mccormick


bookshelf:2016

2016 reviews
(for earlier reviews please click on the title, author, or category link above)


2016: 42

review date:
12/20/2016
Disunity in Christ by Christena Cleveland

In my opinion, Christians and church-goers seem to think of themselves as being outsiders. They to think of themselves as outside of culture, which is fairly accurate as American Christians have created their own culture. However, the dangerous part is that Christians think of themselves as being outsiders to everything, in that they are immune to common human behaviors. Of course, (most) Christians understand and admit that they are imperfect and they live and breathe in a fallen world, but they see their church as the beacon of hope in this wretched, need-of-a-savior creation.

Unfortunately, churches tend to be simple extensions of our flawed humanity. Churches usually are reflections of our communities – our racist, sexist, homophobic, elitist communities. Our churches are not exempt from these flaws.

Disunity in Christ is about these flaws. Author Christena Cleveland is a social psychologist shows us why this is so.

We love to form groups. It makes life easier and clearer. In order to better define our groups, we spend an exorbitant amount of time describing out differences: I understand my group better when I know what it is not, and it is not yours. This is something we see in church all the time, and most of the time it occurs among Christians and not (as you would assume) between Christians and non-Christians.

I know the church is not a country club for the saints, but a hospital for the sick. I am sure most people in my church would say the same thing. But do we act that way? Do our actions speak louder than our words?

I think there is a lot to learn from this book. Psychology is a very useful tool. We cannot just sit around and pray for our communities to grow stronger. We need roll up our sleeves, learn about the community, learn about the individuals, and make that change.

2016: 41

review date:
12/14/2016
Undeniable by Bill Nye

I went to a Christian school and a Christian college. Though I would say most of my teachers were Creationists, I was taught real science and evolution was treated as the scientifically accepted theory even if my teachers disagreed with it. True, I have been fed a lot of falsehoods concerning evolution’s supposed shortcomings. I have seen the ridiculous video on the internet that tries to disprove evolution simply using a soda can and banana peel. I have had heard on numerous occasions Creationists misusing the laws of thermodynamics to negate evolution. Having said all that, whenever I hear an argument between a Creationist and Evolutionist, the theory of evolution always wins.

Why?

Because the theory of evolution is based on observable, scientific studies. If something is invalidated by new discoveries, the theory adapts. Scientists are humbled to the method.

Creationists, on the other hand, simply say an intelligent being put everything together and that’s the end of the debate. Any scientific discovery that fits their model (unlikely) is praised while any discovery that challenges their model (very likely) has to be refuted adamantly. There is simply no room for humility or open-mindedness in the Creationist community.

Bill Nye would agree with that. In his book, he simply lays out a simple guide to evolution. Though he does mention religion, I think he is very strategic in addressing Creationists, he does not broadly label Christians or any specific religion as being dumb or anti-intellectual.

I am sure an ardent Creationist would disagree with me.

So where does that put me? I am a Bible-believing Christian that believes in science. I believe God gave me a brain, I ought to use it. If our reasonable brains develop a theory of evolution, I don’t see the harm. Can you live in a world between creationism and evolution? Sure. It may be lonely but it’s not wrong. I can live in a space where questions are allowed. Can science explain everything, even the meaning of life? Can I accept the flood story when dinosaur fossils exist? Can I accept the grace of Jesus while still accepting the idea that organisms can evolve? Why is God so obsessed with beetles?

This is a great book. Perhaps when you read it, you will become enraged, but disagreements and proving each other wrong is not the point. In the last paragraph of the book, Bill Nye said it best, “I feel strongly that having a scientifically literate populace is in everyone’s best interest.”

2016: 40

review date:
11/10/2016
All Groan Up by Paul Angone

Growing up isn’t easy. You spend your entire childhood dreaming of the freedoms permitted in adulthood, but you spend your entire adulthood trying to forget your obligations.

All Groan Up is one man’s journey through early adulthood. I can relate to the sudden change he felt after college; going from a feeling of worthiness to a feeling of hopelessness. Unlike Angone, I found my passion in college and knew exactly what career I wanted to pursue. I know my journey is atypical for many young college graduates.

This was a fine book, nothing spectacular jumped out at me. I felt like the author tried too hard to be funny. I was hoping he would be more sincere at times.

Again this is a fine book, but I’m not sure I would recommend this book to young college graduates.

2016: 39

review date:
11/3/2016
I Remember Me by Carl Reiner

I think Carl Reiner is one of the funniest guys alive. He has lived an incredible life. He has so many fantastic, wonderful, hilarious stories. Having said all that, I was greatly underwhelmed by this book.

Each chapter appears like it will be an amusing tale, but each story has another story wedge in it and he keeps referencing other items. Each chapter jumps around to a different topic, theme or period of time. There is not continuity or rhythm to the book. I felt lost half way through some paragraphs. There were even a couple of moments where a paragraph ends midsentence and never to be found.

The book needed an editor, or at least a better one.

There are some gold nuggets in the book, but they are hard to find.

2016: 38

review date:
10/24/2016
Emerging Adulthood by Jeffrey Jensen Arnett

Years ago, before the advent of psychology and other behavioral studies, there were only a couple stages to life: childhood and adulthood, and the transition from childhood to adulthood was quite abrupt.

Fortunately, things have changed. Not only has legislation helped us develop a better idea of childhood, but more importantly our understanding of human development has changed drastically. We have a better understanding of an infant’s development and cognitive abilities. We also understand the immense biological transformations within the system of an adolescent. The transformation into a fully functioning adult is very complex.

In recent years, the term “emerging adult” has, well, emerged. If you have read anything about young adults or college students in the past decade, then you surely have heard of Jeffrey Jensen Arnett. In fact, the term “emerging adult” was coined by Arnett through his research.

I have read a lot about emerging adulthood. I work with plenty of emerging adults. In fact, I apparently recently just exited out of emerging adulthood. And until I read this book, I simply considered the concept of emerging adulthood as a simple transitional stage or the short overlap between two stages. After reading Arnett’s work, I have definitely been persuaded into the idea that emerging adulthood is a legitimate stage in life. Emerging adulthood is not prolonged adolescence or a generational anomaly.

As our culture has evolved and personal achievements like education gets prolonged and marriage gets delayed, a new stage in life has been developed and it will continue for the foreseeable future.

This book is a must read for anyone interested in working with college students. I should have read it sooner. Arnett is one of the few, in my opinion, that sees emerging adults in a positive light and he has the research to back it up.

This book is great. It may not be a relaxing, sit by the pool book but it is very interesting.

2016: 37

review date:
9/26/2016
How We Got to Now by Steven Johnson

Random knowledge is sort of my thing. I am somewhat fixated on knowing a little about a lot. The world is so vast and there is so much information out there.

Though we may deem some knowledge as random, no knowledge is truly random when you pull back far enough. Everything is interconnected in some way and many times they are connected in very unexpected ways.

In How We Got to Now by Steven Johnson you get a fascinating image of our world. The butterfly effect is a popular notion used to describe how one seemingly arbitrary event can have a significant impact across the planet. Johnson, however, uses a more accurate and more powerful notion: the hummingbird effect. As he puts it, we can understand a world with flowers but no hummingbirds, but we cannot comprehend a world with hummingbirds but no flowers. The anatomy of a hummingbird exists because the flower exists, the flower does not depend on the hummingbird.

Technology is similar to a hummingbird, most technologies could not exist without something else. Ideas for computers, batteries, and engines have been around for ages but without existing technology the ideas had to stay dormant.

This book is flat out one of the most interesting books I have ever read. It is amazing how simple ideas have given way to technological revolutions. It is amazing to see how much technology has evolved in a matter of two centuries. For millennia light only came in one form: fire. For millennia information only travelled at the speed of a man’s gait. For millennia a man never saw his reflection. Today, that and so much more has changed.

It is so easy to forget how simple innovations have changed the world, and it is easy to forget how much the world has changed.

2016: 36

review date:
9/6/2016
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

This is one of those books that seems ubiquitous. Everywhere I turned I saw Brene Brown’s book with the solid gray background and colorful letters spelling out Daring Greatly across the cover. Even more omnipresent are the book’s praises. There is an endless line of praises from acclaimed icons. Which is why I am shocked by my response: I found the book sort of boring.

The crux of the book is simple: shame, it is powerful and universal. We all have experienced shame. Most of us continue to carry the burden of shame and even throw it on to others. I can easily connect to the idea of shame. Every day is a fight beyond shame.

Pulling from the amazing words of President Theodore Roosevelt, to dare greatly is try something big; to live with courage. Taking the safe road while criticizing others is the easy road (and it is the road we see on social media all the time), but living a life of greatness does require some failures. We cannot be scared of failures. This is a concept we all need to grab hold of.

I only marked two pages in the book the intrigued me.

“Vulnerability isn’t good or bad…Vulnerability is the core of all emotions. To feel is to be vulnerable.”

“Hope is a function of struggle. If we want our children to develop high levels of hopefulness, we have to let them struggle.”

Perhaps I am a little late to the party and that is why I did not connect with the book like others. Perhaps not hearing her TED talk is fatal flaw on my end (she refers to her talk multiple times in her book). The information is good and grounded, but in the end the book felt long and arduous. Sometimes I think an author and reader just cannot connect, it does not make the book bad or the reader poor. It is just an unknowable difference.

If you think I’m defending a book that I didn’t like, you are correct.

2016: 35

review date:
8/23/2016
The Arm by Jeff Passan

The name Tommy John surgery has become regular, commonplace expression in the language of baseball. Though Tommy John surgery is a nearly a medical miracle that has furthered the careers of countless ball players, Tommy John surgery is also a unique, elective hell many players must endure to find a few more good years in the game.

The Arm by Jeff Passan is an extensive look into the pitcher’s arm. Major League Baseball teams are willing to invest nearly a quarter of a billion dollars on arms (Clayton Kershaw, David Price, etc.), even though elite arms have predictable history of breaking catastrophically.

When we throw a baseball we put a lot of stress on the ligaments in our elbow. The over hand throwing motion is inherently flawed. The Ulnar collateral ligament or UCL takes on most of the stress. When this ligament breaks from the bone, a pitcher loses his ability to be effective. This is where Tommy John surgery comes into play. Named after the first pitcher to endure the surgery, a new ligament transplanted from somewhere else on the body (or someone else’s body) is attached in the shoulder to become a new UCL. This surgery is now expected for major league pitchers.

So besides the fact that professionals and college ball players are having expected extensive surgery that requires at least eighteen months to recover?

We have no clue how to stop the UCL from tearing.

Besides not throwing at all, there is no medical evidence that will reduce the chances of tearing an UCL. Teams spend billions on players and millions on prevention care, yet there is still no evidence.

All this talk about pitch counts? Useless. All this talk about curveballs at a young age? Nothing. All this talk about pitching motions and inverted W’s? Nope.

The Arm by Jess Passan is incredibly interesting. Not only does he cover the history and prevention of the surgery, he follows a couple of major leaguers taking the long, long road back to the majors.

Great book, if you love baseball, this needs to be in your library.

2016: 34

review date:
8/4/2016
Strong and Weak by Andy Crouch

Andy Crouch has been on my radar for some time. I have heard a lot about him and I have seen some of this thoughts sprinkled throughout the web. I picked up Culture Making a while back and it took me an uncharacteristically long time to get through it. I never felt connected to the material.

Recently, I got to hear Crouch speak and lead worship a few times at a conference in the Boston area. I was very impressed by his communication. I saw a copy of new work Strong and Weak and I decided to give it a try.

At first, I was surprised by the book’s size. It is a rather small, unassuming book. Crouch never seems at a loss for words so I was shocked to such a small book. Second, I really liked this book. Crouch does a great job illustrating the relationship between authority and vulnerability.

Our culture thinks of authority and vulnerability as two sides of a spectrum. The reality is this: authority and vulnerability are two separate entities that when bonded together properly can lead to unimaginable flourishing. “Flourishing requires us to embrace both authority and vulnerability.”

I love these words.

“Leadership begins the moment you are more concerned about others’ flourishing than you are about your own.”

This is a simple read with a simple message. I recommend it.

2016: 33

review date:
7/26/2016
People to be Loved by Preston Sprinkle

Sexuality is a complicated issue in Christianity. It does not matter if you are discussing heterosexuality or same-sex attraction, it seems like Christians have a difficult time discussing sexuality in any form. I have read plenty of books and articles by Christian authors and non-Christian authors alike. I have read plenty of items that support affirming views of same-sex attraction and of course, I have seen a lot of literature that maintains non-affirming views. I have read purely scientific viewpoints, spiritual viewpoints, and even some works that do a mixture of both.

People to be Loved by Preston Sprinkle is a different kind of book. Yes, it addresses the issue of same-sex attraction. Yes, it does choose a side. Yes, it does provoke criticisms and praises. But it does it all with an aroma of humility that you rarely find today.

Sprinkle does a thorough job presenting his viewpoint. It is intelligent, well-researched, and perfectly cited. I know many people will read this book and adamantly disagree with Sprinkle, but the great thing is Sprinkle invites the differences with humility. He understands that he is only one man, and that his future research may lead him somewhere else in the future, but at this time he holds one viewpoint.

This is what makes his book refreshing; it is not an indictment on Christians who think differently or a damnation towards others. It is a call to deep thinking, but more importantly, it is a call to deeper love. No matter where you fall on the side of the debate, loving other is not up for debate. Jesus did not put any condition on His love, nor should you.

2016: 32

review date:
7/21/2016
The Social Animal by David Brooks

What makes us human? You can answer that question biologically or you can answer it spiritually, but no matter how you answer, it is undeniable that humans are social creatures and their anthropological tendencies are what really set them apart from animals.

The Social Animal by David Brooks is a quick exploration of human nature. The book is littered with references to thorough studies, careful research, and detailed observations about the human condition. We have learned so much about human behavior in just the past couple of centuries, yet at the same time it is incredible how much we still do not understand.

In the work, Brooks follows a few fictional characters – mainly Harold and Erica. As he discusses their life journeys he incorporates related research. At times, Brooks would get so deep into describing the research and other topics, you frankly forget where the characters are. This happened so often, I wish Brooks would have abandoned the characters and simply continued unloading the interesting facts and research.

I enjoyed this book. Brooks cites a lot which just makes me want to read more. The book felt longer than it needed to be.

2016: 31

review date:
6/27/2016

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

This book has been on the “to read” list for quite some time now. I know it has been a popular book among managers for years, and I have enjoyed hearing Patrick Lencioni speak on several occasions, but for one reason or another, every year this book kept getting kicked down the list.

Finally, I bought the book and was excited to read it. I opened it up, and a cold shiver went down my spine. When I saw that the first section of the book was titled “The Fable” and written like story, I rolled my eyes thinking I just wasted my money. But I pushed through, and to my surprise, I really enjoyed this book.

I strictly read non-fiction. I have tried, but fiction does not appeal to me. I was tempted to read only the last section of the book which is in essay form, but I’m glad I didn’t. Lencioni can tell a convincing story while driving home the message without being cheesy or painfully obvious.

I definitely think this book would be good for anyone who has to lead a team. Teamwork is incredibly difficult, however it can provide amazing results. I can attest that the five dysfunctions are real and a challenge to overcome.

2016: 30

review date:
6/27/2016

The How-To Guide for Generations at Work by Robby Slaughter

This is one of the most unique times in the work force. Never have so many generations coexisted in the work force operating in various roles and levels. This anomaly can probably be attributed to the meteoric rise of technology and the sheer size of today’s work force. Being able to lead, manage, and collaborate within generational differences is a must.

In his work, Robby Slaughter takes the reader through the face of the modern workforce, practical changes, and a few examples.

There was nothing ground breaking in this work. All the information was adequate but there were some small, perhaps insignificant things that hindered my appreciation for the work. The physical arrangement of the book was odd and distracting, but I had a paperback copy; an e-book version may be easier.

Though the author mentions all his sources, I wish there was a list of references at the end of each chapter. Not only do I think this is best practice, I think it is helpful to the reader. For example, there was a mention to some national labor statistics, I am confident I could find those numbers online but seeing the reference or an address to the actual report would be beneficial.

Though the information is adequate, I don’t see myself using this book in the future.

2016: 29

review date:
6/21/2016

Will College Pay Off? by Peter Cappelli

“A career is a marathon, not a sprint.”

The cost of college has been a point of debate for a couple of decades. It is true that tuition at colleges have increased significantly over the past twenty or thirty years. Though some are worried, the response has been the same: college is worth the investment. The narrative is part of American culture: you finish high school, you go to college, you work hard, and you leave college with great job opportunities ahead of you.

Well, things are not as clear as they used to be. The great recession combined with increased globalization and rising costs, the idea that a college degree is a solid investment has become shaky.

Is college worth it?

The simple answer: Yes.

The not-so-simple answer: Yes, but it’s difficult to understand.

When you look at all the measurements, many which are presented in Will College Pay Off?, there is no clear cut answer. Let’s look at the job market. You can go online right now and search for the hottest majors in the United States. These lists can guide you to the most profitable careers right now. But what about in four years? Or five years (which is more common for college student)? Employers will always grumble and complain about the scarcity of a qualified work force, but even they lack the foresight to know what the future holds. If employers knew the future, then they manage their own educational programs – except for the fact that it is too expensive for them too run.

Furthermore, there is little correlation between grades and performance, so why would a company do the work to train you. In fact, many companies (especially banks and investing firms) will not hire college grads until they have worked for a rival company for a couple of years. This way the rival company does all the training. This, of course, leads to the problem of entry level workers trying to find years of experience.

Though this is a solid work, I have read better works on the issue of higher education costs. The author skillfully expands on solid arguments for and against colleges. I definitely liked the book, it just doesn’t sit on the top of my list of recommended readings.

2016: 28

review date:
6/20/2016 

I'm Fascinated by Sacrifice Flies by Tim Kurkjian

I didn’t watch a lot of ESPN growing up. Whenever I turned it on, they were typically talking about football, Kobe Bryant, or Derek Jeter. Not being a fan of these, I usually turned the channel. The only bright spot on ESPN for me is Baseball Tonight. An hour (or so) devoted purely to baseball is like heaven.

Recently, I began to love the musings of commentator Tim Kurkjian. His love for the game is unmistakable and his obsession with baseball’s history and quirks are infectious. A few years back I picked up his book Is This a Great Game, or What? and I was absolutely fascinated by it. So I was practically giddy when I saw that Kurkjian was coming out with another book and I was definitely not disappointed.

I’m Fascinated by Sacrifice Flies is another entry into the crazy world of baseball. Kurkjian has become the unofficial curator of baseball’s statistical oddities. What makes this book great is the amount of player input. Though authored by Kurkjian this book is virtually written by baseball players past and present. I’ve read plenty of books that literally put quote after quote tied together with a theme, but Kurkjian directs the narrative, interconnecting the thoughts of players.

Any fan of baseball will love this book.

2016: 27

review date:
6/10/2016 

Every Good Endeavor by Timothy Keller

“Why do you want to work? Why is it so hard to work? How can we overcome the difficulties and find satisfaction in our work through the gospel?”

I have always been taught that hard work is good. The harder the work, the more valuable the work. When I went to college, I had a couple of jobs on campus. Most were unexciting; usually mindless, insignificant tasks that helped the school function. This is what I assumed work would always be like, dull and boring.

However, I did have one job on campus that I loved. I got to work alongside college students and help them thrive in their college experience. The moment I found out I could have a career in college student development was life-defining day. I never knew work could be meaningful, engaging, and even fun.

Work is part of God’s story. Our first story of God – the creation account – is a story of God working and loving His work. “Christians should places a high value on all human work (especially excellent work), done by all people, as a channel of God’s love for his world.”

As you can attain from the title, Every Good Endeavor is about the theology of work. Keller has definitely done his research. He frequently cites and references works by great theologians and Christian thinkers.

The book has a very simple message but it did drag on too long, but it is good nonetheless.

2016: 26

review date:
6/1/2016 

Grit by Angela Duckworth

When this book first popped up on my recommendations on Amazon, I was very dismissive. I have read plenty of books that take a very basic concept and stretch it unnecessarily over three hundred arduous pages. This book looked like the others, so I skipped it.

One day I was driving home, listening to some podcasts and I was shocked to hear about the book Grit and its author. The podcast was extremely fascinating. I was hooked. The next day I bought the book, two days later it arrived, I started reading it, and I couldn’t put it down. Grit is an exceptional book.

Some things in life are inevitable: death, taxes, and old people criticizing young people. Over the past few years, I have read plenty of literature lambasting millennials for being entitled and lazy, but if you look at history, every generation during the emerging adult years have been criticized. Every generation has had its failures and its successes. Grit is one constant we find in most successes. Grit may appear differently to others, but Grit keeps things going. Grit is the difference.

Duckworth defines grit as a combination of interest, practice, purpose and hope. Hope being the glue that kind of holds everything together. She then demonstrates how to develop grit in yourself and how to develop grit in others (i.e. kids, students, employees, etc.).

I really enjoyed this book. At times I felt empowered, as my own sense of grittiness was affirmed. At other times, I felt discouraged, as my lack of dedication felt exposed. However, in the end, I felt a renew sense of hope. I have experienced my share of setbacks and speed bumps, and it can be very disheartening in those moments. But, when I look at these obstacles as merely annoyances and not hindrances, I receive a renewed sense of optimism and inspiration. These obstacles are merely parts of my foundation.

This is a great book.

“Our potential is one thing. What we do with it is quite another.”

2016: 25

review date:
5/27/2016 

Faith Learning and the Christian Scholarly Vocation edited by Douglas V. Henry and Bob R. Agee

“This mission of a Christian college is any society at any junction in history is the opening of the Christian mind.” –Holmes

A few months ago I picked this book up for a couple of dollars. It’s about the work of Christian higher education, so I knew it was right up my alley.

This book was published in 2003, which in higher education terms puts in the ancient history section. However, most of the work is timeless. The ten chapters are a compilation of works by some distinguished scholars and teachers in Christian higher education. Most of these chapters are adapted from former lectures and publications sponsored by the Association of Southern Baptist College and Schools.

Now, I am a self-proclaimed non-denominationalist, and there was nothing in this work that reeked of Southern Baptist promotion. These chapters simply tackle the every going challenge of faith integration in a Christian college.

My favorite chapter is written by the venerable Arthur Holmes, who wrote the masterpiece The Idea of a Christian College.

This is good book, but I am sure there are newer, fresher works out there. If you want to add to your collection of Christian higher education works (like me), then it’s worth the price.

 2016: 24

review date:
5/24/2016

The Blessing of Humility by Jerry Bridges

I believe humility is the most underrated value in our society today. Which makes sense. Humble people are running around the world boasting about their amazing humility. Humble folks stick to their work and they do what is right. They do not seek fame or fortune or any accolades.

With a title The Blessing of Humility I expected a good examination of humility. However, what I found, is a solid overview on the beatitudes. The first and last chapter focus on humility, as well as the last paragraph or so of each chapter. If you remove those, the book doesn’t change much.

The book is good, just not what I expected from the title.

Note: I received this book through Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for an honest review. 

2016: 23

review date:
5/20/2016 

101 Secrets for Your Twenties by Paul Angone

Turning twenty is an exciting time. You are finally not a mere teenager. You are a twentysomething with more responsibility and expectations. Unfortunately, there is one problem: you still feel like a teenager. In fact you still feel like a child. Everyone expects you to have your life all planned out and ready to go. For years, your life was defined by school and its schedule, but all of the sudden there are no more teachers telling you where to go, when to go, and what to do. The world is your oyster and you realize you do not like seafood.

Paul Angone has compiled a rather extensive list of axioms written for twentysomethings. Some of them are silly and some are serious but they are all relatively useful. I am sure a twenty year old would look at this book and toss it aside. When you are twenty, it seems like everyone wants to give you advice and it is confusing when you receive conflicting guidance.

I doubt a twentysomething will find the entire book useful, but there is definitely a handful of axioms they can use at any given time.

This is a good book to have and browse through during rough times. I kind of wish the “secrets” were organized by subject. It would make in easier to go and find the advice you need when you need it.

2016: 22

review date:
5/14/2016 

The Defining Decade by Meg Jay, Ph.D.

I have read my fair share of literature on millennials, emerging adults, twentysomethings, or whatever people want to call them. Though I find the subject fascinating, now I am somewhat bored by the subject. Every article and book paints a less than rosy picture of this young generation. They are called weak, impatient, entitled, sensitive, and doomed to inherit a terribly uncertain future.

Now these descriptions and predictions may be accurate proven through qualitative, quantitative, and anecdotal studies, however the leave us with a problem with no solution.

This is where the Defining Decade by Dr. Meg Jay comes in. This is easily the best book I have read all year. Dr. Meg Jay is a clinical psychologist that has studied and helped numerous twentysomethings over the past decade. This book shares the common problems all twentysomethings go through today, how each person looked at the problems, and how each person re-evaluated their twenties.

This book is split into three sections: work, love, and brain and body.

Work is a common problem for twentysomethings. Most have been told they are special and they can do anything they want. Yet when they reach college they are overwhelmed with the responsibility of choosing a major and consequently they are incapable of choosing a vocation. Most would rather wander until someone comes by (after they turn thirty) and leads them to a promising career.

Love, like work, is another commitment that scares twentysomethings. They do not want to commit too young or wait until they are too old. Our culture glorifies the single life of twentysomethings, but it never shares the struggles. College is created with a strong curriculum to prepare you for the working world, however there are no approved methods of finding a soul mate.

Though twentysomethings are finished with the ravages of puberty, their brains and bodies are still developing. The world perceived by a twentysomething is much different than someone in their thirties or forties. Twentysomethings do not feel like adults so they avoid the grown up world, but in order to grow up they need to jump into adult world.

“Thirty is the new twenty” is the worst saying ever. Your twenties are the most valuable decade of your life, but you have to be intentional about it. “You twenties matter.”

Be intentional.

And read this great book.

2016: 21

review date:
5/11/2016 

What's So Funny? by Tim Conway

Tim Conway is another comedic legend that has been making America laugh for generations. He comes from such humble beginnings in Chagrin, Ohio to winning multiple Emmys throughout an historic career. In his lighthearted memoir, it is amazing to read how he somewhat stumbled into the entertainment industry. He never had any ambitious dreams or lofty plans to be a celebrated icon, but his innate talent to make others laugh could not be avoided.

Of course, I am too young to know a world where Tim Conway dominated the television airwaves, but I implore you to find his stuff online and watch him. He is a joy to watch and he is a joy to read.

This is a very light and enjoyable read. Any fan of comedy would enjoy this book.

2016: 20

review date:
5/5/2016 

Shaping the Journey of Emerging Adults by Richard R. Dunn & Jana L. Sundene

Over the past decade there has been a lot of literature written about emerging adulthood. It is this newer concept that connects adolescents to adulthood. I have read a lot of these articles and books and it a very fascinating subject. As I work with emerging adults, I am constantly drawing parallels in my vocation. Furthermore, I have finally stepped out of emerging adulthood (according to the literature) so it is very fascinating to look back at my recent past and see how I emerged in my twenties.

Rarely do I review books with blanket negative statements, but Shaping the Journey of Emerging Adults is just not an interesting book. I applaud the effort and attempt; but the book is really two disjointed books under one cover. Book one summarizes the great works by Christian Smith, Jeffrey Jensen Arnett and others; book two is a work on disciplemaking and spiritual growth. Though these two pieces are interwoven into the book, I didn’t find much real overlap. Meaning, you could take out all references to emerging adulthood and you would have an acceptable book on spiritual development and discipling.

The authors are clear that spiritual development for emerging adults is not easy, “there are no programmatic shortcuts to effective disciplemaking… Disciplemaking is about relationships. Relationships are inefficient… Disciplemaking is unpredictable.” This is true, but odd when the authors spend the next 200 pages producing bullet points and other lists. And I didn’t find any of these proceeding bullet points to be specifically aimed at emerging adults.

Again, I do not disagree with the authors. I do not disagree with their intentions. I do not disagree with their method. I just simply found this book to not really be about emerging adulthood. That’s my two cents.

 2016: 19

review date:
5/2/2016

College Rules! by Sherrie Nist-Olejnik, PhD & Jodi Patrick Holschuch

My quest to find the perfect college orientation book continues. With a subtitle like “How to study, survive, and succeed in college,” College Rules! seemed like the perfect fit. Furthermore, College Rules! has now published its 4th edition, signifying its timeliness and timelessness.

The first thing I noticed when the book arrived in the mail was its size. The book is over 300 pages long. This is not surprising when you try to address every aspect of the college academic experience, but as a book written primarily for newly minted high school graduates, I could not imagine young students reading 300 pages regarding time management and study skills.

There are some boxes aimed at adult students through the book, but these boxes felt like an afterthought or simply out of place. Adult students have entirely different needs, they would need their own book.

There are also some boxes promoting apps and other software programs a college student could use. All this information could be useful, but it could also be completely out dated in a matter of weeks or months.

All in all, the information is very practical and accurate. If a student is willing to sit down and read this book, they are probably already studious enough for college. There is one section of the book I found very bizarre; when the authors advise you on the best way to guess at a multiple choice question if you don’t know the answer. I was not expecting that.

Note: I received this book through bloggingforbooks.org in exchange for an honest review. 

2016: 18

review date
4/29/2016 

Dream It! Do It! by Marty Sklar

Disneyland has always been a magical place for me. It’s the only place in the world where I feel young and filled with childlike wonder. It always be a place of beauty, and I can’t wait to take my kids and re-experience all the joy through their eyes.

The other part of Disneyland that fascinates me is how it works. I love knowing and seeing the inner workings, and the behind the scenes stuff that turns plain buildings into virtual fairy tales. Knowing how the magic is made doesn’t spoil anything for me, in fact it allows me to appreciate the artistry and design even more.

I have read plenty on the original Disneyland and the creation and evolution of all the Disney parks. The stories have become so polished and overused over the years that they have become somewhat boring.

Walt sat on a park bench. He had an idea; fast forward a few years and you get Disneyland despite the critics.

It’s a good story just not too interesting anymore.

Marty Sklar gives you the backstories you want to hear. No, there is nothing scandalous or shocking in the in Sklar’s stories, but they do show you the grit and gruff it took to design the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, the rest of Walt Disney World, and the parks throughout the world. Since the death of Walt Disney, the Disney company and brand has gone through a lot of trials and tribulations and Marty Sklar was one of the main, positive stars throughout it all.

I definitely wanted to hear more about the development of the Disneyland Resort. There is no mention about the ill-fated WestCOT and very little talk about the development of Disney’s California Adventure. It was fun to see Sklar rip into the Paul Pressler era. Any Disneyland fan understands the disdain and contempt directed at Pressler, but it was nice to hear a Disney legend give his official stamp of frustration towards Pressler. Furthermore, it was surprising to see Sklar have a generally positive review of Eisner. According to Sklar, Eisner saved the company from despair yet failed to make it thrive.

This was simply a great book. If you love Disney history, buy it.

 2016: 17

review date:
4/20/2016

There is Life After College by Jeffrey J. Selingo

“Our twentieth-century education system is woefully out of sync with this twenty-first century economy that demands highly knowledgeable and flexible workers.” This quote from the introduction of Life After College perfectly sums up the entire book. To simplify this quote, education is woefully out of sync. 

When I graduated college Myspace was the reigning champion in social media. Facebook, at the time, was a hobby or diversion for a few college students. Today, Myspace is a memory and Facebook dominates not just social media but our entire online experience. Rapid technological innovations and global market change everything we know almost constantly. Businesses and organizations cannot keep up. Education, from kindergarten to graduate schools, lag behind even farther. 

Life After College is really about promoting education outside of college. Selingo introduces the reader to the importance of gap years, bridge programs, on-the-job training, internships, geographic advantages and so forth. 

College is not the final straw anymore. It may be a very important straw, but it is not the final one. Gone are the days when simply getting a college degree guarantees you economic stability. With a growing number on college graduates and competition from people around the world, a college graduate needs to show up with more than a fancy diploma. “What you do in college is more important that where you go to college” (215).

I enjoyed this book a lot. Selingo knows his stuff and his writing is impeccable. I’m not fan of gap years and bridge programs that are highlighted in the book. I think these programs only highlight the change needed in higher education. Additionally, I am not a supporter of gap years because I know without a doubt that a gap year would have been detrimental for me. Delaying formal education would have been a bad idea for me. Even though I changed my major three times in college and my career goals a dozen times, college still gave me the structure and space I needed to succeed. Having said that, college may not be ideal for everyone and I understand that. 

My favorite piece in the book is the chapter on employers. Usually we hear about how employers are frustrated at their new hirers, so it was great to hear how employers are also lost and unprepared. 

I am always disappointed when I read about students choosing a college or a career and there is very little discussion about passion or higher calling. Finding a job that pays well is important, but finding a job that employs your strengths, empowers your soul, and inspires your passion is absolutely vital. That is why I really enjoyed the final chapter on telling your career story. 

This is a great book with amazing information and I highly recommend.

2016: 16

review date:
4/11/2016 

The Rise and Fall of the Bible by Timothy Beal

I don’t think there is any question to the power of the Bible. It is easily the most influential work in history. However, the Bible is also the most divisive work in history. The Christian church, which puts great authority in the Bible, has split over and over again due to the abundant interpretations of Scripture. How the Bible came to be is an important question that needs to be answered.

I picked up this book because it sounded very interesting and I have always been intrigued by the evolution of the Bible and biblical interpretation. This book definitely did not include the harsh criticism I expected. Though critical toward biblical inerrancy proponents, I felt like this book examined the history of biblical publications and the Bible itself. The author objects to modern versions of valued-added Biblical literature such as biblezines, graphic novelizations, and audience-oriented study Bibles.

The book gets better as the author starts reviewing the history of the Bible and how books became canon and others did not. I liked the history of different translations like the New American Standard (NASB) and the King James (KJV).

I was hoping for a better history lesson on the formation of the Bible than what this book provided. I feel like there is a lot of information out there can could have been included.

I enjoyed the conclusion of the book, though I know most conservative Biblical scholars would be appalled. The author attempts to create a conversation about the Bible and I think that is admirable.

2016:15

review date:
4/6/2016 

Honestly by Daniel Fusco

Growing up, I was presented a very clear-cut version of faith. I was given a list of things to believe, a list of things to disavow, and very few things in between. This type of faith governed my life until college, when everything came crashing down. My columns of biblical right and wrong imploded. Now this didn’t mean I lost all sense of right and wrong, but everything got really messy. I tried to rebuild my faith but it kept falling apart.

One day, I was talking to friend about my faith mess and he suggested something that shocked me. He suggested that I live in the mess for a while and figure out what pieces should stay and what should go. This was bewildering to me. The idea that is was acceptable to live within the mess was unfathomable but so relieving.

Over the past few years, I found more books that address the mess. I am not sure if this is a new emphasis in Christian literature or one I am just recently discovering. Honestly by Daniel Fusco is another chapter in the library of messy faith. Christ does not offer us a simple life with simple answers.

And that’s ok.

My only criticism of the book is that the book is a bit unspecial. It just felt like another run of the mill Christian book. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but the book does not really stand out. He shares wonderful stories, he makes great illustrations from Scripture, but I wasn’t drawn deep into the book.

This book would be a good launching pad for a church group.

**This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

2016: 14

review date:
3/30/2016  

Culture Making by Andy Crouch

Culture is sort of a bad word in churches today. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with the word culture, but the concept of culture is too scary for many Christians. Young boys and girls in Sunday school and youth group are constantly taught that the culture of society will destroy them. The cliché “in the world, but not of the world” derived from Jesus in John 17 is repeatedly presented to kids and summarized on stylish decals. Children are urged to run away from culture, abandoned it, focus only on Christ and heavenly things.

In theory, this is a good message. There are many things in this world that are damaging, and few things that are uplifting. This is where Culture Making comes in.

There are a few responses by Christians presented by celebrated author Andy Crouch. One, condemn culture: be a constant source of anger and opposition towards human culture. Two, critique culture: be an incessant judge on value of ideas and things. Third, copy culture: remove yourself from the present culture and create a parallel culture (i.e. Christian clothing companies, movie studios, etc.).

These three options have been very popular with Christians over the past few decades. As Christianity loses its monopoly on virtue in society, Christians have simply decide to condemn, critique, or copy the culture. However, culture is not some other worldly concept, it is simply a “what human beings make of the world.” Simply withdrawing from culture creates nothing, it only opens a vacuum for other culture creators.We must be cultivators of culture. We are not allowed to sit on the sidelines and belittle everything we see. We are humans and we are responsible for the culture around us.

Christians love to debate laws and politics yet we very rarely try to change the culture from the inside. Let’s spend less time debating governmental health care and more time opening our churches to the needy who just need a comfortable space to sleep and warm meal.

Crouch has a wonderful chapter about the split between celebrity and saint. Most of us will never be celebrities, but nothing is stopping us from being a saint. “So why are so many trying to become a celebrity and so few trying to be a saint?”

I really enjoyed this book. It felt a bit long winded, and it could have been shorter by fifty pages.

2016: 13

review date:
3/17/2016 

View From the Top by D. Michael Lindsay

“Leadership is not handed down, and there is not one right path to make it to the top.”

College presidents have an extremely unique role. They must run the academy while being the top donor relations person, the lead representative to the community, and voice for the future. They also need to manage a campus filled with medical teams, counselors, safety officers, janitors, and landscapers. A Christian college president has an incomparable experience, as they must succeed in all the former duties listed they need to be the chief spiritual director for all faculty, staff and students. I relish any opportunity to read a book by Christian college president, especially on leadership.

D. Michael Lindsay is the president of Gordon College, a Christian college just north of Boston, Massachusetts, and in his book View from the Top, Dr. Lindsay summarizes the result from a decade long leadership study that covers over 500 influential leaders.

Each chapter in the book is a summary of an idea followed by numerous responses and examples from leaders ranging from non-profit CEOs to difference makers in the halls of the White House and Congress. It was incredibly interesting to hear all these experiences and stories, in fact my one complaint is the overload of stories. I would have love to dig deeper into the experiences of these amazing leaders.

I will definitely keep this book on my shelf in my office and look at it periodically to inspire through the difficult times of leadership.

2016: 12

review date:
3/8/2016 

High Heat by Tim Wendel

We all love the curveball. The hook. The deuce. Public enemy number one. Uncle Charlie. It is an amazing pitch to watch.

But nothing beats the fastball. The numero uno. The terminator. The high heat.

In my opinion the most dominating pitchers in Major League Baseball were probably Nolan Ryan and Sandy Koufax. Those are pretty safe picks, but there are a lot of other deserving pitchers out there: Roger Clemens, Walter Johnson, Satchel Paige, etc.

High Heat is simply about the fastball; how it works who are the people that throw it, and the myths that surround the infamous pitch. Author Tim Wendel takes you down a lot of trails, perhaps too many. He loves to jump regularly between stories. At times I would get lost in all the competing story lines. One chapter jumped around David Price, Nolan Ryan, Steve Dalkowski, Nuke LaLoosh, and Sandy Koufax. I wish he would have spent whole chapters on these individual stories instead of shifting gears constantly.

Though a very interesting topic that was well thought out, I didn’t like the flow or construction of the book. I never got to dive deep into the stories. This just is not my style of nonfiction that I appreciate.

2016: 11

review date:
3/5/2016 

Rooted by Banning Liebscher

I went to a Christian school. I attended church. I went to a Christian college and majored in theology. I currently work at a different Christian college and I have read my fair share of Christian books concerning spiritual growth. I have drowned in Christian living books. Most of them are good, they are inspiring and theologically sound. Some are ridiculous but those are few and far between. My biggest complaint is boredom. It is difficult to find a Christian book that is exceptional. Unfortunately, Rooted is another un-exceptional work.

Nothing in the book is bad. In fact, I enjoyed the message of the book but after the first chapter I found myself bored. It felt like a great sermon stretched needlessly to 200+ pages.

Having said that, the book’s message is good. We need to be rooted in God before we can even think about producing fruit. In a culture of now, we want to see results immediately, but with an eternal God, the results need to be greater than what we can comprehend.

I would recommend this book to the young, volatile believer who needs to learn patience and persistence. 

 2016: 10

review date:
2/29/2016

What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell writes the most interesting stuff out there. He can take such simple and mundane topics and expand them exponentially. He makes you see the world in an entirely new light.

Before What the Dog Saw, I read Gladwell’s other four works; each one spectacular. This book peaks the same amount of interest however, its lacks the overarching and appealing theme. What the Dog Saw is a collection of Gladwell’s previous articles. I enjoyed the chapters but I felt a bit unsatisfied at the end of the book. It was full enjoyment with a pinch of inadequacy.

It was interesting to read about Enron, the tech bubble, banking economy, and other craziness 5-10 years later. It gives you a sense of history and context.

All in all this is a great book, but not the best by Gladwell. Having said that, I cannot wait for Gladwell to write another book.

 2016: 9

review date:
2/16/2016

Love Kindness by Barry Corey

As a Christian higher education enthusiast, I follow the Facebook and Twitter profiles of numerous Christian colleges and universities. The profiles I enjoy the most are the Christian college presidents who are you actively involved on their social media. This is where I came across Love Kindness.

On a random day weeks ago, Biola University president, Barry Corey, tweeted a simple message about his upcoming book. I quickly switched over to Amazon and pre-ordered myself a copy and was elated when the book arrived in my office a couple of weeks earlier than expected.

Love Kindness is an excellent book with an excellent message.

As stated in the book, we are experiencing a significant change in our society. Christianity and American society do not see eye to eye on many issues. Some Christians see this as a time to confront our doctrines. Some see this as a time to fight harder. But President Corey’s approach brings us all back to reality; a reality that is loving yet strong.

“We need a firm center and soft edges.”

Having faith, strong beliefs, intense passion, and solid reasoning are not the problem. A lack of love, grace, and listening lead to irreconcilable splits and unfruitful debates. Having a solid center of faith yet edges that are open enough to listen is essential for sharing your love of Christ and others.

I highly recommend this book. Corey shares some amazing stories about his ups and downs both personally and professionally. It is a very refreshing book.

2016: 8

review date:
2/9/2016

Christ-Centered Leadership by David McKenna

No author has impacted me more than David McKenna. He had an amazing career working in Christian higher education and he is able to pack so much insight and wisdom into his books. I look forward to reading everything I can find of his, and I hope to inspire others the way he has inspired me. 

Christ-centered Leadership is another work about McKenna’s leadership style. With his vast experience, a book about leadership could quickly become self-congratulatory, instead McKenna gives you a lesson in humility and sacrifice. 

To lead, Christ gave up His position, power and prestige. It was the only way he could be accessible to his sons and daughters. When you become a leader, you must give up these things as well. You need to be vulnerable, obedient, and humble.

“Sacrificial leadership is a journey, not a destination”

This was not my favorite work by McKenna but it is still valuable to me. His other works contained more anecdotes and stories from his days serving at different institutions. His tales are always remarkable and inspiring.


2016: 7

review date:
1/28/2016 

Mismatch by Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor, Jr.

I am all for the use of data to construct solid arguments. However, just because one has a lot of data does not mean you have a solid argument.

Though written a few years ago, Mismatch is a very relevant book. Just a couple of months ago the Supreme Court listened to more arguments concerning racial preferences at the University of Texas. Remarks from Justice Scalia has amplified the debate throughout the country.

So let me get to it. As a book, Mismatch is a bit long, quite repetitive, and at times it contained useless information. As an argument, I can see how one could make an argument against affirmative action and racial preferences. Nevertheless, there is still plenty of valid arguments in favor of affirmative action and racial preferences that make perfect sense. The authors of Mismatch sort of dismiss any critic of their study has having a secret agenda.

I am confused by the moniker of “elite” colleges and universities. Why are colleges more “elite” than others? Having “elite” colleges and “non-elite” colleges seems like a problem that needs to be addressed then.

All in all, I did not walk away from this book feeling more educated about the subject. I walked away feeling confused.

 2016: 6

review date:
1/20/2016

Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew Crawford

I came across the name Matthew Crawford while reading an article on the Chronicle of Higher Education. I was enthralled by article and was extremely interested to learn more and to read Shop Class as Soulcraft.

Working with my hands has always been appealing to me. I love creating things out of nothing or repairing items by trial and error. I enjoying getting my hands dirty. On the other side, I love my job working in education, helping students find their passions. I love hearing what excites them. I love conversations about business, art, theology, sports, etc. I love it all.

I have read a lot of books on leadership and education, so I was excited to read a book endorsing the fruits of physical work. What I got was weirdly constructed book of thoughts. When Crawford is not demonizing knowledge work or “cubicle work” as he calls it, he is deifying the process of motorcycle mechanics. I like motorcycles, I have driven many over the years, but reading how someone figured out why a vintage engine was locking up was completely boring.

I still believe in the art of manual work, but I do not believe office work should be belittled. Meaning can be found in anything we do. There is certainly a lot of work I do that is tedious, but I know this work supports the bigger picture.

Physical labor and trade work are definitely devalued in our culture. The American dream still includes college, minimal discomfort, a big office and a bigger house. I believe physical work and trade jobs definitely deserve better respect. Electricians and plumbers play a vital role in our society and they are great jobs. We can definitely elevate these jobs without devaluing others.

In rare form, I would definitely pass on this book.

2016: 5

review date:
1/15/2016

Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach

“Jesus’s command to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ doesn’t have an exception clause”

Why is grace so messy? Grace is messy because it is unconditional. Grace does not set up a list of requirements.

I believe humans, generally speaking, have a difficult time understanding grace. We like rules, standards, and procedures. It is a quick way to define and categorize things. It is also a good way to know how to protest and rebel.

The Church ought to be a place overflowing with grace. It should be a place where the unacceptable feel accepted. I think it is obvious that the modern church in the United States resemble the religious attitudes of the Pharisees and not the teachings of Jesus.

Messy Grace is about the tension between grace and truth which Kaltenbach calls love. This book probably will not change your convictions, nor does it attempt to. If you are conservative, liberal, republican, democrat, capitalist, or a communist, this book will not change that. Reading this book, you will at times think Kaltenbach goes too far and then all of the sudden not far enough.

No matter where you stand on LGBT issues, there simply is no excuse for treating people poorly. The gospel is filled with stories of Jesus hanging out with outcasts. He celebrated with them. These celebrations with outcasts should define our lives, our families, and our church.

My favorite story from Messy Grace is when Kaltenbach brought his lesbian mother to church. The next Sunday, two elders demanded Kaltenbach never bring “those type of people to their church again.” Kaltenbach preached that Sunday and he never returned again. That church was not messy enough.

“The gospel isn’t about who God is against. It’s about who God is for.”

“Ultimately it doesn’t matter what you and I think. It matters what God thinks.”

 2016: 4

review date:
1/10/2016

Lost in Transition by Christian Smith

Millennials are probably the most researched generation ever and they are probably the most criticized generation ever. It seems like every week there is a new story about millennials not working hard enough, taking on too much debt, expecting too much from their bosses, etc.

Lost in Transition is a substantial qualitative study of 18-23 years old or emerging adults and how they interact with their environment. The study covers the areas of morality, consumerism, intoxication, sexuality, and civic and political engagement.

The results of the research were not surprising. Emerging adults are morally confused, advocates for capitalism and consumerism, frequent users of alcohol and drugs, sexually promiscuous, and civically detached. It was interesting to read the stories of the emerging adults and hear their perspectives.

I would really enjoy seeing comparative studies that compare 18-23 adults today to 18-23 adults from twenty or so years ago. Obviously there would be some changes like media and technology, but would the heart of the matter change? Are emerging adults today significantly different from emerging adults of the past? Additionally, a comparative study that shows how 18-23 adults measure up to other older and younger generations would be interesting.

One example, emerging adults are morally confused. They are gaining their independence from the parents and have very little responsibilities, meaning their attachments to others are minimal and their moral code has little impact on their life. However, are adults over the age of 23 better at morality and are they able to communicate morality any better? Most philosophers and theologians have a difficult time defining a universal morality.

I enjoyed this book, but I felt like it was a little too critical of emerging adults. Emerging adults are in a time of transition. They do not comprehend the complexities of life and it should not be expected.

Anyone interested working with emerging adults would benefit from reading this book, but I think they should understand that this is only a tiny snapshot of college aged students.

2016: 3

review date:
1/7/2016 

Think like a Freak by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

I consider Freakonomics a book of impact in my life. The book really challenged me to reconsider every notion of reality. It is amazing how intelligent humans can be yet simultaneously ridiculous.

The next book, Superfreakonmics, did not measure up to its predecessor but it still offered many insights. In short, I was hooked onto the Freakonomics train. I would listen to Levitt and Dubner on podcasts and read their blogs.

When Think like a Freak was published, I was very excited. Unlike the two previous volumes, this work discusses the process over presenting data. Thinking like a freak requires you to think differently, but not abstractly. It requires you to look at a problem through two lenses: the ordinary lens and the extraordinary lens. And after all that, transmitting your new ideas can be twice the hassle.

This book was incredibly interesting, and at the end, I felt smarter yet entertained.

Again, Think like a Freak is a quick read. The content isn’t very heavy. I enjoyed it, and I can’t wait to read something by Levitt and Dubner in the future.

 2016: 2

review date:
1/6/2016

Sick in the Head by Judd Apatow

Comedians are a weird breed. Think about it, speaking on stage in front of a large audience is one of the biggest fears many folks have, yet these individuals choose it as a profession. Additionally, they are required to make people laugh all the time or experience the audience’s wrath if they don’t. I enjoy reading about comedians or humorists, because I love seeing their perspective on culture because in a way I think their view on culture is most revealing.

Judd Apatow is a self-proclaimed comedy nerd. When he was a young boy, he was obsessed with comedy. Some of the interviews found in Sick in the Head are from Apatow’s high school days. He interviewed Jerry Seinfeld, Martin Short, and the likes when he was just an adolescent. Many of us wonder what we would do if we met our idols, Apatow made that happen.

Sick in the Head is a simple book of interviews. There is no running theme or subject besides comedy. A few interviews are from Apatow’s younger days (these are probably the worst interviews, however still interesting). A few interviews are transcripts of other works (podcasts, DVD commentaries, magazine interviews). And some interviews were done specifically for the books and these are definitely the best.

Today, Apatow is a comedic force. He turned his passion into reality and that’s fun to see.

I really enjoyed the interviews with comedians I like (Colbert, Short, Martin) and I kind of skipped over the ones I had no interest in.

All in all, it’s an interesting read. I would have enjoyed a theme to the book or transition from one interview to the other.

 2016: 1

review date:
1/5/2016

Courage and Calling by Gordon T. Smith

“The glory of God is the human person fully alive” –Irenaeus

I follow a lot of higher education news and it seems like every day there is a new college list out. I’ve seen lists on which schools have the most beautiful campuses, which schools have the wealthiest alumni, best party schools, etc. But the lists that upsets me the most are the ones that rank colleges or majors based on earning potential. Should anyone really encourage students to choose a major simply based on how much money they can earn?

When I started college I was set on become a medical doctor. It seemed like the sweet life. So I chose Applied Health as my major. A couple of semesters later I had horribly poor grades and utterly unhappy.

Why?

Because I chose a career and not a calling. I decided on what I wanted to become, and not who I was. I elected what I wanted to be and not I wanted to learn.

Your calling is a spark inside you that you are incapable of extinguishing. It can be very difficult to describe. Many go searching for a calling, but ultimately your calling is found and created within you.

Courage and Calling by Gordon T. Smith is about finding your calling, but it emphasizes humility and listening; two aspects rarely promoted today.

At times this book can feel a little bit repetitive, but it is definitely a great book about finding the passion God has given you.

“Some of the most important work that God accomplishes in the world is fulfilled by ordinary people doing ordinary work.”