Free-For-All Newsletter #8

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Despite the holiday's troublesome beginnings (understatement of the century), I hope that you are spending time thinking about all the things for which you are grateful.

In case you missed the meeting last night, here is a list of some of the books, quotes, ideas, and fun facts that we discussed.

Enjoy! :)

This Is Where I Leave You

Simultaneously mourning the demise of his father and his marriage, Judd joins his dysfunctional family as they reluctantly sit shiva and spend seven days and nights under the same roof. The week quickly spins out of control as longstanding grudges resurface, secrets are revealed and old passions are reawakened. Then Jen delivers the clincher: she's pregnant...

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov's experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.

A Fortunate Life

Born in 1894, Albert Facey lived the rough frontier life of a sheep farmer, survived the gore of Gallipoli, raised a family through the Depression, and spent 60 years with his beloved wife, Evelyn. Despite enduring hardships we can barely imagine today, Facey always saw his life as a "fortunate" one. A true classic of Australian literature, his simply written autobiography is an inspiration. It is the story of a life lived to the full—the extraordinary journey of an ordinary man.

The Stormlight Archive Series

Welcome to the remarkable world of Roshar, a world both alien and magical, where gigantic hurricane-like storms scour the surface every few days and life has adapted accordingly. Roshar is shared by humans and the enigmatic, humanoid Parshendi, with whom they are at war.

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

In its sweep, Guns, Germs and Steel encompasses the rise of agriculture, technology, writing, government, and religion, providing a unifying theory of human history as intriguing as the histories of dinosaurs and glaciers.

I Am the Messenger

Ed Kennedy is an underage cabdriver without much of a future. He's pathetic at playing cards, hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey, and utterly devoted to his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery.

Baby Teeth

Seven-year-old Hanna is a sweet-but-silent angel in the eyes of her adoring father Alex. He's the only person who understands her. But her mother Suzette stands in her way, and she'll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her.

Suzette loves her daughter, but soon, Suzette starts to fear that maybe their supposedly innocent baby girl may have a truly sinister agenda.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

Inspired by the true blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service of the 1930s, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a story of raw courage, fierce strength, and one woman's belief that books can carry us anywhere — even back home.

Never Let Me Go

As children, Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at an exclusive boarding school in the English countryside. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life. And for the first time, she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special.

The Secrets We Kept

Secrets We Kept combines a legendary literary love story--the decades-long affair between Pasternak and his mistress and muse, Olga Ivinskaya, who inspired Zhivago's heroine, Lara--with a narrative about two women empowered to lead lives of extraordinary intrigue and risk. Told with soaring emotional intensity and captivating historical detail, this is an unforgettable debut: a celebration of the powerful belief that a work of art can change the world.

Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do

Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt offers us the language and courage we need to face one of the biggest and most troubling issues of our time. She exposes racial bias at all levels of society--in our neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, and the criminal justice system. Yet she also offers us tools to address it. Eberhardt shows us how we can be vulnerable to bias but not doomed to live under its grip. Racial bias is a problem that we all have a role to play in solving.

My Best Friend's Exorcism

High school sophomores Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fourth grade. But after an evening of skinny-dipping goes disastrously wrong, Gretchen begins to act...different. Abby's investigation leads her to some startling discoveries--and by the time their story reaches its terrifying conclusion, the fate of Abby and Gretchen will be determined by a single question: Is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil?

Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back If You Lose It

Goldsmith shares the ways in which to get — and keep — our Mojo. Our Mojo is impacted by four key factors: identity, achievement, reputation, and acceptance. Goldsmith outlines the positive actions leaders must take, with their teams or themselves, to initiate winning streaks and keep them coming.

The Grapes of Wrath

A portrait of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless, of one man's fierce reaction to injustice, and of one woman's stoical strength, the novel captures the horrors of the Great Depression and probes into the very nature of equality and justice in America. At once a naturalistic epic, captivity narrative, road novel, and transcendental gospel, Steinbeck's powerful landmark novel is perhaps the most American of American Classics.


“I'm sorry I wrote such a long letter. I did not have the time to write a short one.”

— Abraham Lincoln, about the difficulty of editing well

“How you do anything is how you do everything.”

— A Zen Buddhist concept, further explained here.

Fun Facts:

Whenever Abraham Lincoln felt the urge to tell someone off, he would compose what he called a “hot letter.” 

He’d pile all of his anger into a note and put it aside until his emotions cooled down, then write ‘Never sent. Never signed.’ ” 

This meant that General George G. Meade, for example, would never know that Lincoln blamed him for letting Robert E. Lee escape after Gettysburg.

Ideas + Concepts:

#1. Unleashing Creativity with Constraints.

Jack Butcher, an entrepreneur, graphic designer, and former ad-agency owner, took his "Visualize Value" project to the next level by incorporating a ridiculously simple creative constraint: black canvas, white typography, and geometric shapes.

“Instead of freaking out about these constraints, embrace them. Let them guide you. Constraints drive innovation and force focus. Instead of trying to remove them, use them to your advantage.”

― Jonah Lehrer, Imagine: How Creativity Works

#2. Want ______? Be ______.

In Dale Carnegie's “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” he talks about the power of taking personal responsibility in all of your relationships. If you want a better friend, be a better friend. If you want a better brother, be a better brother. If you want a better significant other, be a better significant other. It all starts and ends with you.

Other Recommendations:
Bikes of Wrath

In 2015, five friends from Australia set out to bike from Oklahoma to California the same route the families traveled in John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath".

The Tolkien Movie

As a young student, J.R.R. Tolkien finds love, friendship, and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow outcasts. Their brotherhood soon strengthens as Tolkien weathers the storm of a tumultuous courtship with Edith Bratt and the outbreak of World War I. These early life experiences later inspire the budding author to write the classic fantasy novels "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings."

That's all, folks! 

To everyone who came to the meeting last night, thanks for coming, and we hope to see you again next week!

To everyone who didn't show up, you are dead to us now. Lol, jk. Excited to connect with you soon! :)

Hakuna Matata,

May the Force be with you,

To infinity and beyond,

Live long and prosper,

May the odds be ever in your favor,

Roll credits,


Trace & Caitlyn

What are you grateful for this year? Reply to this email and let us know! :)
The Free-For-All Book Club

921 N Woodbridge Drive

Bloomington, IN, 47408

United States