Midlife Crises, Ordinary Lives, and #Chafey


As you can imagine, we’re all getting older and (theoretically) maturing. Well, one of us is, at any rate. In honor of my (Aaron’s) 40th birthday (on August 21st), and the tendency for guys to start chucking their lives in an attempt to recapture their youth as soon as they officially become middle-aged, we decided to talk through the idea of midlife crises related to reading. Listen in as we discuss:

  • How our reading habits have changed as midlife approaches
  • Sparkly vs dark-and-brooding vampires
  • Neil Gaiman and Nick Hornby as the literary equivalents of midlife crises
  • If there was ever such a thing as “the good old days”
  • Why an ordinary life is a good thing

All this plus gift-giving in the studio!

A few of the books mentioned on this episode


Bonus Content: Bonhoeffer Convinced Me to Abandon My Dream” by Chase Repogle


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Questioning questionable content, preachy fiction, and James Bond

We tend to joke a lot about “content,” “grit,” and “scenes” in books. But today, we’re having a serious conversation (as serious as we get anyway) about the place of questionable content in fiction, if there is actually a legitimate place at all. Listen in as we get think-piece-y while discussing:

  • If we should make distinctions between violent and sexual content
  • What we do when we get caught off-guard by explicit content in a book
  • Why it’s not good for fiction to get preachy
  • If explicit content is a crutch for trash writing
  • Whether or not James Bond is a sociopath
  • Aaron and Barnabas’ recommendations for a fiction series for Dave to read

As always, thanks to Lagares Roasters for partnering with us to make the Table of (mal)Contents blend. Pick up a bag (or 12) today.

A few of the books we discussed on this episode

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  • We use affiliate links from Amazon to help us pay for the costs of producing and hosting the podcast. Be sure to purchase a book or ten that we talk about on every episode.
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Wiping books out of existence, organizing our libraries, & hurtful words

We love our listeners—you are as much a part of this show as we are, with your questions, feedback, and more than a little shade that gets thrown at us. On today’s episode, we introduce a new way for you to participate in the show with our illiteracy helpline! With the help of Google Voice, we set up a new number for you to call in with your questions, and asked a few of you to test it out. And boy, did you ask some great questions! Listen in as we discuss:

  • How Barnabas’ personality lines up with the temperament of a cat
  • What book we would wipe out of existence if we could
  • Which movie based on a book we think are better than the original book
  • How we organize our books
  • What books we didn’t expect to like but we wound up really enjoying (or vice versa)
  • A challenge for you: help us get to 100 reviews on iTunes

As always, thanks to our sponsors:

And if you have a question for the show, call our illiteracy helpline at 615-538-7473 and leave us a message. Your question may be featured on a future episode.

A few of the books that we discussed today (that we wouldn’t wipe out of existence):

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  • Leave a five-star rating and review on Apple Podcasts. This only takes a second and will go a long way to helping other people find the show.
  • If you know someone who would benefit from listening, share the show on your favorite social media network.
  • Give us a follow on Twitter at @malContentsPod
  • We use affiliate links from Amazon to help us pay for the costs of producing and hosting the podcast. Be sure to purchase a book or ten that we talk about on every episode.
  • Interested in sponsoring Table of (mal)Contents? Let’s talk via email or DM @malContentsPod on Twitter.

Short books, getting self-promo-y, & enjoying Spring

The three of us read a lot of books, but even as guys who really like to read, there are too many books that are just way too long. Maybe you feel the same way. So today, we’re back in the studio in Nashville to talk about some of our favorite books that are quick reads. Listen in as we discuss:

  • How do we define “short” books?
  • Are celebrity memoirs actually any good?
  • How do we really feel about the books we are “encouraged” to read by our bosses?
  • What is the best time of year to be in Nashville?
  • Who will take the title of Most-Referenced Author from Leif Enger?
  • Who is the most self-promo-y podcaster out there?
  • Should we call Conan O’Brien’s podcast hotline and invite him on our show?

As always, thanks to our sponsors:

A few of the books we discussed today:

Sharing and supporting the show

  • Leave a five-star rating and review on Apple Podcasts. This only takes a second and will go a long way to helping other people find the show.
  • If you know someone who would benefit from listening, share the show on your favorite social media network.
  • Give us a follow on Twitter at @malContentsPod
  • We use affiliate links from Amazon to help us pay for the costs of producing and hosting the podcast. Be sure to purchase a book or ten that we talk about on every episode.
  • Interested in sponsoring Table of (mal)Contents? Let’s talk via email or DM @malContentsPod on Twitter.

Writing a bestseller, social contracts, & reading Annie Dillard

All of us live around Nashville, but sometimes it takes traveling to Indianapolis to make magic happen. That’s what happens on this episode of Table of (mal)Contents, as Russ Ramsey joins us for a great chat about the art of writing, and that time he wrote a letter to Annie Dillard. Listen in as we discuss:

  • The magical time in the mid-90s when all the baseball players were juicing
  • Russ’ book being endorsed by Leif Enger
  • Are we doing readers a disservice by making them easier to read?
  • The secret to having a bestselling book among evangelicals
  • Why Christians need to be grounded in the rules of narrative in order to understand the Bible
  • The social contract between readers and writers
  • The origin of the phrase “the world is her oyster”
  • Where to start reading Annie Dillard


A few of the books we discussed in this episode:

And, as always, thanks to Lagares Roasters for partnering with us to make the Table of (mal)Contents blend. Pick up a bag (or 12) today.

Sharing and supporting the show

  • Leave a five-star rating and review on Apple Podcasts. This only takes a second and will go a long way to helping other people find the show.
  • If you know someone who would benefit from listening, share the show on your favorite social media network.
  • Give us a follow on Twitter at @malContentsPod
  • We use affiliate links from Amazon to help us pay for the costs of producing and hosting the podcast. Be sure to purchase a book or ten that we talk about on every episode.
  • Interested in sponsoring Table of (mal)Contents? Let’s talk via email or DM @malContentsPod on Twitter.

What makes a great kids books, why we need to read fiction, & the limits of language

A little while ago, we had a scheduling conflict and Barnabas couldn’t join us for a podcasting session (he had to work or something). But we couldn’t have a snarkless episode, so we asked our good friend Rachel Shaver to join us on the show! Listen in to a rare Barnbas-less episode where we discuss:

  • When can you claim a kids book on Goodreads—or can you at all?
  • Why doesn’t Goodreads give you a “complete” option vs. “read” for audiobooks?
  • Where did we first encounter Wil Wheaton in various media?
  • Is writing a kids books harder than writing other kinds of books?
  • How do you encourage a love of reading with kids?
  • Why do we need to read fiction, given that we work in non-fiction publishing?

Apple Podcasts Google Play Spotify Stitcher

A few of the books we mentioned on this episode

  • [easyazon_link identifier=”1773210300″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”strongarm-20″]The Paperbag Princess[/easyazon_link] by Robert Munsch
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”0763642649″ l\ocale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”strongarm-20″]Guess How Much I Love You[/easyazon_link] by Sam McBrantey
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”0803741715″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”strongarm-20″]The Book With No Pictures[/easyazon_link] by BJ Novak
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”0142403873″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”strongarm-20″]The Gruffalo[/easyazon_link] by Julia Donaldson
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”1484730887″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”strongarm-20″]Mother Bruce[/easyazon_link] by Ryan T. Higgins

Sharing and supporting the show

  • Leave a five-star rating and review on Apple Podcasts. This only takes a second and will go a long way to helping other people find the show.
  • If you know someone who would benefit from listening, share the show on your favorite social media network.
  • Give us a follow on Twitter at @malContentsPod
  • We use affiliate links from Amazon to help us pay for the costs of producing and hosting the podcast. Be sure to purchase a book or ten that we talk about on every episode.
  • Interested in sponsoring Table of (mal)Contents? Let’s talk via email or DM @malContentsPod on Twitter.

S3, Ep. 19: Reading in the Margins

Reading Writers

A little while ago, Dave and I recorded a couple of special episodes of Reading Writers. They were, in fact, the final two episodes of season 3 of the show. But rather than doing this whole “releasing them on time” thing, I went and had a big project get in the way. 

So, we’re releasing the first of these two episodes today. In this episode, Dave and I discuss something incredibly important, especially for folks living a busy lifestyle: how do you fit reading into the margins of life? 

Although we don’t discuss too many books this time around, we do still give a shout-out to a couple we’re both reading:

Subscribe using the following options:

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Please consider leaving a rating and review on iTunes. This only takes a second and will go a long way to helping other people find the show. Finally, if you know someone who would benefit from listening, share it on your favorite social media network.

You can also connect with me on Twitter at @aaronstrongarm, on Facebook or via email to share your feedback.

S3, Ep. 10: What does it mean to “grow down”?

Reading Writers

Reading Writers is back in the studio this week with a new episode. On this episode, Dave and I are joined by Michael Kelley, Director of Groups Ministry at LifeWay and author of the new book, Growing Down: Unlearning the Patterns of Adulthood that Keep Us from Jesus. Listen in as we discuss:

  • The heart behind Growing Down.
  • How we can recapture our youthful love of reading.
  • How Michael feels about Max Lucado.
  • Classic books we haven’t read (and a few no one should read).

Among the books highlighted in this episode:

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Please consider leaving a rating and review on iTunes. This only takes a second and will go a long way to helping other people find the show. Finally, if you know someone who would benefit from listening, share it on your favorite social media network.

You can also connect with me on Twitter at @aaronstrongarm, on Facebook or via email to share your feedback.

S3, Ep. 9: When good books become great movies

Reading Writers

Reading Writers is back in the studio this week with a new episode. On this episode, Dave and I continue our discussion of movie adaptations and books. In part two of our series on this important topic, we talk books that have been made into great movies—sometimes better than the original books themselves! Listen in as we discuss:

  • The time Schwarzenegger starred in a movie based on a Stephen King story.
  • The differences between a book and a movie.
  • A gigantic list from our friends on Facebook!

Among the many books and movies we discuss

Sharing is caring!

Please consider leaving a rating and review on iTunes. This only takes a second and will go a long way to helping other people find the show. Finally, if you know someone who would benefit from listening, share it on your favorite social media network.

You can also connect with me on Twitter at @aaronstrongarm, on Facebook or via email to share your feedback.