes beyond the nuts and bolts of just writing because he delves into his alcoholism, and his insights on that topic are superb. I think when writers believe they are touching the hand of God or exploring deep parts of their soul that force us to drink to excess. Drinking also is about masculinity, and at a certain age, we drinkers realize that our consumption was a lie and we unnecessarily messed with our livers.

So I appreciate Mr. King for opening up about his life and for pointing out how intimate a relationship that reading is. We sometimes explore our true issues through writing more than any other place. Right?

On Writing also took place during the time span in which King was in his horrific accident that nearly killed him. He describes what happened, his excruciating recovery and the realities of nearly dying. Stephen King has written 88 books, and if he just did On Writing, that alone would have been meaningful enough.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Tharp shows that creativity is a habit

One thing that boggles my mind is how our American society treats artists. We devalue them. We shun them. We make fun of them. We shame them until they stop it with the art.

As early as, say, 9 years old, we tell them, "Well, you better figure out how you're going to make money, too."

No wonder we get the movies we have, the bombardment of advertising and way less art in our lives than we should have. American art remains in the margins because being an artist is counterculture to our consume-heavy, money-making mainstream culture.

As a teacher, I just don't see how schools cultivate artists. Music and art typically are the first programs cut, and many adults tell me that science and math are more important than art. Is that right? Why is that? Are you sure?

I firmly believe that most kids mistakenly learn that art and the humanities are superficial, non-lucrative pursuits to be dismissed. So well then, OK, they shun the arts and become unimaginative workers.

It turns out that I'm a workhorse when it comes to writing, and I have a problem with a lot of the literature out there that explores inspiration, creativity and the craft of writing. With that said, I know of no better, or more accurate, book on creativity than Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit (2003).
Blown away. I was blown away (figuratively) when I first read The Creative Habit because it correctly explained creativity in more depth, and more clearly, than I had ever seen. Creativity is no lightening bolt sent from the heavens to lucky ones wearing berets. No, no, creativity, like anything else, is a skill that can be developed with the proper attention and practice.

Twyla Tharp cultivated her creativity through dance and choreography. I've done it in with writing, and others do it in their select fields. However, most remain out of the arena of creativity because of misconceptions on what it actually is and the fixed mindset of conditioning of "I'm not creative." ... Poppycock!

One aspect of The Creative Habit I found particularly enlightening was Tharp's relationship with Billy Joel, who worked with her on the Broadway show Movin' Out. Billy Joel considers himself a plumber of songwriting, and I love that terminology because for those of us who actually do write, I feel that we are plumbers, too. It's how it is.

I also love Tharp's daily schedule, waking up in the wee hours every day to work out and put her on a path to creativity. She trumpeted the importance of investing in one's self and being committed, but not acting out of obligation. Some people like the idea of being an artist, more than the art itself. Well, that's good information, and a sign for them to find a different art or something in which they are passionate.

I would argue that what keeps artists perceived as elite is not the nature of what they do, but the fact that so few of them actually put in the time commitment to become experts in their art. Without financial gain looming, many would-be artists don't even try, and I think that's a shame because our society would be better with more music, art, dance, sculpture and expression. I just wish with that stuff was part of our daily habits.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Sandberg and Grant explore our options

Sheryl Sandberg and I have something in common. We both lost loved ones unexpectedly from heart attacks. She lost her husband at age 47. My dad, the XMan, was 63.

This was the type of thing that used to only happen to other people. Now, it was her, and it was me, my mom and family.

So when Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy was released in 2017, I jumped in on it and was not disappointed. Sandberg is an extremely powerful person, a billionaire who is the chief operating officer of Facebook. I found Sandberg's honesty and truth to be the strength of the book, which is a big-time title with 2.5 million copies sold.

I'm a fan of Adam Grant, too, and especially love this work because the raw emotion is an excellent balance for Grant's analysis. I've also read Give and Take (2013) and Originals (2016) by Grant and recommend them. Sandberg's Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead (2013) is also an enormously huge book of note.
For anyone who's had a sudden loss, Option B is excellent. Oddly, I read this book around the same time as a few others that served as a gateway to me understanding more about cognitive behavioral theory (CBT).

I believe that when we mourn, our thoughts shift. For me, my thoughts became acutely negative, and once I realized that they were not reality, that they were a slanted take on the world, I soon was on the path to healing. In a sense, Option B is in a similar vein as Ariana Huffington's Thrive. Here are two extremely powerful women, writing about humanity, and I say we can never have enough nonfiction on humanity in our modern world.