Tag Archives: a failure of nerve

two sentence book reviews, part 3 (non-fiction)

getting caught up on book reviews. i allow myself two sentences: one for summary and one for my review.


fooling houdiniFooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, and the Hidden Powers of the Mind, by Alex Stone
4 stars
fascinating memoir of a young magician learning his craft and trying to earn the respect of his peers. a truly interesting look into both the hidden world of illusionists and the ruthless dedication needed to excel.

guns, germs, and steelGuns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, by Jared Diamond
4 stars
epic unpacking of from-the-beginnings-of-time reasons why some cultures are powerful and others not. interesting, to a point, but so dang long.

assholes a theoryAssholes: A Theory, by Aaron James
3 stars
a philosopher develops a theory on why some people are that way. sometimes interesting, sometimes funny, sometimes fluff to fill a book.

brain on fireBrain on Fire: My Month of Madness, by Susannah Cahalan
5 stars
autobiographical story of the author’s short slide into crazy-land, due to a then-undiagnosed illness that impacted her brain. great story with a journalist’s flare.

is everyone hanging out without meIs Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), by Mindy Kaling
4 stars
mindy kaling’s combination of humorous observational essays and personal story. it’s hard not to compare to tina fey’s 5-star book, since they’re so similar; but it’s still a fun, inconsequential read.

seven years with banksySeven Years with Banksy, by Robert Clarke
3 stars
autobiographical story of the author and the time he spent with the world’s most elusive artist. i’m fascinated with banksy, so found this fun, even though the writing is really weak.

debating emerging adulthoodDebating Emerging Adulthood: Stage or Process?, by Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, Marion Kloep, Leo B. Hendry, and Jennifer L. Tanner
2 stars
a debate-format book with two teams of writer/experts. i couldn’t finish it, as i found it boring (even though the subject matter is one that interests me).

failure of nerveA Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix, by Edwin H. Friedman
5 stars
a revolutionary book about what’s missing in all forms of leadership. my second read of this difficult and challenging book, worth the challenge for its stunning insights.

two sentence book reviews, part 3 (leadership/marketing and theology/christian living)

back in the day, i used to post a full review in an individual blog post for every book i read. after rebooting my blog in the late fall of 2009, i changed that practice to posting 3 or 4 “mini reviews” at a time — one paragraph each.

but in 2011, i’ve gotten behind, and haven’t posted any reviews. i kept meaning to, but just didn’t get around to it. so, i’m catching up. and i’ve decided to do it in a different way, since i have 27 to post.


for each review, i only allowed myself two sentences. in each, the first sentence is a summary of the book, and the second sentence is my opinion of the book. i’m still giving 1 – 5 stars (5 means “excellent”, 4 means “worth reading”, 3 means “ah, take it or leave it”, 2 means “take a pass on this one”, and 1 means “do NOT buy or read this book – it sucked, imho).

up first was 7 young adult fiction books, and second was memoirs and graphic novels.

this time, i’m covering leadership/marketing and theology/christian living:


A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix, by Edwin H. Friedman
5 stars
With implications for leadership of every sort (family, church, business), Friedman argues for self-actualized leaders who don’t operate from fear. Every leader has to read this book – I’m going to make it part of my coaching program.

Poke the Box, by Seth Godin
4.5 stars
You’ll never break into new territory in any arena if you’re not willing to push on the assumptions that create the norm. I wish it were longer, but I sure was inspired.

Theory U: Leading From the Future as it Emerges, by Otto Scharmer
5 stars
A deep dive into the (very spiritual) process of organizational change. I’ll be chewing on this insanely difficult read for years, it’s so rich with implications.

theology/christian living

Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, by Rob Bell
4 stars
God loves you, and it’s your choice to live in that or not. The hubbub seems overblown to me – this is a book worth thinking about.

Good News About Injustice: A Witness of Courage in a Hurting World (10th Anniversary edition), by Gary Haugen
5 stars
Haugen meticulously unfolds a biblical view of justice, weaving in compelling stories that leave the reader with no option other than engagement. This book should be on the Christian classics shelf alongside Bonhoeffer, Lewis, Nouwen and others.

The Children are Free: Reexamining the Biblical Evidence on Same-Sex Relationship, by Rev. Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley
3.5 stars
An attempt at a biblical defense of committed, same-sex relationships. Not well written, but worth reading, even if only to understand a viewpoint different than your own.


one more set to go, with youth ministry, fiction, and “other”!