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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon November 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
If you read God, No!, you know what you're in for with Penn Jillette's new book. Penn rambles. Digression should be Penn's middle name. He can't talk about Christmas songs without launching into an analysis of the lyrics to the "Theme from Shaft." The books are nonetheless noticeably different. Where God, No! has an organizing theme (not that the book is in the least bit organized), this one aspires to be nothing more than a collection of stories. In a strange way, however, that makes Every Day Is an Atheist Holiday a better book. If Penn is just sitting back and telling story after story without aiming for a broader point, it doesn't matter so much that he rambles. And on the whole, the tone of Every Day is an Atheist Holiday is less angry than the last book, seemingly written by a kinder, gentler Penn, although one who is still acerbic when the mood strikes. The stories are funnier, or at least more consistently funny. Some are brash, some are sweet, some are both at the same time.

The title notwithstanding, Every Day Is an Atheist Holiday is even less about atheism than God, No! One of Penn's longest and best riffs on religion examines Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, pointing out that King reached out to all Americans, not just religious Americans, and included relatively little religious language in the speech. Penn suggests that the concept of inclusion has been lost in the rhetoric of those who incorrectly proclaim America to be a "Christian nation," a phrase that deliberately excludes every American who isn't a Christian. He then meanders into a biting discussion of evangelical politicians and of cynical politicians who aren't particularly religious but nonetheless make a big show of attending church (particularly when they get a chance to make a speech). He skewers Republicans and Democrats alike, and does so with sustained coherence. Every Day is an Atheist Holiday is worth reading for that chapter alone.

Apart from a concluding chapter that equates morality with atheism (rehashing an argument from God, No!), Penn returns to storytelling for most of the rest of the book. In that regard, Every Day Is an Atheist Holiday can be viewed as a celebration of life (as opposed to the celebration of a deity), particularly naked life. Penn likes to be naked, especially in public, and he likes to write about naked people and about his reproductive organ. A photograph of Penn receiving oral gratification resulted in a blackmail attempt that Penn turns into an amusing story. Other, seemingly random stories he tells focus on pranks he's pulled, mishaps he's endured, and celebrities he knows (no surprises: Donald Trump is a pompous a-hole, Clay Aiken is bitchy, Bob Dylan is a nice guy). He talks quite a bit about the history of Penn & Teller and a little bit about magic. Occasional stories pertain at least tangentially to atheism, including a dustup with Disney, a company that is no friend of freedom.

When he stays on track (which isn't often), he philosophizes -- and actually has interesting, carefully considered things to say -- about comedy and the art of performance, death and the passage of time, tolerance and friendship. He even devotes a brief chapter to denigrating atheists who insist on labeling all Christians as racist or sexist, thus indulging in the same sort of name calling to which religious extremists resort when they attack atheists. Fortunately, he tends to espouse libertarianism less in this book than he did in the last one. Despite his tendency toward redundancy (it's great that he loves his kids, but I got that the first twenty times he said it), much of what Penn says in this book provokes laughter and/or thought, and that's more than enough to make it worthwhile.
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44 of 50 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon November 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Penn Jillette is back with more hilarious stories and more atheistic musings in his new book, Every Day is an Atheist Holiday! As was the case in God, No!, Jillette continues to be thoughtful, funny, and honest, as well as profane and offensive. The chapters use various holidays as a springboard for some of Jillette's stories. And he does tell a good story.

Some of my favorites: A reflection on Father's Day, in which he laments that he "will never experience sending and receiving a Father's Day card on the same day." He speaks lovingly of his parents, causing me to pause and be thankful for my own, as well as to reflect on my role as a father. For Groundhog Day, he compares Bill Murray's experience in the movie Groundhog Day, in which he lives the day over and over, to the life of a performer, doing the same routine over and over, relishing in the fact that he gets to say and do something over and over, and for the audience they see and hear it for the first time.

I love Jillette's humility about show business. At several places he acknowledges that show business is nothing compared to "real" jobs. He would much rather spend hours and hours working on a movie set or perfecting a routine for his live show, than sit at a desk, answering to a boss he can't stand. He tells the story of meeting Jonas Salk, developer of the polio vaccine. "I just kept looking him in the eyes and trying to imagine what it felt like to help save that many lives. . . . Doing card tricks for a living is stupid no matter who you're talking to, but look Jonas Salk in the eyes, and it seems everyone else is doing stupid card tricks for a living."

Every Day is mostly about telling stories. Any fan of Penn and Teller will love hearing about their early days together and some of their experiences along the way. But true to the title of the book, Jillette makes his case for atheism. For Jillette, honesty and integrity rate high. He just doesn't see much of those qualities in religious people he meets. Not that he doesn't admire certain religious people: "I like the drag-priests and drag-nuns, and turban/beard guys, and yama yama Jews. I like that they dress so that they can't back down from that part of who they are." Jillette just doesn't see the need for God in his own life, and is far from convinced by any philosophical arguments in favor of the existence of God.

Jillette closes the book with some observations of his young son. He sees his son's reasoning through behavioral decisions, and argues that children know morality isn't determined merely by someone's word. "They understand that right and wrong are separate from authority." His son learns to control his temper and refrain from hitting his sister "from the inside because it's the right thing to do. That's morality outside god, and if there's morality without god, we don't need god for morality." He acknowledges that religion may support morality, but that "some of the rules religion adds in, like kill gays and atheists, wear magic underwear, and don't eat certain stuff on certain days is not morality. It's just nutty cult rules. . . . Morality is outside religion. Morality is above religion."

I wonder if Jillette knows that he has hit on a classic argument for the existence of God. The presence of similar moral codes across various religions can be seen as evidence for an ultimate source of morality (see C.S. Lewis's The Abolition of Man, for instance). I feel certain that Jillette is familiar with the natural law argument, so it's curious that he doesn't mention it, if nothing else to debunk it.

This is a must-read for Penn and Teller fans. Many readers will be offended by his foul language, his frank sexual descriptions, and his demeaning of religion. But for the most part, Every Day is hilarious and highly entertaining.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 15, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I read God No! and was waiting with bated breath for this book, and Penn does not disappoint. I dabbled with Atheism for a long time, but was always struggling with the part of life that religion seems to have the market on, joy and happiness. Penn does a good job of showing how being a non-believer makes you cherish life, family, and every day we have on earth.

Though this book does talk about non-belief, this book is mostly about stories. Stories about show business, stories about life, and stories about joy. Penn does a great job at all of that, and reaches the audience. You genuinely feel the joy he has in life, for his family, for his parents, and for his children.

His stories, though sometimes meandering, are wonderful to read and leave you in stitches. I laughed right out of the box when he told his story of dressing up as a racist ghost (really just a bed sheet, but it resembled a KKK outfit). It made me want to go and give my son a hug when he told of his daughter recognizing him at the school, "that's my daddy!" despite being dressed up in costume. It truly showed the human side of Penn and of the love he has for life and family.

A wonderful read for fans of Penn and Teller, for hardcore atheists, and for those who don't want to admit it yet. You'll find your own joy reading it, just as sure as I did.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Penn Gillette is one gentle giant, and a mensch in the truest sense of that word. His books tend to be on the slight side--I expected more about atheism from the title, for example--but he is an engaging writer and a great soul.

He's also the real thing. He sheds hype and shuns mystery. Pretty strange things for a magician to do, no? But that's how he is. I had the good fortune to see Penn & Teller live, and by a fluke of chance got selected from the crowd to participate in one of the tricks. Afterwards, as my 10-year-old son and I were leaving the theater, Penn and Teller were both out in the lobby mixing with the audience. There were crowds around each of them and I thought we would just sneak out. But then I heard Penn's big, booming voice calling me by name--he actually remembered it--insisting that I come over and say hi. He shook my hand and told me what a great job I'd done (seriously, a chimp could have stood there and been taken in by the magic as well as I had), and he really appeared grateful for my help.

Back to the book: If you've read other books he's written, you know he rambles on in a very entertaining way about things that happen in his life, how he feels about his life and the people in it, and the odd, outrageous circumstances he finds himself in. This book is not much different, and that's a good thing. His take on Donald Trump from Penn's stint on *The Celebrity Apprentice* is worth the book price alone. A good, quick read. Penn doesn't bang you over the head with his depth, but he does let it sneak up on you. As a magician should.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I was sad when it ended. I love Penn and he is a great storyteller. I needed five more words.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
There are some large dashes of truth and truly funny tales contained in this book but the chest-pounding egotism exhibited by the author is sometimes repellant, detracting from the main subjects. But overall I thought it was an enjoyable read. Loved the tales from Jillette's turn on Celebrity Apprentice!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: MP3 CD
Magician Penn Jillette previous book "God, No! "(also available in audio from Brilliance Audio) is insightful and interesting. This second volume is more of the same and gives deeper insights into Penn and his celebrity.

His audio production is more like a friend having a great conversation with you for eight hours. He never will bore you. Being a magician , his vocal slight of hand is never shown .but most of the time you are mesmerized by the message he delivers.

If you are seeking corny laughs and bad jokes, you won't get it here. You want discriminating opinion of what he has done, you will have it in spades (Maybe even in diamonds and hearts..You knew a magic joke had to come sometime in this review).

Penn is a father of two children. One of the best anecdotes in this audio piece was where Penn goes to his Child's school for the mystery reader-time on Halloween . He dressed in a white sheet that he thought made him look like a ghost at his daughter's school. The Teacher and the principal thought he looked like a member of the Klan. He read and his child knew it was her daddy. Whereas, she was so proud. You could hear the emotional feelings of love he had for his daughter coming thru the audio. That affectionate content is amazing to hear, it is REAL and it comes across. It surpassed a celebrity visiting a school, it was a father's love for his child.

If you are fan of TV shows Dancing With the Stars or Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice, Penn was on both of them. His honest opinions of his appearances on these show will never make you watch those two shows in the same light again. He is very candid about charity and showmanship. He do not need to hang on every word, but it is interesting.

Penn's audio style is simple. He just talks to you. If you do not listen to everything, you get the guise of what he is saying from Christmas Carols to The Amazing Randi. Some of these outspoken rants will make you snicker, some of this will make you laugh and some will gather a thought or two.

If you enjoy his harangues of truth, we can hope he does a volume three in book and audio form. I am all in for that (I know cheap Vegas reference). So Penn, deal me in for the next audio book!

Bennet Pomerantz
AUDIOWORLD
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
If you are an atheist with a sense of humor, then this book is for you. If you enjoyed Penn Jillette's first book on the subject, this is more of the same.

If you are a devout religious person and have no room in your heart for doubt, then don't bother. It was not written for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
It very interesting to take a trip through Penn's mind and see how he connects thoughts. He easily moves tangentially and I often wonder if I do the same thing when I converse. I found some of his words very inspiring. Especially in regards to his children and career.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
You expect the sharp, well integrated critique of religion, you definitely expect the funny if you know the author, but you don't expect the smiling-to-tears moments that slip in here and there. Great book from a truly amazing human being.
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