How To Write a Book Review – Trent University
The Dangerous Animals Club is not exactly a Southern Baptist preachery kind of book. Drugs, alcohol, nakedness, and the kinds of things that accompany drugs, alcohol and nakedness. And yet, this is a funny and enjoyable book that I am glad I read.
Stephen Tobolowsky is a master storyteller – interesting, funny, polished, and insightful. I wish I could get him to come to Sunday afternoon lunch so we could drink sweet tea and trade stories back and forth across the kitchen table.
Before Tobolowsky was that Hollywood actor that everyone recognizes but no one knows his name, he was a good ol’ North Texas boy. And, many of his stories include that North Texas dimension; water moccasin throwing, tarantula hunting, driving naked through Dallas, coping with strange SMU professors, — you know, routine North Texan life. Then, he moves on to talk about racoons in the attic, bull-fighting, Jewish mysticism, quantum physics, — you know, routine Hollywood life.
And now, a short note to Tobolowsky, himself.
Tobo, I know you will never read this, but just in case, I wanted to let you know that I am actively thinking about those important four people in my life. Thanks for the stimulus.
And, here are a few quotes from the book:
DON’T ASK ME, “How are the kids?” I never have any idea. I know they eat and get dressed and go to school, but as to what is going on in their lives and in their heads, forget it. It is the secret world: the world that every child has and that no parent gets to see. Ann and I are active parents. We try to meet all of our kids’ friends and their parents and ask questions and look under the bed, and check in the closets, tap their phones— but we still don’t know the various deals with Satan they may make when they leave the house. We’re not unique. Every parent is in the dark. (p. 1)
* * *
Her face changed as most women’s do when they listen to their men: from amusement to horror to incomprehensibility. (p. 15)
* * *
It’s funny how much trust we put in science when its track record throughout history has been so bad. The problem is that science not only tries to describe the observable, like the tides and the height of mountains, but also the unobservable. (p. 59)
* * *
Hob was a true academic and consequently no one could understand what he was talking about. (p. 170)
* * *
“If I am not for myself, who is? If I am for myself alone, what am I? And if not now, when?” ~ Rabbi Hillel (p. 175)
* * *
Fairly or unfairly, many people are tried in life. The mistake people make is that they think the trial is a sign of failure. It’s not. It’s only a doorway that leads to who you really are. (p. 182)
* * *
It is difficult to define what men look for in women and what women look for in men. One thing is for certain: it’s not the same thing. (p. 213)
* * *
All of this time I had only known Hob as a sort of academe to the third power: a man who would never call a spade a spade when he could call it a partially conical metal digging implement used primarily in recreational agriculture. (p. 230)
* * *
“The reason you can’t get a handle on life is because it’s not a bucket.” (p. 239)
* * *
The “yeah, but” is the way we have developed to diminish our own lives into footnotes. To demoralize, trivialize, and squander the greatest gift we have been given— the joy of watching the sun rise for another day, even if it is only to have the opportunity to fail. (p. 240)
* * *
As a rule in life, if you want to feel thin, hang out with fat people. If you want to feel better about your prospects, talk to friends who are worse off than you. (p. 241)
* * *
There is almost nothing more powerful than the current of unhappiness. It can carry you far away. It can separate friends and family. It can even separate you from yourself. (p. 242)
* * *
Determination is often mistaken for purpose. Usually it is only a sign of a lack of imagination. (p. 289)
* * *
I have never been to a psychiatrist…. It’s hard to find a good one. There are so many bad ones, and to get the name of a good one you have to ask friends who go to psychiatrists and they’re usually crazy. (p. 291)
* * *
It’s amazing how comforting the simple things were— like trees, or a mountain, or snow. When I turned my attention from my own pain to look at the amazing world around me, I started feeling better. I was rediscovering the miracle of my own life. (pp. 297-298)
* * *
When I was addicted to cocaine several years later, a dealer told me something important. He said addiction is not just made up of the time you spend getting high. It is also made up of the time you spend thinking about drugs, earning money to buy drugs, and driving around trying to find drugs. (p. 332)
* * *
Our life isn’t necessarily measured by what we accumulate, but how we spend our time. There is a pressure to value achievement by focusing on the finish line. I often think more praise should be bestowed on those who make sure we’re starting at the right place. (p. 332)
@kevinstilley Kevin. It was beautiful. Thank you.
— Stephen Tobolowsky (@Tobolowsky) September 2, 2013
Really NOT so beautiful. So Beautiful: Divine Design for Life and the Church
is so replete with self-refuting nonsense that I feel like I have already wasted too much time on it and I am not going to waste my time reviewing it other than to say you shouldn’t waste your time reading it.
Over the last few weeks I have been engaged in leisure reading, or what might be considered “summer reading.” I have read a handful of books for which I do not feel like writing full-fledged reviews. However, here are some quick glimpses at what I thought of them;
I was skeptical when I picked up the book, but several friends and family members had read it and been moved by it so I read it to be able to compare notes. After having read the book I am even more skeptical than previously. Don Piper’s Heaven manages to fit every stereotypical rendering (complete with the brush of angel’s wings) without adding anything new. However, his Heaven is not that of the apostle Paul where to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Piper’s Heaven is more like being part of the Verizon network — to be absent from the body is to be present with Friends and Family. His account is similar to the accounts of many others who have had near death experiences. Doesn’t that contribute to the credibility of his account? Not when you consider that many of those account givers are atheists or adherents of some pretty bizarre belief systems. Would we expect Christians and non-Christians to have the same experience of Heaven? Perhaps my biggest disappointment was that in all 208 pages I never did find a clear presentation of the gospel. If a Baptist Preacher is going to talk about Heaven don’t you think he ought to clearly tell people how to get there? – – NOT RECOMMENDED
This book is Madeleine L’Engle’s story of her mother’s last year on Earth. I found it to be a vivid and moving account of the joys and hardships experienced by families as they let go of their most senior members and adjust to new realities and new family roles. My appreciation for the book may in part be due to the fact that it resonates with my own experience. In the last nine months our joy over the birth of a new child was tempered by my mother dying after a long illness, my brother being killed in a car accident, and my father moving into an assisted living environment. As we have made the many associated adjustments it was helpful to read this book and have L’Engle walk alongside for awhile. — RECOMMENDED
I have read this book on numerous occasions. But, as Lewis says within its pages, if a book is not worth reading twice it is not worth reading even once. I consider Lewis to be one of the great essayists of the twentieth century. I appreciate his ability to shine light in dark places. We are in need of many more like Lewis who not only see the light but see “along the light” (drawing upon a metaphor from the book). Razor sharp wit and wisdom – you’ve got to love that. This book is actually a collection of essays brought together from a variety of venues. As a result it is a bit redundant is a bit redundant. Every time I have read this book I have wished that its editor would have taken a more active role in tailoring it for the reader. I will probably share a full review at some point in the future when I have read it again, but for now let me simply say that it is … — STRONGLY RECOMMENDED
This is another book which I have read numerous times. With each reading of the text I come to appreciate it more and more. I think it is probably the best book I know of for introducing the seeker or new believer to Christian theology. If God ever grants me the privilege of pastoring a church again it is my intent to preach a series on the topics found in this book’s eleven chapters and utilize the book as curriculum for simultaneous small group studies. While not agreeing with everything John Stott says in this book (for instance, his equation of the Lord’s Day with the Sabbath), I still believe this is an excellent book and that it provides an antidote to many of the errors being endorsed in churches today. — STRONGLY RECOMMENDED
I am familiar with the work of Paul Tripp and very much appreciate his understanding of discipleship and Biblical counseling. So, when this book was placed in my hands by a co-worker I was pleased to dip into its pages. And, I was not disappointed. Before I tell you how great this book is, let me preface my comments by saying that I typically don’t care for most books on discipleship and spiritual growth. I find their cookie cutter approaches, “to do” lists, and reflections of the latest Christian trends to be more irritating than edifying. Not so with this book. I think I can say without hyperbole that Tripp’s approach to discipleship, spiritual growth, and personal change is the most Biblical approach I have seen in a book like this. I will re-read this book and probably review it at a later time, but for now let me say that it is . . . — STRONGLY RECOMMENDED
In the introduction to this book John MacArthur explains that among the many sermon series he has preached at Grace Community Church, two of the most commented upon and for which recordings are requested are the two series he preached on the twelve apostles. Phil Johnson, editor extraordinaire, and an excellent author himself, has taken that material and shaped it into this book. The calling and training of the twelve makes great source material for self reflection and understanding the nature of God’s calling. God can do anything that He desires, but he has chosen to use individuals to bring about His purposes. This book is beneficial in fleshing out what it means for us individuals to participate in God’s work. — RECOMMENDED
Jonathan Martin has seen what can happen when Christians give with the right heart but without using their heads. Not pretty. Many times Christian giving can have results that are diametrically opposed to what is intended. As Goethe said, “Nothing is worse than active ignorance.” This book outlines an approach to Christian giving, particularly in terms of the missionary enterprise, that is consistent with the instruction of Scripture and will result in greater impact on people’s lives. This book will have limited appeal to the average reader, but is must reading for those who have responsibility for administering church budgets and missions funds. — RECOMMENDED.
I enjoyed this book on ancient western mythology; but the very reasons I like it will diminish desireability for many readers. (1) I like it because it is broken into very short chunks (1 or 2 pages). I like having a book around that I can pick up to fill those little five minute periods of life between activities (stop lights, waiting for a meeting, soaking in the bathtub, etc.) This isn’t the kind of book that you pick up and read for an hour. (2) I like it because the author compares the accounts of Homer and Hesiod, and he contrasts the mythology of Rome and Greece. I know that most people could care less how Hesiod differs from Homer, but such knowledge sends chills down my spine (that was hyperbole). (3) I like it because the author, Macrone, has managed to show the relevance of the material to modern language and thought. The book isn’t comprehensive enough to serve as a primer for younglings and newbies, and it isn’t the kind of book that you will find intellectually challenging or that will stimulate vicarious emotional response. However, it has nuggets of useful information for those with inquiring minds and I personally found it to be interesting. — RECOMMENDED
Is honesty the best policy? That is the question that is being hotly debated following the dissing of Carrie Prejean, Miss California. Both Donald Trump and Perez Hilton admitted that Miss Prejean’s chances of winning the Miss USA Pageant were nullified when she honestly shared her religious and political convictions when asked to do so during the Interview portion of the pageant.
In an interesting twist, her future prospects may be better served by having lost the event than had she gone on to victory. She has been on the media circuit twenty-four hours a day and more people know her name than that of pageant winner Kristen Dalton. Numerous opportunities have already been made available to Prejean with more in the wings.
* * *
I recently spent a few days reading the book of a former Miss America contestant, Jeanne Swanner Robertson.
Jeanne was the contestant from North Carolina in 1963. She did not win the pageant, but did take home the award for Miss Congenialty. As Jeanne tells it, Miss Congeniality is the person whom the other contestants believe to be the least likely to actually win the title of Miss America. Standing 6’2″ in her stocking feet, she is also recognized as the tallest contestant to ever participate in the Miss America Pageant. (When not in her stocking feet she wears size 11B shoes.)
Following her attempt at the crown, Jeanne Robertson coached basketball and taught physical education for nine years, before turning her hand to speaking as a profession. As a humorist she has traveled the nation, and abroad, as a speaker for all kinds of events. In this book, Humor: The Magic of Genie, she shares what she has learned from all those hours spent at the speakers platform, in airplanes and taxis, and interacting with people of all kinds.
Humor: The Magic of Genie is not a “how-to” book for aspiring comedians. It is a guide for anyone who sees the value in developing a sense of humor. She organizes her book around seven “potions”.
1. Laugh at yourself.
2. Look for the humor in everyday situations.
3. Create your own humor.
4. Associate with people who have a sense of humor.
5. Influence others to develop a sense of humor.
6. See the humor in stressful, awkward, or unpleasant situations.
7. Take humor breaks/collect humor cues.
And, in the course of encouraging her reader to a more fulfilling life that embraces humor not as a mode for dealing with life, but as part of life itself, Jeanne shares plenty of her favorite stories.
Humor: The Magic of Genie was a welcome break from my textbooks and hopefully I benefited from it in that I am now better equipped to laugh
at with my students, family, friends, and colleagues.
Now, can someone help me find the humor in this year’s Miss USA stupidity?
* * *
Video: Miss California, Carrie Prejean, on the Good Morning America television program.
Planet Google: One Company’s Audacious Plan to Organize Everything We Know, by Randall E. Stross
According to my StrengthsFinder 2.0 results, I am a collector of information. According to my wife, I am a packrat. So it should not come as a surprise that I would be fascinated by a book about Google. whose stated goal is “to organize all the world’s information.”
Stross has managed to weave together a tale that is part biography and part techno-thriller. (If they ever do a modern remake of Clint Eastwood’s movie A Fist Full of Dollars, they can put Microsoft and Yahoo at opposite ends of the street and let Google play the “Man with No Name” Eastwood character.) After listening to this audio book twice I now think differently about blogging, searching the net for information, relationships, my private information, and what kind of plans for the future I can realistically make
I thoroughly enjoyed the audio book version of Planet Google, found it to be eye-opening, and have no hestitation to recommend it to you. However, I don’t believe that I would have been as absorbed by the print version, so readers beware.
Hmmm…. is there such a thing as pleasure which is not existential?
There were two things about reading The Existential Pleasure of Engineering in which I took pleasure, existential or otherwise; (1) it was only 160 pages long, and (2) the author referenced great or interesting literature on nearly every page.
The cover of the book has a blurb that reads, “Enchanting.” The New Yorker. I have decided that this must be a warning that the book has some kind of hex / enchantment on it that makes book reviewers lose perspective. [Read more…]
Maybe it is a story of self-discovery. Maybe a story about friendship. Maybe it is an exaltation of general revelation or about learning to perceive God. Maybe it is about growing older, growing wiser, growing…