Reposting Just ‘Cuz: Dear Luke, We Need to Talk, Darth by John Moe

I’ve been poking away at a couple of posts about new books for a few days, and am just not getting far enough to post with them, and it’s time for me to fire up the CPAP, so we’re doing some more reruns this week with a couple of posts from 5 years ago this week. I’d actually forgotten about this one, and am now annoyed with myself.

Dear Luke, We Need to Talk, Darth: And Other Pop Culture CorrespondencesDear Luke, We Need to Talk, Darth: And Other Pop Culture Correspondences

by John Moe

ebook, 288 pages
Published June 10th 2014 by Three Rivers Press
Read: August 14, 2014

This is an incredibly amusing collection of pop culture-based humor pieces — I’m tempted to call them columns, but that’s not exactly it.

So these are correspondence (in various forms) associated with gems from Pop Culture — the titular notes from Darth Vader to his son; the entire list of Jay Z’s 99 problems (4. Don’t really enjoy rap music; 55. Shamrock Shake only available once a year.; 84. Worry someone will discover that I’m secretly a member of Bon Iver.); internal e-mails when E.T.’s shipmates discover he was left behind; and so on. I cracked up a lot. I made my wife read bits and pieces, but I resisted reading portions/the entire book aloud. Some of the pieces I wanted to read aloud included: The editorial notes on Guns ‘n Roses “Sweet Child of Mine” (“Redundant. You either have a memory or you’re reminded of something. You’re not reminded of a memory. Your heavy-metal supporters won’t stand for such writing”); a note from the bar manager to Billy “The Piano Man” Joel; the development of the lyrics to the “Batman” show theme; Dora the Explorer’s mother’s letter to CPS (“I know that imaginary friends are a perfectly normal part of childhood, but this was different. Dora would speak to an entire group of people, almost like an audience. And she would demand things of them: “Say map! Say map!’ It was like super-bossy, group-oriented schizophrenia”); a list of changes the Hotel California instituted after being visited by Don Henley (“Acquire steelier knives and/or less resolute beast”).

It probably doesn’t need to be said, but your appreciation of a piece will be directly correlated to your appreciation of the pop culture basis. For example, I don’t like The Walking Dead (yeah, I’m the one guy in the U.S.), so Message Board posts by the Walkers didn’t do anything for me, ditto for the Engineer’s Notes from Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” sessions. But I’m willing to bet that fans of either would get a few chuckles.

There are several pieces (perhaps the majority?) that go on too long — maybe two that aren’t long enough. But even with those that do wear out the joke, carry on, More makes persistence worth it.

My only warning is — do not try to read this cover to cover. Read a piece or two. Put the book down. Come back in a day or so. More than that and you’ll stop chuckling, maybe even build up an intolerance. Just sip at this one, no chugging.

I enjoyed it — I laughed, I chuckled, I grinned, I wished I’d thought of that joke first — this is a great coffee table kind of book. I’d buy another volume or three of this just to have around. Give it a shot.

Note:I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review. Which was generous and cool of them, but didn’t impact what I said about the book.

—–

3 Stars

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Shady Characters by Keith Houston: This geeky look at symbols and punctuation is as informative as it is fun.

Shady CharactersShady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols & Other Typographical Marks

by Keith Houston

Hardcover, 246 pg.
W. W. Norton Company, 2013

Read: August 7 – 16, 2019

When the quotation mark does succeed in sparking debate, it attracts mild tut-tutting rather than genuine outrage. Though there is transatlantic disagreement over whether to enclose speech in ‘single’ or “double” quotes, for instance, it comes nowhere near the level of hand-wringing inspired by the semicolon, whose tricky usage has driven it almost to extinction. Neither does the occasional unnecessary “use” of quotation marks induce the howling apoplexy provoked by a simple misplaced apostrophe: whereas one English council was driven to institute an apostrophe “swear box,” café menu offers of “freshly baked ‘bagels,”’ “‘fresh fish,” and the like attract typically little more than a genteel ribbing. Unlike the “Oxford,” or serial, comma, quotation marks or “inverted commas” have never become a trending topic on Twitter, nor have they inspired a pop song in their name.

If that paragraph (from the chapter on quotation marks) or the fact that there’s an entire chapter on quotation marks doesn’t indicate it to you already, let me assure you that this is a book for grammar nerds (or would-be grammar nerds). For a little more flavor, the U. S. subtitle is “The Secret Life of Punc­tu­ation, Sym­bols, & Other Ty­po­graph­ical Marks,” in the U.K., it’s “Am­persands, In­ter­ro­b­angs and Other Ty­po­graph­ical Curi­os­it­ies.”

The book is a historical survey of typography and language as manifested in particular punctuation marks, symbols, and other typographical marks. How they developed, how they’ve been used, and how they are used now. Specifically they are: the pilcrow (¶—you may have seen those around here); the interrobang (‽); the octothorpe (#); the ampersand (&); the @ symbol; the asterisk and dagger (* †); the hyphen (‐); the dash ( ‒ – — ―); the manicule (☞); quotation marks (‘ ’ “ ” ‘ ‘ ” “); and the various attempts to come up with a symbol, typology, or punctuation denoting irony, sarcasm or humor.*

* And I really wish I knew how that paragraph was going to display cross-browsers, devices and in the various places I’ll post this…

The afterward does a pretty good job of describing the book as a whole:

This book, as it turns out, is not just about unusual marks of punctuation, nor even punctuation in general. In following the warp and woof of individual shady characters throughout their lifetimes, it is the woven fabric of writing as a whole that emerges. And in today’s writing, the printed and electroluminescent characters we read on a daily basis and the scrawled handwriting that occupies the diminishing gaps between computer monitors, tablet computers, and smartphone screens, this history stares right back at us.

You don’t have to read this book from cover to cover, you can dip in and read about a particular mark/symbol that you’re curious about and move on. But the chapters do build on each other, and things that are discussed in (for example) the pilcrow chapter will come back for the manicule, the interrobang will inform the ironic/sarcasm indicators, and the octothorpe chapter will come back with the @ and dash chapters. So you’d do well to read it from cover to cover.

It’s not just the individual marks/symbols that you learn about, but the hyphen chapter is a lesson (in a nutshell) on typography in books from Gutenberg to digital publishing. The asterisk and dagger chapter showed a surprising connection between those symbols (and their usage) and the Protestant Reformation, Luther in particular.

The origin alone of the name “ampersand” (and the various attempts at explaining “octothorpe” and the alternatives) are just amusing enough to justify buying a copy of this to have on hand for reference. The history of the ampersand is almost as interesting as the name, too. The reason that @ was used in e-mail addresses — and essentially shaped how much of the world’s communication in the few decades since then is a great example that it’s not just butterflies flapping their wings in China that can make a huge impact on the other side of the world.

Naturally, not all chapters are equally interesting — and that’s going to be a matter of taste — and the more technical bits of individual chapters are easily skimmable until Houston moves on to another aspect of the mark in question or on to the next chapter. I will admit I did that a time or two, but he always got me back within a chapter.

I really wish I could remember how this got on my radar a couple of weeks ago, so I could give a hat-tip and some thanks, I had a great time with this book. Well-illustrated (both anecdotally and with pictures), and with a great mix of style, wit and substance — Shady Characters is a great way for a grammar geek to spend a day or two basking in the things that provide ornamentation to writing and our books. i do recommend it, and am glad I came across it.

—–

3 Stars

2019 Library Love Challenge

The Lord’s Supper: Answers to Common Questions by Keith A. Mathison: A Helpful, Careful, Encouraging and Challenging Look at some Tricky Questions

The Lord's Supper: Answers to Common QuestionsThe Lord’s Supper: Answers to Common Questions

by Keith A. Mathison

eARC, 99 pg.
Reformation Trust Publishing, 2019
Read: August 4, 2019

There were many laudable things about Mathison’s Given for You: Reclaiming Calvin’s Doctrine of the Lord’s Supper (P & R Publishing, 2002), one of the personal highlights was the final chapter, “Practical Issues and Debates.” This new release from Reformation Trust takes the same impulses that were behind that chapter (and the rest of the book) and delivers a concise introduction to the Reformed doctrine of the Lord’s Supper, looking at the doctrinal landscape, a survey of the relevant passages, and some pressing questions (both theological and practical) for those with little background in the Sacrament, or those who wish to have their understanding sharpened.

Because the chapter titles represent just what you get in this book, let me post them:

1. What Is the Lord’s Supper?
2. What Are the Different Views of the Lord’s Supper?
3. Why Did Jesus Institute the Lord’s Supper on the Passover?
4. What Did Jesus Mean When He Said, “This Is My Body” and “This Is My Blood of the Covenant”?
5. What Does Paul Teach concerning the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 10– 11?
6. Is Jesus Present In The Lord’s Supper?
7. Is the Lord’s Supper a Sacrifice?
8. What Are the Elements of the Lord’s Supper?
9. How Frequently Should the Lord’s Supper Be Observed?
10. How Should Believers Prepare for and Partake of the Lord’s Supper?
11. Should Children Partake of the Lord’s Supper?

The first two chapters cover the ground that a lot of books on the subject doevery author (and reader) need to start with the basics in view, and Mathison handles a survey these ideas very capably.

Chapter 3 is honestly not something I’ve considered before (at least not in a lot of detail)after all, when else could the Last Supper have been held? But I’m glad he covered this idea, and it gave me a good perspective on redemptive-historical place of the sacrament instituted that night.

Chapters 4 and 5 are very helpful and clear while guiding the reader through the passages in question. He doesn’t get too technical with the passages (due to space and the focus of the book), but is efficient enough in his explanation that he provides a solid grounding for further study and meditation. I particularly appreciated that in Chapter 5, Mathison is careful to point out that not only does the sacrament look back (“Do this in remembrance”), but it looks forward in eschatological hope to the consummation.

Chapter 6 is obviously going to be controversial and might cause problems for many. Mathison is irenic, yet he doesn’t waver from his position (or provide much wiggle room for those who might disagree). Carefully building on the aforementioned texts and the Niceno-Chalcedonian doctrine concerning the person of Christ, he then explains the teachings of the magisterial Reformers (the non-Lutheran ones, anyway) in a way relevant to today’s believer.

Like Chapter 6, Chapter 9 covers ground that he focused on in the longer previous workand those who want more on those subjects have a ready resource in his work. What’s here is a great start, but it’s not everything Mathison has to say on the ideas.

Chapter 10 is pure gold, it’s one of the best things I’ve read this year. It’s helpful and encouraging (and, yes, a little challenging)worth the purchase price alone.

Overall the writing is cleareasy enough for anyone to approach and understand, while not losing the depth and rigor necessary when dealing with something as important as this. Mathison cites other authors (contemporary and historical) to help (and the footnotes provide great fodder for further study), but shoulders most of the work himself. If you’ve never read Mathison, this is a good way to see one of his strengths is always taking complex ideas and presenting them in an accessible fashion.

I have two complaintsneither are enough to keep me from recommending the book, and possibly gifting itbut they’re things that bugged me. Brevity. It’s just too short, it doesn’t have to be as long as Given for You, but each chapter could be just a little longer and more developed.

The second complaint (semi-related) is the lack of a conclusion, just a page or two of wrap-up, an exhortation to use these answerssomething. It just ends abruptly after Chapter 11*, and the absence of anything else was a deafening silence.

*There’s a bankruptcy joke begging to be made there, but it seems cheap.

Those a great resource for those with questions about the Reformed position on the sacrament. Like Guy Prentiss Waters’ The Lord’s Supper as the Sign and Meal of the New Covenant from last year, it’s a great introductory work and would make a great companion to it, the two would round out each other. Mathison helps to deal with practical and theoretical issues that young believers, or believers new to the Reformed tradition, stumble on and struggle with. Faithful, helpful, wise, and encouraging, this book is a great help and you’d do well to check it out.

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Reformation Trust Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for this post—thanks to both for this, I appreciate the opportunity, but not enough to change my opinion of the book.

—–

3.5 Stars

A Few Quick Questions With…Richard Steele

So, yeah, Richard Steele’s book wasn’t my kind of thing, but like I said, Steele’s been great throughout. I appreciate his answers here and it helps me get what he was going for. I know there are people out there who’ll dig his stuff, and hope they find it.

I’ve never been given a warning before from an author after agreeing to read their book—what was behind that? Would you warn all your readers?
                     I’d probably best describe this decision as “Debut Author Jitters”.

I wrote Time Travel + Brain Stealing… by the seat of my pants (a big no-no for many writers), with almost no outlining and all spontaneity. It was quite a ride! Because of this, I labeled it’s genre Dark Humor from what I subjectively believed it to be, rather than the roller coaster of insanity it turned out to be.

It was only until I received my first review from a reader who was taken aback by the gore and vulgarity that I realized I may have misplaced the genre of my book, and therefore the pending reviewers who were currently reading it in good faith were also under that same false impression.

I researched and researched and found its home in Bizarro Fiction, albeit a rather vanilla version when compared to others, and felt it was my duty as an Author to let those who dedicated their time voluntarily to read my book know there was a potential for some to be offended by my writing and give them an opportunity to decide if this new genre was best suited to their reading taste.

Would I warn everyone now? No, I believe my honest blurb and preface should suffice. It was more time, place and circumstance. With my previous warning and I’ve learnt very quickly that my audience is out there, but so too are my critics and I can’t control that if I want to write how I want to write.

I’ve not come across anything that describes itself as “Bizarro Fiction,” for the myself and the rest of the uninitiated, could you describe that genre?
                     Join the club! It is a great genre I literally stumbled into, and I’m sure those who are fanatic Bizarro readers may even argue that my book is too vanilla for it. However, I would deem Bizarro to be that line you cross in Dark Humor where you incorporate gore, over the top violence, toilet humor and gross-out comedy with a blend of satire and wit.

It goes beyond what the average person would deem comfortable and forces them to laugh or contemplate laughing at situations they ordinarily wouldn’t or shouldn’t.

Tell us about your road to publication — was your plan/dream always to become a novelist and your education/other jobs were just to get you to this point, or was this a later-in-life desire?
                     I did what a lot of first time foolish authors do and sent it to the big publishers, thinking I cracked a niche and had the perfect new formula.

A few nice rejections later and a small press independent publisher in Tenth Street Press found me and loved the boundaries I was pushing. They gave me a chance I believe I may have never found elsewhere to write pure and free.

I actually drafted this book as a set of small short stories when I was twelve, albeit a diluted and less Bizarro-esque version. I always remembered that feeling of making others laugh or cry or run away in horror at my writing and although I have a serious full-time occupation, that urge to write bizarre comedy never left me and only grew stronger the older I got.

In saying that, I’m still relatively young to publish (unless you believe my Author Bio then I’m almost retired), and I’m hoping this is the first of many books.

Who are some of your major influences? (whether or not you think those influences can be seen in your work — you know they’re there)
                     Ah, well I can’t go past the late and great Leslie Nielsen who whilst he wasn’t an author, his style of satire and slap-stick comedy in the likes of ‘The Naked Gun’, ‘Spy Hard’ and my favorite ‘Wrongfully Accused’ have stuck with me for decades.

I always wanted to take what they could do on screen, that randomness and insanity but with such strict seriousness and splash it onto paper.

As far as other authors go, I can’t go past Andy Griffiths and his Bum Trilogy books, such as ‘Zombie Bums from Uranus’. Whilst written for a younger audience than mine, his ability to take the ridiculous and toilet humor and make it serious and funny at the same time was a large influence.

What’s the one (or two) book/movie/show in the last 5 years that made you say, “I wish I’d written that.”?
                     It may be older than 5 years but I can’t go past ‘Hot Rod’. That was absolute genius. Along with others (older also, sorry) like ‘Kung Pow: Enter the Fist’ and ‘Black Dynamite’. It’s again due to the random nature of their satirical and slap-stick humor that sometimes makes me think if they syphoned my thoughts while I slept.
What’s next for Richard Steele, author?
                     I’ve planned out 3 more books to the Good Times series, all standalone with a very minor entanglement between them. These will be splices of different genres each, just like ‘Time Travel + Brain Stealing…’ is Science Fiction and Horror etc, so the humor in each pulls on different elements from the differing genres.
However, a recent reviewee challenged me to write serious books instead and put my talent to good use. And to that I say touché!
I also have a trilogy of Science Fiction Adventure underway also aimed at Middle Grade level, a re-invented ‘Redwall’ of sorts. Under a different name of course…can you imagine parents and priests checking my name to see if my writing is appropriate? Ha!
I’ll wait to see if my legions of non-existent Bizarro fans enjoy my debut novella first before I dive back into that cesspool style of writing. So until then, Richard Steele salutes you.
Thanks for your time! I hope Time Travel + Brain Stealing = Murderous Appliances and Good Times finds its audience and that you have plenty of success with the book.

Time Travel + Brain Stealing = Murderous Appliances and Good Times by Richard Steele is a Thing that I Read

Time Travel + Brain Stealing = Murderous Appliances and Good TimesTime Travel + Brain Stealing = Murderous Appliances and Good Times

by Richard Steele
Kindle Edition, 141 pg.
Tenth Street Press, 2019
Read: July 15, 2019

A few weeks back, I received a request to read/review this book, this is what Steele entered under “Tell me about the book”:

Time Travel + Brain stealing = Murderous Appliances and Good Times

Following the death of his parents, who died in a cliché’ [sic] and completely unimportant way, young Joe Brown is about to find out that living in a town conveniently named Doomsville, does have its draw backs [sic].

For reasons unknown, Joe now must face the demonic creations of a stereotypically bad villain known only as ‘The Master’, who has a penchant for pickled brains and poor puns.

Dumpsters of Doom, Toasters of Terror and the occasional Cheese Sandwich of Carnage all set out to hunt poor Joe and retrieve his brain to fulfil The Master’s destiny.

With the help of his best friend, a disturbingly gross Godmother and some random stalker he just met, Joe Brown is about to learn that what’s between his gunk ridden ears could be the key to saving the world and time itself.

Come and embark on an epic mind-bending, time-travelling quest full of confusing sub-plots, poorly constructed characters, science fiction that only a Flat Earther would believe, and every inappropriate joke you’ve ever thought of but couldn’t say out loud at your Grandmother’s funeral.

I take full responsibility for not reading that as closely as I should have. For example, that first line isn’t a tag line, or a quick synopsis as I assumed. That’s the title. I’ll tell you now if I’d realized that I would’ve stopped reading there. But no, I took it as a tag line and moved on. I ignored the inability to correctly use accent marks on “cliché” (that sounds persnickety, but there’s a pretty high correlation to typo-ridden submissions and bad books in my experience). This seemed just goofy enough that it might be a good way to spend a day or so, I could use some light-hearted fun.

I didn’t realize that “disturbingly gross”, “poorly constructed characters,” “inappropriate”, and “stereotypically bad” weren’t modest descriptions, but selling points in Steele’s mind. Then when he sent me the file, he ended it with, “Good luck, you’re a brave soul indeed…” This should’ve been a warning sign. I took it to be a little self-deprecating humor. Now I don’t think that’s the case, he really meant that this is a book not-for-the-faint-of-heart.

Now, throughout the process, Steele has been a pleasure to work with, and very accommodating—I want to be clear that this isn’t personal. It’s all about my reaction to his novella, not him.

The novella itself? “Self-indulgent twaddle” shows up in my notes at one point, and I think that pretty well sums it up. Juvenile. Vulgar (and not in an interesting way). Enough scatological humor to make a 13-year-old boy say, “Stop!” The plot seems unnecessarily convoluted, yet pretty simple. Although, plot isn’t what this novella’s about—it’s about the telling. They way that Steele tells the story, the voice, the manner, the attitude. That’s the star of the story.

And it didn’t work for me. At all. I couldn’t connect with the story, the characters, the narrator, the style, the voice, the vocabulary. Anything.

Steele clearly worked hard. You could feel on every page the effort to shock, disgust, and be stranger than he had been previously. Mark Leyner can do that kind of thing and make it seem interesting, effortless, engaging and fun. Steele just makes me want to find a new hobby.

The very chatty and fourth-wall ignoring narrator warns in the third paragraph of the Prologue,

Things are going to get stranger than having your sister accidently [sic] kiss you at a county fair kissing booth, only for her to line up for seconds.

Right there, I should’ve stopped and called it a day. Instead, I rolled my eyes and plowed on, little realizing that was going to be the high-point of the book’s figurative language.

I’ve already cited everything you need to know about the plot and characters in the first citation. I’m just going to leave it there…I try to find something positive to say about every book. But I just can’t here beyond saying that I can tell that Steele put a lot of effort into this. I just don’t understand why anyone would.

Your mileage may vary, obviously. If you find something redeeming/entertaining about this novella? Good on you. I’m curious about what you liked, but I won’t argue with you. But there’s just no way I can recommend this to anyone.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this from the author in exchange for my opinion and this post. Clearly, this didn’t keep me from speaking my mind.

—–

2 Stars

LetsReadIndie Reading Challenge

Humor Reading Challenge 2019

Not Home Yet by Ian K. Smith: This *is* My Father’s World

Not Home YetNot Home Yet: How the Renewal of the Earth Fits into God’s Plan for the World

by Ian K. Smith

eARC, 176 pg.
Crossway, 2019
Read: August 4, 2019

In the beginning, we’re told, God created the heavens and the earth. As Rod Rosenbladt used to say (maybe still does, it’s been a while since I heard him), “God likes matter, He made it.” The Scriptures are replete with post-Fall references to God visiting Earth, coming to Earth and dwelling with His people. This is what the Incarnation and the bodily resurrection are about. Yes, the risen Christ ascends to Heaven—but He’s coming back to renew the planet. That’s what it’s all about. The goal of humanity is not going to Heaven after we die, but to live with Him in our resurrection bodies on a renewed Earth. That’s what this book is about, in a nutshell—how Creation isn’t to be abandoned, discarded and therefore it doesn’t matter what we do. Instead, we’re caretakers of this place waiting to be renewed when our pilgrimage is complete.

Smith begins his case with Genesis 1-2 and what this tells us about God’s attitude toward His creation. Then he moves on to the Fall and God’s work through his redeemed people to renew the Earth, through the Flood and the covenant made with Earth, to the eventual establishment of Israel and his dwelling with His people in the Tabernacle and Temple—all of which points to the ultimate tabernacling with humanity in the person of Jesus Christ. Then Smith moves into a discussion of Christ’s resurrection and what it means for His people and this world as explained by the Apostles—what it means for this world and how we should view the world.

Now, I shared the general, overall thesis of the book before I read this—but I hadn’t given it much thought, and didn’t see it in the kind of detail that Smith brought out. I found most of this book fascinating and relish the opportunity to give it a slower, more careful read in the future. I found the explanations and arguments carefully framed and well-reasoned. There’s a chapter or two that I highlighted the majority of, and every chapter has a good amount of highlighting, the way he put certain points was very helpful. I could’ve used a little more depth (not possible in a book of this length, and the goal was probably something involving length to draw in—or not scare off—readers).

There are some problems with the book if you ask me. I can’t buy, at all, his arguments about Genesis 6:1-4 (that “sons of God”=angels*), but as it’s not pivotal to his overall argument, it’s not a big deal for me (it just gave me a little pause).

* I know it’s not unique to Smith, but it’s rare enough that I run into it that it stuck out to me. And, no, I won’t waste anyone’s time debating that here, it’s not that type of book. Read Bavinck for one of the quickest arguments against it, or check out Christ the Center, Episode 373.

My major reservation about this book is the lack of application—I’d have preferred a chapter or two (or four?) of “given this, how then should we live?” Smith hints at, even points toward, what the believer should do in light of this thinking. But to me, it seemed as if he was reticent to show how these ideas should affect the way that readers should put these ideas into action, how they should impact what they do from day to day—or how to think about their actions and society (ecclesiastical, political, geographic—take your pick). Yes, a good deal is self-evident, but I’d appreciate having it spelled out (if for no other reason than it’d be good to put some meat on these bones).

The book is a bit brief, and (again) I’d like to see some of what he said expanded upon, but what’s there is really good, thought-provoking, faithful to the text of Scripture and consistent. It was a rewarding read, and I think it’ll be an even more rewarding re-read. It’s an accessible book and one that I’d encourage people to pick up and discuss.

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Crossway via NetGalley in exchange for this post—I am grateful that both groups gave me the opportunity.

—–

3 Stars

The Blue Zones Solution (Audiobook) by Dan Buettner, Joe Barrett: Uninspiring tales about efforts to prolong longevity

The Blue Zones Solution (Audiobook)The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living like the World’s Healthiest People (Audiobook)

by Dan Buettner, Joe Barrett


Unabridged Audiobook, 7 hrs., 5 mins.
Blackstone Audio, Inc., 2015
Read: July 12 – 16, 2019

As part of some medical education I’m getting, The Blue Zones was recommended to me. I couldn’t find an easily accessible copy of it, but my library did have one of the follow-ups, The Blue Zones Solution on audio. So I gave it a whirl.

There are a couple of aspects to the beginning of this book, he does a quick pass through over some of the “Blue Zones” from his first book (areas with above-normal centenarian population) to extract some common principles. This was too-much of a follow-up on what he’d already done to be a benefit to those who hadn’t read the first book. He also detailed ways his foundation tried to create Blue Zones in the US following these principles for communities that requested it.

Something bothered me about the way that was carried out, but I can’t articulate it without having the book in front of me to point to specific passages.

Lastly, he talks about ways you can create mini-Blue Zones in your home. Most of the advice given here is better delivered in other sources (like say, How Not to Die by Michael Greger).

Most of the support for the principles—especially as described here, is anecdotal, and the mantra “Correlation does not imply Causation” that was pounded into my head in college kept running through my mind. Maybe the original book would’ve convinced me—this did not. There was certainly a cornucopia of anecdotes (and a couple were hard to follow from chapter to chapter, to be honest, but that might be due to my lack of interest).

One of the principles is a commitment to/participation in religious practices. Religious activity is recommended without any regard for the truth involved. That bothers me tremendously. His later treatment of “Adventists” as a group equivalent to an ethnicity or population of a city/island/geographic area—and again, it was only the lifestyle habits, not the premises, presuppositions, and beliefs that undergird those habits that were encouraged. Selling the tree without the root isn’t going to produce much fruit or shade.

I don’t have any strong opinions about this as an audiobook, although I found Barrett’s pronunciation of “plantain” annoying (however correct). But so much of the benefit of the book depends on looking at the PDF that came with it. That’s where some of the data and all of the recipes are. So much of the useful part of the book isn’t in the audio. That’s not a deal killer, but as I was pretty down on the book already, it didn’t help.

The book didn’t do anything for me at all. I’m just not the audience for it, maybe if I’d read the first book and was curious about applying the lessons, I’d be interested. But I just didn’t see the point of this one.

—–

2 Stars

2019 Library Love Challenge