Truth, Fantasy, and Getting in the Zone

UConn’s fire chief, William Perez, likes his books on hard copy and audio. If he’s really enjoying a book, he will buy both versions. That way, the Puerto Rico native who grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut, can listen while driving and turn pages while sitting on the porch. And, he says, the more senses you use to take in information, the longer and better you retain that information. That’s an expert opinion. A U.S. Navy veteran and 30-year firefighter and paramedic, Perez is also a professor — at Capital Community College in Hartford and the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland. And the first-generation college student now has four degrees, including doctor of education. His taste in reading material is as varied as his vocations.

Portrait of UConn’s fire chief, William Perez

Illustration by Kyle Hilton

Just finished:

“Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife” by Eben Alexander, MD

What a powerful book! A top neurosurgeon with no real belief in God contracts a rare form of bacterial meningitis. He ends up in a coma, with no brain activity.

When they’re ready to take him off the support systems, his little kid is talking to him, and he wakes up, sits up. He says he’s been dreaming of God, of angels, but the doctors say there’s no possibility he could have had dreams. The explanations are very thorough, very scientific.

I don’t want to give everything away, but I’ve read hundreds of books, and this one really impacted me.

Book, Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexader, M.D.

Currently reading:

“Flow-Based Leadership: What the Best Firefighters Can Teach You about Leadership and Making Hard Decisions” by Judith L. Glick-Smith, Ph.D.

I met the author at a conference. She studied firefighters in the flow. Have you ever been doing something — could be making cupcakes or writing a book —when you just hit a rhythm, time stands still, what they call being in the zone or the flow? As a chief working a fire you know that if you choose the wrong tactic, path, you can kill your own people, let alone the people we’re there to save.

The author talks about how to control that flow to make good decisions, then how to trigger it, and the last point I haven’t gotten to yet is leadership.

Book, Flow Based Leadership by Judith L. Glick-Smith, Ph.D.

On deck:

“The Bone Labyrinth,” a Sigma Force novel by James Rollins

This one’s going to be great — fun and relaxing. The author, James Rollins, is like Dan Brown.

I’ve read all of Dan Brown’s books. I like how Brown takes real history, real science, and then puts fantasy and science fiction into it. There’s lots of research; he does his homework. This guy Rollins does the same.

“The Bone Labyrinth” also gets pretty complicated. Just on the first few pages you’ve got mountain climbing, Croatian folklore, geology, meteorology, evolutionary anthropology, and historical tales of horror.

I’m really looking forward to this one!

Book, The Bone Labyrinth by James Rollins


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