What I’m Reading (and More): May edition

Well, friends…this month’s edition of “What I’m Reading” is going to be a bit of a ramble.  You might want to grab something to snack on or drink.  I usually try to abridge, but this time I just feel the need to stream-of-conscious it….


For starters, a personal update. Though work and everything are going fine, I’ve been feeling very directionless lately and in need of a change.  The thing is, there’s so many things I would like to do – from buying a house to changing jobs – but no one thing that especially stands out as “yeah, that makes sense.” It feels like a big decision chart with lines going all over the place.
I’ve been through all the conventional wisdom – focus on others, not yourself; try to find what you’re passionate about; make small goals; etc.  But after all of that, I’m still in a maze, with too many ideas and hopes and doubts pulling me in different directions.  And in spite of everything being fine, that sense of possibility is making me feel like I’ve lost control of the situation and need to choose something.

First-world problems, for sure, but frustrating nonetheless.  I hope writing about it enough times might help me figure it out.



A bit of a backstory: After finishing Revelation, I read Romans.  It’s perplexing, but I found Romans to be very heavy, difficult reading.  I didn’t want to carry that feeling into Corinthians, so I decided to switch gears to Psalms, which I’ve been meaning to re-read ever since reading Fear No Evil earlier this year.

'David' by Michelangelo Fir JBU013
Jörg Bittner Unna [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Psalms is deceptively familiar.  I remember some verses and of course Psalm 23.  But I can’t say that I actually know the book, all 150 songs/poems.   I am reading just two at a time and hoping, at this pace, to help it sink in more.  Also, I’m still using the lectio divina method of Bible reading, which works very well with smaller sections.

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

Not sure if this warrants a disclaimer, but here goes anyway…

I fall into the peculiar category of people who neither love Peterson nor loathe him.  I’ve seen him in a few YouTube videos, but they didn’t spark enough interest in me to want to watch more.  What is most interesting is the effect he has on other people (his fans and enemies).  I thought I’d read this book, published just a year and a half ago, to see what the fuss is about.

That said, I did come into this 400-page tome with some bias:

  • Philosophy is still a fairly new genre to me, and I’m warming to it only very slowly.
  • I actually loved the movie Frozen, particularly as it features the strong relationship between two sisters, something I relate to personally.  Due to that, I doubt the judgment (literary or otherwise) of someone who writes Frozen off as “propaganda.”
  • I don’t care for self-help books as a rule (uhh no pun intended), so it takes a pretty good one to impress me.

So I’m about halfway through 12 Rules and, consistently enough, my feelings about this book are mixed.  There are many moments of wisdom, but some parts are also quite questionable, or even laughable.  Some reviewers are turned off by the many Bible references; they’re somewhat interesting, but I don’t really like his use of them, either (though for different reasons).  It’s also both creative and tedious that he doesn’t stick to his thesis the whole time, but rather weaves other topics into each chapter.

My favorite parts thus far were his anecdotes about growing up in a small town in Canada, in Rule #3 “Make friends with people who want the best for you.”  It had all the makings of a gripping memoir, or even a coming-of-age novel.  That was the book I wanted to be reading. 

Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age 


Another tome, over 500 pages!  Actually I powered through the first 60 pages, in spite of learning science-y things (gasp) about motors and such.  The book uses original diagrams from olden times (aka Tesla’s day), which makes my amateur graphic designer heart very happy.

More importantly, however, the writing is excellent: serious, yet approachable and very informative.  Tesla’s early life was largely positive, but after the death of his older brother, his adolescence was overshadowed by his tense relationship with his father and, at one time, a bizarre transition from workaholic student to gambling addict.  I didn’t know all of this, so those first chapters were especially fascinating.

No classics?!  What is this?

Yes, apart from Psalms, I’m not reading any classics at the moment.  I’m supposed to be re-reading The Time Machine and Ben-Hur, but lost steam somehow.

Also, can you believe I’ve only read two fictional books this year, and the rest have been nonfiction?  That’s some kind of record.  My challenges are getting rusty, too.

I do plan to get back into fiction reading soon, as I’m in line for a library copy of Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander…  I’m tentatively excited, because I love the movie and kinda hope the book is just like it, at least character-wise.


Apart from Valkyrie, I haven’t watched any movies.  I do want to re-watch Cranford soon, though.

I also have an album review coming up later this week, since one of my favorite groups just released a new one.

Other than that… hope everyone is having a lovely week!


  1. Brian Joseph Avatar
    Brian Joseph

    You are reading some interesting stuff. Peterson draws a lot of controversy. In my opinion it is good to read controversial authors and explore different ideas even if one disagrees with them. I am reading some books like that now. With that, I do very much agree with Peterson on the subject of “privilege”. I have a friend who is a great admirer of Tesla who has recommended that book. He certainly is someone worth knowing about. The book sounds good. I might read it some time.


  2. R. T. Avatar
    R. T.

    Psalms …. great choice …. I will be reading and studying Paul …. onward!


  3. Ruth Avatar

    I don't care for self-help books either…but I'm curious about reading Peterson's book. I bought it for my son for Christmas b/c he asked for it. Said he was really excited about reading it…but it's what, May? He's maybe read a few pages. Ugh! Anyway, I am actually a Peterson fan, but let me tell you…his brain is on fire. Poor guy. My husband and I took our two oldest to see him speak in Los Angeles in December last year, and basically it was like watching him think for an hour. He paced the stage…thinking…out loud! It was more fascinating to watch than to grasp all he was saying b/c he was all over the place, which is what you made me think of when you said he doesn't stick to his thesis. I get that. But, I still am curious to read it, and since you say it is almost like a memoir, that makes it even more interesting for me. So we'll see. I may get to it.


  4. mudpuddle Avatar

    don't know anything re Peterson, but the O'Brian series which i devoured is extraordinarily good, imo… even better than the Hornblower books which i loved…


  5. Marian H Avatar
    Marian H

    Yes, it's so important to read outside one's comfort zone, whether that's ideas/viewpoints or just topics. I've been trying to do that more frequently in the last few years and haven't regretted it.


  6. Marian H Avatar
    Marian H

    Paul is an incredible writer! I'm not sure why I had a hard time with Romans this time, maybe it was too much of a transition after Revelation.


  7. Marian H Avatar
    Marian H

    Your son sounds like me…I ask for a stack of books each Christmas and sometimes it takes me YEARS to even start them! But they're still very much appreciated. :)It's interesting you describe it as \”thinking out loud,\” because that's how I view Kierkegaard's writing, and I see a similarity in style between K. and Peterson. It's like they're trying to work things out in front of the reader, hence the rambling.


  8. Marian H Avatar
    Marian H

    That's good to hear! I haven't read a series in so long, so it sounds like a good one for summer.I really like sea stories in general… must be something about watching people suffer in a small, claustrophobic microcosm in the middle of a nowhere. :O


  9. Cleo @ Classical Carousel Avatar
    Cleo @ Classical Carousel

    I find John Taylor Gatto rambles too, but his ideas are fascinating.


  10. Cleo @ Classical Carousel Avatar
    Cleo @ Classical Carousel

    Part of the challenge of our society, I believe, is that we have too many choices. Now, to have choice is a good thing, but too many often makes it hard to focus and then choose. I hope you work it out all in good time. And owning real estate is something that one usually never regrets. :-)Oh my goodness, Romans is the most difficult book in the Bible for me to understand! Even Revelations is better, probably because I don't expect to understand it but with Romans, I think I should but it's so challenging! However, you've reminded me of my intention to read the Psalms along with C.S. Lewis' book.I have enjoyed Peterson's debates. At least the earlier ones ….. he's usually reasonably gracious yet he is hard to counter and I don't think I've seen him lose one yet. His book, however, I thought was terrible. Well, perhaps not terrible but he seemed to dumb down concepts and then presented them in a hodge podge fashion. I'm still trying to get through it and I don't feel like I've taken much away reading it.The book on Tesla sounds awesome!Funny you should mention Master and Commander …. I'm reading the first Horatio Hornblower book at the moment and am really enjoying it. Fun!


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