How’s it going? I hope you enjoyed reading my last review as much as I did writing it.

Now I’m back in the Low Lands and this means that I might not be able to keep up with posting twice a week. The main goal of enforcing me to read at least one chapter of a book per day still thrives on ‘though! I’ll strive to regularly post even after I start working full-time.

On a different note, I received a few books as graduation presents from relatives. The More of Less was one of them. Initially, I came across the book from a Twitter post. I found the title (and the cover image) compelling, at least compelling enough to be inserted into my wishlist.

What I found most interesting about the book is that it actually is a self-help book, although you’d most likely find it on the home organisation shelf or something similar. It also promises something huge: own less, and be more satisfied.


In the spirit of consumerism and bombarding advertisements, do you really want to promote such idealism? Do you really expect people will buy into your nonsense?



Image courtesy of Tiny Buddha


Read on and be the judge.



Title: The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own

Author: Joshua Becker

Categories: Simplicity, Consumption (economics)



A book on minimalism should be minimalist as well, don’t you think? That’s why I will keep my summary to the bare minimum. Becker makes my job easy ‘though: around 50% of the book is built on people’s experiences with minimalism, and it’s not that I don’t value them, but if you want to go through the interesting testimonies, you’ll have to get the book yourself.

I’ll just get to the bottom of it: what is minimalism?


The author uses the following definition:

The intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from them.

Instead of telling you what it is, I’ll tell you what it’s not:

  • It’s not giving up everything
  • It’s not about a better way of organising

The goal of it is to “unburden our lives so we can accomplish more.” You can define what kind of minimalism you want to pursue: reduce the number of items you currently have by 60% or limit the number of items you own to a reasonable number. Why would you want to pursue minimalism? Because consumerism. Consumerism only promises but never delivers. Your happiness, contentment, security, or acceptance in life is not determined by how many items you own (contrary to the bombarding advertisements). Your happiness is your own decision.

Becker gives a lot of practical tips on how to begin the minimalism journey. First, you need to declare a statement of purpose for your life. What will you pursue after you have successfully decluttered your life? Next, begin the cleaning up with the most familiar area in your life. Here goes another useful suggestion: don’t start with the house, start with the car first. Tackle room by room in your house and classify things to keep, relocate, and remove. Get rid of duplicates, and finally share your story with fellow minimalist hopefuls. Becker also gives examples of stuff that will usually give you a hard time in minimising: books, paper, technology, keepsakes, car, and house.


If you find minimising is too extreme of an action for a first trial, you may want to experiment. Becker advises the reader to create a statement of experiment such as the following:

Experiment: I will live without __________________ (possessions) for ______________ days (or weeks or months)

At the end of that time I will decide either:

[  ] Yes, I can live without those possessions.

[  ] No, I still need them.


Pretty straightforward. A suggested timeframe for an experiment is twenty-nine days (Why? Go read the book). The crown jewel of the book I think resides in Chapter 9, Maintenance Program. There are  a chock-full of practical suggestions on how to create habits that sustain minimalism. Samples include:

  • Make your bed each morning
  • Wash dishes right away
  • Keep flat surfaces clear
  • Place junk mails immediately into recycling bin
  • Limit the number of televisions in your house
  • Make your gift requests known early.
  • Be patient with our family.
  • Practice gratitude as a discipline.


In Chapter 10, Becker sets forth practical advice on how to deal with family members who are yet not willing to take up minimalism. Dealing with your spouse calls for a different measure from dealing with your teenage children. Then he suggests the minimalist family take up generosity. Instead of selling unwanted items, just give them away. He argues that this practice will add joy and contentment to the household. You may start really small, but make sure you give. Set aside X amount of money from your paycheck, divert one specific expense, and spend time with a generous person. Generosity is evidently contagious! Finally, bring it up a notch by not only donating money but also time.

 The last two chapters respectively speak about starting an intentional life. You can focus on three areas in your life: your schedules, your bodies, and your relationships. You should reduce the distractions you have and appreciate rest, for instance. In maintaining your well-being, you should watch what you eat and exercise regularly. Finally, never be afraid of parting ways with unhealthy relationships. Every goodbye gives room for a new hello. The last chapter strongly emphasises the point of not settling for less. Take action and become of service to someone else. It’s the ultimate form of minimalism: “emptying” yourself so you can “fill” others.



Pay a visit to the Becoming Minimalist website to find out more on minimalism.

Outlook: The next review (#5) is yet to be decided, but a strong candidate is a book on cyber security.






A book on relationships.




That seems fitting for people my age.


Exactly what I had in mind when I picked up this book off the shelf.


Loveology: God. Love. Marriage. Sex. And the never-ending story of male and female.


Fair enough.


The rest is history.


John Mark Comer, as I’ve discovered, is a teaching and vision pastor at a church in Portland, OR. Little did I know that such position exists! He turns out to be very witty, tackling postmodern issues with razor-sharp theological arguments. Comer is also an avid reader himself; check out his Twitter timeline for books he’s currently reading or if you’re into indie music, his timeline is also a great source for fresh tunes.



Title: Loveology: God.Love.Marriage.Sex. And the never-ending story of male and female.

Author: John Mark Comer

Categories: Man-woman relationships; Marriage



Image courtesy of Christian Today



Comer deals with the main issue first: Love. He opens the book with the story of Adam and Eve and moves on to explaining what the Bible thinks about love. He outlines the differences between the Hebrew words used to define love, such as rayah (love for a friend – which I think is comparable to philia), dod (lustful love or eros), and ahava or the one we’re most familiar one: agape. He closes this part by concluding that Jesus’ love is that of ahava, the one that’s based on selflessness, that moves past mere affection, and the one that’s entrenched on commitment.


In Part Two, Comer uses the story of Adam and Eve to explain the model marriage that God has in mind. He believes there are four reasons for marriage: friendship, gardening, sexuality, and family. Allow me to explain these points using his own words. First up, friendship:

God never says, “All you need is God.” Adam has God, and it’s not enough. God says, “It is not good for the man to be alone”

In other words, one’s spouse should be one’s closest friend.

Second, Adam was tasked with a gardening project (“be fruitful…”). We also, live to work, and our work should be based on a specific calling or vocation. One’s marriage should be built around this calling.

Couples who exist simply for one another are doomed to failure.

If the point of your marriage is your marriage, it will collapse in on itself.

If the end goal of your relationship is your relationship, it will self-destruct.

And therefore, Comer mandates the reader to have a sense of his/her calling before getting married and that the spouse should become a “helper” for the other person (ezer in Hebrew, meaning partner).

The third reason concerns sexuality, but I will talk more about it in a devoted paragraph. The fourth and last reason is family, and this is where the procreation mandate gets in (“…. and multiply). To end Part Two, Comer skilfully inserts the fifth reason that was not mentioned in the beginning: re-creation. This reason only exists because Adam and Eve had failed to sustain their marriage. Marriage should be viewed as “two broken people coming together to find healing in Jesus.” and that “the point of marriage isn’t to find our missing half. It’s to help each other become all that God intended.” Marriage also isn’t an elixir for all your problems now, it will only expose what’s already inside you. Happiness isn’t the reason for a marriage, it’s the result. It’s not something God owes the married couple, nor something a spouse owes the other person. It’s also a gift. And so, if you put your faith (or reason for happiness) in your spouse, it’s a matter of time until they let you down.

As my senior pastor often reiterates: Marriage is not about expecting the other person to make you happy, it’s about you making the other person happy.


The third part is all about sex. Comer kicks off by rectifying a common misconception about sex, which states that sex in and on itself is bad. Wrong. God’s view of sex as a good gift is unchanged, even after the fall in Eden. He recycles the word echad (which he introduces in the first part) to make his point that sex is much more than a casual, consensual thing. It’s a physical and spiritual fusion between two humans (echad), and therefore he calls the reader to flee from the temptation of porneia (you can make an intuitive guess of what this word means…).


Part 4 is about romance. Comer studies the “notorious” Songs of Solomon to explain that there are four points that mark the journey of a relationship towards marriage:

  1. The chase: It is the male’s job to instigate and lead the way for romance. Men are also called to lead and to take risks.
  2. The line: Not getting anywhere near the line until the wedding day. Comer warns the reader not to found a relationship upon sex for three reasons:
    1. The echad explanation
    2. Sex obscures the vision
    3. It’s not sustainable
  3. The friends: Become best friends with your partner. Open up to each other. Allow each other to be scrutinised.
  4. The journey to the day: Every relationship is a journey. Either it’s shying away from marriage or moving towards it. An advice: don’t date until you’re (close to) ready to get married. Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house (Proverbs 24:27).

After these four points, Comer makes his point by drawing illustration from Isaac and Rebekah’s fateful encounter at the well. Now there’s a brilliant paragraph here. It’s a point I’ve heard repeatedly during sermons in my church. I’ll just paste it right away:

After the decision to follow Jesus, I would argue the most important decision you will make is who you marry. That decision will shape your life. Your children, family, where you live or don’t live, what you succeed at or fail at, your future –  all of these things hinge on who you marry. A bad decision can cripple you for life. And a good one can unleash a whole new world. A lot’s at stake.

Using the story, Comer also points out that it is OUR job to figure out if the person we’re dating is God’s pick for us. And because I like dos and don’ts, I’ll list some from this chapter for you:

  1. “… don’t settle. It’s far better to be single and unhappy than married and unhappy. The former you can change, but marriage is for life.”
  2. “You don’t have to get married. Ever.”
  3. “Don’t marry someone you hope will change.”
  4. “Don’t explain away the red flags. When your family and friends say stuff you don’t want to hear – listen… Whatever you’re frustrated with now in your potential spouse, ratchet it up by ten…”
  5. “Don’t forget you’re not just marrying a husband or wife. You’re marrying a father or mother.”
  6. It doesn’t belong to the list, but it’s worth mentioning: “No matter who you marry, they will have problems and issues, and, at some level, they will be a “bad match” for you. It’s inevitable… When it comes to marriage, there’s no perfect match.”

The next chapter in this part deals with waiting. Because waiting is an activity, Comer teaches us how to wait from Psalm 37: trust in the Lord, do good, dwell in the land, enjoy safe pasture, take delight in the Lord, commit your way to the Lord, be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for God.

Part 5 deals with male and female. In light of the current worldview that deteriorates the value of gender, this part becomes ever relevant. God created males and females as genders, or sexes for specific purposes. First of all, genders are equal before God, but we’re also unique. However, the Biblical view is that the man should lead and the woman should be his partner. He then also sheds some light on what Paul says in the New Testament regarding the roles of husbands and wives, on the gift of singleness, and on homosexuality.

Finally, Comer beautifully crafts a closing piece by writing an epilogue opened with the story of Jacob and appends a Q&A section which apparently was the brainchild leading to the book.



I love this book SO much that I’m afraid I’m unable to write an objective assessment of it. In fact, I had this book brought to a publisher and had it translated into Indonesian (which has been around for roughly 2 years and is still selling well). I love how Comer uses original Hebrew and Greek words to edify the reader, I love the humour sprinkled around the book, I love… let me just stop now.

As I’ve penned quite an extensive summary, this time I want to invite you to think about what I’ve written above. Things I wrote in the summary are the ones I highlighted in the book, those I found most interesting or most thought-provoking. Sometimes I leave a huge question mark on the margins as well. So please, have at it and leave your comments below!



Do check out some of the Loveology resources freely available on Youtube:

Part 1: Marriage

Part 2: Sexuality

Part 3: Dating

Part 4: Q&A

Or check out the introductory video to a small group Bible study designed to accompany the book.

Outlook: The next review (#4) will be on minimalism.


#2 – From New Recruit to High Flyer (Hugh Karseras)

Thanks for the kind words on the first review!

As promised in my previous post, this time I’ll do a review on a business book. While last time I did something with a New York Times bestseller, my next choice rests on something more modest. It’s not (yet) as evergreen as The 7 Habitsnor is it as recent as Thinking Fast and Slow. Nonetheless, the book speaks deeply to me for its relevance.

The title suggests something for a first-runger, or in more popular terms, an entry-level employee. The book is as relevant to me now as it was when I started my first corporate job almost 4 years ago. As I’m starting a clean slate in an entirely different career course, rereading the book was the first thing I did when I returned home for holiday. Turned out it was time well-spent. If my memory serves me well, I had this book as a gift to myself just before I actually applied for that corporate job. Talk about a worthy early investment 😉

I haven’t heard much of the author, Hugh Karseras, except for the fact that….he wrote this book. According to the About the Author page in the book, he is an investment bank executive with degrees from Princeton and Harvard Business School. He had also spent time working for consulting giant McKinsey & Company.


Image courtesy of Amazon


  • Title: From New Recruit to High Flyer: No-nonsense advice on how to fast track your career
  • Author: Hugh Karseras
  • Category: Career development, Executive ability, promotion


The book is reviewed in its entirety.


Three big parts make up this book. One part usually consists of a few chapters, and each chapter ends with a summary of what has been explained. I particularly like the fact that for every point he makes, Karseras includes endorsements from executives that vouch for his argument. You can find insights from a few hundred executives from esteemed organisations across the globe.

The first and shortest part speaks of having the right attitude. Karseras construes that your career is first and foremost built upon your attitude. You need to be – among other things –  in possession of a relentless work ethic, proactive and can-do approach, flexibility, humility, and respect for others.

Karseras then moves on to the second part, in which he teaches you how to master the fundamentals of your job as a first runger. He suggests you adopt a systematic approach in working (e.g. filing your work meticulously, prioritise your tasks, start your day early, and take full advantage of training programs) and get acquainted with basic quantitative calculation and essential Excel functions (which are nicely compressed into a four-page Appendix). Karseras also places emphasis on developing stellar communication skills by learning how write and speak effectively. A bunch of dos and don’ts of writing and speaking are parceled out here, such as:

  • Do listen actively – but don’t remain silent.
  • Do express a point of view – but don’t argue.
  • Do be fact-based – but don’t be too detailed.
  • Do be to the point – but don’t be blunt.
  • Do use corporate language – but don’t overuse management jargon.

Finally, he expects that first-rungers will most likely be given the responsibility to manage a project, so he closes the second part by giving tips on how to become a good project and people manager.

The third and final part is built around the idea that organisations will always have politics running in it, however small it could be. Karseras acknowledges this and the fact that most first-rungers will have a tough time navigating through it without any guidance. He first advises the newbies to build their network – both deep and broad ones – by for instance delivering professionally, being helpful, and maintaining meaningful contact. He also believes that for first-rungers to succeed, the presence of a mentor is nonnegotiable. Karseras believes mentors are important to provide them support and advice on different issues. Eventually, first-rungers need to be politically savvy by understanding the organisation’s culture, ensuring that they don’t make enemies early in their career, and remembering that first-rungers are always on show.

BONUS: A disciplined approach to avoid typos (from Chapter 4 Learn Business Communication Skills 1Speaking and Writing Effectively): 

  1. Set aside time to proof properly.
  2. Print out hard copies of your work and never proof on your computer screen.
  3. Clearly mark corrections on the hard copy and wait to make changes on-screen until you are done with the entire hard copy.
  4. Transfer the changes to the electronic copy.
  5. Print out the correct electronic version.
  6. Repeat the process until you find no markings.
  7. When proofing important documents, find a quiet environment, read and reread the printed document out loud word for word to ensure a clean document.


You cannot help but notice that Karseras wrote the book with his career path in mind. Having started as an investment banking analyst, he has included a chock-full of basic quantitative analysis skills which naturally he deems important for first-runger.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s just that if you want to thrive as a brand strategist, associate pastor, or a SOC (Security Operations Center) analyst level 1, there could be more relevant books for you out there. The fact that the book was written ten years ago when some jobs we know strive for did not exist yet, is perhaps the most plausible reason of this slight obsolescence. However, if you do want to follow in his footsteps or in any other business-related roles (such as a growth hacker), keep this book on your desk. You’ll find yourself wanting to return to this book for practical advice every now and then. The parts on attitude and wading through office politics are in my opinion, universally relevant. Karseras also did a great job avoiding the risk of making his book culturally biased by including executives from different parts of the world (although 58% of them work for American organisations as the Appendix states).

The book’s subtitle really lives up to its promise: no-nonsense advice was given.


The next business book review will be on productivity.

How did I do? As usual, please leverage the comments feature to ask questions or hand in suggestions!

Outlook: The next review (#3) will be on relationships.




#1 – The Reason for God (Timothy Keller)



“You sure you want to review a Tim Keller book?”



Reviewing a Tim Keller book as a novice is not an easy task. First, why would you review a New York Times Bestseller? Second, as one guy puts it:

“It’s THE Tim Keller!”

Nevermind, I’ll just go with it.

First off, this book was chosen because it has spoken to me deeply. The author repeatedly mentions that this book is for “skeptics” – those who doubt God’s existence. This post however, is not meant to be apologetic but is a fair review of a book that has struck a complex chord in me. I was never a strong skeptic but again it’s always nice to have meticulous explanation of your faith. I bought this book during my “Great North America Shopping Spree”two years ago (you’ll see more books coming up), when I impetuously shopped for more than 20 books and more than half of which are still intact.

Tim Keller is pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, also one of the founders of The Gospel Coalition. Statistically speaking, he is my favourite author: I have five of his books sitting on my shelf, more than any other authors.(Yes, you’re right, I haven’t read the other four). I follow his reading list and watch some of his keynotes on conferences (e.g. during the 2015 The Gospel Coalition National Conference). He is also an avid fan of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.


  • Title: The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism
  • Author: Timothy Keller
  • Category: Apologetics, faith, skepticism


The book is reviewed in its entirety.


Keller divides the book into two big parts: The Leap of Doubt (Part I) and The Reasons for Faith (Part II). It’s almost like a question-answer setup. In Part I Keller explicates common doubts that skeptics have with regards to Christianity, or “reasons for disbelieving Christianity.” Among those are:

  1. There can’t be just one true religion;
  2. How could a good God allow suffering?;
  3. How can a loving God send people to hell?;
  4. Science has disproved Christianity.

He does these propositions justice. Most of the times he dissects these doubts and only spends the last quarter of a chapter to make his point that a certain proposition DOES NOT hold. I’ll give you a foretaste: The following are axioms taken from Chapter 1 , There Can’t Be Just One True Religion:

Each religion sees part of spiritual truth, but none can see the whole truth.

To which Keller responds:

How could you possibly know that no religion can see the whole truth unless you yourself have the superior, comprehensive knowledge of spiritual reality you just claimed that none of the religions have?

Another one:

Religious belief is too culturally and historically conditioned to be ‘truth’.

To which Keller responds:

If you insist that no one can determine which beliefs are right and wrong, why should we believe what you are saying?

*drops mic*

I can go on to the other chapters, but let’s move to Part II. As the title suggests, this part lists reasons why your faith in a Christian God is a provable one (“there are sufficient reasons for believing it”.) Again, let’s draw samples. My favourite chapter in this part is Chapter 13, The Reality of The Resurrection. It deals with the problem of proving that Jesus did actually resurrect. Keller inserts his classic answer to the doubtful:

If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.

He goes on to arguing why the account on resurrection is too challenging to have been fabricated, listing reasons such as the number of witnesses (as recorded in 1 Corinthians 15:3-6), the fact that the first witnesses were women was not a good way to present a fabricated account, except only that it was indeed true, and so on. Other strong reasons set forth by Keller in other chapters include the story of the Cross and the problem of sin.

Mind you that the book does not solely revolve around Christian works or the Bible. References to secular thinkers are often made. The Notes subsection at the end of the book lists many references to academic scholars. The arguments presented are well-crafted and are well-directed towards the heart of the matter.


To me, the book is an Apologetics 101 textbook for advanced learners. I find the reading a bit too heavy for laypeople, and it implicitly requires you to have some background knowledge on the discourse of atheism. Maybe Keller was aware of this problem, and he has decided to write a prequel to this book. It’s called Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical.

I however, like how the book is set up. The Intermission section in the middle serves as a steady bridge between the two parts, so readers are aware of the connection between the two. He puts the cherry on top with Where Do We Go from Here, which reminds the reader of what motives should be pursued after he/she discovers faith in Christ through the book. I like the confidence he displays; it’s as if he can already see how a person would feel after finishing the book.


Making Sense of God was just released last month. As with any other good series, I strongly recommend you to start with that first before reading The Reason for God (that makes the two of us). If you love the wit of Tim Keller, you might probably want to check out his other books.


How did I do? Please let me know your thoughts!

Outlook: The next review will be on a business book.


A Guide to Reading My Blog

Before I actually dive in into my first review (don’t worry, I’ve selected the lucky book), it may be good to introduce you to how I structure my reviews. Variations may apply, but the skeleton remains as follows:

    • Here I say a short story of why the book is chosen, how it got into my hand and a short description of the author.
    • All the basics: title, author, and the category which the books falls within.
    • The scope of the book review; in case of lengthy books it is likely that I will give reviews in parts.
    • A gist of the most important ideas of and quotes from the book (in my opinion).
    • The idea of this section is to raise a healthy assessment on the propositions of the book. I will give out questions that I personally have raised during my reading.
    • Related further readings, be they from the same author or different ones. When applicable I’ll also attach links to online resources that can complement the book.

The idea is for you to also engage in discussions with me. You are invited to leverage the comment section to add on things I might have missed or to simply add a new discussion thread.

Did I miss anything essential? Leave a comment and let me know. Please stay tuned!


Late Adopter


This is not my first attempt at blogging. However, my previous blogging effort ended up with only 3 followers, including an online stalker. I’m hoping to start afresh with a clean slate.

I just decided to become a late adopter at blogging. Why? First, I just wrapped up grad school and am now sitting in what a call a ‘gap month’ before starting off with full time employment. Basically I have extra free time and I’d like to be prolific during those times. Second, I am a true advocate of knowledge sharing. This online platform will enable me to fulfill this goal. Third, after returning home I discovered I have at least 20 books sitting idly, some with their packaging unremoved. At one point, I really SHOULD read them. Writing a blog on book reviews should be good enough of a motivation.

Let’s do some expectation management first. In this blog you should expect:

  1. A somewhat random selection of books. I’ll be clear with tagging and categorising so you can always return to your favourite post wihout hassle.
  2. At times, very critical analyses instead of plain summary ;). Mind you that I will post before I finish the book. I have come to learn that highlighting individual chapters is as gratifying as reviewing a complete book.
  3. A potpourri of collection, but no fiction whatsoever. Also, books that might have been published several years back. When I come across an interesting new book, I’ll give it a reading priority.
  4. Lists, lists, and lists

You can also expect to receive weekly updates from me (meaning at least there’s going to be one new post per week), a mechanism I chose to establish to enforce regular reading. I have committed myself to read at least 1 chapter of each book I’m currently reading per day.

Currently I’m engaged with a couple of books on different items, but I have always had a short list of books I want to read. These include books on:

  • (Practical) theology
  • Christian living
  • Cyber security
  • Technology in general
  • Business and management

At the moment I’m reading a book on gospel-driven productivity, dating (yes.), the dangers of social media and how to avoid phish mails. Some of them are left in my Dutch home, and some I will bring back with me from Indonesia. I’ll also bring 10+ new titles with me to Netherlands.

I also have a wishlist I keep at an online bookshop (Dutch). I’ll share the link in an upcoming post. If you are blessed and encouraged by my reviews, please be my guest and mention books that you’d like me to review immediately. My wishlist can serve as pointers for you to have an idea of what kinds of books entice me. If I have extra money (I honestly would like to read books I’ve already bought), I’ll get them straight away but free books are always welcome 😉

The first actual review post will shortly come.