“You Should Try More Fiction”

I really like our new public library and have always enjoyed the workers there (as opposed to the other local library where I have never heard anyone say anything nice about the workers). Of course our conversation is always about books we’ve read, are reading, or want to read. Admittedly I probably read more non-fiction than the average person. Knowing that the ladies at the library find some of what I read to be very boring, I intentionally mentioned that I just started reading a 500-page book on how to program computer chips at a low level without the need to load an operating system on them.

That prompted one of the ladies to comment, “You should try to read more fiction. I think you would really enjoy it.” Her comment wasn’t unkind, but it wasn’t in jest either. The implication was that I don’t enjoy reading what I read.

Of the 66 books I’ve read so far this year, I did read 1 fiction book. I didn’t enjoy it. It wasn’t poorly written, but it wasn’t the kind of story I like. It was recommended by one of the librarians. She suggested another book to try. I tried. But there was too much raw language in the first few pages that I really didn’t think I wanted to read any more.

While I read quite a bit of non-fiction, I would venture to guess that I still have quite a variety of content. Just scanning quickly through the books I read in the last two years, here are some of the broad topics: Bible, computers (hardware and software), missionary/church ministry, business, communication, adventure, travel, craft/making, self improvement (particularly in areas of brain development), politics, history, electronics, grammar, math, self-defense, Christian growth, creativity and productivity.

While I do read heavily in the business, communications, and technology categories, most fiction readers I know vary their reading tastes by only 2 or 3 genres.

I try not to berate fiction readers, though I really don’t understand why you would put forth the effort if your aren’t going to learn anything; however, I am amazed as to how many of them think that what I read is boring and that I need to “broaden my horizons” in my reading choices.

Though you may not enjoy reading what I read, that doesn’t mean it is boring to me. Who knows, you might find a book by Malcolm Gladwell or Seth Godin to be very enjoyable if you give it a try.

2014 Book Breakdown

Here is the breakdown of the 57 books I read in 2014. All the numbers below are how many books fell into that category.


I was a little surprised by how few books I read on my Kindle. I really do prefer reading on it, but since I almost never buy books, I read in whatever format I can get them. If I were to actually spend money for a book (and had a format choice), then I would get them exclusively for my Kindle.

  • Paper Books: 29
  • Kindle/Electronic Books: 16
  • Audio Books: 12


I was able to tease out 8 major categories of books. I did have 1 book that overlapped categories. It was not strictly biographical, but it also was not what I would consider a plain history book. So the count adds up to 58 instead of the 57 that I read.

  • Communications/Business: 19
  • Religious: 12
  • Technology: 6
  • History: 5
  • Productivity: 5
  • No Category: 4
  • Fiction: 4
  • Biographical: 3


  • December: 12
  • November: 8
  • 2 Months: 5
  • 3 Months: 4
  • 5 Months: 5


  • Library: 31
  • Owned: 24
  • Borrowed: 2

Of the owned books, they broke down like this:

  • Free or given to me as a gift: 12
  • Purchased used: 9
  • Purchased new: 3

I guess you can see I don’t spend much for books even though I read quite a few. There are so many books that I already own that I have never read, I really shouldn’t spend so much time at the library. But it is so hard to resist the pull of the New Books shelf each week when we go.

We are members of 2 local libraries. The one we go to every Saturday is fairly well stocked, but seems so impersonal. Though we have been there most Saturdays for the last 3 years I still feel like we are walking into someone else’s library when we are there. I’ve never felt like the staff are friendly or personable. Their computer system has been in a constant upgrade process for 2 years and it almost never works as expected. I only remember asking for help finding a book one time and that was about 1 year ago. The lady pointed towards where the book should be. I had already looked and asked her if she could go help me look. She finally did. Though we did not find the book, it is still listed in the catalog as being on the shelf. I have told them twice that the book was missing, but they have not taken it out of their catalog or flagged it as being temporarily lost.

The library where I go during the week is in a small house. Almost too personal at about 1,200 square feet of total space (this includes stacks, offices and storage). I haven’t spent much time in there, but I know all the workers’ names and they act thrilled to help any patron try to find a book. I am excited that this during-the-week library is building a new 16,000 square foot building that will open in May of this year. That will be a more than a 10X size increase in the new building!

Over the next few days I will compile the groups of books and work on a few book reviews for you.

Re-Entry: Making The Transition From Missions To Life At Home

This is not a full book review of the book Re-Entry: Making the Transition from Missions to Life at Home, rather just some observations as I read through it.

This book was loaned to me by an older missionary couple yesterday. We were talking about furlough (the topic of a soon-to-be-released Missionary Talks episode). The book talks about some of the struggles that missionaries face as they go back to their home culture. While the book focuses on people returning permanently, it also covers missionaries who are only temporarily returning home, such as we will be over the next year.

Re-Entry: Making the Transition from Missions to Life at HomeTwo things the book mentioned that I thought might be of interest to you have to do with relationships and misunderstandings.

Peter Jordan, the author, mentions that relationships will be different upon return home. Even though a relationship can thrive over distance, often the individuals are no longer as emotionally connected. Our emotional togetherness happens through shared experiences and just spending time with one another. The missionary and the friend back home have not only been living through different experiences, but through different cultures.

We have friends with whom we love to spend hours and hours talking. We would often spend 2 or 3 nights a week with one another talking into the wee hours of the morning when we were in town. We were very connected. While we still have a tight relationship with them, we have also not been a part of their lives for the last four years. When we got a chance to be with them earlier this year I noticed that other mutual friends were now filling in where we used to be. I became jealous of the fact that we no longer occupied the same space we used to. Of course it is silly to think that your friends are going to not change or build new relationships over a four year period.

But multiply this with every friend the missionary has, and you can start to see why re-entry can be stressful for the missionary. Things will never be the same as they were.

The other thing I wanted to point out is the matter of misunderstandings. The missionary returns home and comments about how things have changed for the worse, or how wonderful things are back home. Those who have lived through the changes won’t see it as starkly as the returning family will. They have had a chance to grow into the changes a little at a time.

Where we personally had greater frustrations were when we would mention some things that were so great in the US and then hear people complain about that very thing we found to be wonderful. We have to remember that others will never see things from the same light we do. Nor, will we be able to see things from their perspective.

One example of this is the variety of products you can find in the stores. When we go looking for something here in Mexico, a can of peas for example, we might find a can or two on the shelves. There will be no choice as to which brand you get. If they do carry them, they will only have one brand, and more often they won’t have any anyway.

Earlier this year when we were home for a few weeks we were amazed at how much people complained that Wal-Mart did not have the particular product the person wanted. Maybe they were looking for milk. Of course they want a particular brand in a particular size and fat content. When we arrived in Mexico just four years ago we could not get pasteurized, homoginized milk like we expect in the US. All the milk came in un-refrigerated liter boxes with expiration dates 6 months into the future. Now we have a choice of 2 brands of milk that resembles and tastes something like the milk back home.

I just have little sympathy for the person who has to settle for a different size (a gallon as opposed to a half gallon) or has to go to the store across the street to get the milk they want because the store they are in doesn’t have it. At least it is available relatively easily.

It would be easy for the missionary to become bitter at their friends and family for not understanding them, and the missionary is just as guilty for not understanding those back home.

I am half way through the book and find it very insightful. I am glad I have gotten a chance to read it and will probably write a review of the book in a couple of days when I am done.

My Birthday and Christmas gifts

Since we don’t have mail sent directly to us, the books and videos I got for Christmas and birthday were hand delivered on Monday. I have not gotten all of them yet, but I did get two items.

The first is the book Running Through the Wall (it is was a birthday gift). It is a collection of race reports from ultramarathons (any distance longer than 26.2 miles). I have made it about a quarter of the way through the book. I will be giving a full book review on it in a few days. The quick analysis is that it has some incredibly great stories that are worth the price of the book and some stories that seemed to be included just to make the book thicker. I guess the stories mean something to the individual author, but they are not too moving to me personally.

I had a fun experience related to the book on Monday (the day I got the book). The book was brought down by a mission team from Ohio. While they were helping to paint our church, we stopped to eat lunch. I was chatting with a couple of the team members asking where they went to school and what they studied (these are all college age young people). One of the girls attends Liberty University. I asked her if she had ever had a class with Dr. David Horton, who is responsible for influencing many of the stories in the book and is a professor at Liberty. She said she took a running class from him. I got all giddy to be in the presence of someone who has taken a class from him. I told her that I would bring my running shoes the next day so that she could sign them. She did not seem to have much of a sense of humor, so I took the shoes, but ended up not pressing the issue and making her sign.

The other item that arrived with the book was the video Running on the Sun about the 1999 Badwater 135 ultramarathon which is run from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney 135 miles away (a Christmas gift). I watched it last night. It was very good, though slow moving. I was pleased with how “clean” the film was. Though there were the shots of puking, draining blisters and conversations about bodily functions, it was basically PG content. Until…the last 30 minutes of the film went totally downhill. I kept thinking that my son might enjoy the film and that since there was no cursing, he would be able to watch it with me some time. But at the end of the show everyone was tired and irritable and they made up for the lack of cursing for the previous hour.

I am expecting a couple more running books with the next shipment. Stay tuned.

Days of the week

I read a great book a few years ago that explained the names of the days of the week. The book was The Clock We Live On by Isaac Asimov. Then today I read a post at Daily Writing Tips that covered the material again. I just think it is fascinating to see where the names of the days of the week come from, especially as you see it in different languages. Since I know Spanish and English, I will explain them here. If you know another language and how the days are named, then please leave a comment so we can see how they compare. I know there are similarities in different languages.

As a quick primer the names in English and Spanish are:

  • Sunday — Domingo
  • Monday — Lunes
  • Tuesday — Martes
  • Wednesday — Miércoles
  • Thursday — Jueves
  • Friday — Viernes
  • Saturday — Sábado

The book explained (if I remember right) that originally the days of the week had names reflecting celestial objects. That has changed over time and languages. Each object was dominant in the first hour of the day. The cycle is Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury and Moon. Each hour is controlled or dominated by that object. Starting at Saturn and counting through the cycle until you reach the 25th hour, and the start of the next day, you land on the Sun. Then through the cycle again, the 25th hour starts the next day dominated by the Moon. Through the week you get Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus then Saturn again.

Sunday started with the sun. In Spanish it is Domingo which comes from the Latin Dies Dominica (Lord’s day).

Monday is the moon. Moon in Spanish is luna. Lunes is the Spanish word for Monday.

Tuesday is a bit convoluted, but it comes from Mars, the god of war. The reason it gets lost in the translation is we take Tuesday from the Germanic god of war, Tiu or Tiwa. In Spanish the day is Martes which comes from the planet Mars which is Marte. The relationship to Tiu, or Tiwa, is that Mars is the god of war.

Wednesday comes from the Germanic god, Woden. It is a bit of a stretch to make Woden and Mercury connect to one another. Suffice it to say that the English Wednesday is named after Woden and the Spanish Miércoles is named after Mercury.

Thursday is named after the god of thunder, Thor. In Spanish it is Jueves and is named after Jupiter who was a Roman god whose power came from his thunderbolt, and thus the connection between Thor and Jupiter.

Friday gets its name from Freya, the Teutonic goddess of love. Viernes in Spanish comes from Venus,  which is the Roman goddesss of love.

Saturday gets its name from the planet Saturn in English whereas the Spanish Sábado comes from the word sabbath.

The book, The Clock We Live On is very interesting. It not only talked about the days of the week, but why the day is broken into 24 hours and how different words came to be used the way they are. I specifically remember that ‘minute’ gets its name because it is a small part of an hour (Latin minuta = small part of something). And ‘second’ gets its name because it was the second division of the hour. I am serious, that is really where the name comes from. Pretty lame, huh?

Unfortunately the book is not available new. You can dig around at Amazon and find it used.