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What to Read Next: Life Is Change
Issue #295: featuring "Master of Change" and "Every Season Sacred"
Happy Friday, readers!
At one time in our life, Jane and I relished — sometimes clung to — the idea of a “Year of No Change.” We even thought we could control it — no more babies, no house moves, no job moves. All set.
Inevitably, something would knock that plan off course, often by our own doing. After a few years of this, we grew up enough to understand that life is change. Whether in our control or not, there will never be a year of no change — and we realized we don’t actually even want that. To be human is to deal with ever-shifting circumstances.
The newly published books featured today explore the inevitable changes and seasons of life.
Pulitzer Project Update
I’m about two-thirds through All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren’s hypnotic and lyrical 1946 novel about a Louisiana politician who’s modeled after Huey Long. It doesn’t make for quick reading, but the writing is incredible.
Up next: With Americans of Past and Present Days by Jean Jules Jusserand, which won the very first Pulitzer for History in 1917. This collection of historical essays by a French ambassador to the U.S. is not well known today, so I’m especially curious to dig in and see why it struck such a chord with the committee.
Master of Change by Brad Stulberg
“As we walk our respective paths and navigate ongoing cycles of order, disorder, and reorder we’ll let go of certain qualities, characteristics, and attitudes that we’ve been carrying, and we’ll pick up new ones to bring along the way.”
Published: 2023 | Pages: 198 | Genre: Non-Fiction (Self-Improvement)
If change is a quintessential part of the human experience, what do we do to not only survive, but actually thrive and come out better for it? That question is what drives Brad Stulberg’s slim but potent new book, Master of Change.
At the outset, he conveys the idea that life is a continuous cycle of order-disorder-reorder. This is not a new concept, but Stulberg’s presentation has had me thinking about it pretty much non-stop in the last couple of weeks. It’s sort of a condensed version of Joseph Campbell’s “hero’s journey” — and it applies to everything.
If there are moments where our reaction to change has gone poorly, it’s because something has gone wrong in that cycle. Often, we’re trying to get back to order instead of moving forward into reorder — whatever that new reality might be.
Using a bit of research (but not too much, thankfully) and a number of memorable anecdotes (including a helpful dose of his own journey through changing circumstances), Brad makes a compelling case for his thinking and methodology.
I’ve read all of Brad’s books and can confidently say that Master of Change is my favorite. It might be the stage of life we’re in, but it’s true nonetheless. I have a couple of lingering questions, so perhaps I’ll interview Brad (again) for the newsletter here. Either way, this is a book you shouldn’t hesitate to grab from the bookstore or library — it’s a guide that you’ll be able to pick up at different times in life and always find helpful.
Every Season Sacred by Kayla Craig
“This book is not another item to check off on your to-do list—it’s an invitation into unforced rhythms. It’s permission to release that breath you’ve been holding.”
Published: 2023 | Pages: 336 | Genre: Non-Fiction (Christian)
My dear friend Kayla Craig published her first book, To Light Their Way, back in 2021. (Read my review here.) That debut collection of prayers and liturgies for parents, created in the wake of our collective COVID/political/racial upheaval, offered a balm of relief in the midst of a particularly turbulent era.
Her new book, Every Season Sacred, provides an even richer catalog of reflections and prayers to guide families through the varied seasons of life.
When you have kids it’s undeniably apparent that life = change. Our munchkins grow, they move up grade levels, they mature (or regress, at times), and they find their own unique interests. There are years when every single season on the calendar is a new phase of life that requires reorienting.
Turning the pages of Every Season Sacred gives families the chance to be both seen and comforted in the multitude of emotions we experience day by day. Whether sending kiddos off to school, dealing with prolonged illness, celebrating new milestones, or grieving lost moments, it’s a book that will stay on your shelves for years and always offer something new and meaningful.
As I wrote in 2021, Kayla has been a friend since college and it’s a true honor and privilege to be able to spread the word about her amazing work. The Craig family are the best kind of humans, period.
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