Book Review: Ready Player One

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One: A Novel by Ernest Cline (New York: Broadway Books, 2011. 376 pp) Ernest Cline is a screenwriter, spoken-word artist, and full-time geek. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, their daughter, and a large collection of classic video games. Ready Player One is his first novel. To Buy and Buy Again Unfettered consumerism is probably going to kill us all. Someday, our insatiable appetites will catch up to us. Tracing the roots of consumerism often point us to the birth of advertising and marketing. The strategic impulses encouraging us to buy more than we need to account for our production surpluses. Of course, once consumption becomes normal, the next phase is to consume based on cultural… Read More →

Book Review: Before the Fall

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Before the Fall: A Novel by Noah Hawley (New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2016. 400 pp) Noah Hawley is an Emmy, Golden Globe, PEN, Critics’ Choice, and Peabody Award-winning author, screenwriter, and producer. He has published four novels and penned the script for the feature film, Lies and Alibis. He created, executive produced, and served as showrunner for ABC’s My Generation and The Unusuals and was a writer and producer for the hit series, Bones. Hawley is currently executive producer, writer, and showrunner on FX’s award-winning series, Fargo. Aviophobia I fear flying. While recognizing its irrationality, I can’t help but experience a quickening heartbeat and increased perspiration as a flight approaches take off. I know how safe such an action… Read More →

Book Review: Freedom

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Freedom: A Novel by Jonathan Franzen (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2010. 576 pp) Jonathan Franzen is an American author. He graduated from Swarthmore College with a degree in German. Franzen has received widespread acclaim for his book, The Corrections. He has won the National Book Award and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. He lives in New York City and Santa Cruz, California. Realism Nut Crackers Realism is a tough nut to crack. Especially in literary fiction where the growth of the character is largely internal, too many convenient turns in a plot illustrate sloppiness and remove the suspension of disbelief. How often have you noticed a convenient plot detail in a television series where said event doesn’t… Read More →

Book Review: Silence

Silence by Endo

Silence: A Novel by Shūsaku Endō, translated by William Johnston (New York: Picador, 2016; originally published in 1969. 256 pp) Born in Tokyo in 1923, Shūsaku Endō was raised by his mother and an aunt in Kobe, where he converted to Roman Catholicism at the age of eleven. At Tokyo’s Keio University, he majored in French literature, graduating with a BA in 1949, before furthering his studies in French Catholic literature at the University of Lyon in France between 1950 and 1953. Before his death in 1996, Endō was the recipient of a number of outstanding Japanese literary awards: the Akutagawa Prize, Mainichi Cultural Prize, Shincho Prize, and the Tanizaki Prize, and was widely considered the greatest Japanese novelist of… Read More →

Book Review: The Nix

The Nix by Nathan Hill

The Nix: A Novel by Nathan Hill (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016. 640 pp) Born in Iowa, Nathan Hill earned his BA in English from the University of Iowa and his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Hill’s debut novel, The Nix, was a finalist for the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction from the Los Angeles Times. Hill’s writing has been published in The Iowa Review, Agni, The Gettysburg Review, The Denver Quarterly, and Fiction. Hill is an Associate Professor of English at the University of St. Thomas and lives in Naples, Florida. History Written through Familial Relationship That person is someone’s daughter. The phrase often emerges in conversation where one party hopes to place… Read More →

Book Review: Liturgy of the Ordinary

Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren

Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2016. 184 pp) Tish Harrison Warren writes regularly for The Well, Her.Meneutics, and Christianity Today. She is a priest in the Anglican Church in North America, serving at Resurrection South Austin. After seven years of campus ministry with InterVarsity at Vanderbilt and the University of Texas at Austin, she now works with InterVarsity Women in the Academy & Professions. Turning the Ordinary Extraordinary Consider your average day. What did you do? In my day job, we work with clients to define a DITLO, short for “Day In The Life Of.” These exercises intrigue for a handful of reasons; they allow for people to… Read More →

Book Review: Smoke

Smoke by Dan Vyleta

Smoke: A Novel by Dan Vyleta (New York: Doubleday, 2016. 448 pp) Dan Vyleta has lived in Germany, Canada, the USA, and the UK. With writing compared often to Kafka, Dostoevsky, Hitchcock, and Nabakov, Vyleta has written numerous books to critical acclaim, including making the shortlist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and the winner of the J.I. Segal Award. Sin and Sin Again The history of humanity is a continuous struggle toward understanding why humans treat each other so disastrously. Any origin story or fable attempts to deal with the negative aspects of human relations. For some, it starts with the fruit of a tree and blossoms into brother murdering brother. For others, sin… Read More →

Book Review: The Real Madrid Way

The Real Madrid Way

The Real Madrid Way: How Values Created the Most Successful Sports Team on the Planet by Steven G. Mandis (Dallas: BenBella Books, 2016. 344 pp) Steven G. Mandis is an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School and chairman and senior partner of Kalamata Capital. He earned his AB from the University of Chicago and his MA, MPhil, and PhD from Columbia University. Thinking about My Life’s Work A life’s work. The phrase means less than it used to mean. For most people. A life’s work will be a series of stops, likely at companies with high variance of deliverables. The daily tasks of the worker may be the same but the overarching goals or the building of something bigger than… Read More →

Book Review: The Throwback Special

The Throwback Special

The Throwback Special: A Novel by Chris Bachelder (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2016. 213 pp) Chris Bachelder is the author of Bear v. Shark, U.S.!, and Abbot Awaits. His fiction and essays have appeared in McSweeney’s, The Believer, and the Paris Review. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Cincinnati, where he teaches at the University of Cincinnati. Rhythms and Rituals We are a species addicted to rhythm and ritual. In college, we sit in the same seat day-by-day and class-by-class. At work, we grab the same coffee order and check our emails around the same time. As parents, we do our best to create rhythms and rituals for our children. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner… Read More →

Book Review: You Are What You Love

You Are What You Love by James K. A. Smith

You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit by James K. A. Smith (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2016. 224 pp) James K. A. Smith is the Gary and Henrietta Byker Chair in Applied Reformed Theology and Worldview at Calvin College. With a background in philosophy focused on French thought, Smith engages as a public intellectual and cultural critic. In addition to his published books, Smith has contributed to the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Slate, Christianity Today, and The Hedgehog Review. A Divided World We live in a divided world. The obvious unpacking of this statement surrounds divisive politics or schisms between worldviews. But, our experiences are divided even at a metaphysical level. In other words,… Read More →