About four years ago, Andy Weir gave a talk at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on The Martian‘s path to success. As an editor who works with primarily indie authors and authors querying agents, I found it very interesting to hear Weir’s explanation of how he “failed” at publishing when he really, really tried, and then how he found profound success with a book he started out giving away for free. I also, on a personal level, find it really fascinating that his success came only after he let go: when he stopped trying and let things kind of run their own course, pursuing writing because he enjoyed it but without the pressure to “succeed.” Just interesting to ponder as we go about our lives, don’t you think?
Also, I’d like to just add here that I commend the screenwriter for sticking so closely to the book. There are differences, of course, and Weir goes into some of them in the talk, but it is remarkably close. I read the book after seeing the movie, and that often ruins the book for me but in this case it definitely didn’t – it’s the same story, with SO MUCH MORE DETAIL, and it’s fascinating (though not all scientifically accurate!). I just searched back so I could link to my review of the book, but apparently I never wrote a review (oops)…suffice it to says it’s AWESOME. And funny 🙂
Check out this video to hear the story straight from Andy Weir!
Letting Go and Letting God: 21 Centuries of Faith by Kathleen Atkinson, OSB
I received this book as a gift several years ago but hadn’t gotten to it until recently. I am currently working as Parish Secretary at my church, and occasionally I have some time at work that I can use for spiritual reading; this was the first book I chose. It was honestly not what I expected from the title, though the cover should’ve been a clue! I was expecting a book about how to let go of your day-to-day anxieties and focus on letting God guide you, and there certainly is an element of that. However, what Atkinson does is choose one saint from each century from the beginning of Christianity through the present and chronicle his or her life, offer suggestions for connecting with said saint, a prayer, and a few questions for reflection.
Overall, I learned a bit about some saints I hadn’t encountered previously and some more about some holy men and women with which I was already familiar. I am a bit skeptical about some of her choices for inclusion (one of which was named a saint by the anti-Pope at one period of Church history and is no longer considered a saint…questionable choice?), but overall she aims to present the saints in such a way that the reader can grasp how that person let go and let God work in his or her life. She summarizes this in her final chapter, which is, I think, the best writing of the book and serves to really tie the whole thing together.
I tend with books like this to skim the reflection questions and prayers, probably to my detriment, and I did so for most of this book. However, I had the opportunity to finish reading it during my hour of the parish’s 40 Hours Devotion (40 hours of Eucharistic Adoration leading up to the Feast of Corpus Christi) and I found praying the short prayers in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament to be quite powerful. Something for me to keep in mind in the future!
So, would I recommend it? Sort of. I definitely learned, but it wasn’t amazing. 3 stars!