Thursday, February 27, 2014

For March 2014 -- UND Writers Conference

Conference Reading List broken down by authors.

Writers Conference Schedule -- Tuesday, April 2nd -- Friday, April 4th

Featured authors and bios:  

Robert Pinsky
Jessica Lott
Sarah Leavitt
Colson Whitehead
Geoffrey Dyer
We are planning to read books by Colson Whitehead for this month, but you may choose any author from the line-up. We'll be meeting on Sunday, March 30th, 10:30 am at Carmyn's for brunch and discussion.

The RRVWP featured author this year is Sarah Leavitt and her book Tangles: A Story About Alzheimer’s, My Mother, and Me.  Fellows who sign up will have an opportunity to meet the author and discuss her book with her on Thursday, April 3.

Monday, February 17, 2014

February 2014 -- Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

We met at Andrea's for brunch at her new house yesterday. We enjoyed delicious coffee, fruit, Pam's mimosas, Katie's caramel rolls, Carmyn's egg bake and a great discussion about this charming young adult book. The biggest book discussion question: what were the three words?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

January 2014 - Life of Pi

We celebrated our January bookclub choice (Life of Pi) by eating all things PIE!  We had pizza pie courtesy of me (Andrea) and a delicious pumpkin pie courtesy of Pam.   We didn’t all finish the book by the time that we met, but intended to finish (or at least watch the movie).  Those of us who were reading were surprised by the beginning of the book – more than half of the book is taken up by Pi talking about his life in India – what it’s like to run a zoo, strange animal relationships, his religious life, and generally his life.  The book is so universally touted as the book about the boy who survives at sea with a tiger that it’s shocking that it takes so long to get to the lifeboat and the tiger. 

Our next book is Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell and we’ll be meeting at my place for brunch!

Friday, February 10, 2012

For February 2012 -- A Vist From the Goon Squad

A Visit From the Goon Squad
by Jennifer Egan
Meeting at Carmyn's new place
on February 29, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Thursday, January 19, 2012

January 2012 -- Provenance by Laney Salisbury & Aly Sujo

Provenance: How One Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art
by Laney Salisbury & Aly Sujo
We met at Kristine's place on January 18, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Soup was served. Yum.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

For November/December 2011 -- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
by Rebecca Skloot
We met on Tuesday, December 13, 2011
at Carmyn's place at 5:30 pm

On the menu:
chicken wild rice soup
mushroom beef soup
fresh veggies and dip
dessert cheese ball

Thursday, October 27, 2011

For October 2011 -- Divergent

by Veronica Roth

We met at Pam's on Tuesday, October 25th at 6:00 pm

Friday, September 30, 2011

For September 2011 -- Bel Canto

Bel Canto
by Ann Patchett

For September's meeting we crashed the Grand Forks Public Library's Great Books book club meeting for that book. We met on Tuesday, September 20 from 7-8.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

August 2011 -- Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
by Jamie Ford

We met at China Garden on Tuesday, August 16th
for our TENTH anniversary book club meeting.

Friday, July 22, 2011

July 2011 -- Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

The Outliers: The Story of Success
by Malcolm Gladwell

We met at Pam's on July 12th at 6:00 pm

Monday, June 20, 2011

June 2011 -- The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
by Aimee Bender

We met at Kristi's at June 21st

On the Menu:
Particularly sad lemon cake

Monday, May 30, 2011

May 2011 -- The Help

The Help
by Kathryn Stockett

We met at Andrea's house
on May ?, 2011

On the menu:
Walking tacos
Chocolate pie

Thursday, March 10, 2011

UND Writers Conference -- Carl Phillips

As usual this year, the UND Writers Conference is letting us host one of the writers for dinner one night. This year “our” writer is Carl Phillips:

Carl Phillips is the author of eleven books of poetry, most recently Double Shadow (2011) and Speak Low (2009). He has also written a book of prose, Coin of the Realm: Essays on the Life and Art of Poetry (2004) and translated Sophocles's Philoctetes (2004). A graduate of Harvard, where he majored in Classics, Phillips taught high school Latin for eight years, while writing the poems which would result in his first book, In the Blood, recipient of the Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize.

Our dinner is scheduled for 5:30-7:15 on Tuesday, March 29, right before Phillips’ reading at the UND Union Ballroom at 8pm.

RRVWP dinner guests may contact Kim to get involved and you may select between the following two volumes of poetry: Speak Low and Quiver of Arrows

Here are some reviews:

Speak Low
“This 10th book from the prolific Phillips is a quiet yet wounded reflection on Phillips’ signature subjects: relationships, distances, identity, and damage. Phillips’ remarkable ability to be clear yet illusive, as well as his dizzying syntax, are ever- present…”

Quiver of Arrows
“Phillips is a scholar and translator of classical Greek and a writer of syntactically complex, desire-drenched love poems that subtly, and beautifully, reinvent classical tropes and forms.”

Quiver of Arrows is a generous gathering from Carl Phillips's work that showcases the twenty-year evolution of one of America's most distinctive—and one of poetry's most essential—contemporary voices. Hailed from the beginning of his career for a poetry provocative in its candor, uncompromising in its inquiry, and at once rigorous and innovative in its attention to craft, Phillips has in the course of eight critically acclaimed collections generated a sustained meditation on the restless and ever-shifting myth of human identity. Desire and loss, mastery and subjugation, belief and doubt, sex, animal instinct, human reason: these are among the lenses through which Phillips examines what it means to be that most bewildering, irresolvable conundrum, a human being in the world.”

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

For February 2011 -- Q & A by Vikas Swarup

Meeting at Carmyn's place
February 16, 2010 at 6:30 pm
Date was switched to March 1st

I know we should have eaten Indian food, considering I did take those Indian cooking classes way back when but we opted for a soup night... perfect for a cold February night.

We (Pam, Brian, Carmyn & Andrea) did stick to the theme of the book in one way, however. I distributed a few trivial pursuit cards and we took turns asking one another questions. When someone knew an answer definitively, we asked him/her to explain the back story of "how" he/she learned that fact. It was fun to see how we each did have reasons or explanations for where we'd accumulated that nugget of knowledge.

Here's a bit about the book, from Publisher's Weekly:

When Ram Mohammad Thomas, an orphaned, uneducated waiter from Mumbai, wins a billion rupees on a quiz show, he finds himself thrown in jail. (Unable to pay out the prize, the program's producers bribed local authorities to declare Ram a cheater.) Enter attractive lawyer Smita Shah, to get Ram out of prison and listen to him explain, via flashbacks, how he knew the answers to all the show's questions. Indian diplomat Swarup's fanciful debut is based on a sound premise: you learn a lot about the world by living in it (Ram has survived abandonment, child abuse, murder). And just as the quiz show format is meant to distill his life story (each question prompts a separate flashback), Ram's life seems intended to distill the predicament of India's underclass in general.

Several of us had seen the movie and while the premise is the same the movie is quite different: the flashbacks, the relationships between the central characters, the level or type of violence our protagonist faces. Still, both were worth the time. Not only is the book on which the film is based a page turner and a fascinating look into the impoverished side of Indian culture, but the film was beautifully crafted and inspirational. I think we'd all agree that it's worth recommending.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

For January 2011: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Meeting at Kristine's at 6 pm
Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thursday, November 04, 2010

For October/November: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
We met for the first part of the book discussion
at Bonzers on Nov. 3 at 5:00 pm

Thursday, October 07, 2010

For September 2010 --The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
The Greater Grand Forks Big Read book selection
We met at Kon Nechi Wah's on Oct. 6th to discuss the book.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Thursday, July 29, 2010

For July 2010: War by Sebastian Junger

War by Sebastian Junger
We met at 5:30 at Pam's on July 28th

Sunday, June 06, 2010

For June 2010: Anne of Green Gables

For June 2010 we are reading...
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Larry inspired our book club to read this children's classic when he mentioned his forthcoming stop in Prince Edward Island during his whirlwind summer travels. We'll be meeting at Carmyn's place on Monday June 28th at 5:30 pm.

Larry's pictures from Prince Edward Island

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

For May 2010 -- Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich

Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich
We met on Tuesday May 25th at 6:00 pm at L' Bistro

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

For April 2010 - The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
We met on April 27 at 5:30 pm at Bella Vino, the local wine bar

Friday, February 19, 2010

UND Writers Conference 2010

UND Writers Conference March 23-27, 2010
Click here for scheduled events

This year, the focus of the UND Writers Conference is electronic literature. “Our” writer this time around is Deena Larsen. She’ll be joining us for dinner on Tuesday, March 23, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Eagle’s Crest at the Kings’ Walk golf course in Grand Forks. Artist Cecillia Condit, will be joining us, too, and writer Nick Montfort might be with us, as well!

This year’s Writers Conference focuses on digital/electronic literature, so you have to go to these folks’ websites to read/see their work. There are no print copies for us to give you.
Space is limited, so they'll save spots for the first ten people who respond to Kim.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Festival of Trees -- A RRVWP book club service project

Our book club participated in the LISTEN Center's Annual Festival of Trees this year. The trees, lights, and tree skirts are donated and all we had to provide was a theme, decorations and decorators. We decided that our tree might look cute covered in books and then the "decorations" would be dual-purposed, proving a family a wide range of books for kids of all ages and even some for the adults.

Book club members donated books and decorations and Andrea, Kristine and Carmyn got in the holiday spirit by decorating on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The trees were on display for a short time after that at the Columbia Mall and then they were distributed to local families in need.

Our theme was "Seasons G-READings" :) (Pam is always on hand for a good pun or two!)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

For July: The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson

The Diamond Age Or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer by Neal Stephenson

Carmyn, Pam, Judy, Brian and Larry met at Pam's to discuss The Diamond Age over a bucket of chicken from the Venerable and Inscrutable Colonel Sanders.

Friday, June 26, 2009

For June: Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Carmyn, Pam, Brian, Andrea, Larry, and Kristine met at Pam's on June 25th for our discussion on Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Each year we usually try to read at least one of those books that many consider to be part of our literary consciousness--a classic. There are so many, and even as an English teacher, I've not read them all. It turned out THIS was a title many of us hadn't read.

The general response was mixed. I actually liked the book, though it was a bit "messed up" and demanded discussion. With the internet so handily available I immediately googled the book and read the Wikipedia page, some of the Spark Notes, and several articles about the book, including some biography pages of Kurt Vonnegut.

This was not my first exposure to Vonnegut, however. In college I read Cat's Cradle, a book which also inspired a "what the heck" as I read it. Both books have an irreverence for Christianity that might be part of why his work is so frequently getting "challenged" in schools and libraries. I, also, use the short story "Harrison Bergeron" with students.

One question that was posed at book club was "Why? Why is this book considered such a classic?"

We speculated and here are a few ideas that emerged. Slaughterhouse Five is a story within a story. It's a great example of post-modern writing. Part of the lesson that Billy Pilgrim learns from the Tralfamadorians (the aliens who abduct him and put him on display in a zoo on their planet) is demonstrated in the time travel. The structure of the novel seems to be doing something unusual and while that alone might be noteworthy, the subject matter is. We didn't completely solve this question.

It's an anti-war story told at a time when the world was rather fed up with the Vietnam War. It's a story about the bombing of Dresden and one man's response to that event. Vonnegut, himself, actually survived the bombing of Dresden and perhaps this is his way of dealing with that event.

This novel reminded me of Hemingway's short story "A Soldier's Home" which is in our American Literature textbook. In that story, Harold Krebs returns home from war and is clearly suffering from a post-traumatic stress disorder. Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse Five is much the same. His apathy, "so it goes," to everything in his life from his wife, to his kids, to his job, is indicative of the sort of man he's become post-war. He only seems to get excited by Kilgore Trout, an unknown, unusual author whose work he's introduced to in the mental institution following the war. Kilgore Trout is a terrific character, the alien bit was great fun. And the war segments which actually do seem to appear in a chronological order were intriguing. Those bits made me want to know more about what happened in Dresden. They reminded me that I've read another version of that event in Jonathan Safron Foer's book Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

Slaughterhouse Five was worth the read, I'd recommend it even though some book club members would not. We had a rousing discussion, so there's always that!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

For May: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

We met on May 26th at Judy's to discuss The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Though we didn't really intend it to be this way, our May title is another YA book and another book on WW II. We all seemed to enjoy the book. Even though the story includes a hidden Jew, it is an entirely different perspective on the WW II experience.

The Book Thief is a childhood tale, a story of family and friends and reading and books in the midst of this horrific setting--a small town on the outskirts of Munich in Germany during WW II. It's sweet and funny and tender and loving but every action is shadowed by the world in which they live. It reminded me that people grew up like this. That entire childhoods were sprouted and spent under the shadow of Hitler, with fear lurking dark all around.

The story's narrator is Death and I liked that aspect, but because of that the whole construct of the point of view, of that narrative device, the book is a bit wobbly. I found his voice and fascination with color and use of synesthesia to be poetic and lovely, but some have found Zusak's writing style to be suspect.

One twitter friend admits that while she loved it, most in her book club found it just too depressing, though I 'm not sure anyone in OUR book club felt this way. I guess I found it uplifting. I felt that Hans and Rosa Hubermann were great heroes and wonderful parents and people. I loved so many small details in this book and the big ideas too. I'd highly recommend this one.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

For April -- A Revolutionary War Theme

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Volume 1 -- The Pox Party
by M.T. Anderson

On Tuesday April 28th, we met to discuss two books at Pam's place over crock pot lasagne and all sorts of delectable items.

We read Octavian Nothing along side the George Washington: Spymaster book and I felt the two were complementary texts. This one is a young adult novel which has a rather elevated vocabulary and explores some difficult issues. There was some discussion in our group as to whether or not we'd even call this a "YA book." It's meant to be written in the Gothic style and I think it's a very successful effort in that regard. It's quite neat, actually.

Much of the story is set in Pre-revolutionary war Boston at the home of Mr. Gitney or 03-01 as he prefers to be called (in his numerical system he's devised). There, young Octavian lives with his mother and it's not too long before we discover things are a bit unusual at the Novanglian College of Lucidity which is the official name for Gitney's "operation" in Boston. He has a team of researchers in science and all sorts of philosophical pursuits who come and go and are apparently studying Octavian as well.

The story explores the science and beliefs of the era, racial tensions, mounting tensions between the British and the Patriots, and personal freedoms and responsibilities. Most of the story is told through Octavian's eyes, but there is one section which I rather liked in which a young soldier named Evidence writes letters to his sister Fruition and we learn the events of the story that way.

A great scene in the story, which occurs just before all hell breaks loose, is the Pox Party which lends its name to the title of the book. In this scene Gitney rounds up friends and family and they infect themselves with a low dose of the small pox in an effort to become immune. One book club member commented that the scene reminded them of The Masque of the Red Death.

While not everyone in the group was finished with this book, I understood others to find it as engaging as I did.

George Washington, Spymaster:
How the Americans Outspied the British and Won the Revolutionary War by Thomas B. Allen

While this book had a cool premise and lots of great resources I felt it was dry, too brief, and confusing as a result. I am all about the spy world and so learning about a founding father through that lens was neat.

The book is aimed at young readers and maybe if they were already studying the Revolutionary War this would make sense to them. However, I felt like there were so many names thrown at me with little sense of who they were or how they connected. It was a lot to keep track of and it just seemed like the author could have have delved a little deeper with each one to bring the reader into the personality and character of the various players in the story.

The notes at the end of the book that corresponded with the chapters were particularly fun. I also can see how some might get a real kick out of trying to write things in Tallmadge's code which is provided in the back of the book. The author includes a lot of websites where one can view other primary source materials and I thought that was a real bonus.

Another revolutionary book that was recommended by both Larry and Brian was Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fisher.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

For March: The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

For our March meeting we met at Carmyn's apt. on April 8th to discuss The Reader.

When I saw the film version of The Reader I instantly wanted to discuss it with someone. The ending was mystifying to me. I wanted to know how the two characters truly "felt" toward one another. Was it actually love? Was it love for both of them? I was struck by the story and immediately added the book to my "to read" list with hopes that a written version might add in a bit more explanation or narrative element complete with a bigger glimpse into the characters thoughts as if that would help me to understand better than the intense looks and implied emotions through action in the film.

What I discovered is that I actually knew LESS at times while reading the book. It seemed like there were some extra bits in the middle of the book. For some reason I don't recall him visiting with his father about the situation with Hanna at the trial... I think in the film he sees his professor. The ending was rather spot on.

Overall, I think the film was VERY well done and Kate Winslet was a terrific Hanna. I liked the book and it provided a very good book club discussion. I liked that the focus on the Holocaust was only minimal and while that colored and shaped much of what was going on in the book there was so much more. It was about personal responsibility, choices, and guilt.

To read this book in isolation would have been less satisfying for me than reading it and then discussing it with me book group

Friday, April 03, 2009

UND Writers Conference

RRVWP fellows with poet Greg Williamson
at The Toasted Frog Wed. April 1, 2009

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

For Feb. -- Writers Conference Book

On March 4th we met at Judy's to discuss the various Writers Conference books we each chose to read.

Each year many of us take advantage of the opportunity to meet with an author from the conference and this year the RRVWP arranged for Greg Williamson, a poet, to be our guest author and provided copies of Errors in the Script for us to read. Still this year, we decided to each read our own picks and get together and discuss.

The 40th Annual UND Writers Conference will be held March 31-April 4, 2009, at UND.

Andrea read Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman and had mixed reviews but she's also read everything else he's written and enjoyed it all... She's also part done with St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell, a short story collection.

Marci finished the whole short story collection by Russell and enjoyed the book, though she wasn't able to attend the meeting.

Judy is reading Steve Almond's Candyfreak but isn't too "sweet" on it... She also remembered she'd read Feast of Love by Charles Baxter some time ago.

Carmyn has all of these on her "to read" list and is hoping to read a few more once she is done with Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A low Culture Manifesto by Chuck Klosterman. She's really enjoying the essays in the Klosterman book and would happily read another. Carmyn's not read Baxter's Feast of Love, but she has seen the movie. Does that count?


Following the conference I posted on my other blog about the event. For a closer look at the actual events, feel free to check out those posts on Greg Williamson Karen Russell and Steve Almond and Chuck Klosterman and Charles Baxter.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

For January-- The Ghost in Love by Jonathan Carroll

We met to discuss this book on Wed. February 4th at 5:30 pm at Carmyn's place.

I served a creamy tomato soup and Pam brought a yummy pecan dessert, Judy brought some homemade bread and we had all sorts of other delectables as usual! I am getting hungry just thinking about it. Too bad we couldn't figure out a way to serve, Ofi, but I am getting ahead of myself here.

What can I say? This book is surely one of the strangest books I've ever read. The book is filled with the absurd: talking dogs, the angel of death, lesbian ghosts, white earless dogs covered in faint blue tattoos, telepathic connections to strangers, traveling to memories, meeting one's fractured self.

It's a book about fate and love (less about love than I thought it would be). It's about controlling our own destinies. The book seemed to have something to say about God. There was a lot of philosophy rolling around. A lot of ideas introduced in rapid succession which added to the profoundly bizarre nature of the tale. I don't usually say this, but I think this book could have benefited from about 150 more pages just to flesh out some of those ideas, to develop the characters. This seemed to be the consensus at book club.

I had some favorite moments. One with Danielle meeting herself at all different ages sitting on picnic benches having a feast with her favorite foods. Another moment I loved was when the dog and the ghost first reveal themselves to Ben. I love that the delicious food that Ling prepares for Ben is "Ofi." And when he asks what that is she replies: "It's love and magic; it's a kid's imagination made real." She explains that his childhood love, Gina, made up that word to describe the pretend food she made him. "Nothing is more delicious than childhood love."

Pilot, the dog, was probably the best character. I just don't think it was necessary that he be the reincarnation of Ben's Italian love who was tragically killed. That sort of spoiled things for me. I mean, what are the odds... and unless that somehow matters more, WHY even have that be part of the story.

This book was an interesting read, but not an essential one.
Yet, it was fun to discuss as a group.

--review by Carmyn

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs

For December we met at Pam's on Dec. 10th to discuss The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by A. J. Jacobs

Chicken tortilla soup
Tortilla chips and salsa
Sourdough bread and butter
Carrots and dip
Wine and more wine!

It's pretty funny. Entertaining, in a non-blasphemous way. I think that the rest of the group enjoyed it. Some maybe more than others.

Judy noted that this may be an entire new genre. People who do strange things so they can write books about them! She may be on to something.

Because I started reading this far too close to the book club time (are you sensing a trend with me?) I managed to only complete about half the book. But oh, what a half!

A year ago I borrowed but didn't read Jacobs' book, The Know it All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Man in the World. In that book he takes his readers through his journey of reading the Encyclopedia Brittanica A-Z.

In this one, The Year of Living Biblically, his task is to follow the Bible as literally as possible. I suppose to some it might seem blasphemous, but I think his treatment of the subject matter is just fine. A bit sensational, sure, but not particularly offensive. I felt the same way when I saw Jesus Camp. I was rather surprised by some of the things he discussed. I didn't know there was a Creation museum. That floored me. Also the existence of Clean Flicks. What the heck? I guess their practice of editing films was seen as in violation of copyright so now they simply offer "clean" movies rather than try to "clean them up."

Jacobs book is fascinating. Educational. Entertaining. Laugh-out-loud funny at times. His wife is a saint and also very funny--when she deliberately sits in every chair in their home... She has spunk and is good natured and takes her crazy husband in stride. Of course I'm only half done with the book... hmmmm.....

About a week prior to reading Jacobs' book, I was directed to look at this site, which is aimed at taking a closer look at Christian culture. I was intrigued by the way the site ended up complementing my reading. I was thinking Jacobs needed to take a look at that site. Of course I haven't even gotten to the last three months of his experiment yet, when he focuses more on the New Testament.The website, is worth a browse. I started with Stephanie's first posts back in August and worked my way forward. The site might be perceived as rude. Or mocking. I suppose there is an element of the mocking involved. Still the bottom line is that so much of what I read on that site is true of my experience. I could think of examples within the Christian culture I know, on nearly every one of the 55 posts I read. Lest you think I'm pointing a finger and laughing, please realize that I know I've subscribed to many, many of these traits at one point in time. My favorite posts? #12, #19, #25, #27, #39, #45, #56 .... If I don't quit, I'll have marked them all! :)

In case you are curious as to why Stephanie is writing this blog, she addresses that in a number of the comments I've read in which she defends herself and her posts to those who are offended. Stephy says: "Christian culture doesn't have anything to do with Jesus himself. But people in Christian culture feel that doing many of these cultural things are imperative to relationship with him, and they're not. Also, Christian culture is a way to avoid true relationship and a way to "play house" if you will, little rituals and mandates not decreed by God yet they make us feel like we are closer to God. Anything can be used to avoid relationship of course, we are endlessly creative in finding ways to avoid it, because true relationship is messy and reveals things to us about ourselves that we'd rather not see. Christian culture is a very pervasive thing that isn't clearly addressed and I think it should be. So I'm writing about it."

Both the book and this blog play around with these ideas. Ideas many hold sacred. Yet, if you let yourself, you might find yourself laughing and this book was certainly educational as well as entertaining. A. J. Jacobs has a rare and unusual mind and did I mention we thought his wife was a saint?