Book Review: “I Call Shotgun”

12 Jun

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I’ve been on the look out for a great Father’s Day gift for some new dads I know… and then I heard about “I Call Shotgun: Lessons from Dad for Navigating the Roads of Life.”

According to the book description,

For fathers who long to make a positive, lasting difference in their sons’ lives, passing down a legacy of values and ideals that will help them mature into men—into true men, leaders, voices of strength and wisdom for the next generation and beyond—the challenge has become more daunting than ever. “I Call Shotgun” is a practical playbook designed to equip dads for this vital task, increasing our influence and deepening our father-son relationships.

The style of the book is unique in that it is comprised of sixty-four short letters (anywhere from 2 to 7 pages in length) from the authors to their sons. A few of the topics covered include: “Develop Your Confidence”, “Live With Compassion”, “Stay Humble”, “Stay Away From Porn”, and “Avoid Victimitis.” The other nice thing about the book is that the language isn’t overly complicated, because the authors are talking to children.

In theory, the book sounds interesting, but does it stick the landing? Well…

One of the best and worst parts of this book is that it is incredibly personal. The authors aren’t writing generic lessons that we should all be teaching our sons, they are directly dialoging with their boys. Sometimes this personal touch was warm and endearing, but other times it made me feel kind of like a creeper listening in on a private conversation. Because the authors are talking directly to their sons, their opinions seem a little bit unfiltered, so some of their opinions (particularly the politically charged ones) came across a little aggressive and insensitive to the broad range of their readership. You will either completely agree with them or not like their opinions at all on some topics.

Another “double-edged sword” of the book is that the entries are short and aren’t dependent on previous entries. Without a narrative framework to the work, you can jump around to whatever topic is of interest, but it also makes the book incredibly hard to read if you don’t immediately love the authors’ ideas because you aren’t working toward some end-game conclusion. This works if you reading a devotional that is meant to be read in single-serve portions, but it falls through when you are dealing with this kind of book.

If you notice a communication gap with your children or you haven’t the least idea what kind of insights a growing child needs, this book might provide a few conversation ideas for you, but I personally don’t think that I need Tommy or Curt’s help to do it.

The best thing about this book: it has inspired me to write my own letters to my children.

I guess I need to keep hunting for Father’s Day… If you’ve got any great book suggestions, leave a comment!

-Dave Wonders

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(I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com  book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review.)

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