Book Review: The President is Missing

Book Review Lessons From the Sidelines

Every once in a while I need a good fiction book and this August The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson hit the mark.

I listened to the Audiobook read by Dennis Quaid and I think it was a great way to take my mind off the football season while I drove and took my morning walks. This action-packed mystery offers a behind the scenes peek into all a President balances within a week.

The story is told mostly from the perspective of widowed President Duncan who is faced with an impossible situation. A computer virus threatens to be released, his blood disease has flared up, and to top it all off he has a leak in the White House.

Every time I expected a typical turn mysteries take this book shifted the story in a new direction. The ending was stunning and satisfying. The political setting stays in the background for most of the story, so regardless of your politics this is a great read.

Autobiographies Written in Essay Style

Book Review Lessons From the Sidelines

Sisters First

Former first daughters Jenna Bush Hagar and Barbara Bush have published a smart, witty, insightful and all around wonderful autobiography reflecting on important aspects of their lives. Sisters First includes essays from each sister about different teachers, friends, travels, and embarrassing moments. The sisters are open about their experiences in the White House, living on college campuses during 9/11 while their father was President, interactions with world leaders and their perspective on their parents and grandparents vs. what you may have read in the news.

I laughed at several points as the sisters read about their mischevious childhood antics and teared up as they spoke about their beloved Ganny. Both women were generous with the amount of personal information they included but did so with respect towards others who may not have wanted to have their names recorded publically.

I loved this book.

Why Not Me?

Mindy Kaling’s newest New York Times Best Seller Why Not Me is a perfect weekend read. Each chapter is full of wit and wisdom. In a book style similar to Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s books Kaling writes essays that answer many of the questions she’s answered from fans while also correcting a few media reports that were more insulting than truthful.

I’m an Office fan, but I had no idea Kaling co-wrote Jim and Pam’s wedding! I loved Kaling’s tribute to her mother woven through the chapters and her honesty about how hard she has worked for her jobs.

One of my favorite chapters what that written and read by Greg Daniels. Besides being a great essay I think it reveals a lot about Kaling and how she values friendships that this chapter is included.

Her thoughts on beauty and body image in Hollywood are important and grounding.

Girl Wash Your Face

While Rachel Hollis’ book Girl Wash Your Face received rave reviews from some of my girlfriends I personally did not love this book. I know some of you will stop reading and that’s fine, but here’s the thing; if I only posted about books I loved and hid the ones I didn’t you might find yourself feeling as if you also wasted your time reading something.

I listened to Girl Wash Your Face (GWYF) on audiobook and I honestly can’t decide if that was better or worse for my overall impression of things. What I value most about listening to an author read their own words is that you hear the tone and intent behind things. Here’s where that didn’t work well for GWYF… I don’t like constant sarcasm. It grates at me. While inserted occasionally sarcasm can cut tension or increase a humorous scenario, as an underlying tone it’s my least favorite thing.  Well, next least favorite thing to someone who brags about themselves constantly…but that’s present too.

The more I’ve reflected on GWYF I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason I didn’t connect with this book is that I haven’t invited Rachel Hollis into my personal space. I haven’t given her permission to be an influencer over my life an where her words are intended to motivate, encourage and come alongside cheering you on I didn’t receive them that way. Further, while I do not doubt Rachel’s compassion for others nor her love for God I do not believe we theologically agree. This isn’t to say that I should limit my authors to those I agree with, but it is a large part of why I do not consider her voice an influential one for me.

So, my guess is that if you love Rachel Hollis you will love GWYF. If you don’t know much about her, perhaps you should do what I should have done and learned more about Rachel before diving into Girl Wash Your Face.

Read a more in-depth analysis of GWYF here.

Book Review: United by Cory Booker

“Senator Booker’s first book, United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good, details the people who inspired him to seek public office, the moments that influenced his civic vision once he was elected and the issues that drive his political agenda, such as social, economic and environmental justice.”

Besides providing extensive insight into his life experiences growing up as well as his early political experiences Booker does an excellent job of reminding the reader how nuanced and challenging it is to try to get anything done in government. Booker humbly highlights all of the people who have surrounded him through his life. Parents, wise community members, pastors, friends, and political team members have all played a role is shaping Booker’s beliefs and convictions. More than that, he highlights how he’s learned from his adversaries.

Even with disappointments fresh in his memory Booker can’t help but write optimistically. He has hope for our country even with its flaws. This is not naive optimism, Booker has watched children die, politicians bend the law for personal gain and death take loved ones. But he is resilient and his words remind me that we, as a country, are too.

Booker is passionate about the issues he’s encountered personally but it’s impossible to miss the influence his relationship with Jesus has on his convictions as well. This is a man who understands we must lead by example first and he strives to do so.