2017 Literacy Throwdown! – The August Review: The Beginning of the End

Here, I’m forced to be brutally honest with myself. Any hope I had of winning this contest was always a lie. I had a great August; I read six books (six!), most of them really good. And I didn’t make up any ground at all. JASON READ: RACHEL READ: The Connected Child The Sound of Gravel Surely You’re Joking, Mr. More …

2017 Literacy Throwdown Book Review! – The Kingdom of Speech

This book takes the pole position for Best Book I’ve Read This Year. What’s it about? Well, it’s a brief overview of the history of linguistics, and an explanation of how the existence human speech exposes a major gap in Darwin’s theory of evolution, a gap that causes Darwinists no end of consternation. Sounds like gripping page-turner, right? Actually, it More …

2017 Literacy Throwdown Book Review! – Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!

I had heard tales of legendary physicist Richard Feynman: the carousing, the womanizing, the crazy pranks. The frequent trips to Las Vegas, where I imagined the craps tables were no match for the genius who helped build the first atomic bomb. So naturally I was interested in Feynman’s autobiography; I wanted to get the inside scoop on all these shenanigans. More …

2017 Literacy Throwdown Book Review! – The Four Loves

This just in: C.S. Lewis is the man. The Four Loves is Lewis’ treatise on four categories of love: affection, friendship, eros (wink, wink), and charity. It is, for Lewis, typically insightful, typically profound, and typically compelling. It’s a short book, but dense. And like I tend to do with Lewis books, I marinated in every page, soaking in the More …

2017 Literacy Throwdown Book Review! – The Apostle

This was a really good book that I didn’t like. It’s weird, but I don’t know how else to say it. When I got this book, I was hoping it would humanize Paul and provide all the little details about his era that would make his whole story come to life, that would put meat on the bones of historical More …

2017 Literacy Throwdown! – The July Review: A Slow Month, Relatively

It was an incredibly busy month for our family. Which meant that Rachel didn’t get to read at her normal blistering pace. It also meant that I was unable to take advantage of her slowdown. She only read three books, but she extended her lead! I have brought shame upon myself. JASON READ: RACHEL READ: The Apostle Chosen for Greatness More …

2017 Literacy Throwdown! – The May/June Review

And so we enter the dog days of summer. And the days are so dogged that I’m having to do two months of contest review at once. What’s the review? In a nutshell: more of the same. Rachel read more books than me. Jason Read: Rachel Read: Think Like a Freak The Nightingale President Me Cold Sassy Tree On Writing More …

2017 Literacy Throwdown Book Review! – Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs

You ever meet somebody who can just analyze something to death? You know that type I mean. He can spend an hour before dinner outlining themes of loss and abandonment in Iron Man 2 and an hour after dinner discussing how post-millennial masculinity is defined by Spider-Man and Ross from Friends. I find that people like that, while often full More …

2017 Literacy Throwdown Book Review! – Prayers for the Assassin

In the course of this epic reading competition, I’m going to end up reading a number of books that are just, “meh.” It’s the law of averages; they can’t all be gems. Prayers for the Assassin is one of those books that falls firmly in the “meh” category. A thriller set in a near-future America that has been converted to More …

2017 Literacy Throwdown Book Review! – Born Standing Up

 Born Standing Up is Steve Martin’s reminiscence of the beginning of his career — from his first job selling maps at Disneyland to his time as the number one concert draw in the history of stand-up. He describes it not as an autobiography, but as a biography of someone he used to know. That’s about right. And it reads like More …

2017 Literacy Throwdown Book Review! – On Writing

This is probably Stephen King’s most respected book. In fact, I can’t think of any other Stephen King book that would be considered “respected.” Popular, yes. Wildly successful, sure. Really, really long, no doubt. Plentiful, without question. And did I mention long? How does he write so much, anyway? But this book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, appears on More …

2017 Literacy Throwdown Book Review! – President Me

Adam Carolla is a funny man, so if you enjoy his style of comedy you’re going to get your money’s worth of laughs out of this book (especially if you get it on sale for two bucks like I did; bargain hunter, yo!). But having said that, I have to say that the book wasn’t everything I hoped it would be. President More …

2017 Literacy Throwdown Book Review! – Dark Matter, a Thriller for Dumb People

When I read a novel or watch a movie, I like to immerse myself in it. I’m not a guy who goes looking for plot holes or tries to jump ahead of the author and figure out the next plot twist myself. But by the time I got to page ten of Dark Matter, the rest of the story was More …

2017 Literacy Throwdown Book Review! – Think Like a Freak

I like to come at problems sideways; questioning assumptions, eschewing conventional wisdom, and all that jazz. So the approach of the Freakonomics guys has always appealed to me. I’ve never read their books, but I’ve read enough about them and their take on economic problems to be intrigued. So, when I saw this book, Think Like a Freak, whose cover offered to More …

2017 Literacy Throwdown Book Review! – From Russia with Love

Though I’m a lifelong James Bond fan, this was my first experience with an Ian Fleming novel. I’d always been curious about what the source material looked like, so I picked this one because, well, it was on sale. It’s my understanding that From Russia with Love is different from most other Bond novels in that the first third of More …

2017 Literacy Throwdown Book Review! – Murder on the Orient Express

Surprisingly, there are no Oriental people involved in this story. Instead, it’s some kind of murder mystery set on a train. No, seriously, I realize I may be one of the last people in the world who hadn’t read this or seen any movie or TV adaptation of it. But just in case you’re also one of those people, let me More …

2017 Literacy Throwdown Book Review! – Brilliance

Brilliance is a thriller set in a world where certain people have super powers. Not comic-book-quality super powers, like flying or teleportation or shooting lasers from their eyes. No, the powers in this world boil down to just being really, really good at regular things, like reading body language or finding patterns in the stock market. One character can be More …

2017 Literacy Throwdown Book Review! – Unashamed

I got two main takeaways from Lecrae’s autobiography Unashamed: 1) Lecrae is way more into theology than I expect any Christian rapper to be. Maybe my expectations are too low, but I never went looking for serious hermeneutics in the work of D.C. Talk. Lecrae has challenged my assumptions about that, because the dude is all up in the theology books. 2) In More …

2017 Literacy Throwdown Book Review! – When Helping Hurts

Have you ever been part of a conversation among a group of people, and then somewhere in the middle of it your mind drifted away for a minute? Maybe you were thinking about whether s’mores or brown sugar cinnamon is the best Pop-Tart flavor, or why guys have all started wearing light brown shoes with dark suits all of a More …

2017 Literacy Throwdown! – The April Review: Vomit!

And here’s where we get an idea of the true nature of our reading competition: The month of April saw Rachel and both of our kids laid low with a pretty nasty case of stomach flu. Miraculously, I was left unafflicted and healthy all month while Rachel spent the better part of a week either hugging a plastic bucket or motionless More …