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Recent Reviews

  1. I couldn’t believe it when I realized that All Right was nearly two years old. But thanks to the record here on Writing Life, I realized that All Right came into being during May of 2016 — over two years ago at this point. I wrote plenty of columns about it, too: here, here, here, and here. If you read any of these, you’ll recall some hilarious goals: finish a draft by December (of 2016!), for example. Which brings us to today. . .October 2018.

    Continue reading »
  2. It’s an admission of failure that the task: “Write: Review for Do More Better” sat in my Wunderlist account for almost a week, each day being pushed back to a later deadline. It was almost like the book was mocking me: Here I am, a book on productivity, and you can’t even find the time to review me. That’s because Do More Better is not a quick fix for productivity and busyness — it’s a system. And systems take time. Also, I am a dense human being and don’t learn lessons quickly. Continue reading »

  3. What it is, how to train it, and loving those who differ

    As the subtitle might imply, Andy Naselli and J.D. Crowley’s Conscience is devoted to answering three questions: 1) What is the conscience? 2) How do I live my life based on what my conscience tells me? and 3) What do I do with people who disagree? In only about a hundred pages, this book unloads a whole lot of truth. Read on for more: Continue reading »

  4. This is not a review of this movie — my review is much shorter: “Go see it.” When you’re done, come back here and read this, and maybe join the discussion. Spoilers ahead — you’ve been warned.

    As I sat in the darkened theater holding my wife’s hand, listening to the quiet notes of La La Land’s quiet epilogue (if you leave early you’re not getting your money’s worth, folks!), one question kept running through my mind: why did this movie leave such an impact on me? Continue reading »

  5. Silence is the most well-known novel by Japanese writer Shūsaku Endō. As a Catholic, Endō tells the story of Portuguese missionaries, on a mission to Japan during the time of persecution. Fathers Rodrigues and Garrpe have gone to Japan to find out if Japanese Christians still exist, to convert new believers, and to learn what has happened to Father Ferreira, a well-known priest who is said to have apostastized and has disappeared. Endō’s novel attacks questions of faith, trust, and manages to show a deep personal conflict in the life of Father Rodrigues. Read on for more (some spoilers): Continue reading »

  6. When I first read Pilgrim at Tinker Creek nearly five years ago, I was struck by how Annie Dillard wrote about the natural world with such a powerful voice, seeing creeks as if they held the secret to life. Her trademark has always been a wonder at the natural world that catches you up in “seeing with a sense of urgency, as if when you blink the entire elaborate picture will have vanished” (Read my review of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek). Teaching a Stone to Talk is a book that doesn’t change her core focuses, yet feels incredibly different from Pilgrim. Read on for more: Continue reading »

  7. Anthony Marra’s first novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, is so full of twists that it’s a difficult story to pin down. How many other novelists have written a novel that is about wartime Chechnya, jumps through twenty years of time, and features seven or eight main characters? Not too many that I have seen. Marra’s strange blend of omniscient storytelling and chronological looseness plays with a beautiful writing style and makes A Constellation of Vital Phenomena one of the best books I have read this year. Continue reading »

  8. I picked up At the Back of the North Wind at Half Price Books for 3 reasons: 1) It’s George MacDonald 2) Andrew Peterson’s house is named after this book (North Wind Manor), and 3) the book is simply gorgeous in the Everyman’s Classics edition. Those are reasons of varying solidity, but here are my reasons for why you also should pick up this book. Read on for more: Continue reading »

  9. It’s time for another update on the ItB New Year’s Reading Challenge. Modeled after Tim Challies’ challenge, the idea is to read a certain number of books over the entire year. We had several options to choose from: The “Normal” Reader, the “Fast” Reader, and the “Insane” Reader. Here’s an update on how the “Fast” tier has been working out for me: Continue reading »