Thursday, July 21

To Be Perfectly Honest by Phil Callaway

Thou Shall Not Lie.

We all know that commandment, right?  But are there limits, or exceptions to this?  Is it lying to laugh at a joke, even if it’s not funny?  Is it okay to lie when telling the truth would reveal a surprise such as an upcoming gift?

These are just a couple of the situations that Phil encountered while trying to live a full year without lying, which he does at the request of the publisher.  That’s right, it was his publisher’s idea, not his own.  When I read that, it instantly sent up red flags for me.


To Be Perfectly Honest is written almost as a series of diary events.  Here’s a quick exert, which is part of an ongoing Pac-Man addiction he deals with during the year.

Day 63.  Tonight I reached a personal best of 67,100 points in Pac-Man, this fabulous little retro maze game.  It’s quite harmless, really; you just play when you have a few minutes to kill.  It’s a gift, this little game.  It’s like a late-evening walk.  It relaxes me.”

Now, this exert illustrates several of the reasons I did not enjoy this book.

1)      Many of the entries are short and/or do not add to the situation.  There are some which do not even directly pertain to his quest of not lying for a year, but are rather his attempts to add humor into the mix.

2)      He spends way too much of the book on Pac-Man.  I get his point.  He’s trying to show how he kept lying to himself about his addiction to Pac-Man.  The problem is that he spends too much time writing about it (even after I already got the point) and it felt too cheesy.

There are other problems I had with it.  From the cover I thought this would be both humorous and thought provoking.  One of my favorite books which I’ve read in which a person tries to do something different for a year is The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs.  The antics in that book were often times so outrageous that I couldn’t help but laugh.  At the same times, there were events which made me think a bit more, especially concerning interpretations of the Bible.  The antics in To Be Perfectly Honest actually seemed sort of normal.  The few questions asked of him were pretty general, and the situations he found himself in didn’t make me wonder, “Oh no!  I wonder what he’ll do here?”

There were a few humorous email correspondences he had.  One was with a scam artist and the other was with an atheist who ran a company that would take care of your pets in the rapture occurred.  Even though I enjoyed these, it didn’t seem like they went with the theme of the book.

In the end, this book seemed way too scattered.  There were some instances where Phil barely wrote about trying to tell the truth.  Sometimes he wrote a bit on ministry.  Other times he wrote about a bad financial decision he made.  I think that part of the reason I had a hard time connecting was because it seemed like Phil didn’t have his heart fully in the project.  His editor came up with the idea, not him.  It felt like he wrote the book because the publisher wanted to publish another book with his name on it.

1.5/5 stars

Read Chapter 1 here, and scroll down a bit further to rate my review to let me know how I'm doing!

I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of their Blogging for Books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

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