Title: From Utopia to the American Dream
Author: John Czingula
Genre: Memoir, Nonfiction
Year Published: October 23, 2021
Date Started: March 2, 2023
Date finished: March 7, 2023
This is a memoir about John Czingula, the author of the book. It follows him through childhood in his home country of Hungary to the United States. The focus on the memoir is John’s ambition to become successful in his endeavors. His father inspired him to be the best and to never give up and that stuck with him.
Through war torn Hungary from WW1 through to WW2, John and his family lived in fear. His father refused to join the communist party and thus John followed in his father’s footsteps in avoiding any confrontation or push to join the party. Communism, as it should be, was not what it really was. On the outside, it looked perfect and pristine, but the reality of it was not so. For John and his family (and a lot of other Hungarians) the party and its belief worked against them. John had a lot of ambitions. There was so much he wanted to do but communism wouldn’t allow him any of his success. He yearned to experience life in America where he’d heard he’d be able to do whatever he wanted without politics stopping him at every point. The way to America was not an easy one, especially during war, but John persevered. He took chances to escape his home country. With some luck he made it to America successfully.
John didn’t live in a dream world. He knew the good and the bad of America, but compared to communism, America was freedom in both mind and opportunities. John’s story is about overcoming fears and never giving up. There were times in his life when things were so bad that he was at a lost, but he didn’t let those moments take him down. He kept going. He became a successful business owner, actor, and pilot. He came from a place where dreams were stomped on to a place where a single idea could create massive success.
I’m so glad to have read John’s story because I can relate to a lot of his experiences. I liked that he looked up to America and saw the beauty of it and the ability to succeed. I see America the same way and it’s a great feeling to know that there are still people out there who believe in this country. Btw, John mentioned goulash a couple of times and it made me crave it (I’m not Hungarian though but have made my own version of it many times and have also had it at a restaurant). Love it when a book does that!
Who should read this book: Anyone who enjoys a memoir about war and overcoming the harshness of communism and realizing what freedom really is.
Title: Heaven on Earth: A Simple Reminder of the Everyday Miracles that Happen Around Us
Author: Julia McCoy and Rachel Keagy
Genre: Self-help; Christian Inspiration; Memoir
Year Published: February 10, 2023
Date Started: February 14, 2023
Date finished: February 17, 2023
This book is a collection of the author’s real life experiences and how she overcame the struggles within these parts of her life through the help of prayer. Each story is meaningful and also relatable. They’re struggles that each of us have either gone through or know someone close to us who’ve gone through, and even if not, they could possibly be insights into future experiences that might be similar and thus provide some guidance for your future. Knowing about prayer and how to overcome struggles will make things easier. In this book, the author talks about how prayer can lead to miracles, to situations where a better outcome overcomes what could end up being disastrous.
I found this book very insightful. Some of the stories touched me such as the birthing story and the barn on fire story. I liked how the author used prayers to help her through these times and how the prayers came through in the form of miracles. It just goes to show how powerful prayer can be in both possibly making the situation better and also provide peace of mind or a quiet calm. Even if you’re not a believer in miracles, you can learn to use prayer during difficult times of your life and ask for guidance or help. You don’t have to feel like you’re going at it alone, and you don’t have to pray to a higher God. Find a method that you feel comfortable with and use it to bring you a better outcome.
This is an excellent book for inspiration and hope. Again, even if you’re not a believer of faith, you won’t be disappointed in this book. There is something to learn from it.
Who should read this book: Anyone looking for inspiration, hope, and just anything to help pick you up when you’re feeling at your lowest.
Title: The Leadership Guide: Unleashing the Power Within and In Others
Author: Dr. Srikanth Gaddam
Genre: Non-fiction; Education; Self-help
Year Published: November 11, 2021
Date finished: June 17, 2022
This is a book on how to be a better leader in the workforce and how to continuously work on leadership skills to stay on top. It focuses on techniques by looking at oneself and one’s goals and purpose. The book opens with an introduction providing insights into why the author wrote this book. It’s a really helpful section in that it helps you understand the purpose and importance of leadership. The chapters are executed with straight-forward descriptions using bullet points and bolded sections to make it easy to focus on each particular points. Each chapter ends with a chapter takeaway, a quick key-points of the chapter.
I have read other books on leadership in the past and this one is one of the best. I like that it talks about an individual’s abilities and to look within to find that leadership. The book is full of important methods and techniques in leadership. It explains why leadership matters and how to get to where you want to be. It also includes the different types of leadership styles, challenges to overcome, leading teams and organizations, organizational leadership, leadership during crisis, and more. It’s a very thorough book with excellent points.
The book is focused on leadership in the workforce, specifically larger companies, but it could also be applied to an individual or smaller businesses. If you’ve ever taken a Stephen Covey course, you’ll know that the skills you’ve learned can be applied to everyday life. This book works the same way. The difference with this book is that it’s to-the-point and can be used as a reference guide for years to come. There are no stories or examples of how to use these steps. It’s not meant for that. It’s rather about the inner self and how to grow one’s leadership skills by focusing within as well as paying attention to the changing world around. This book was extremely well executed.
Who should read this book: Everyone should read this book. Even if you’re already a leader or have years of experience in leadership, this book is a great reference resource for those moments you might question your own abilities.
Title: The Combat Diaries: True Stories from the Frontlines of World War II
Author: Mike Guardia
Genre: Non-fiction; WWII; Anthology
Year Published: April 1, 2022
Date finished: June 9, 2022
This is the first time I’ve read a diary of sort about military men in war. It’s not so much a diary but stories—short memoirs—about a few individual service members during WWII. It lets us see (and just barely see) the horrendousness of war through the eyes of these brave men. The stories provide some backstory to how and where they grew up, and how and why they entered the military. Each story ends with what each of them did after the war and a photo or two of them either taken during the war and/or afterwards.
All the stories are well told and provide insights into the many ways these men dealt with survival, following orders, what they saw/experienced, and everything else. One of the stories took me by surprise. It was the one where the Lieutenant was introduced to an OSS agent named Julia McWilliams, whom after the war, married and became who we know as Julia Childs, the television chef. There were so many things I wasn’t aware of, like the POWs in the Philippines, the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) that eventually became the CIA, the concentration camp that contained not only Jews but everyone else that “didn’t belong,” etc. I don’t want to take away from each soldier’s story because it’s their story that reminds us what freedom looks like, but just wanted to point out that there’s so much to learn from this book.
This was one amazing read. I enjoyed every story and wanted more. What I found interesting was that even in this type of environment, the men were able to find humor. I wish there was a way to read as many of these stories as possible in this style. I don’t know why this isn’t done more often, but I can also understand, and respect, that some families might want to remain private. There were so many military servicemen that died, and their stories will never be heard. I find that so heartbreaking.
Who should read this book: I’d recommend everyone read it.
Title: A Dog’s Collar
Author: Sam Knupp
Genre: Spiritual, Memoir
Year Published: February 16, 2022
Date finished: March 29, 2022
This book is a collection of stories throughout the author’s life as a chaplain. It’s written as a memoir of sorts where we get to experience the stories with the author, and at times, about the author.
Sam takes us through a handful of moments/instances during his time working in a hospital, a jail, and a few other places. These stories are very heartfelt and have a purpose. They allow us to see the reality of the human soul. We see the raw pain and sorrows these people go through, reminding us of how fragile we all really are, not only physically, but mentally, and emotionally as well. We get to see what Sam has to do and be to these people. Even if he wanted to walk away and hide, he couldn’t. He chose this career, or maybe it chose him, but either way, having to find the right words to say, the right prayers to pray, and doing the right thing to comfort these souls takes so much willpower, and Sam did it as though it was second nature. And because he is telling us these stories, we get to experience his true thoughts and how much he too is human.
I was not expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did. There were moments when I had to pause to wipe away tears. Sam is a true hero. He put up with so much yet received little in return. It was a wonderful read and I’d recommend it to everyone. It’s not a religious book and Sam doesn’t force any type of religion or God upon anyone. It’s lighthearted, humorous, and poignant. At times, Sam even questions his own beliefs. This was a wonderfully written book and I’m glad I was able to read it.
Who should read this book: Anyone looking for hope and spirituality.
Title: The Heart of Prayer: The Essential Guide to Knowing God Through Prayer
Author: D.M. Stahlheber
Genre: Non-fiction; Spiritual
Year Published: December 7, 2021
Date finished: March 4, 2022
I’ve never read a book about how to pray so this one really piqued my interest. I wanted to know what the author had to say about praying. I was mainly curious as to whether I would be lectured or forced to believe someone else’s belief. Turns out, it was neither. This is a beautifully written book on guiding the reader towards being a better prayer for themselves.
This book provides a lot of scriptures from the bible in reference to each topic the author covers, and she covers topics about things everyone deals with, things we all struggle with, such as, loneliness, sadness, love, frustration, anger, ambitions, wants, and needs, etc. She has taken the time to research specific scriptures to help in all areas of prayer. She includes the books, chapters, and verses so that you can easily locate them in your bible and read further if you want to. If you don’t have a bible, no prob. The scriptures included are enough. This book helps you focus on prayers without telling you what to believe or who you should believe in. It has a way of putting you as ease when you are feeling turbulence in your life.
What I really love about this book is how the author shares pieces of her life and how she overcame difficulties. There were times when she struggled with her belief, but she pulled through with the guidance of prayer. I’d have to say, everyone can benefit from this book. It’s worth checking out especially if you find it difficult to focus on what to pray about and how to go about prayers that will benefit you the most. This book is very well put together. I will definitely be using it as a reference to help me become a better prayer.
Who should read this book: Anyone in need of guidance on how to pray or simply learn how to pray in a way that will benefit you.