The Week in Books 2009, No. 43

Say Yes To No is a thought provoking book about how to make time for things that are truly important in your life, rather than filling up all of your time and spending all of your energy on things that are fine but not great. The author advocates saying “no” to free up space so you can say “yes” to better things.

The author is a pastor who also happens to be widely read, and he does a masterful job of using all sorts of historical and philosophical references to stimulate your thinking and flesh out his arguments, while at the same time relying on the foundation of faith. He’s also a good writer, which helped. I found myself challenged to think about some areas of my life where I might need to alter my focus, and areas where I might be sacrificing the best in favor of the good.

I’d recommend this book if you like to think about goals and priorities, or if you ever feel overwhelmed or like you’re not sure what you’re accomplishing.

Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives disappointed me somewhat because I felt like the author, while clearly knowledgeable and passionate about his topic, needed to tighten up the text. I felt like he said the same thing over and over again, and then tried to cover really complex subtopics with too little information.

One good point I took away from this book is that we have a tendency to let other people tell us what we can handle and guilt us into doing too much. That is definitely true of me – I feel so horrible saying no to things especially when I see other mothers doing tons more than I do and seeming to pull it off with great aplomb. I think I’m getting better and seeing that we all have the same amount of time, but it’s ok for us to have different goals and priorities.

Overall I would say you’d be better off reading “Say Yes to No” than “Margin.”

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