Brett.Ullman

Category - great books

13 Reasons Why… Some thoughts

13 Reasons Why.

The New York Times best seller by young adult novel writer Jay Asher that came out way back in 2007 has sold over 3 million copies to date.

I read this book a few years ago and found it … I find it hard to find the correct word: riveting, eye opening, scary, sad, hopeless and yet necessary in bringing out a conversation we seem to refuse to want to talk about as a culture.

Since reading the book I have heard very little on this topic. No conversation on social media about it. No growth in conversations on the problems of suicide in our culture today. Then suddenly 13 Reasons Why is released on Netflix and presently I have had over 500 messages, emails and conversations from parents all over asking the simple question: “Should I let me kid watch this?” or “Should I watch this with my teenager?”

As a 45 year old I have watched thousands of hours of TV in my life. This would rank as the most powerful show I have ever watched. I have watched countless hours of mindless entertainment in those 45 years and this show WAS different.

It was different because it touched on so many topics: sex, drugs, alcohol, relationships, peer pressure, divorce, bullying, self-harm, isolation, loneliness, disconnection from adults, lack of supports and of course suicide.

If I had to give you a very quick review of this series I would say:


Everything Affects Everything

You are responsible for yourself

You are responsible for your actions

You are responsible when you do nothing

We need to start talking about all the stuff no-one wants to talk about

This show starts us talking….


“You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life. Everything. . . affects everything.”
― Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why

In almost every review I have read comments that this show is triggering. It shows too much for students, glamorizes suicide, over sexualized, too much language, and deals with too many issues. I would say that the show is a great conversation starter for people of all ages. It is raw and tough to watch.  The suicide scene was brutal and one of the hardest things I have ever watched on TV. Maybe the fact is that suicide is brutal for everyone and this scene is meant to bring that home.

I do find it hypocritical that people are upset at some of these topics in this show. I don’t see most people talking about triggering when there is self harm (including suicide) in music videos, TV shows, movies and much of todays music is laced with sex. Yet the scenes in this show are too much? Are teens not triggered daily by just being a teen in our modern day culture?

If we are going to say this is too much for students I don’t seem to see many people offering any better way to talk about these tough issues.

I wonder when is the right time?

What is the right way?

I find that this is one of the first things I have seen that has people (especially teens) talking about suicide amongst other issues. We cannot just go back to ignoring this conversation especially the conversation around suicide.

There is no place that is immune to this.

So here is the tough question.

How do you talk about a tough conversation without triggering people and increasing the risk of a suicide contagion and copycat behaviour?

I think we need to be honest where we presently sit as a society with this conversation. I think people are already triggered by this topic with or without this TV show. Do a quick google search:

Canadian Stats:

  • 22% of teens thought of suicide this year  (Click here for the article)

Myth: Young people rarely think about suicide.
Reality: Teens and suicide are more closely linked than adults might expect. In a survey of 15,000 grade 7 to 12 students in British Columbia, 34% knew of someone who had attempted or died by suicide; 16% had seriously considered suicide; 14% had made a suicide plan; 7% had made an attempt and 2% had required medical attention due to an attempt.
Canadian Mental Health Association (Click here for the article)

U.S. Stats

  • Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for ages 10-24. (2015 CDC WISQARS)
  • More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease, COMBINED.
  • Each day in our nation, there are an average of over 5,240 attempts by young people grades 7-12.
  • http://jasonfoundation.com/prp/facts/youth-suicide-statistics/

Parents are asking if we should watch this show with our kids but I cannot answer this for you. Will I be watching this with my Grade 9 daughter or my Grade 8 son? If they are interested – Yes. I will also NOT be showing either of them the suicide scene in the last episode. With that being said is this the first conversation I will have had with my children on conversations on these topics … no. These are conversations we have been having for years in our home. If the first time you talk about suicide, mental health issues, sex, drugs, bullying etc is this TV show then I would not suggest watching this show before you have conversations in your home about these tough topics.

You might need to check as a parent and see if they have already watched the show. Many parents who have emailed me have said my kid already watched the show what do I do now. If this is you then I would sit down and talk to them about the show. Ask their thoughts and feelings.

What did they like about the show?
Do they think that the show fairly represented current teen culture in High School?
What did they dislike about the show? If they have watched it I would highly suggest watching the 13 Reasons Why: Beyond the Reasons which is on Netflix as well. It is the cast & creators with conversation on all aspects of the movie and why they did the certain scenes like they did.

Be very direct with your kids and let them know that there is nothing in the world that could change how you love them. You want them to know that if they are ever struggling with these topics in this show that you hope they could come and talk to you. And then together you would look at getting supports in place for them (doctors, counselling etc).

I would also suggest you be really careful if your son/daughter is struggling with suicidal thoughts, depression, bullying etc. This show could act (I am not saying will) as something that might make suicide look like a good way out for their struggles they are having. If you were going to watch it I would suggest watching it with them.

If as a parents you are thinking “I have failed in these conversations” you can start having them now. Just to mention some of the main themes in the show again:

  1. Sex
  2. Multiple rape scenes
  3. Drug & Alcohol use and abuse
  4. Dating relationships
  5. Peer pressure
  6. Divorce
  7. Bullying
  8. Self-harm
  9. Isolation
  10. Loneliness
  11. Disconnection from adults
  12. Lack of supports
  13. and of course suicide

These are conversations that you need to be having in your home, school, and church environments.

Are there some things I wish this show had done better. Yes, for sure:

  1. I wish there was more shown on how to help people if they are struggling. What do you actually do if you are struggling (Talk to an adult you trust, medical doctor, counsellor etc) We need to talk about where we can turn for help. In my mental health talk called The Walking Wounded I talk about addressing tough issues like this from 3 fronts: Body (Doctor), Mind(Counsellor), and Soul. Each of these areas can be pursued simultaneously.
  2. They showed such a disconnected youth culture from parents, teachers and other adults. This is not always the case.

    In tone and style, it resembles a more serious, grimmer cousin of Freeform (formerly ABC Family) series like “Pretty Little Liars” and “Twisted.” Like them, it literalizes the idea that teenage life is a mystery, one that adults can’t hope to solve. (New York Times article)

  3. I did not like that they showed the physical scars from people struggling with Self Harm. As someone who speaks on this we do know that this is triggering for people who struggle.
  4. I don’t like the fact that with this story it seems that you can sort of reach out from the grave after suicide and take revenge on people. It did a good job of showing the destruction that suicide leaves with the friends and family who are left after a suicide.
  5. I wish that with all the pain they also showed that there is hope. There is always hope. You might not see it, but that also does not mean it is not there.
  6. I wish they had not been so graphic with the suicide. I think it is unnecessary and is the one major scene that might make people NOT watch a show that could have been for a larger audience if not for the graphic scene. I also realize that the brutality of the suicide was done for a reason to show … to show how brutal suicide is.

In my talks a line I use when speaking about suicide is:


Suicide is a permanent solution for a temporary problem.


If you are having suicidal thoughts I beg you to do a few things

  1. Go tell an adult immediately. If that adult does not listen then tell another. Get parents and teachers and doctors and counsellors and any other people you trust surrounding you as you walk through these tough times
  2. Hold on.
    Dr. Dan Siegel says “We need to help children understand that the clouds 
of their emotions can (and will) roll on by.”
    What you are going through is a season … and seasons change.
    Please hold on.

In the last episode Clay Jensen (one of the main characters) says “We can all do better.” I agree.
So how can you do better?

I end with the simple summary I gave at the beginning

Everything Affects Everything

You are responsible for yourself

You are responsible for your actions

You are responsible when you do nothing

We need to start talking about all the stuff no-one wants to talk about.

This show starts us talking….

Love to hear what you thought of the TV show if you watched it? Did it help? Did it hurt?
Love to hear your thoughts on this.
Love to hear any great resources for people who are struggling.


13 Reasons Why Official Website
http://www.thirteenreasonswhy.com/

Other articles on 13 Reasons Why:

  1. http://www.altpress.com/news/entry/twlohas_founder_pens_blog_in_response_to_13_reasons_why
  2. https://cpyu.org/2017/04/17/13-reasons-why-looking-for-true-north/
  3. https://cpyu.org/resource/episode-36-13-reasons-why-a-discussion-with-amy-flavin-and-kara-twining/
  4. https://themighty.com/2017/04/should-i-watch-13-reasons-why-review-suicide/
  5. http://www.vox.com/culture/2017/4/18/15275846/13-reasons-why-male-gaze-voyeurism-rape-suicide-contagion
  6. http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/25/health/13-reasons-why-teen-suicide-debate-explainer/index.html
  7. https://www.nasponline.org/
  8. http://www.cmha.ca/news/cmha-national-statement-responding-netflix-series-13-reasons/#.WQPswUFE2Ef
  9. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/30/arts/television/netflix-13-reasons-why-tv-review.html
  10. http://www.pluggedin.ca/tv-reviews/13-reasons-why
  11. http://www.cbc.ca/news/entertainment/13-reasons-why-criticism-1.4091960
  12. http://www.averageyouthministry.com/average-youth-ministry/13-reasons-why-youth-workers-must-be-at-the-top-of-their-game
  13. https://www.popsugar.com/entertainment/Differences-Between-13-Reasons-Why-Book-TV-Show-43404725

How do I keep track of all my books?

I often get asked how I catalogue my books in my home office. My physical collection is approximately 700 books and growing. For the past 5 years I have used a software (mac only sorry) called Delicious Library (Delicious Monster).

It allows you to scan the barcodes on your books with an app on iPhone. The app then adds the book to your digital bookcase. It pulls all the keywords from Amazon as well. When I am researching one of my talks I can then search for keywords and the program will put all the books I own that has those keywords onto a digital bookshelf. I can then go and find them in my bookcases. Personally I categorize all my books alphabetically by authors last name to make it easy for me.

Check out their website here.

Great Books – Shattered Dreams: God’s Unexpected Path to Joy

Some really great thoughts in this book. I posted some of the ones I loved below. They are pulled from different chapters so I hope they don’t lose their context too much. Well worth the read for people who have gone through or are going through suffering in their lives.

In our Christian culture, we’ve weakened our understanding of personal sin by talking too soon and too much about our longings and our needs. We want to feel good about ourselves, we long for enjoyable relationships, we desire effective and recognized ministries. We become the point and see nothing really wrong with it

What needs breaking remains unbroken. We continue to think life should work well and we should feel good. The nature of our spiritual journey, we assume, is that God’s glory will be revealed in our prosperity, whether financial, relational, physical, or emotional. As long as we believe that, we walk in the flesh. It’s so natural to think the Presence of Jesus has no greater purpose than to improve the quality of our journey through life—with quality defined as a pleasurable, satisfying, self-affirming existence—a journey where certain things don’t go wrong or, if they do, they correct themselves. Marriages should work, biopsies should come back benign, ministry efforts should succeed, and we should feel pretty good about the way most things go.
As long as our purpose is to have a good time, to have soul-pleasure exceed soul-pain, God becomes merely a means to an end, an object to be used, never a subject rightfully demanding a response, never a lover to be enjoyed. Worship becomes utilitarian, part of a cunning strategy to get what we want rather than a passionate abandonment to someone more worthy than we
need to spend more time on the highlights I made in book.
Check it out. Click here or the screenshot below.

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Great Books: Today Matters – 12 Daily Practices to Guarantee Tomorrows Success

This has been one of my favourite books for years. I copied out one of the first few pages of the book. Basically the premise of the book is each day you get up you look at all of these areas of your life. Make daily decisions to live these areas to the best of your abilities. When you go to bed you see how you did. Each chapter of the book is on the different areas of your life mentioned below (attitude, priorities etc). This is a very practical book for people who come from a faith background or not.

Today’s Attitude gives me Possibilities
Today’s Priorities give me focus
Today’s Health gives me strength
Today’s Family gives me stability
Today’s Thinking gives me an advantage
Today’s Commitment gives me tenacity
Today’s Finances gives me options
Today’s Faith gives me peace
Today’s Relationships give me fulfillment
Today’s Generosity gives me significance
Today’s Values give me direction
Today’s Growth gives me potential

So Just For Today …
I will choose and display the right attitudes
I will determine and act on important priorities
I will know and follow healthy guidelines
I will communicate with and care for my family
I will practice and develop good thinking
I will make and properly manage finances
I will deepen and live out my faith
I will initiate and invest in solid relationships
I will plan for and model generosity
I will embrace and practice good values
I will seek and experience improvements
I will act on these decisions and practice these disciplines.

Then one day I will see the compounding results of a day lived well.

Today Matters by John Maxwell

Click here or the screenshot below for the Amazon.ca website.

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Gospel e-Books

I am asked at least once a week where do I find all of the free books on Kindle I post each week on social media. It is simple. I signed up for the daily email blast from Gospel eBooks. Some people ask if I download all of the free books. The answer I do take almost all of them. My Kindle library is well over 1000 with 95% of them being for free. Different books are needed at different seasons in your life. I build up my library both digitally and regular print books and I then have books for my myself, my wife and my 2 kids whenever we might need them in the years to come.

Not only do they have free books but books that are heavily discounted. (.99, 1.99 etc)

I would encourage you to sign up for their daily email. Quickly scan each day and see if there is anything for you.

Click here or the screenshot below for their website.

[browser-shot url=”http://gospelebooks.net/” width=”600″ height=”450″ target=”_blank”]

 

Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World

This goes along with my blog from yesterday. This is a book for those of us with sons. Awesome book.

Here is a landmark book that reveals the way boys think and that shows parents, educators and coaches how to reach out and help boys overcome their most common yet difficult challenges — by the bestselling author who changed our conception of adolescent girls.

Do you constantly struggle to pull information from your son, student, or athlete, only to encounter mumbling or evasive assurances such as “It’s nothing” or “I’m good?” Do you sense that the boy you care about is being bullied, but that he’ll do anything to avoid your “help?” Have you repeatedly reminded him that schoolwork and chores come before video games only to spy him reaching for the controller as soon as you leave the room? Have you watched with frustration as your boy flounders with girls?

Welcome to Boy World. It’s a place where asking for help or showing emotional pain often feels impossible. Where sports and video games can mean everything, but working hard in school frequently earns ridicule from “the guys” even as they ask to copy assignments. Where “masterminds” dominate and friends ruthlessly insult each other but can never object when someone steps over the line. Where hiding problems from adults is the ironclad rule because their involvement only makes situations worse.

Boy world is governed by social hierarchies and a powerful set of unwritten rules that have huge implications for your boy’s relationships, his interactions with you, and the man he’ll become. If you want what’s best for him, you need to know what these rules are and how to work with them effectively.

What you’ll find in Masterminds and Wingmen is critically important for every parent – or anyone who cares about boys – to know. Collaborating with a large team of middle- and high-school-age editors, Rosalind Wiseman has created an unprecedented guide to the life your boy is actually experiencing – his on-the-ground reality. Not only does Wiseman challenge you to examine your assumptions, she offers innovative coping strategies aimed at helping your boy develop a positive, authentic, and strong sense of self.

Click here or the screen shot below for the Amazon.ca link.

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Great Books: Sticky Faith Guide For Your Family: Over 100 Practical And Tested

This is one of my favourite books for parents. So many practical ideas here.

The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family addresses one of the top current concerns about youth and the church: the reality that nearly half of all young people raised in Christian families walk away from their faith when they graduate from high school. That’s the bad news. But here’s the good news: research also shows that parents are one of the primary influences on their child’s faith. This book arises from the innovative, research-based, and extensively field-tested project known as “Sticky Faith,” designed to equip parents with insights and ideas for nurturing long-term faith in children and young people. Because of the Fuller Youth Institute’s six years of research with more than 500 young people, 100 churches, and 50 families, four of this guidebook’s unique qualities make it a “must have” for families eager to point their young people toward long-term faith First, it’s grounded in sophisticated, academically verified data. While Dr. Powell is a parent of three children who authentically weaves her own experiences throughout the book, the chapter topics correlate with parenting principles proven in national research. Second, it is positive. Amid gloomy and theoretical resources, this book leaves parents empowered and hopeful that even little tweaks to their family rhythms can make a big difference. Third, it is practical. Readers get what they want most: more than 100 ideas from other parents they can try today, this week, or this month. Fourth, its “guidebook” format is accessible. For busy parents who don’t have time and inclination to read, this format is a welcome resource that they can return to time and time again for fresh ideas and inspiration.

This is the Sticky Faith Family website – Click Here

Here is a link to the book on Amaaon.ca – Click Here

[browser-shot url=”http://www.amazon.ca/Sticky-Faith-Guide-Your-Family/dp/0310338972/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1426249478&sr=8-2&keywords=sticky+faith” width=”600″ height=”450″ target=”_blank”]

 

 

Free and discounted e-Books

For the past year I have been posting daily free books for the kindle. People often write me and ask how I find these books. It is quite simple. I signed up for a daily email from the site below.

I have built up a collection on my kindle of over 800 books. Some of these I am reading now and the rest are there for when I or my family find those topics useful for their lives. It is great to have a library of great books available for different seasons of your life. Enjoy.

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