Author Archives: Mike

TL;DR Must Read

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It was something of a surprise when Thomas Piketty’s 700-page, statistics-laden economics tome Capital in the Twenty-First Century became a sensation earlier this year, selling out its early print run and even briefly passing Heaven is for Real for the top spot on the New York Times Bestseller list. Less surprising was the news last week that the 700-page, statistic-laden economics tome now tops a list of books people are buying and then not reading.

According to an admittedly non-scientific study tracking the most frequently highlighted passages in popular e-books, most buyers of Piketty’s book didn’t highlight, and thus probably didn’t read, much of anything beyond page 26. It is “summer’s most unread book” for 2014.

So let me confess at the outset of this review that I am one of the many who have not finished reading this book.

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NEW HARRY POTTER STORY!!!

THERE’S A NEW HARRY POTTER STORY! IT’S SHORT!! HE’S OLD!!!

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READ IT AT POTTERMORE.COM.

-Michael Moats

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God Help is Hard to Find

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FA review tag

SPOILER ALERT: The following post contains a passing reference to the conclusion of the show LOST.

The most popular book on Christianity today — at least 120 weeks on the bestseller list, many of them at the top — is Heaven is for Real. It’s the true story of a four-year-old’s near-death experience, in which he recalls going to Heaven and meeting Jesus. Another bestseller, Proof of Heaven, has spent more than 60 weeks on the list. It was written by a neurosurgeon who had his own near-death experience during which he also met people on the other side.  Also consistently floating around the top ten is Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Jesus, which is the latest in his Killing [Famous Person] series.

I haven’t read any of these books and I don’t plan to. Continue reading

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Book of Today: Ulysses by James Joyce

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Stately, plump, and set on June 16, 1904, Ulysses is our Book of Today. This was the day, 110 years ago, that James Joyce had his first encounter with his wife Nora. He went on to write her many love letters which, I mean, they thought Ulysses was obscene…

Seriously, NSFW. Seriously.

Told you.

Happy Bloomsday everybody.

- Michael Moats

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Book of Today: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

RunningToday is National Running Day — so why not stay at home on your ass and read Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running?

At under-200 pages, it’s hardly the, uh, marathon of 1Q84 or The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

- Michael Moats

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Did You Hear? Be a Rainbow in Someone Else’s Cloud


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“Be a blessing to somebody.” -Maya Angelou, 1928 – 2014

- Michael Moats

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WHAT TO READ: Chipotle Cups?

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Before there were smartphones and iPads, we used to read cereal boxes while we were eating — and we loved it.

This, I assume, is the driving principle behind a bunch of new paper products at your local Chipotle, which will feature short pieces by authors including Michael Lewis, Toni Morrison and George Saunders. The idea is the spawn of Jonathan Safran Foer who “was sitting at a Chipotle one day, when he realized that he had nothing to do while noshing on his burrito. He had neglected to bring a book or magazine, and he didn’t yet own a smartphone. ‘I really just wanted to die with frustration.'”

Out of this horrible experience was born the idea for something interesting on the cups. And rather than proposing that the next edition of McSweeney’s be published as a sleeve of paper cups, Safran Foer emailed Steve Ells, Chipotle’s CEO. Read the full history here.

I wish I could say something smart-alecky about this like it’s a dumb idea, but it’s actually a really cool idea.  And this is not the first cool, quick art that Chipotle has been party to.

Go stuff your face and stuff your brain at the same time.

- Michael Moats

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WHAT TO READ: Marilynne Robinson Says Great Things

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Marilynne Robinson is one of the few voices of true wisdom around today. She recently shared some thoughts on Christian fear, modern life and more with Religion News Service. You can read the full interview at Huffington Post, but here are some highlights…

On same-sex relationships:

There has never been a period in world history where same-sex relationships were more routine and normal than in Hellenistic culture at the time of Christ. Does Jesus ever mention the issue?  …if you choose to value one or two verses in Leviticus over the enormous, passionate calls for social justice that you find right through the Old Testament, that’s primitive.”

On “religious controversies”:

I wish I could go to the Supreme Court every time I saw somebody trying to cut food stamps, or pre-K, or any of these other things. These people that are so attentive to babies that don’t exist yet, and so negligent of babies that need help. It’s part of the narrowing of the culture, so that only certain things are considered to be religious controversies. It’s a religious controversy, to me, that we would think of cutting back on help for the poor.”

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