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Customer Review

601 of 644 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short, Inspired, and to the Point!, December 28, 2011
This review is from: How Do You Kill 11 Million People?: Why the Truth Matters More Than You Think (Hardcover)
I have read well over 1000 books over the past 10 years. And out of all those books, there are probably about 20 to 30 of them that I could honestly say were paradigm-shifting, life-altering in their implications and/or profound in their application. This book is now in my Top 20.

Let's begin with 2 facts:
1. The book is short. It will probably take you an hour to read from cover to cover. The "meat" of the book only takes up the first 47 pages. The remainder is a candid interview with the author, a reading guide, and a bibliography. Believe when I say that the "shortness" of the book doesn't diminish it's value in the slightest. Those 47 pages are Gold, not just because of what the author wrote (You, me and everyone else could stay up all night, every night for a week and not think of half the stuff this guy comes up with), but for the questions, ideas, and impications he leaves the reader with that he didn't have to write down.
2. Andy Andrews is known best for his "Fiction with a Moral" approach. This is not one of those books. It isn't warm and fuzzy. It won't make you feel giddy when you finish it. It's Nonfiction, non-religious, non-partisan and borderline unclassifiable. The only way I know how to put it is by analogy: Two speakers of antiquity, Cicero and Demosthenes. It was said of Cicero that when he would finish speaking, everyone would agree that he had given a well-worded, finely-crafted speech. It was said of Demosthenes that when he would finish speaking, the people stood and said "Let Us March!". This book is more Demosthenes than Cicero. Just like every other book this author has written, it is neither a call to emotion nor intention. It's a call to Action. It's a call to Honesty, first and foremost with ourselves.

I'm a big believer that books don't change people's lives, people do. But the books help. They provide the structures that allow us to climb a little higher and see a little farther than we would on our own. And the best of them don't confirm what we already thought, but challenge us to ask the questions we never thought to ask (or were too afraid to ask). No book has all the answers, and you should never let any one author do all the talking. But after reading as much as I have, I can honestly say I was sincerely affected by what this author was able to do in such a limited space. This book is bigger than its size or length give it credit for. But when all is said and done, it's a small book that can be as profound or as trivial as you are willing to make it. I hope it inspires you, as it did me, to ask the good questions, and then go looking for the honest answers. Enjoy.
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Showing 1-10 of 69 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 4, 2012, 2:22:03 PM PST
Lyle Richey says:
Thank you for giving this review & your opinion of how the many books you've read these previous 10 yrs. weighs in for you. I imagine some of us might have an even better view of what you've said had you also listed say a half a dozen of those books in your top 20 reads. Well done all the same.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2012, 10:02:53 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 4, 2012, 10:46:21 PM PST
Jeremy says:
Lasting Contribution: How to Think, Plan, and Act to Accomplish Meaningful Work

Leading an Inspired Life

Decoding the Universe: How the New Science of Information Is Explaining Everything in the Cosmos, from Our Brains to Black Holes

How to Read a Book (A Touchstone book)

Perfectly Yourself: 9 Lessons for Enduring Happiness

Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets

A General Theory of Love


Gödel's Proof

Summa Theologica (Complete & Unabridged)

Causality: Models, Reasoning and Inference
Magnificent Obsession
An Introduction to General Systems Thinking (Silver Anniversary Edition)
The Amateur's Mind: Turning Chess Misconceptions into Chess Mastery
Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth
The Fall of Lucifer (The Chronicles of Brothers)
Journal to the Self: Twenty-Two Paths to Personal Growth - Open the Door to Self-Understanding by Writing, Reading, and Creating a Journal of Your Life
A Better Way to Live: Og Mandino's Own Personal Story of Success Featuring 17 Rules to Live By
The Traveler's Gift: Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success
The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist's Guide to Success in Business and Life
How to Prove It: A Structured Approach

Here's a few. I hope you find them as interesting and useful as I did. Enjoy

P.S. Begin with Lasting Contribution

Posted on Jan 5, 2012, 8:05:58 PM PST
Earthling says:
Books can and do change lives.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 5, 2012, 10:44:14 PM PST
Jeremy says:
Books have an extraordinary effect, yes. But not one word of even the best book is going to change my life. I must do that. I must make those decisions, take those steps. A "life-changing" book that is left unread is sad, a "life-changing" book that is read and left unlived is tragic. I am an example of many books read, each one could have been life-changing had I taken action, but I thought that if I just kept reading, things would just sort of change on their own. Not the case (at least not for me). I had to admit that no book could do it for me. That is why I say that people change lives, be it their own or the lives of those they care about. Books in the end are just ink on paper, inert. But give the right book to the right person at the right time and amazing things can happen, if they will do what no book can it out.

P.S. Thank you for reading my review and for taking the time to comment. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 6, 2012, 10:29:47 AM PST
Annie says:
AMEN Jeremy. I am an avid reader/truth-seeker because it's the best way I've found to be happy. Those moments of epiphany or enlightenment while reading or pondering the written word are downright thrilling and among the most enjoyable in life! And I do get your point about people-not-books changing people, but for me it's always a book that proves catalyst to a change in my actual lifestyle. I heard a quote one time that has proved SO true for me: something like, "As I look back on my life, I can generally trace the turning points in my life to the reading of a book." So while a book doesn't really change you, an accumulation of books builds something inside you until some kind of "critical mass" is reached, which spills over almost spontaneously into action. That said, having the mindset that in the long run, only ACTION really means anything, will greatly accelerate this process. In fact, in the quest for truth, even picking up this mindset will likely happen from a book. Another thought: Books ARE people anyway, aren't they?

Thank you, Jeremy, so much for sharing your personal canon with us! I've copied and pasted it and have ordered my first one. I do crave intellectual fellowship and am often in need of a mentor to help me to the next level of consciousness. Your list has given me the next several bites of the delicious elephant.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 6, 2012, 10:48:14 AM PST
Jeremy says:
First off, Thank you for taking the time to write this. I must admit, you make a very strong case. I personally have experienced that catalyst you refer to. And as I heard from Andy Andrews once, most of the time, all we are missing is an idea. Though I do believe that Knowledge without Action tends to be useless, I also believe that Action without Knowledge can be dangerous. And books can provide the tipping point, the final idea we need to move forward wisely. If you get the chance, I would love to know what books you would recommend. And again, thank you.

Posted on Jan 7, 2012, 6:52:07 AM PST
Callahan says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 7, 2012, 9:04:15 AM PST
Jeremy says:
Let me begin by saying thank you for offering your perspective. We need people from both sides, and though I may not agree, I can respect your view. My question is what would you offer instead? The Holocaust happened. And there were many lessons to be learned that have yet to be lived out.
If the main theme of the book had been "Poor us, look at what we've been through and how terrible things were and why wasn't anyone there to save us...", I could understand your point. But in truth, the Holocaust is just one example of what has largely been a running theme throughout history. So I ask that you save your disgust for the more important things, like Evil or Injustice or Apathy. As a species, we haven't yet learned from those mistakes. Our technology has gotten better, but our actions haven't. They've just gotten more covert. Thankfully there are authors like this who don't just bemoan the terrible atrocities of mankind at its worst and then leave us there. They keep going, "shoving it down our throats" because we need it. Otherwise we tend to distance ourselves from the reality of it, and shortly there after, make the kind of mistakes that the authors of the future will have to warn their generation about.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 7, 2012, 9:50:47 AM PST
Annie says:
Loved reading your thoughts, Jeremy, in response both to me and the holocaust guy. It sounds like he couldn't have actually read the book. It's not about the holocaust per se, is it, so much as a phenomenon of human nature recurring throughout all of history of which the holocaust is only one example. Anyway, is it possible to have too many of any type of book if the intent is to save human lives? That is worth every and any effort!

I am honored by your question, Jeremy, about what books I'd recommend, but I have the distinct feeling that my book list would be of help less to someone who sits where you do and more to people who aspire to simply get started in that general direction. I am your understudy! But in the hope that it will be useful to someone out there, here goes...

I guess we could call our personal canon the books that for us (likely due to timing) provided that "tipping point" or "that final idea" which propelled us to move forward wisely, as Jeremy so eloquently stated it. Here are a few that stand out in my mind as having led me from being a straight-A, uneducated, I-don't-care honor student, to a relentless thrill-seeker of truth and light.

A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille. MAJOR turning point book or I could almost say starting point book for me.
Mere Christianity, followed by anything and everything C.S. Lewis. This man provides a fresh idea per paragraph at least! Each thought that you can assimilate will lift your burdens and make your life better just from gaining the proper perspective.
Emerson: My first real book of hard-core philosophy. Someone I admired greatly for his insightful thinking suggested I start with Emerson. This man will pry open and expand your mind to new vistas. Favorite enduring idea: nature exists to reveal God and His truth to us. Truth is truth and all principles and phenomena we find in the natural world transfer and instruct us regarding every facet of life.
Harriet Tubman from the Childhood of Famous Americans series: Yes, this is a simple children's book, which I read only as something to read aloud to my children, but it-no, "Harriet"-left a deep and indelible impression on me that changed my way of thinking/being.
The Four Agreements: This book (as well as the Companion book) was hopelessly redundant (to me, at least) but the one idea it drove home is incredibly helpful to the whole growing process and well worth the effort to add it to your arsenal of truth.
Architecture of Abundance: A huge mental shift regarding money took place while reading this book that excites and instructs me still. Also regarding how to better ACT on the knowledge we gain.
Power vs. Force: HOLY COW. This was key. I don't put stock into this guy's "methods" (muscle testing-because I believe it could prove to be a stumbling block as easily as a stepping stone), but I don't really care how he came up with his ideas; they smack of TRUTH. Discovering this book was like discovering the box top to the puzzle I'd been working on, having not even realized the box top was missing. It provided a whole framework, the scaffolding, from which I now operate. I know exactly where I'm headed largely due to this book.

There are SOOO many books I've read but these are the ones to jump first to mind.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 7, 2012, 10:41:32 PM PST
Jeremy says:
Wow! What a great list! Thank you. And the perspective on each book adds weight and context to the recommendations. I look forward to adding them to my reading list. I will begin with the Thomas Jefferson Education. I appreciate your thoughts, input and for helping to keep the discussion going. It means a lot when you are willing to put yourself and your ideas out there like that, so Thank you.
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