15 Books Worth Reading if You Want to Make Significant Changes in your Life

My reading hasn’t always been this focused, but I’ve found that almost everything I’ve read in the past few years could be classified into three categories: memoir, self-help, or social sciences/cultural commentary. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that there are some commonalities those genres. Chalk it up to the the #therapythirties if you’d like, but I suppose at my core I’ve been interested in a few very basic questions. How does this world work? Is it possible to change? What is the good life?

It’s no stretch to say that the work (and the reading) has been fueled by its share of discontent, by the frustration and disappointment of feeling like life isn’t turning out the way I want it to. The good news is that the journey — both in and outside of the reading — has been incredibly rich and that there have been signs of progress along the way. I feel more hopeful now than I ever have before. For anyone who’s interested, here are 15 books — which I’ve grouped into six different topical categories — that I’ve found helpful along the way:

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Writing for Big Car about SPARK in Downtown Indianapolis

I enjoyed interacting with and writing for Big Car (“bringing art to people and people to art”) this past fall and summer, particularly around some of their creative placemaking experiments in Indianapolis’s Monument Circle.

From the writings of Wendell Berry, to working in a city-planning office in Anderson, Indiana, to spending some time with Big Car, I suppose it’s no accident that I flock toward conversations about thoughtful and playful engagements with place. Here are the articles I wrote:

September 15: “Ask an Expert sparks Monument Circle”

October 8: “Indianapolis Workshops Combine Placemaking, Social Practice”

October 12: “Spark boosts Circle Businesses”

November 13: “Placemaking as Homemaking”

Growing Up in Ardoyne: An Interview about Northern Ireland with Darryl Petticrew

Darryl, far left, joins me and a few others for Thanksgiving dinner in Belfast.

Darryl, far left, joins me and a few others for Thanksgiving dinner in Belfast.

My In the Fray essay about Northern Ireland from a couple days ago focuses a lot on the Protestant side of things. Below, you’ll find an interview I conducted a couple years ago with Darryl Petticrew, a Catholic friend of mine. Darryl grew up in Ardoyne, a part of Belfast that is mentioned in the essay. I think you’ll find the transcript of our conversation interesting:

Me: “What was growing up in Ardoyne  like? How often did you cross over into the likes of, say, the Shankill?”

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A Consistently Pro-Life Ethic

I wanted to expand upon and provide some clarification on something I said in my recent essay that argued we should let Dzhokhar Tsnaraev live. In that essay, I wrote the following: “Political issues that involve taking a human life are usually complicated, but I still land on the side of finding ways to sustain life even if, like in this case, a person has done awful things and hurt many.” I mean this in the fullest sense, and I think this consistency across issues is tragically lacking in the American two-party system.

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Pressure Continues to Mount on Starlin Castro in Sixth Season with Cubs

As he enters his sixth season with the Chicago Cubs, it’s easy to forget that Starlin Castro, starting shortstop, is still only 25 years old. Because he’s had so much early success, the expectations for his performance only increase. He’s a young veteran who could be on the verge of the best years of his career.

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