If your New Year’s resolution is to read more, The Book Pile Podcast is the podcast for you. Or maybe not. Once you hear what these professional comedians have to say about Harry Potter, How to Win Friends and Influence People, or the biography of Leonardo da Vinci, you might never read them the same way again.
On their weekly podcast (new episodes every Monday morning), Kellen Erskin and David Vance discuss the lessons they learned from classic and contemporary literature. They just aren’t always the lessons the authors probably intended.
Here are some lessons I’ve learned from listening to their podcast.
- Humor is everywhere: I mean, who would have thought that a conversation about Martha Stout’s The Sociopath Next Door would be dangerously funny? Even a dry read like Frank Herbert’s Dune is fertile ground for comedy. Maybe we don’t need to take everything so seriously and should take the laughs where we find them. The show is generally clean, with no swearing, but sometimes human anatomy is funny.
- Meaning pops up when you least expect it: While Kellen and David love goofing off in front of the microphone, when the book they’re discussing makes a valid point they pause to recognize it. Both hosts also are quick to share personal stories or compare and contrast with other books to illustrate a fact.
- Real friends can laugh at each other and themselves: Part of the joy of the show is listening to the dynamic interplay between Kellen and David as they poke fun at each other. Yet it’s all done with good humor and respect. The Book Pile isn’t a lecture series, but a conversation (a thing that generally requires more than one person). Even without the obvious preparation and editing that goes into each episode, we get the impression that these guys would be having these discussions whether or not anyone else was listening.
- Focus on the things that last: If this was a show about world news or politics, while it might be just as amusing given the hosts’ skill, it wouldn’t really matter in the long run. The news of the day will come and go, but some of these books have stood the test of time, and what’s funny today will probably still make us laugh tomorrow. Solomon wrote, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Prov. 17:22). In a time of dried-up bones, we could all use some good medicine.
- You can learn everything you need to know about a book in under half an hour, maybe more.
Solomon likely also wrote that to everything there is a season, “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (Ecc. 3:4). God wants us to have balance in our lives, and sometimes that means turning off the news, laying down the burdens of the world, and picking up a good book. (Kellen Erskine and David Vance)