Misunderstood Authors, Tom Clancy, and the Wendell Berry Jar

Our friend Nick Rynerson joins us as he auditions to take over for our former co-host (but still friend of the podcast), Barnabas. Listen in as we discuss:

  • Why Nick’s coworkers have a Wendell Berry jar in the office
  • Misunderstood authors (both their work and their lifestyles)
  • How Keanu Reeves can be the nicest man in the world and Neil Young is seemingly not, yet both are Canadian
  • Why Dave is reading a Tom Clancy novel when we normally make fun of such things

All this and the usual silliness and mockery that goes on between everyone on this show.


This episode is sponsored by our friends at Useful Group. Whether you’re looking for a new website, or need help developing your marketing strategy, they want to be useful to you. Learn more at usefulgroup.com.

A few of the books we mentioned on this episode:

Sharing and supporting the show

  • Leave a five-star rating and review of the show on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to the show.
  • Give us a follow on Twitter at @MalContentsPod
  • Be sure to use the Amazon affiliate links above to help us pay for the costs of producing and hosting the show.
  • Interested in sponsoring Table of (mal)Contents? Let’s talk via email or DM @malContentsPod on Twitter.

Our Best Books We Read For Our Enjoyment in 2019


‘Tis the season for exhaustive lists of top- something or others from bloggers and podcasters everywhere. So, we’re getting right down to business on this episode as we present to you our completely self-serving end-of-year book lists. Along the way, we also discuss:

  • When Aaron sounds most pretentious
  • How we rank Tim Keller’s books
  • The challenge of enjoying poetry
  • Our happiness about our friend Scarlet being okay after a health scare
  • What we thought about The Last Jedi

Aaron’s favorites:

Barnabas’ Favorites

Dave’s Favorites:

While you’re at Amazon (or wherever you buy your books), be sure to also pick up copies (and leave a 5-star review) of a few of the books by me (Aaron) and Barnabas, all of which make for great gifts and/or stocking stuffers:

Finally, be sure to grab a few bags of the Table of (mal)Contents blend by our friends at Lagares Coffee Roasters.

Sharing and supporting the show

  • Leave a five-star rating and review of the show on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to the show.
  • Give us a follow on Twitter at @MalContentsPod
  • Be sure to use the Amazon affiliate links above to help us pay for the costs of producing and hosting the show.
  • Interested in sponsoring Table of (mal)Contents? Let’s talk via email or DM @malContentsPod on Twitter.

We’re Thankful For That Time We Talked to Leif Enger


About a year ago, Dave and I had the privilege of being joined in-studio by acclaimed novelist Leif Enger while Barnabas was out on a work-related trip.

He declared us really bad friends, and we’re okay with that.

So, today, as we all gear up for Thanksgiving, we’re representing this interview as a special holiday gift to you!

Listen in as we discuss:

  • Leif’s writing process and why it took 10 years for Virgil Wander to be released;
  • Why his latest is his “most Christian but least evangelical” book yet
  • What it means to be a successful writer (and how he handles criticism);
  • How his three books connect with different seasons; and
  • Why book tours actually still matter.

And to add salt to the wound, here’s how we included Barnabas in our group photo.

A few of the books mentioned in this episode:

As always, be sure to grab a few bags of the Table of (mal)Contents blend by our friends at Lagares Coffee Roasters. Also, don’t forget to grab a copy of Aaron’s ebook from The Gospel Project, Jesus Saves Christmas, here.

Sharing and supporting the show

  • Leave a five-star rating and review of the show on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to the show.
  • Give us a follow on Twitter at @MalContentsPod
  • Be sure to use the Amazon affiliate links above to help us pay for the costs of producing and hosting the show.
  • Interested in sponsoring Table of (mal)Contents? Let’s talk via email or DM @malContentsPod on Twitter.

Hutchmoot, Life Changes, & a New eBook


While Barnabas is off trying to meet a deadline or working or something, Aaron & Dave discuss all the things, including:

  • The podcast’s birthday and a look back on all its iterations
  • Dutch Family Swears
  • The Armstrong family lifestyle changes
  • Dave’s big takeaways from Hutchmoot and PubU
  • If you can survive in publishing if you don’t really love books
  • Aaron’s new ebook

A few of the books referenced this week:

As always, be sure to grab a few bags of the Table of (mal)Contents blend by our friends at Lagares Coffee Roasters. And grab a copy of Aaron’s ebook from The Gospel Project, Jesus Saves Christmas, here.

Today’s bonus content—the 4 Gospels meme from Dave:

Sharing and supporting the show

  • Leave a five-star rating and review of the show on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to the show.
  • Give us a follow on Twitter at @MalContentsPod
  • Be sure to use the Amazon affiliate links above to help us pay for the costs of producing and hosting the show.
  • Interested in sponsoring Table of (mal)Contents? Let’s talk via email or DM @malContentsPod on Twitter.

Pyramid schemes, trolling literary people, & marginalia


It’s a special bonus episode of the show as Dave, returning guest co-host Elizabeth Hyndman, and me tackle some very serious subjects:

  • Essential oils and pyramid schemes
  • Some of our favorite books where the characters are places
  • What would happen if you shared that your favorite book was The DaVinci Code in a high brow book club
  • If we should write in books
  • What makes us keep reading vs give up on a book

A few of the books referenced this week:

And, as always, be sure to grab a few bags of the Table of (mal)Contents blend by our friends at Lagares Coffee Roasters.

Sharing and supporting the show

  • Leave a five-star rating and review of the show on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to the show.
  • Give us a follow on Twitter at @MalContentsPod
  • Be sure to use the Amazon affiliate links above to help us pay for the costs of producing and hosting the show.
  • Interested in sponsoring Table of (mal)Contents? Let’s talk via email or DM @malContentsPod on Twitter.

What Women Really Want…


Dave is back in the studio and now Barnabas is MIA! But that’s okay, because our friend, Elizabeth Hyndman to take his place and class up the show, while representing all women everywhere. Listen in as we discuss:

  • The types of books she enjoys
  • Books men should read to better understand women
  • If people really need constant reminders to review books
  • If people cosplay Jane Austen characters
  • Who Elizabeth nominates for our sucker-punch fo the week (besides us)

A few of the books referenced this week:

And, as always, be sure to grab a few bags of the Table of (mal)Contents blend by our friends at Lagares Coffee Roasters.

Sharing and supporting the show

  • Leave a five-star rating and review of the show on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to the show.
  • Give us a follow on Twitter at @MalContentsPod
  • Be sure to use the Amazon affiliate links above to help us pay for the costs of producing and hosting the show.
  • Interested in sponsoring Table of (mal)Contents? Let’s talk via email or DM @malContentsPod on Twitter.

Workshopping Gladwell Book Titles, Talking to Strangers, & Middle School Bullies


We finally got the three of us back in the studio, which can only mean one thing: more censorship than I would have thought possible! Listen in as we discus:

  • How Barnabas is settling into his new role at Immanuel
  • Who we were in middle school (and which kid in The Sandlot were we)
  • If Malcolm Gladwell is insufferable (or if it’s just his fans)
  • If Barnabas should read Talking to Strangers
  • Titles for a future Gladwell book
  • Our decision to read a book by a certain controversial figure
  • Who pulls off a more convincing “How dare you!”
  • Three books Barnabas tried to read but really hated

Plus, Barnabas offers an apology (kind of).

As always, thanks to our friends at Lagares Coffee Roaster for partnering with us to make the Table of (mal)Contents blendOrder all the bags you can handle today.

A few of the books we mention on this episode

This week’s bonus content:

Dueling “How Dare Yous” (on Facebook) and The Snipping Point:

Sharing and supporting the show

  • Leave a five-star rating and review of the show on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to the show.
  • Give us a follow on Twitter at @MalContentsPod
  • Be sure to use the Amazon affiliate links above to help us pay for the costs of producing and hosting the show.
  • Interested in sponsoring Table of (mal)Contents? Let’s talk via email or DM @malContentsPod on Twitter.

When Reading Got Fun, How Not to Impress Girls, & What Not to Read During Class


Dave and I are back in the studio while Barnabas is still off doing something else. So, we’re joined by our friends, Nick Rynerson and James Kinnard, to talk about our reading through different seasons of life. Listen in as we discuss:

  • How our reading habits grew and changed from high school through adulthood
  • If teen boys will successfully impress girls by reading eastern philosophy
  • Books we read in high school that we ended up liking
  • What happens when a middle-schooler reads Camus
  • If Bloomington counts as a suburb of Chicago
  • The problem with self-appointed experts

As always, thanks to our friends at Lagares Coffee Roaster for partnering with us to make the Table of (mal)Contents blendOrder all the bags you can handle today.

A few of the books we mention on this episode

Sharing and supporting the show

  • Leave a five-star rating and review of the show on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to the show.
  • Give us a follow on Twitter at @MalContentsPod
  • Be sure to use the Amazon affiliate links above to help us pay for the costs of producing and hosting the show.
  • Interested in sponsoring Table of (mal)Contents? Let’s talk via email or DM @malContentsPod on Twitter.

Creeping on Wendell Berry, coffee talk, & why physical books are best


Dave’s back from vacation, Barnabas is off doing something else, and we’re uncomfortable in the studio with a special guest: our friend Nick Rynerson. Nick is the chief creative officer at Useful Group (a digital marketing agency you’ll be hearing more about in the future); more importantly he loves to read—and he adores Wendell Berry.

So we’re going to talk about that.

Listen in as we discuss:

  • How Nick fell in love with Wendell Berry’s writing (but really doesn’t want to sound like he’s a stalker)
  • If Barnabas is actually funny on Twitter or is it because we know his tone
  • If your life has to be a hot mess to be a brilliant writer
  • Why we need to recapture a sense of presence when we live so much of our lives in front of screens
  • What you need to go into reading Berry’s work knowing
  • Why you should read physical books and not eBooks
  • Who Nick wants to punch in the face as part of the Jack Reacher Sucker Punch of the Week

As always, thanks to our friends at Lagares Coffee Roaster for partnering with us to make the Table of (mal)Contents blendOrder all the bags you can handle today.

A few of the books we mention on this episode

Sharing and supporting the show

  • Leave a five-star rating and review of the show on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to the show.
  • Give us a follow on Twitter at @MalContentsPod
  • Be sure to use the Amazon affiliate links above to help us pay for the costs of producing and hosting the show.
  • Interested in sponsoring Table of (mal)Contents? Let’s talk via email or DM @malContentsPod on Twitter.

Pat Conroy, Loving Yourself Appropriately, & (mal)Contents vs Gut Check


It finally happened: I (Aaron) finished the book I’ve been struggling to read for months, and Barnabas and I decided to talk through it while Dave was on vacation. (Because that’s what friends do.) Listen in to a surprisingly earnest discussion about family dynamics, what Dave’s doing on vacation, and our desperate need for coffee:

  • Why all of Pat Conroy’s books are an emotional rollercoaster
  • The risks of writing honest memoirs (even if that memoir is told as a work of fiction)
  • Why it’s a huge mistake to order iced coffee (or coffee in general) from Chick-Fil-A
  • The difference between experiencing spoilers in books and movies
  • What Stephen Ambrose captured about the character of young men in the 1940s that seems to be missing in our generation
  • Which podcast blend from Lagares Coffee Roasters is the best one (hint: it’s ours)
  • How this podcast is saving a listener from living in squalor
  • Barnabas’s thoughts-and-prayers request

As always, thanks to our friends at Lagares Coffee Roaster for partnering with us to make the Table of (mal)Contents blendOrder all the bags you can handle today.

A few of the books discussed on this episode

Sharing and supporting the show

  • Leave a five-star rating and review of the show on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to the show.
  • Give us a follow on Twitter at @MalContentsPod
  • Be sure to use the Amazon affiliate links above to help us pay for the costs of producing and hosting the show.
  • Interested in sponsoring Table of (mal)Contents? Let’s talk via email or DM @malContentsPod on Twitter.