Librivox Recommended Reading (Listening) List

If you have not heard of the audiobook website, then you are seriously missing out. Their goal is to make every public domain book available on audiobook for free. This means most of their material is older, pre-1923 that is, but there are some really precious jems in their collection. All the readers are volunteer, and you’ll get to hear some interesting accents if you listen to enough books. My new job is extremely boring and monotonous, but Librivox is providing the mental stimulation that helps keep me sharp.


  • An Autobiography, by Theodore Roosevelt – If you have any interest in becoming a civil servant, a politician, or a man/woman of courage, you must listen to this book. Theodore Roosevelt arose as a shining example of leadership and moral fortitude during his presidency, and he tells his story as only a “live by example” man could.
  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin – If you aren’t familiar with this historic, eclectic individual, his autobiography is a perfect place to start. Written as a letter to his son, Frankie tells the tale of his rise in political and social arenas during his life. I thought it was especially interesting to notice his involvement in various clubs and social events. I don’t think he would have been nearly as successful if it wasn’t for his consistent participation in groups like the local Masonic Lodge and the Junto, a group which he created.
  • The Art of War, by Sun Tzu – Strategies and tactics from this definitive book have been adapted into other areas such as management and business.
  • The Book of Tea, by Okakura Kakuzo – Kakuzo was a novelty during his time, as he was well educated in both Japanese and English languages. This book is written to Western  readers and describes the artistic simplicity of making tea.
  • Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius – Stoic philosophies from the Roman Emperor. 161-180AD
  • Walden and On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, by Henry David Thoreau – Thoreau was a radical, often dissident, forward thinking individual of the nineteenth century. Always willing to challenge the status quo, Thoreau lived solo in a house built by his own hands next to Walden pond for more than a year.
  • What Prohibition Has Done to America, by Fabian Franklin – My reasons for listening to this book were twofold: first I wanted to gain a historical perspective on prohibition, and second I wanted to compare prohibition with the current “legalization of marijuana” dilemma. After some analysis, I have decided that I’m for legalization of marijuana, but that’s  another discussion entirely.
  • A Practical Guide to Self Hypnosis, by Melvin Powers – In the past I was wholly incredulous of hypnosis and thought it was a sensational, mystic practice. After reading this book, I am quite convinced of the opposite. One story stuck out in my mind about the Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninov. It’s my personal opinion that Rachmaninov’s 2nd piano concerto is the most beautiful piece of music ever composed, and he apparently composed this piece after overcoming a state of deep depression by submitting himself to hypnotherapy. He even dedicated his 2nd Concerto to his psychologist Dr. Nikolai Dahl. It’s funny to think that my favorite piece of music would have never existed without hypnotherapy.
  • As a Man Thinketh, by James Allen – A testament to the power of positive thinking. I highly recommend this book if you are consistently thinking negative thoughts.
  • The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx – I was surprised how sensational this manifesto was. It seems to me that any person with half an education can see multiple problems with the ideas it presents, and yet, it’s influence is so widespread.


  • Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen – Does it need a description?
  • The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky – Dostoevsky’s last book, completed only one year before his death in 1881. The Brothers Karamazov is considered to be his greatest masterpiece, and definitely his most complex novel. He examines the deepest elements of human existence, most especially faith and doubt. Thanks to Librivox I was able to finish this 800+ page book in 5 days!

Other Librivox books I’d like to read in the future:



And you? What (audio)books have you come to love?

Share them with me, so we can share them together.



Video: My Ramen Noodle Recipe

Be gracious people, this is my first adventure with video. I couldn’t remember which way was up!

We all know Ramen Noodles are cheap. Why else do we buy them? Cooked solo they aren’t very tasty, so I like to spice it up a little and add some fat and protein while I’m at it. In this video I added some pork based meatballs that can be found in the frozen section of any grocery store (I used Homestyle here, but I think I’m going to try Italian next time). I also pre-boil a few eggs to throw in, along with about a teaspoon of oil and soy sauce to help bring out the flavor of the spices. I’m a big fan of serving Ramen with a garnish of a few small squares of Nori, but I didn’t have any with me for this video. For those of you who don’t know, Nori is dried, flattened seaweed. Most know of it as the green stuff that wraps up sushi. In Japan, Ramen is customarily served with Nori fanned out on the side of the bowl.

The price breakdown:

1 bag Maruchan Ramen Noodles – $0.17

1 bag frozen precooked meatballs ~$6.00, calculates to about $0.14 for three

1 dozen eggs – $1.69, $0.27 per egg

Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Soy Sauce add a minimal cost.

Total – $0.58 per bowl!

Other suggestions include Tabasco, Welsh Onions, Lime, Garlic, Ginger, Tuna, Honey, and Spinach. Do you have a favorite way to make good food on the cheap? I’d love to hear about it.


Dreams Wouldn’t Be As Pure

Gustavo Weissman; named the Pocket Poet because he goes to open mic nights with his pockets bursting with poems. You might be lucky enough to find him downtown on Tejon Street in Colorado Springs, sitting on a bench with his ancient type writer perched in front of him. He doesn’t own a car or even a bicycle, and is staying at a friend’s house, but knows something that others in a similar situation don’t: He has to earn his living. So he writes custom poems for curious passersby, pressing through the fear of criticism that he might encounter from people who don’t get what they expected. This one in particular I paid him $5 for, and asked him to write about his own hometown and childhood.



Embrace the Silence: A 15 Minute Meditation Investigation for Christians


When it is quiet,

We are so quick to turn the noise back on.

When I was in high school I used to pace back and forth in my room for hours. I couldn’t focus on anything productive or relaxing, and having grown up in a strongly self-disciplined household I was too self-conscious to fall back into something as mind numbing as TV (heaven forbid I should waste my time!) I couldn’t relax. I couldn’t not relax. I just paced up and down. I ended up sitting alone in my room being bored for hours at a time, eventually frustrating myself into a panic. I knew I needed purpose in my life and wanted to spend my valuable time wisely. It was a complete realization of purposelessness in my life, and it weighed hard on me. I prayed, sometimes in tears, that God would give me purpose.

Years later, after reading Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl I found out the name of my condition: the Existential Vacuum. What a poignant expression for such a terrible emotion!

Dr. Frankl puts it this way,

“They lack awareness of a meaning worth living for. They are haunted by the experience of their inner emptiness, a void within themselves.”

“The existential vacuum manifests itself mainly in a state of boredom” and “often eventuates in sexual compensation.”

How pertinent is this for our American go-go-go culture? I think very. Most people experience the existential vacuum at some point in their lives, but how do we deal with it? Instead of facing our EV head-on, we are always finding something to distract us from it: Facebook, pornography, Youtube, television, email, alcohol. The diversions come in many flavors and the list goes on and on. We don’t want to come to grips with the black hole, so we fill up our time with distractions.


Ask people who know me if I’m inclined to be free-spirited, hippie-ish, flower-child-like, or a wholehearted embracer of Eastern Religions and they will tell you I’m quite the opposite. I would be the last person you would expect to meditate on a regular basis. So you skeptics have no excuse because this definitely works for me, so I want you to try it. I’ll even double dog dare you if I have to. It might be strange and new if you’ve never done it before, but it’s really easy and requires no bravery whatsoever. Trust me, it will be enlightening.

First find a soft and quiet place to sit. I recommend a bed, but the floor will do just fine as long as you use a pillow. Sit Indian-style (胡座) on a pillow with your legs crossed in front of you in a comfortable position with good posture (no you don’t have to do the Lotus position). Don’t slouch and don’t lay down. Put your hands somewhere comfortable, either on your knees or resting softly together in your lap. The goal is to be comfortable, but not so much that you will be tempted to fall asleep. Set a timer for 15 minutes to start (use if you’re near a computer), and close your eyes. Keep them closed for the entire duration and DON’T PEEK!

The goal is not to go into a trance, or lucid dream, or have an encounter with the spiritual world, or anything extraordinary. The goal is to be silent and cut off the constant input and output of everyday life. Call it by name and confront your own Existential Vacuum head-on.

I’ve found that because it forces me to remove the constant flash and bang of life, not surprisingly, my meditation time yields the most innovative ideas. I’ll often do it at the start of the day, or when I’m feeling tired or stressed out. It has an almost immediate regenerative effect and I’m usually able to regain another hour or more of focused creative time.

A Deeper Meaning?

For those of us who are Christians, God says something truly amazing in Psalm 46:

“Be still, and know that I am God.”

In the verse before that we find the context of His statement,

“He makes wars cease

to the ends of the earth.

He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;

he burns the shields with fire.”

When our lives are in turmoil and we are literally or figuratively at war, God tells us to be still. I hope you realize the weight of this statement because God is saying that in the silence, in the quiet, in the Existential Vacuum – of all places, He is. Despite your inner ennui, He is. Despite whatever evil seems to be taking over this world, He is still who He says He is. Thank God! because I would go crazy without him.


My Testimony in Japanese (日本語で僕のあかし)

This is the story of how I came to understand the power of the Living God and took hold of Jesus as my savior. It’s really nothing amazing when compared to many of the miraculous testimonies that I have heard other people have – freedom from drug addictions or pornography, cured from terminal illnesses, called to other countries etc. But it is a personal miracle for me that He rescued me from my sin, and continues to pursue me and mold me into the man I am becoming. For that I am eternally thankful. イエスはすげい!

Translation thanks to Jinju Park.

私がイエス様のことを受け入れたのは五歳の時のことでした。それは、スパークオラマというクラブでのことでした。スパークオラマというクラブでは、よくイエス様を私たちの救いの主として受け入れませんかと勧誘していました。そのクラブでは毎週何人かイエス様を受け入れようと、決心して寄せてくる人たちが何人か出てきました。当時、私の観察によると彼らは、うえの人たちとの話し合いのあと、ある部屋に入ってイエス様を受け入れる準備を行いました。 幼かった私はそれを見て、私自身も自然にイエス様を受け入れようと思うようになりました。そして、私もその部屋に入って、自分の罪を告白し、イエス様を自分の心の中に受け入れました。