The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown – A Book Review

I’ve got to give it to Dan Brown, he’s discovered a formula that has taken America by storm. I think he happened across it with Angels and Demons. Take a gigantically important figure and make him/her the focus of the novel. Then, couple that with using as many facts as can be possibly found. Finally, use those facts to breed fiction that is logical, plausible, and wildly controversial.

Boom. You’ve got a hit.

I liked The Da Vinci Code, just like I enjoyed Angels and Demons. The book uses real locations and artistic works that engage the reader’s interest and imagination. It has a neck-breaking pace, and each chapter ends on a cliffhanger that demands you continue reading. If you’re reading for pure enjoyment, this book is just the prescription.

However, what I find troubling is due to no fault of the book itself. You see, many people out there are saying that this book had shaken their religious foundation to the core. Shame on those people. Again, The Da Vinci Code takes a wildly popular figure in the world, takes a great deal of fact, throws in quite a bit of fiction, and a hit was born. Sadly, it seems that a great deal of people are having trouble distinguishing between fact and fiction. My strongest advice to those people would be: go do some research. Find the answers you’re seeking by putting in some time and effort. Otherwise, accept this book for the genre it belongs to-fiction.

I can understand people getting up in arms over what’s being said in the book, because we’re all threatened when challenged. I’ll leave it up to you and your research to determine if Dan Brown was challenging anyone in particular, or if he was just trying to write a book that would be a guaranteed hit. What I don’t understand is people reading a work of fiction and saying that it’s completely changed their religious perspective.

So, all in all, if you’re looking for an entertaining read, pick this book up. If you’re looking for facts about religion and/or history, pick up something found in the non-fiction shelves of your local bookstore or library.

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Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk – A Book Review

I don’t really know why I picked up the book Fight Club a few weeks ago.  I pretty much knew the major shocker of the story through word of mouth (it’s been out since 1996, after all).  I guess I just wanted to see what all the talk was about.  Gratuitous violence doesn’t do a whole lot for me anymore.  Most people would have thought a book called Fight Club would be the last on my list of books to read.  I’m going to be brutally honest, I figured that if Edward Norton and Brad Pitt were willing to do a film based off the book, the book must be decent.  I was not disappointed.

The book’s style was utterly devoid of any unnecessary components, which, of course, sticks to the majority of the book’s theme.  Very direct narrative, very short and simple dialogue.  The story is told to us through the first person perspective of the main character, but his name is never revealed.  This gives the book a sense of “everyman” that I believe forces, especially, male readers to identify.

Our main character is tired of life, tired of his job, tired of wanting to own things only to have those things own him.  It’s only after he meets Tyler Durden that he experiences life the way he’s always wanted to.  It begins with “Hit me as hard as you can,” and it ends with mayhem and destruction.  We have men drawn to Tyler and his Fight Clubs because they have no sense of worth without their fights.  It is only when they fight that they feel alive, and it is only through Tyler that they feel loved.  Indeed, Tyler gains quite a cult following waiting on his every command, and our narrator is no different.  Of course, the climax is when men start dying and our narrator decides enough is enough.  He steps in to stop the very thing he’d created with Tyler, and that’s when things go downhill.

Although the story seems rather unsophisticated, it is anything but.  It is the underlying message within this book that is fascinating.  We do have an entire generation of men out there (perhaps several) who don’t know how to be men because they’ve had no father figure in their lives.  They think to be a man means to fight and to destroy; they’ve never had someone show them a man doesn’t have to do these things to be “manly.”  We have a whole generation of people who don’t know why they do what they do.  Why do they work?  Why do they buy?  Why do they live?

This story is tragic, funny, and captivating.  I was instantly engrossed with the characters and the plot.  I highly recommend this book if, for no other reason, than to see an author write in an unconventional manner and prove highly successful.

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis – A Book Review

Originally a series of talks given over the radio to the people of England during WWII, this collection of said dialogue explains in laymen’s terms what Christianity is and why C.S. Lewis, originally a non-believer, eventually came to Christ.  It does not give his personal story, mind you, but rather is a mixture of philosophical lectures and entertaining anecdotes as to why Christianity is a valid belief. 

Beware, this is not a light reading romp.  I found myself concentrating diligently to follow his ideas and contemplations.  In the end, I thought he did a superb job of explaining why he believes what he believes, and why everyone else should as well.  Never does he take a condescending tone, and always he appeals to the heart as well as the intellect. 

C.S. Lewis has long been considered one of the most highly respected Christian writers of the last few centuries and I’d have to agree.  However, I have a great deal of trouble believing the “common man” followed his talks on an intellectual level during the time period it originated, but perhaps I’m looking at that from a 2005 perspective.  Perhaps people were more willing to listen to complicated lectures then than they are now.   

If you are a Christian needing a contemporary view on your beliefs to serve a purpose much needed, or if you are a non-Christian just wanting to know what it is all about but without the usual stories and Scripture, then I highly recommend this book.  Put your thinking caps on though, ladies and gentlemen, this one requires intense focus.

When You’re Cool Like Me

Note: Originally Posted 7-14-06

When you’re cool like me, you’ve got this insatiable urge to write a review on every book you read.  I don’t know if it’s because book reports were my strongest subject during my formative years or what, but I’ve just got to do it.  It’s like Dracula and blood, Tommy Lee and sex, Paris Hilton and tastelessness; it can’t be fought.

So, other than my “official” website, I like to post my book reports, uh, that is, my book reviews on Amazon.com.  Only the coolest people on planet Earth do that.  Now you may or may not know this, but people can actually vote on whether they found your review helpful or not. 

Cool as I am, I’m no scientist.  That being said, I’ve discovered a trend, something on the scale of Ivan Pavlov . . . when you post a positive review, people vote on it as very helpful.  But, when you write a negative review, people vote that you weren’t helpful at all.  By the way, I have no idea if the Pavlov reference was accurate.  Run with me people, run with me.

Anyway, I happen to think that my reviews are always helpful, you know, because I’ve got a healthy ego.  Just because I write a bad review on a book, that doesn’t mean the review wasn’t helpful.  I simply point out what didn’t work for me.  I think people that read my reviews are so smitten with the author they’re looking at, they can’t fathom said author could ever write a book that wasn’t God’s gift.  I’ve got news for you folks, some writers can produce real stink bombs.  Myself excluded, of course.

So there we go.  I will now quote Forest Gump on the subject with, “That’s about all I have to say about that.”

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