Fantasy, Fiction, Non Fiction, Self-Help

Week 4, January 21st, 2024

Posted by Max Bellmann

Week 4, 2024 in the books! Had a work trip that delayed some reading but was able to finish a book that I started several weeks ago (though not really a sit down and read in one-setting kind of book) as well as a Stephen King suggestion by a work friend. Two very different types of books this week – both from my usual preferences as well as extremely different from one another. Week 4 brought:

  • 101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think, by Brianna Wiest
  • 11/22/63, by Stephen King

So… what’s the verdict?

101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think, by Brianna Wiest

I almost didn’t read this book. It popped up several times on popular books to read from my library app. I finally pulled the trigger and downloaded it. I had no idea what to expect but am SO glad I took the chance. Immediately I fell in love with this book. It is not a novel or a book you might sit and read for hours on end (thus why it took nearly a month for me to finish). Well also as I listened to this from Spotify which has gotten into the audiobook game, but they fail to mention you only have a handful of listening hours (for free) per month and I quickly hit my limit. I digress. And reading this particular book in small chunks isn’t a bad thing. In fact I believe it’s best digested in snippets as each chapter is a list of ideas, questions, or reflections you can (arguably should) use to better yourself – or at minimum help understand yourself so you can achieve what you want to achieve, feel the way you want to feel, do the things you want to do, and (hopefully) become better from it.

There are countless one-liners in this book that warrant proper attention. I’ll share a handful (perhaps more than a handful) of the quotes (or more than likely poor rephrasings) I liked most.

  • Start focuing on what you do with your minutes. Not just how you want to spend your next hour, or day, or week/month/year. A lot can be done within just a few minutes.
  • Your past self isn’t who you are, we often perceive it that way. But we are all living now, in the moment – and that is who we really are.
  • Happiness cannot be saved like money in a bank. You experience it in the moment or you miss out on it. So enjoy happiness when it strikes you.
  • There is never a right time. Nothing in life is given (mortality is real and it may come well before we expect it).
  • Call your mom, not everyone has that luxury.
  • Choose to believe the life you have is more than enough.
  • At the end of the day, you have a good life. You just have to focus on it more.
  • You have a bank of self-controll. One must learn to prioritize consistency and carve out time to do the things we want to do. They don’t come naturally – despite how we often think.
  • What would you do if no one would judge you?
  • You must learn to strive from purpose not passion. Motivation is fleeting and can’t be relied on for achieving your goals.
  • The only way you grow is by stepping into the unknown.
  • Follow purpose, passionately. (see above)
  • Why do we teach to respect our elders, when most stop learning after the age of 23 and sit and fester in their prejudices of the generation in which they were raised. (obviously doesn’t apply to all, more generally speaking)
  • The most creative people free themselves from structure and let their minds run free – not focused on tackling tasks.
  • In a few hundred years, most people will be completely forgotten to time. That isn’t depressing, it’s liberating. Do what you can to make it “hella good.”
  • Don’t let your problems become you. You aren’t an anxious person, you are a person who sometimes experiences anxiety. – love this.
  • It’s easier to think your way into a new way of acting, than act your way into a new way of thinking.
  • Give yourself permission to want what you want, now.
  • Learn to love reading. – I just did this myself about 1.5 years ago… so glad I did. Wish I would’ve years and years ago.
  • Stop asking what you are doing with your life, and start asking what you are doing with yourself – TODAY.
  • If you don’t know what you want, look at your fears… what’s on the other side?

This is only the 2nd book that I read from the library that I had to go out and purhcase a physical copy for myself as well. It’s just that good. I absolutely plan to re-read this book, again likely in snippets over some time, to redownload into my brain the aspects that really hit home. It is also a book I’ll likely mark up with highlighter so I can reference quickly the notes I find most compelling and/or applicable.

100% would recommend this book to anyone. Absolute perfection. 5/5 Stars.

11/22/63, by Stephen King

Another Stephen King book under my belt. The first was The Gunslinger, which seems to be quite popular per the online reviews but was not a book I cared much for. That was how I started with Stephen King… obviously a very famous author with a massive body of work. So I knew I couldn’t just stop there and be one-and-done with a “not for me” kind of attitude towards King. Thus, when I got a suggestion from a colleague to read 11/22/63 I thought… ok. Why not? I’ll take the suggestion from a trusted source vs. the reviews of the masses (which to be fair, are also quite good for this book – 4.33 on

I really enjoyed this story, with the only caveat being it was slightly too long with the 3rd portion of the story – I’ll explain here in just a minute.

I see this book as having really 4 parts (despite the book literally having 8):

  • Part 1 – The Intro/Setup and Mystery of Al
  • Part 2 – Frank Dunning, The Hammer Bro.
  • Part 3 – The Assissination of JFK Jr.?
  • Part 4 – Back to the Future

Part 1 was great. If anything too short. Our premise is setup well. You’re wondering what the hell is going on. How’s this going to work. Is it real. Al is a wild character and his crazy thoughts only leave you wanting more and questioning how this is going to go. Amazing.

Part 2 was also great. A really cool, I suppose side-story, of Jake’s encounter with the Dunning family and his attempts to undo the present by changing the past. This was awesome.

Part 3 is a bit long for my taste and includes a little too much fluff that doesn’t really contribute well to the overarching theme or story. This is supposed to be Part 2 but on steroids – and certainly a more popular… that’s the wrong word… recognizable story. As Part 2 is pure fiction, Part 3 is about the assissination of JFK Jr. – which obviously, is non-fiction (though this story is still very much fiction). Here we blend real world events and characters with fictional events and characters for a fun (again a little long though) what-if type story.

Lastly, Part 4 shows the aftermath. What happens to the future when you’ve drastically altered the “new” past from the “old” past. This was also short and sweet and really enjoyed the, let’s say, repurcussions of everything that went down in Part 3.

11/22/63 has a fun blend of various aspects to it. As I mentioned we have real-life real-world events blended with fictional what-if changes and what that might look like downstream (back in time, to the future). Love these mind games. It also blends love, true crime, mystery, time travel, gambling, friendship, serial killers (possibly) and more.

All in, I’m glad I gave Mr. King a 2nd chance. He’s earned a 3rd after reading this one. A really cool story with a fun twist to time travel (IMO anyways). Would Recommend. 4/5 Stars.

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