116 - George Washington Carver

My Thoughts: I have read stories of Carver and heard of his contributions to agriculture especially his work with peanuts. Perry does a wonderful job of portraying Carver's life. However, it is Carver's story of overcoming that warmed my heart the most and served as inspiration. Carver was born into slavery. Lost his family while he was an infant but taken in by a White family and developed an appreciation and a thirst for learning. Carver's thirst continued well into adulthood and granted Carver could have been made a rich man, he chose not to pursue money, but instead he chose to serve.

I am sure Carver's life could fill volumes of books yet somehow Perry managed to provide the reader with an annotated autobiography highlighting some of Carver's accomplishments. Carver's love of service is one to be commended and serves as an excellent reminder that money isn't everything.

115 - J.R.R. Tolkien

For several years I've loved Tolkien's writings.  I've read through the Lord of the Rings and really enjoyed reading books about his writing style, and his friendships within the Inklings.  When I got the opportunity to read a biography on the man, of course I jumped at the chance.  However, this biography seemed less complete than a couple others I've read.  It seemed to focus almost exclusively on Tolkien's faith as the key inspiration for his writing, and said nothing of his relationships with family and friends.  From the information I've gathered Tolkien's family and friends played a key role in inspiring his writing.

This book would make a great addition to any collection on Tolkien, however, I wouldn't recommend it as the only book you read on this great man.  His life is much too interesting for a single book.

114 - Primal

Primal strikes at the heart of true Christianity. The message of this book is a much needed truth in our church culture which has begun to fill that "God-shaped hole" in our lives with stuff. Even the church has been guilty of giving too much importance to material things instead of that which really matters, our Savior. While material things are not evil in nature they do entice us to place an evil importance on them. Even Jesus said that it was nearly impossible for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. It is nearly impossible because all things are possible with God, but the problem is that we, as a culture, do not see ourselves as wealthy.

We are each wealthy. Most of us have a roof over our heads and do not have to worry about where our next meal will come. We need a reformation. We need a reformation of heart. We need a reformation like that which Mark Batterson reveals, a reformation of deeds not necessarily theology. We need to live like Christ would want us to live. We need to love others the way God loves them. Primal is that message for a church that can too easily be entangled by the less important worldly things of life. Primal is a must read for every believer.

113 - Cure for the Common Life

Cure for the Common Life is a book geared toward those who are struggling with their position in life, and/or those who are unhappy in their current profession (or lack of). Lucado states the obvious: unless your last name is Hilton or Gates, men and women must work. His suggestion is to find your "sweet spot" or the place where you, your talents, and God all intersect to create the highest potential of personal fulfillment. Lucado brings in many examples to show how some people are not using their strengths for maximum success, but allowing the world to dictate who we are and what we should be doing. God uniquely creates each individual for His ultimate purpose, and the author suggests that we as individuals need to diligently seek out what it is that we should be doing - and not doing something for glory, greed, position, etc. - but also not falling into the trap of not doing anything at all. Some suggestions included changing your attitude to that of a servant, playing up to your strengths, and daily taking away the focus on what you can do on your own, but what you can do for God. I thought that he was very helpful in guiding the reader to a better understanding toward work and personal strengths. I did not necessarily learn anything new, but this would be a great book for someone just starting out in the self-help book arena who is searching for some answers toward work and personal fulfillment with a Christian perspective. I received this e-book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."