Mini Book Review of Iron Heart: The True Story of How I Came Back From the Dead by Brian Boyle

41rpGd0gB6L._AC_US218_Brian Boyle should of been dead. After a collision with a dump truck – you read that right, dump truck, he was left with multiple injuries and placed in a medically induced coma while a team of surgeons attempted to put his body back together.  He was in such bad shape that every internal organ was in the wrong place. If it wasn’t for his athleticism and good health before the accident, Boyle certainly would have died. A college level swimmer before the accident, he was left learning how to walk. His story of slowly coming out of coma and being aware of his surroundings, but not being able to communicate or even move gripped me and drew me in. I found myself rooting for him at every step of the way.

Boyle’s story is a success story that culminates in the Kona Ironman Championships. The remarkable part of his story, however, is the support he had along the way. From his parents to the team of doctors and therapists that managed to put him back together; it took a team to get him to Kona.

I love stories of people who beat the odds to accomplish greats feats and Boyle’s story certainly qualifies. He was remarkably close to death and eventually began to thrive. This book was a great read.

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Mini Review of “Operation Ironman: One Man’s Four Month Journey from Hospital Bed to Ironman Triathlon” by George Mahood

operationThis book chronicles the author’s journey from hospital bed to Ironman. Having been diagnosed with a cancerous tumor intertwined with his spinal chord that left him with devastating back pain, George Mahood went through a tricky and dangerous procedure to have it removed. While still bedridden from the surgery, he made the decision to complete an Ironman triathlon in just four short months. With spotty training hampered by his recovery, Mahood set out to do just that. His experience is impressive. It should be pointed out, however, that Mahood wasn’t exactly starting from scratch. While humble about his athletic prowess, he had completed a marathon, long-distance bike rides, and swim training prior to his procedure.

With that said, I still enjoyed his journey and was greatly impressed by it. Heck, I’m impressed by anyone that has what it takes to complete an Ironman. Mahood has a humorous perspective and tells his story with ease. He is also British, which means he writes from a voice that sounded slightly quirky and endearing to me.

Reader’s should probably be forewarned that the author’s vernacular includes very occasional and, seemingly random, curse words included for humor. I found them more distracting than humorous; fortunately, they were rare.

Book Review of DNA of a Christian by Daren Wride

DNAHaving never heard of the author, Daren Wride, I loaded this book onto my kindle because it was offered for free on Amazon and it had a catchy title. If I’m being honest, I didn’t expect too much. As the title suggests, Wride offers what he feels are the essential traits of a believing Christian, as follows:

 

  1. Lover of God
  2. Lover of People
  3. Holy
  4. Truth Based
  5. Evangelistic
  6. Persevering
  7. God-Dependent
  8. Focused on Eternity

Wride admits that this list is not exhaustive, however, he tried to create it in a way that includes all other possibilities. As might be expected, some traits were more challenging than others, however, as a whole this book serves as a great reminder that our faith should change the way we live our lives. I actually used this book as a teaching tool in our church covering a different trait each week. It served well for that purpose.

Mini Book Review of “AWOL on the Appalachian Trail” by David Miller

AWOLThis is a book about a guy hiking the Appalachian Trail. It is not full of action or excitement. He didn’t have to battle any bears or mountain lions with his bare hands. Rather, he just walked. But his story is engaging. David Miller quit his job to begin his quest of hiking the entire trail and as I read I became invested in his adventure. I wanted him to succeed. It took me quite awhile to read as I often put it aside in favor of other books, but I always found myself returning to check on his progress. Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts are sure to find this book interesting and, to make it more enticing, I’m pretty sure I found it for free on the Kindle.

Book Review of Never Binge Again by Glenn Livingston, Ph.D.

neverbingeI typically don’t bother writing reviews for books I didn’t like. Heck, if I’m being honest, I typically don’t finish a book I don’t like. This is one of those instances. I picked up this book of because of the promise embedded in its title, “Never Binge Again.” As someone who has always struggled with maintaining a healthy diet, this book appealed to me. In this book, Livingston spends a great many pages explaining that we need to change the way we look at our inner binge eater. Rather than love the inner glutton that lives inside us, we need to develop an animosity toward it. He recommends that we call this inner self ‘the pig.’ In a sense, he is recommending that we personify our inner binge eater in a way that allows us to see it for what it really is – an enemy. The author offers this solution as an alternative to a self-love approach to healing.

Livingston’s approach may work for some people but, if I’m being honest, I thought it was all a little goofy. Livingston continued to lose me when he began attributing our inner binge eater to evolution and our “lizard brain” which is only concerned with self-satisfaction.

I’m glad this book was free for my kindle because I didn’t feel too bad when I quit reading it.

Mini Review of “The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal” by David E. Hoffman

billionspyI’ve attempted reading fictional spy stories over the past couple of months and given up on each of them. This book, however, has taught me a powerful lesson. While I enjoy Cold War era history, it is a subject matter that proves the truth is far more fascinating than fiction. The Billion Dollar Spy is is a detailed account of the CIA’s handling of Adolf Tolkachev. Tolkachev spied for the United States deep under cover in Soviet Moscow and provided the United States with technology secrets that gave them a definitive advantage in aerial combat.

People who are looking for a “James Bond” like thriller will find the pace of this book slow. However, the appeal of this book isn’t in the action; rather, it is in the decisions the CIA made in handling their most valuable spy. Do they meet his demands or risk making him unhappy? Should they attempt to sneak him and his family of the Soviet Union? What techiniques should they use to keep his presence secret from the Russians? I found this all very interesting!

If you are interested in the Cold War, you need to learn about Adolf Tolkachev. His story is incredible and the United States owes him a debt of gratitude for the risks he took.Mini

Mini Book Review: The Billion Dollar Spy by David E. Hoffman

spyThis book is the true story of Adolf Tolkachev who delivered Russian secrets to the the CIA for seven years during the Cold War. The sheer impact this one spy had on the United States military, specifically in aviation, is astounding. His secrets contributed to the United States’ air superiority throughout the world for long after the Cold War ended and helped topple the Soviet Union. It is an incredible story. As I read the account of Tolkachev, I couldn’t help but wonder how his story ties in with other known spies of the era. People like Aldrich Ames and Robert Hannsen may have contributed to the ultimate downfall of Tolkachev and it is mind-boggling to consider the interwoven web of espionage that permeated the Cold War. In a world focused technology and “wiki-leaks”, this book reinforces the necessity of human intelligence. I highly recommend it if you are interested in Cold War espionage.

Mini Book Review of ‘The End of Reason’ by Ravi Zacharias

endofreasonThe End of Reason by Ravi Zacharias was written as a response to what has been dubbed ‘New Atheism’. Primarily, it was written to refute the philosophy of atheist Sam Harris who wrote The End of Faith.

Zacharias’ arguments in this book are logical, concise, and articulate. I love the way his brain works! Zacharias is an evangelist and apologist that brings a unique perspective to theology and philosophy. He is an “Indian-born Canadian-American” with a Master of Divinity, several honorary doctorates, and an undergraduate degree. He brings to the table a command of logic and language that is unparalleled along with a cultural experience that is uniquely his own. Because of his unique background, Zacharias writes in a voice that is distinctly his own – and I appreciate that.

This book makes short work of the philosophy championed by Sam Harris and others. Zacharias places the worldview of new atheism alongside that of Christianity and exposes the hate, despair, and hopelessness of the new atheist. As Zacharias unravels the arguments of Sam Harris, he exposes them as illogical and unfulfilling.

On a side note, Zacharias writes as a former atheist who was once on the brink of suicide. His experience seems to have ignited in him a passion for revealing the illogical endgame of the new atheist and in this book he does so in remarkable fashion.

 

Book Review of ‘Flight to Heaven: A Plane Crash … A Lone Survivor … a Journey to Heaven — and Back’ by Dale Black

flightI have a love/hate relationship with audio books. While I love the idea of them, I typically hate actually listening to them. This book was an exception to that rule. Read in the author’s own voice, Flight to Heaven: A Plane Crash … A Lone Survivor … A Journey to Heaven — and Back is pilot Dale Black’s story of surviving a horrific plane crash.

As the title suggests, Dale Black submits that after his crash he visited Heaven. This fact alone almost caused me to dismiss the book. Why? Perhaps I’m just a cynic, but there are numerous titles in bookstores everywhere that suggest similar stories. The odds alone suggest many of them are false. I’m glad, however, that I gave this book a chance. This book is less about Dale Black’s visit to Heaven and more about the life he led after his visit to Heaven.
Black’s injuries were devasting. nearly every bone in one leg was shattered and he was left unable to walk, much less fly a plane. However, his faith in God allowed him to not only recover, but to thrive amid such darkness. Dale Black’s life was changed and, as a result, he changed the lives of others.
I should add that listening to his story in the author’s own voice added to my enjoyment. I got the sense that Black was less telling a story and more sharing his testimony – at times, almost reluctantly, but at all times humbly. Black never seemed to glorify himself but rather seemed more concerned with glorifying the One who saved him from his crash.
I enjoyed this audiobook a great deal and highly recommend it to anyone who needs to hear an inspirational story of hope and survival.

Mini Book Review of ‘The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions’ by David Berlinski

devilsdelusionIn The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions biologist and philosopher David Berlinski brings a unique voice to the table. Berlinski describes himself as a secular Jew yet he offers a biting defense of religious thought. Berlinksi is critical of skeptical arguments against religious thought on the grounds that they often misrepresent the science behind the argument. He is also critical of Darwinian evolution but he offers his critique from an angle that should be palatable to the skeptic.

There are times during this book that Berlinski sounds very “religious” but he goes beyond simply rehashing old arguments and offers a fresh perspective that I appreciate a great deal.