Live Well, Do Good


Bury the ChainsAntislavery Book Resonates Today   Brandon Sun, July 11, 2022:    Emancipation Day is August 1, a perfect opportunity to review one of my favourite books. Emancipation Day celebrates the date in 1834 when slavery was abolished in the British Empire. The book tells the story of that emancipation. By American writer Adam Hochschild, it is Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire's Slaves.

Living KindlyTry a Little Kindness in 2022   Brandon Sun, January 3, 2022:    For the new year, I offer a book suggestion that may resonate with some of you. But I bet even more of you will roll your eyes. Even facing some eye rolling, I will plunge forward with some musings. The book is A Year of Living Kindly: Choices That Will Change Your Life and the World Around You.

HumankindAuthor Upends Beliefs About Human Kindness   Brandon Sun, December 6, 2021:  Do you think people are fundamentally uncaring and mean-spirited? Or are people basically decent and good? Voting for goodness is a new book by Dutch historian Rutger Bregman, Humankind: A Hopeful History. Bregman argues that not only are we kinder than we think we are, but also our assumption of the worst in us holds us back from becoming our best.

unveiledGripping New Memoir from Canadian Author “Unveiled”   Brandon Sun, February 10, 2020:  A young girl is ferociously whipped by her stepfather for not correctly memorizing verses of the Qur’an. Her mother watches with approval.
    That young girl not only survived and grew up, she also broke free from her abusive environment. Her story makes for a compelling new book, Unveiled: How Western Liberals Empower Radical Islam.

impossiblememoirTelling the Truth Today   Brandon Sun, January 13, 2020:   How do you know what is true? How do you tell others about the truth? How do you tell your story? What if you are talking to another person who believes something that seems untrue? Can you change their mind? Are you open to changing your mind?
    Two recent books explore these topics. The first is The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr. The second is How to Have Impossible Conversations: A Very Practical Guide by Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay.

power shift“Islamophobia” Blunts Criticism of Religion   Brandon Sun, December 16, 2019:  I listened recently to the 2019 CBC Massey Lectures on the CBC Radio podcast, Ideas. This year’s topic is the long struggle for women's equality and features Canadian journalist, author and human rights activist Sally Armstrong. The title is Power Shift: The Longest Revolution.  
      Despite Armstrong’s sharp passion, though, her remarks about Islam seem blunted by political correctness. I blame the bogus concept of “Islamophobia.”

thanksBook Explores Gratitude for the World in a Cup of Coffee   Brandon Sun, September 9, 2019:   Have you ever considered all the people involved in bringing you your morning cup of coffee? I mean everyone: from the farmer to the shipper to the staff at the grocery store or coffee shop? Have you ever thought of expressing your gratitude to all those folks? American writer A.J. Jacobs does that with his new book: Thanks a Thousand: A Gratitude Journey.

enlightenmentEnlightenment Values Are Needed Now More Than Ever   Brandon Sun, September 17, 2018:   Enlightenment Now is a big book with two messages. The first is that the Enlightenment values of reason, science, humanism and progress are the bedrock of today’s prosperous, civil society. The second is that these values are being threatened and need defending. Author Steven Pinker reinforces these messages with statistics detailing how the world has improved since embracing Enlightenment values 250 years ago.

how to changeWhat Can We Learn from the New Science of Psychedelics?   Brandon Sun, July 9, 2018:   Michael Pollan is an American writer and Harvard journalism professor. His books have been about rather mundane topics. (I reviewed his In Defence of Food here eight years ago.) So, I was surprised that Pollan’s newest book, How to Change Your Mind, is about psychedelic drugs. Pollan makes a book about food interesting. How could he not write an interesting book about psychedelics?

12 RulesIs Jordan Peterson Today’s Marshall McLuhan?   Brandon Sun, April 9, 2018:  How does one grapple with the phenomenon of Jordan B. Peterson? The Canadian psychology professor has a lot to say about how we should live in the 21st century. He makes the news, he is all over the internet, and he is drenched in controversy. He has a brand new book, 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote to Chaos. And – what grabbed my attention – he has been called today’s Marshall McLuhan.
Columnist Shares Top 10 Winter Reading List   Brandon Sun, February 5, 2018:  Five years ago, I shared a Top 10 list of recent books that had led me to a better understanding of the world. Time to do it again!

Last SayReview: “Having the Last Say”   Obituary Guide, January 27, 2018:  Are you interested in writing a 500 to 1,000 word life review or story? A composition that might sum up your life: just for yourself? Or that could be shared with family and friends? Or that could even be made available in planning your own funeral or memorial service?
     If so, there is a book for you by author Alan Gelb: Having the Last Say: Capturing Your Legacy in One Small Story.

Death CleaningThe Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning   Obituary Guide, January 15, 2018:  One goal: decluttering to get ready for those coming after us. Here is where a new book from Sweden can come in handy for those of us who are sorting, downsizing, moving, and generally preparing for our ultimate ending.

Doing GoodEffective Altruism Poised to Make Major Impact   Brandon Sun, November 27, 2017:  Based in the U.K., the effective altruism movement conducts research and provides information and support to those interested in becoming better donors. A leading figure is Oxford philosophy professor William MacAskill, who describes the concept in his book, Doing Good Better.

RememberedRemembered in Bronze and Stone   Brandon Sun, November 6, 2017:  Contemplate a First World War memorial in a village, town or city. Questions may float into awareness. Why was that design chosen? How was it made? What about the artist? Who were they – the names of those who left for war and never returned home?
     Questions like those led author Alan Livingstone MacLeod to write the book, Remembered in Bronze and Stone: Canada’s Great War Memorial Statuary.

Doing GoodOn Tyranny: Learning Lessons from History   Brandon Sun, October 16, 2017:  Lesson No. 1: “Do not obey in advance.”
     If that sounds ominous, it should. This is the start of a remarkable new book, On Tyranny: 20 Lessons from the 20th Century. Historian Timothy Snyder was so alarmed by the election of Donald Trump that he wrote this short volume warning his fellow citizens.

Atheist MuslimOptimistic New Book From Muslim Writer   Brandon Sun, May 29, 2017:  Even in Western countries, a Muslim questioning the Qur’an can be ostracized from their family and community. And a non-Muslim criticizing the Qur’an can be labelled as bigoted, racist or “Islamophobic.” Fortunately, a new book does a great job of tackling such issues and presenting optimistic, positive approaches for the future. The book, by Pakistani-Canadian writer Ali A. Rizvi, is The Atheist Muslim: A Journey from Religion to Reason.

So Many Reasons to Appreciate Podcasts   Brandon Sun, September 26, 2016:  A review of the podcast genre, including a look at The Tim Ferriss Show and Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History.

StrangerDonald Trump: Stranger Than We Can Imagine?   Brandon Sun, May 30, 2016:  Help! I am still coming to grips with Donald Trump! What about more understanding of the world that led to Trump? I was happy to get just that from a new book by British writer John Higgs: Stranger Than We Can Imagine: An Alternative History of the 20th Century.

HereticIslamAuthors Leading Vital Conversation About Islam   Brandon Sun, February 22, 2016:  Some of the most important global questions today revolve around Islam. Can the religion be modernized? Can its tendencies toward sexism, dysfunction and violence be curbed? Two new books provide an excellent discussion of the issues and the challenges. One, jointly written by Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz, is Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue. The other, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, is Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now

Obit Worth ReadingWriting an Obituary Worth Reading: A Review   Obituary Guide, March 2, 2016:  If you are at all curious about writing your own obituary, read this book! With Writing an Obituary Worth Reading, author Martin Kimeldorf has given us a beautiful, moving, and vital work.
     “The contemporary obituary is emerging as a distinct literary genre,” the author says. “These short gems are written in a conversational voice with everyday language, wit, and insight.” 

Tidying UpDecluttering Gives New Hope for Baby Boomers  Live Well, Do Good,  January 19, 2016:   Decluttering. Downsizing. Simplifying. These words have become mantras for a generation of my peers; the baby boomers. We who grew up in an era of unprecedented material growth, are now swimming in a pool of our own belongings. Much as we love them, they are bogging us down. And, according to a 2014 book by Marie Kondo, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, our possessions are holding us back.

Find the Good“Most Obituaries are Downright Inspirational”   Brandon Sun, January 11, 2016:  Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded to look for what is good: in one’s life, in the community, in the world. Wherever. That reminder even could come from an unlikely source: a newspaper obituary. That is the theme of a new book by Heather Lende, Find the Good: Unexpected Life lessons From a Small-Town Obituary Writer.

Dont Even think About ItA History of Struggling to Grasp Climate Change Reality   Brandon Sun, November 30, 2015:  How we got to our understanding of global warming today. A number of books over the years have been very helpful, including the new Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains are Wired to Ignore Climate Change.

End of AbsenceExploring What's Lost in a Connected World   Brandon Sun, October 19, 2015:  Serendipity led me to The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection at the Brandon Public Library. And a good thing, too. This enjoyable and thoughtful new book is a useful antidote to the influence of the Internet and mobile devices.

Lives in RuinsAuthor Digs Deep into Lives of Archeologists   Brandon Sun, August 10, 2015: What do you think might be the coolest job around? Does your list include “archeologist”? If so, you share a fascination with American writer Marilyn Johnson. Her new book is Lives in Ruins: Archeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble.

Being Mortal“A New Ideal For How We Die”   Brandon Sun, April 6, 2015:  How would you like to live the last bit of your life before you die? Not a question we usually think of. And that is a problem, American doctor Atul Gawande says. Diagnosing this problem, he prescribes solutions in his bestselling new book, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.

War on DrugsWar on Drugs: A Failed Experiment   Brandon Sun, December 8, 2014:  Just as the marijuana debate is heating up, Paula Mallea’s new book The War on Drugs: A Failed Experiment should be the go-to primer on the subject. And she deals with not just pot, but all drugs.

This Changes EverythingThis Changes Everything   Brandon Sun, November 24, 2014:  This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein is a landmark book. Klein is a leading Canadian social activist, bestselling author, and public intellectual. Now, she takes on climate change: where we are at, and what needs to be done.

ThriveDeath and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder   Obituary Guide, August 5, 2014:  The book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington notes that a heightened awareness of death can be a stimulus to live a better life.

Quality of LifeQuality of Life, Well-Being Research Something We Can Feel Good About   Brandon Sun, July 28, 2014:  What determines our quality of life? Our well-being? Our happiness? I had the good fortune recently to ask an expert who has just produced a mammoth work, the Encyclopedia of Quality of Life and Well-Being Research.    

What You Don't KnowBook Provides Intriguing, Scientific Glimpse into State of Religious Beliefs   Brandon Sun, March 3, 2014:  How does religion affect us as individuals and as a society? A new book by an American social scientist gives us some provocative answers. What You Don't Know About Religion (But Should) is sure to . . .

Salt Sugar FatBook Blows Lid Off Food Industry   Brandon Sun, December 16, 2013:  You could easily ask: Why was the new book Salt Sugar Fat even published? Don’t we already know that these three ingredients contribute to overeating and poor health? Don’t we already know that the goal of food companies is to make lots of money?

End of GrowthThe End of Growth?   Brandon Sun, August 19, 2013:  Canadian banker Jeff Rubin says that we are at peak oil and the end of growth. He forecasts lots of cloudy days ahead. But there may be some silver linings. Chief economist at CIBC World Markets for 20 years. Rubin skewers conventional beliefs of the economics profession. Central among them is the importance and benefit of economic growth, which Rubin says is “stamped into an economist’s DNA.” 

Fitness CerealsNestlé Fitness 14 Day Weight Loss Program – What’s Wrong Here?   Live Well, Do Good, February 21, 2013:  I did not make this up. A major corporation says you can lose weight by eating more of its sugar-sweetened cereal instead of real food. In a huge global marketing effort, this campaign is designed to sell more cereal. But it also promotes a powerful message about food, health, and the way we see ourselves. 

Living WellLiving Well While Doing Good   Live Well, Do Good, February 20, 2013:  It is with great enjoyment that I review a book on the same subject as this website. Living Well While Doing Good is a fine book by Donna Schaper. Short and readable, it has lots of food for thought. Brimming with stories, images, and metaphors, for me reading it was like listening to a sermon in a church. And I mean that in a good way! 

PortlandiaIs "Portlandia" the new "Ecotopia"?   Live Well, Do Good, February 17, 2013: When my kids introduced me to the delightful TV program Portlandia, I had an immediate sense of déjà vu about my generation and the dream of the 1970s. That earlier dream was also of an alternative society where people were more in tune with each other and the Earth. And that dream was eloquently depicted in 1975 by writer Ernest Callenbach.

Books for Winter Reading   Brandon Sun, January 7, 2013:  These books from the past few years have led me to a better understanding of the world. Perhaps some of these books – or these themes – will pique your interest for some deep winter reading.

Book is OverdueThis Book is Overdue!  (A Review)   Live Well, Do Good,  December 20, 2012:  This book about librarians not only is much more interesting than it sounds, but also has something to say to all of us struggling with the weight of the information age. “Who can we trust?” the author asks. “In a world where information itself is a free-for-all, with traditional news sources going bankrupt and publishers in trouble, we need librarians more than ever.” 

Obituaries in American Culture   Obituary Guide, November 30, 2012:  How Americans understand their lives is revealed by how they record their deaths. 

Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World   Live Well, Do Good, November 28, 2012:  A review of this fine comprehensive book by former president Bill Clinton.

Serious Summer Reading Looks Good to Those Around You!   Brandon Sun, August 7, 2012:  Zack Gross shares his book suggestions. 

Surfing World Wide Web Breeds Shallow Thinking   Brandon Sun, April 2, 2012:  A review of the book by Nicholas Carr, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. See also:  Deepening Our Thinking in the Internet Age: Ten Tips

U.S. Will Collapse Like Greece, Bestselling Author Predicts   Brandon Sun,  March 5, 2012:  A review of Mark Steyn’s book After America: Get Ready for Armageddon.

Book Brings Captain Palliser’s Expedition to Life   Brandon Sun, January 30, 2012:  A review of the new book about the Palliser Expedition that explored the Prairies a century and a half ago: On the Road with Captain Palliser by Joyce McCart.

The Medium is the Message?   Brandon Sun, December 5, 2011:  A review of the biography Marshall McLuhan by Douglas Coupland.

Famous Detectives   How to Become a Detective, December 5, 2011:  A look at the detective fiction genre, which brings to our lives a bit of wit, wisdom, and wonder.  

The Bathrobe Millionaire   Live Well, Do Good, October 7, 2011:  A review of the book The Bathrobe Millionaire: Confessions of an Unemployable Job-Hopper Who Made a Fortune Without Work, Risk, or Khakis by Jason Yelowitz.

The 4-Hour Workweek   September 5, 2011:  Live Well, Do Good, A review of the book by Timothy Ferriss, The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich.

Canadian History Boring?  Not if You Know a Little   Brandon Sun, July 18, 2011:  Is Canadian history really that boring? A review of the book by John Ralston Saul titled Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine and Robert Baldwin.

Youth May Soon Lead Change   Brandon Sun, February 27, 2011:  Reflections on the revolutions in North Africa; a talk and book about Climate Wars by Gwynne Dyer; and the book by Michael Adams, Stayin’ Alive: How Canadian Baby Boomers Will Work, Play, and Find Meaning in the Second Half of Their Adult Lives.

New Book on Louis Riel Leaves Much to Ponder   Brandon Sun, February 13, 2011:  The story begins in 1844. Louis Riel is born in the settlement at Red River (now Winnipeg). He is Métis . . . A review of a new book by Joseph Boyden, Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont.

New Book Inspires Readers to Compassion, Social Justice   Brandon Sun, February 6, 2011 (Zack Gross):  The Charter for Compassion and a review of the book Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong.

The Greatest Show On Earth   Brandon Sun, January 30, 2011:  Evolution or creation? Science or religion? A review of the recent bestselling book by British biologist Richard Dawkins, The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution.

A Year of Living Generously   Brandon Sun, January 2, 2011:  Kingston, Ontario journalist Lawrence Scanlan reports on his volunteering for a different charity each month for a year. The review of A Year of Living Generously: Dispatches From the Front Lines of Philanthropy.

Book Helps Put Seton’s Westman Roots on Display   Brandon Sun, December 5, 2010:  A world renowned naturalist, wildlife illustrator, and co-founder of the Boy Scouts once lived in Western Manitoba. Review of the book by David L. Witt, Ernest Thompson Seton: The Life and Legacy of an Artist and Conservationist.

Book Looks at Islamic World   Brandon Sun, November 7, 2010:  Are Islam and the West engaged in a “clash of civilizations”? Can Islam change to incorporate the equality of women? Review of the book by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Nomad: From Islam to America: A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations.

More Thoughtful Approach to Racial Issues is Required   Brandon Sun, September 13, 2010:  Review of the book by American professor Thomas Sugrue, Not Even Past: Barack Obama and the Burden of Race.

Canadian Author Wonders What Harper is Reading   Brandon Sun, July 3, 2010:  Review of the book What Is Stephen Harper Reading? by Yann Martel.

Authors Offer Food for Thought   Brandon Sun, April 24, 2010:  Review of the books An Edible History of Humanity by Tom Standage and In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan.

Prime Minister Barack Obama?   Brandon Sun, August 22, 2009:  Reflections on the book Open And Shut: Why America has Barack Obama and Canada has Stephen Harper.

Six Words To Describe A Life?   Brandon Sun, July 25, 2009:  Can just six words sum up a life? The book Not Quite What I Was Planning.

Role of Religion in War and Peace   Brandon Sun, May 30, 2009:  Reflections on religion, war, Brandon's Labyrinth of Peace, and Madeleine Albright's book The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs

Lessons in Success   Brandon Sun, May 2, 2009:  Why are some people much more successful than others? Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers: The Story of Success.

We Can Forge a New Drug Policy   Brandon Sun, April 4, 2009:  Reflections on the war in Afghanistan, the War on Drugs, and A Fair Country: Telling Truths About Canada by John Ralston Saul.

Remembering Nellie McClung   Brandon Sun, March 7, 2009:  The legendary Canadian feminist leader is the subject of the new biography Nellie McClung

Drug, Alcohol Policies Reveal Our Hypocrisy   Brandon Sun, January 10, 2009:  
Reflections on the futility of the "War on Drugs" and the book A History of the World in Six Glasses

Be Prepared: Will, Health Care Directive (Living Will), Obituary, and More   Brandon Sun, December 13, 2008:  Among the resources, a new book about health care directives, Living Will, Living Well.

Learning to Step Lightly   Brandon Sun, November 15, 2008:  A new book by Manitoba author Mark Burch invites us to consider living more simply. Stepping Lightly: Simplicity for People and the Planet.

Tours, Book Bring Cemetery to Life   Brandon Sun, June 14, 2008:  Three great resources bring to life the stories buried in our local cemeteries. The theatre presentation Gossip in the Graveyard, the walking tour What Lies Beneath, and the book Every Stone a Story: Manitoba's Buried History.

Wiki Is The Way Of The Future   Brandon Sun, May 3, 2008:  Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything.

Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary Stories   Brandon Sun, September 29, 2007:  The book Obit: Inspiring Stories of Ordinary People Who Led Extraordinary Lives.

All Those Little Things Can Really Add Up These Days – To Cash   Brandon Sun, March 15, 2007:  The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More.  

What’s Up With Grand Theft Auto?   Brandon Sun, August 18, 2005:  A controversy about the rating of one of the Grand Theft Auto video games.

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