A while ago I got an email by the publishers of Penn Jillett's upcoming book "God, No! - Signs You May Aleady By An Atheist And Other Magical Tales". I was asked if I care to review this book and publish the result on my blog. My initial response... "Yeah, send me the sucker and I'll review it." A few days later I received the book. And now I fear I have to write the review so I get more free books in the future.
Let's start with the basics. It's not a book about magic. It's 24.99 dollars and a little more that 200 pages thick. There are no pictures and it contains lot's of swearing. But this is not what people tend to be interested in. So let's talk about the content.
Basically its a whole bunch of short stories from Penn Jillette's life that are told to illustrate how people lose faith and how becoming an atheist is a better alternative than sticking to religions.
Penn goes out by telling stories about his parties, how he met his wife, how he used to be a dishwasher and so on. His writing style is very verbose. If you are the type of person not being bothered by this you will have a much easier time going through the book. I tend to love sweet, short, to the point stories. The subtitle of the book made me think there maybe a checklist. But as verbose as it maybe, it is well written and entertaining. Not quite what I expected.
The book gives you a brief glimpse into the minds of people who are unhappy with their belief. And "unhappy" might not be the best word to describe it, but I fail to find another one, as I'm not as eloquent as Penn Jillette, who seems to try to prove on every page how many tiny little details he remembers.
I am torn. I cried when I read the chapter about lying, which centers around Penn and how he lost his father, his mother and his sister. I honestly cried. And you will too, if you don't have a heart made of ice. I will never see a bunch of balloons rising towards the sky the same way.
Honesty, this is what the book boils down to. Penn Jillette maybe overdoing it a bit sometimes, but you can feel the honesty. When he tells you that he doesn't lie to his kids about Santa Claus, I believe he is telling the truth. And when he tells people that telling your children about how there is a Santa is a bad thing, I believe, that he truly believes it is a bad thing. My own opinion about it is different. But I don't have to share Penn's opinion in order to enjoy his book.
Penn Jillette is an extremist. And sometimes we need extremists. And sometimes we need a book written by an extremist. And as long as the extremist is a good person I have absolutely no problem with him/her. Penn is a good person. And reading through the book you will understand, that behind foul languages and atheist beliefs lies good human being with honest moral opinions and a big heart.
So here is my verdict: The book is enjoyable and it is a good starting point if you a generally interested in the thought processes of an atheist. It will probably not be what you expect and at times you will wish Penn Jillette would stay on topic. But aside from that you will be forced to make up your own damn mind. And you will understand, why saying "I don't know" is not a bad thing. In fact it is the first step. -
- I am sure I was not the only one who got a copy of the book to review. And having read the book I am glad to have been and to still be a small little gear in the hype machine. So if I had to rate this book I would give it one of the highest rating that is possible using the Internet lingo. I will "Like" this on Facebook.
The book will "appear" in two days.