Posts Tagged ‘Books’

“The Martian: A Novel” (Not A True Story)

April 21st, 2016 No comments

Apparently I’ll need to be stuck on Mars with a lot of time on my hands to finish my list of 40 books to read for my 40th birthday. Admittedly, it took much longer to read this book than I anticipated, and it had absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the book either. Life took some unexpectedly crazy turns recently – nothing as serious as being abandoned on Mars, but serious enough that my attention was elsewhere for a while.


Full disclosure: I had seen the movie prior to reading the book. Normally, I would prefer to read a book before watching the film, but in this case, I’m actually glad I consumed the movie before the book. In fact, I downright enjoyed the fact that I had seen the movie first because the book took me on an expanded journey of a familiar story that I had already fallen in love with. Instead of silently yelling at a movie screen, “No, you forgot this part! And that’s not what happened!” I found myself delighted by the new tidbits of story unfolding before me. Sure there were differences in the cinematic version versus the literary version, but those differences were merited given the distinct nature of film and literary media.

Most notably different was the end. Clearly, Hollywood wanted something visually dramatic and poignant to end the blockbuster movie. I’m not sure if it was because I saw the movie and the end was so different, but I found the end of the book to be somewhat anticlimactic. Overall though, the movie did an excellent job of staying true to the story in the book.

The one thing I really liked about this book (and movie) was that it wasn’t just a comedy, or drama, or action story. It’s all of those and much more. It’s a story about the enduring human spirit. I highly recommend that you pick up the book, particularly if you enjoyed the movie.

And in case anyone is still wondering… no, “The Martian” is not based on a true story. Buzzfeed cleared that up fairly succinctly.

Next up… something a bit less ‘meaty’. I’ll be reading something from one of my favourite authors, Mr. Stephen King. Two down, 38 to go.

M. xo

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Categories: Personal Tags:

Project Conversion – Book Review

February 5th, 2013 No comments

(Note:  Project Conversion is available through in either print or Kindle format)

If you’re a regular follower of my posts, you’re already well acquainted with my deep concerns about religious/irreligious intolerance.  Through my blog posts and academic pursuits, I’ve tried to understand what causes such hatred to exist, and how we can move forward to collectively embrace a mindset that celebrates, rather than condemns, our differences of faith and philosophy.

It wasn’t always this way for me.  I’ve been both the condemner and the condemned; the believer and the non-believer.  I didn’t always walk the middle path that I find myself now embracing.   Like so many others, I’ve struggled to reconcile the conflict within me.  I’ve read untold numbers of psychological research studies and various other social scientific theories in an attempt to find those answers.   I could find no simple answers.  Then, on the 11th anniversary of a day burned into so many of our minds, I was introduced to Project Conversion.  The sheer simplicity of the concept, although certainly not its implementation, was brilliant.

I first encountered Andrew Bowen’s Project Conversion on a post he contributed to the State of Formation web site.  I was immediately drawn into his story.  It was compelling, brave, heart-breaking, and inspiring all at once.  Soon after, I joined the ranks of his Facebook page and began following his journey to publication.  I was not only intensely interested in his pursuit to create an atmosphere of interfaith dialogue and tolerance; I also wanted to help spread the gospel – so to speak.  If this man, who once had such intense hatred, could become a believer in the humanity that binds us all, couldn’t others experience this same awakening?  If all it took was simply getting to know those who we fear, hate, or condemn – wouldn’t it be worth it if we could stop the violence, turmoil, and sheer madness?  Yes, I believed it was, and is, worth it.  So, when Bowen put out a call to bloggers to read his memoir detailing his Project Conversion experience,  I gladly knocked on his door.

The Project Conversion memoir is not only a testament of one man’s journey of immersion into twelve faiths over the course of a year; it also bears witness to a remarkable group of people who guide, support, and provide unconditional love during the process of this spiritual metamorphosis.   There is no doubt that readers will find the brief historical and descriptive surveys of each of the traditions enlightening, but they will also be compelled by Bowen’s candid, and often very personal, glimpses into his personal life.

If you’re like me, you’ll fall in love with the women in his life who, for all intents, seem to embody the triple Goddess archetype.  The innocent wisdom and humour of his daughters are perhaps some of the most persuasive sections of his memoir.  There’s just something utterly compelling about the untainted perspectives of children who have yet to be exposed to the often harsh cruelties of the world.  I guarantee that the anecdotes and quips of these young ladies will make you laugh and reflect.  Not to be outdone, Bowen’s Grandmother lends an unmatched wit to his adventure as she steadfastly keeps him clothed in custom-made attire indicative of some of the traditions he embraces.  Of course, I would be doing a huge disservice if I didn’t acknowledge the fortitude, compassion and insight of his wife, who provides the solid foundation in this uncharted, and at times rocky, terrain.

Family, friends, and strangers embrace Bowen as he undertakes a voyage to discover the divine manifested through a variety of lenses.  Beginning with a foray into the celestial complexity of Hinduism, he travels through a mosaic of faiths.  He embarks on a journey to understand the world’s foremost traditions, but also those often viewed as fringe or downright strange.  Certainly, the various stops along his voyage reveal our common humanity, but it is the people along his travels that stand as the true testament to these blessings.

Andrew Bowen’s Project Conversion memoir is a literary tapestry woven together with stunning metaphors, engaging anecdotes, clever humour, and modest candour.  It’s a book that I hope you will all consider reading.  It’s a book that’s sure to impart insight into beliefs you may not have known about, but more importantly it’s a book that speaks to the collective consciousness that transcends faith.

In celebration, Project Conversion (Kindle version) will be available free to download for a very limited time.

M. xo


Categories: Religion Tags: ,