My life’s passion has been to connect the love of learning and the love of God and I have focused my work in the arena of higher education. I’m a voracious reader and love sharing the insights I draw from that reading via reviews and other posts on this blog as well as in the teaching that I do. I read widely in areas of history, biography, literary and science fiction, science writing, mysteries, and even a book or two on baseball! And I read deeply in the area of theology as part of my work in collegiate ministry. Late in life, I’ve discovered an artist inside (not necessarily a great one!) who expresses himself in writing, photography, singing with with Capriccio Columbus, and participating in the Worthington Area Art League with my wife, a painter. I grew up in Youngstown, Ohio and have been posting a series on Saturdays on “Growing Up In Working Class Youngstown.”

While I am a person of faith as a follower of Christ, I hope the blog will be a meeting place for anyone who cares about good literature, who loves books and reading, and wants to talk about ideas that matter. We live in an amazingly diverse mosaic of peoples and ideas which can either be the source of endless conflict or the opportunity for rich engagement with one another across our differences in pursuing together goodness, truth, and beauty in our world. My hope is that this blog will contribute to the latter.

A note for those who would like me to review their book: First, I suggest reading my post, “How I Choose Books to Review.” At any given time, I have several books I’ve committed to review and a good number of others I’ve acquired because of my interests. Therefore, I say “no” to almost all requests for reviews, unless it is something I happen to be immediately interested in. It’s not about your book, it is just a case of too many books, too little time!

Finally, although this is probably self-evident, the views on this blog are my own (or those of the books, authors, and interviewees I feature on this blog) and do not represent the views of any organization with which I am affiliated including the collegiate ministry with which I am employed.

For questions or comments you prefer not to leave you may email me at “bob at bobonbooks dot com” (written out to evade bots).

59 thoughts on “About

  1. Pingback: Passages « Bob on Books

  2. Pingback: Where is “Miss Manners” When We Need Her? « Bob on Books

  3. Just wanted to say that I recently started following you and your articles which I thoroughly enjoy! I grew up in Wickliffe, the west side of Yo. Your blogs have brought back so many happy memories of growing up in Youngstown! I look forward to reading more of your work.


    • Thank you Ruth. I’ve enjoyed both writing the articles and interacting with so many Youngstown natives who have commented. They’ve reminded me of many memories as well. I grew up on the west side, off of Mahoning Avenue east of Belle Vista. Thanks for following me! –Bob


  4. Bob- I just found your blog. A quick scan brought back memories of Petrillos Pizza, the Schenley theater, Borts field and Rocky Ridge.
    I grew up on Burbank Avenue. How fortunate we were to grow up in Youngtown in those days.

    Please keep up the great work. John Rafeedie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, John. Those places were all a big part of my growing up years. I agree that we were fortunate–some look down at blue collar origins but I thought our lives growing up were incredibly rich and interesting.


  5. Hi Bob,
    I was wondering if you would review Enjoying the Book of Ruth: The Bible in Rhyme. It is the biblical book of Ruth written in rhyming couplets. I would send you the book by PDF or MOBI file.

    Thanks for your consideration,

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Bob,

    My latest novel, Dawn of Deception, is a gritty thriller based in Kenya that delves into international poaching syndicates. The book is receiving good reviews in the UK & US but lacking exposure.

    The story focuses on a Kenyan Wildlife Service ranger called David Nbeke, a man troubled by personal loss & grief, who discovers an orphaned elephant with her butchered family. David makes it his mission to catch the perpetrators and bring them to justice. The villain behind the poaching is highly connected and a tough adversary, along the way David uncovers political corruption that leads to the very top of Kenya’s hierarchy.

    The book tries to bring attention to the international poaching crisis & problems in Kenya but the main focus is the story and characters.

    Would you be interested in reading & reviewing the book? If so please let me know in what format and where you would like the book sent to.

    Many thanks,


    • Dan, thanks for the note. The challenge comes down to my TBR pile including the books I’ve committed to review. Although it sounds like an interesting story, I’m going to have to say no. But thanks for asking and best wishes in promoting the book! –Bob


      • Hi Bob,

        Appreciate that you must be inundated with requests so thanks for getting back to me & your well wishes. Good luck with the TBR pile!

        All the best,


  7. Dear Bob
    I can see you are inundated with books to review. Still seeing your commitment to higher education and theology I am tempted to mention about my 2 books:
    How to Prevent Recession – using Ancient Wisdom and Management Idea
    Foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama – concluding sentence of Foreword: “This is a very profound concept put in a very simple and elegant format” It also carries a review by a former Director of one of Asia’s top most b-schools. It is about how Jesus’ Love can be the basis of business strategy using Harvard’s top Prof Porter’s work from business strategy of companies to competitive advantage of nations. I have given a talk to PhD students at a b-school with global ranking of 30 in FinancialTimes list
    The second book is titled: 156 Questions about How to Prevent Recession…a booklet in fact! A quick look can be seen at:
    Book 2:


    • Thank you for your recommendations. You are correct that I have many books in the queue to review. Thank you for calling yours to my attention. I hope you will not take it as an affront if I do not get to these, which is likely the case.


  8. I moved away from Youngstown in 1968. I grew up on the Westside, Kirkmere; my wife near St. Benenns. Your blog brings so much nastalgia and focus to an “old man’s” past. Youngstown had a remarkable past. The Mill Creek Park–Ice skating on Glacier, Newport Lake. Baseball at Borts, Rockyridge. As well as Pizza. At my wedding Frank Leone , Conersburg Pizza, gave us as a wedding gift, the instructions on how to make his pizza and sauce. Our parties in Oregon and Idaho were renown.
    When asked if this was New York or Chicago pizza, the answer was always “it is Youngstown pizza. Thanks for the memories anew.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill, thanks for writing and sharing your memories. People often look at Youngstown and its troubles and do not realize what a rich life so many of us enjoyed there, and hopefully will be possible for a new, rising generation in the city.


  9. Title: A Danger to God Himself
    Author: John Draper
    Publisher: Kindle Direct Publishing
    Publication date: Nov. 2015
    Genre: Literary fiction
    Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Danger-God-Himself-John-Draper/dp/1518881092/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1447252340&sr=8-1&keywords=a+danger+to+god+himself


    My name is John Draper. I’m hoping you might be willing to review my first novel, A Danger to God Himself. Considering your background, I think it would be a great book for you to review. It is not a religious book. It is literary fiction and a satire of religious certainty. It’s the story of a Mormon missionary who goes insane on his mission. Here is the back cover blurb:

    Mormon missionary/onetime hedonist Kenny Feller has realized that God isn’t about to give him an ounce of the miracle power he needs to succeed on his mission—as promised! What’s more, he’s concluded that, frankly, people aren’t worth the trouble. Then his new junior companion shows up—the wisecracking Jared Baserman—and immediately starts hearing heavenly voices and seeing fantastic visions. For Kenny, it is immediately clear that God has sent Jared to propel him into Mormon Manhood.

    But Kenny’s not the only person who takes note. Interests both virtuous and malevolent cozy up to Kenny and Jared, eager to make use of Jared’s gifting. At first, Kenny takes this as a sign that his perceptions of Jared are spot on. God is using Jared.

    But something’s not quite right.

    Specifically, why in the hell would God choose someone as slope-shouldered as Jared—someone so unreligious, so strange—to be a channel for His supernatural power? He doesn’t even read the Book of Mormon. Plus he smells funny. As their tracting grows fruitless and Jared’s messages grow more bizarre, Kenny begins to wonder: Is Jared really touched by God?

    And, if so, does God know what He’s doing?

    A Danger to God Himself is a scathing takedown of religious certainty, a life-affirming tale set in 1970s Washington state—equal parts spiritual road map and coming-of-age tale.

    I’d be happy to send you a copy for your review.

    Thanks for your time.


  10. Hi Bob, I think you might be interested in “Crossroads: Women Coming of Age in Today’s Uganda.” It’s a collection of 15 true, coming-of-age stories by African women who explore the many ways traditional culture shaped their lives — and how they are struggling to balance their old culture with their own modern values and aspirations. The reason I think you might like it is because many of the stories have a strong spiritual quality to them: In today’s Africa, religion is a palpable and important part of most people’s lives, and I personally found the women and their stories renewed my own faith. You can learn more at http://www.uganda-crossroads.net. If you’re interested, I’d appreciate a reply to ugandacrossroads@gmail.com. Many thanks and best wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi, I’m Anne Brenner of the Brenner Jewelry store family and my sisters and I (3) have so many wonderful memories of Youngstown, working at my Dad’s store. Thanks for writing the blog and keep it going!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi Bob,
    I am looking for reviews for my non-fiction book One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview. It’s about my struggle with doubt during a search for truth and a reasonable defense of the Christian faith.

    Please let me know if you would be interested in receiving a copy and providing a review on Amazon and Goodreads. I can provide the ebook in Kindle, ePub, and PDF format, and softcovers on request.

    Publish Date: November 2015
    Publisher: Boone Shepherd
    Genre: Christian non-fiction
    Page count: 318
    Accolades: #1 Bestseller on Amazon, 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards Finalist


    I look forward to hearing back from you!

    Jason B. Ladd


    • Jason, thanks for contacting me. This actually sounds interesting. I prefer print copies for reviews. Could you email me at rtrube54 at Gmail dot com (trying to circumvent the bots) and I’ll send my address. Thanks for your service, which means something in my family.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Just released a book that’s getting great reviews entitled: Seeing Christ in the Old Testament Genesis by Lyle L Hutchins published by Christian Faith Publishing.


  14. Hi Bob, I met you at the latest NSC in Orlando and was just chatting with George Stulac about my blog reviewing books and he pointed me your way. I am very glad he did! I look forward to reading your work and hope that my site will also be of mutual benefit to you. Here’s to voracious reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Bob: I want to thank you for your blog. I enjoy your reviews very much and find them helpful in determining some of my reading. I especially enjoy the history/biography reviews. I am a Canadian and am presently reading biographies of each US president. Abraham Lincoln is my current presidential reading (David Herbert Donald’s book).
    You did a review on David McCullough’s bio of John Adams. I read that title a number of years ago, shortly after the book was released. In my current reading I read John Ferling’s work on Adams’ life. I found it to be more critical of Adams and I see it as a more balanced work on Adams.
    McCullough’s works are excellent and well worth reading. I especially enjoyed his bio of Truman.
    Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

    • Harriet, thank you for your note, and glad you have found the reviews helpful. I’ve been on a similar project of reading presidential biographies, but perhaps not as systematic. I thought McCullough’s work on Truman the best of his books. I appreciate learning about Ferling. Adams certainly had his problems, many of his own making and the Alien and Sedition Act was very misguided in my opinion, beginning an unfortunate thread in American history. I appreciate you taking the time to write. And perhaps some time, you can give some recommendations on Canadian history. It would do me and others well to know more of our neighbors to the north!


  16. Pingback: One Book Reviewer’s Pet Peeves | Bob on Books

  17. Hello Bob,

    Hope you are doing good. I am writing to you looking for an honest review of my suspense, thriller, sci-fi story-book “Time Crawlers”, published on June 14, 2018, via Kindle Direct Publishing. The book is 118 pages long.
    Alien Invasion, Dark Artificial Intelligence, Time-Travel, High-Tech Hindu Mythology, Djinn Folklore, Telekinetics and life-consuming Cosmic Entities are some major themes in my book which has 6 tightly-knit, fast-paced Sci-Fi stories.

    Your precious words would be a very big help to me and help me write better books in the future. Please let me know if you would be willing to share your valuable review. I will share the PDF or MOBI as required by you.

    Amazon US link here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DRPPGK6
    Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40540847-time-crawlers

    If you are open to reviewing a first-time author, please let me know how to proceed.

    Very Respectfully,
    Varun Sayal

    Liked by 1 person

    • Varun, thank you for your invitation to review your new book. I will have to decline, however. Your book, interesting as it sounds, is in a genre I’ve read very little in. Also, most who follow my blog are interested in books on religion, science or higher education, so my blog probably won’t be of much help to you. Thank you so much for asking. Bob


  18. Hello Bob,

    No issues. Would have loved to be reviewed by an esteemed reviewer such as you. But I understand science fiction is not a genre which matches this website. Best of luck with your other reviews.

    Best Regards,

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Good morning, Bob!
    I have been a missionary for over 35 years. About twelve years ago I confessed my sin of addiction to pornography to my wife. It was far from easy, but by God’s grace, we are now doing well.
    I recently wrote a short book on this topic with the title: “Jesus is Better than Porn. How I Confessed my Addiction to My Wife and found a New Life.” I wondered if you might write a book review of my little book. I hope you will find I have a tool that can help other people find freedom from this terrible plague.
    P.S. My book is already up on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DMF6ZQS


  20. Bob, thank you for the reply! I noticed you read lots of blogs. Is there anyone you know of who I might reach out to in order to see if they can help me spread the word regarding this vital subject?


  21. Thanks, Mr. Bob, for your good History of the Strock House. I don’t live in the area any longer, but that vicinity was off Rt. 18 to the “Austintown Plaza” where we went weekly for our provisions. My Father worked Faithfully for many years at United Engineering and Foundry in downtown Youngstown and I worked at Mahoning National Bank on the square, until I transferred to the North Jackson Office. It was interesting that in this article you mention the Anderson name in affiliation with early North Jackson. Way back and many years ago, one of the stores at the North Jackson center was Anderson Appliance Store, wondered if that had connection to your comment about the Andersons in North Jackson. Interesting. Hope to read more of your good historical accounts. Thanks For God & Country

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I know you wrote about the great blizzard of 1978 and I think you did one on the Thanksgiving blizzard of 1950. My cousin, Sonny Lazar, wrote this to me several years ago. It’s his remembrance of the blizzard. His dad owned Lazar’s grocery on Mahoning Avenue, not too far south of the bridge. They lived on Clearmont Avenue on the southside. Just thought you could post it somewhere.

    On Saturday, Nov. 25 1950 Youngstown awoke to 15 to 17 inches of snow, and drifts as high as 4 to 6 feet. The snow piled to 26 inches in downtown Y-town.The streets were impassable. Everything stopped.
    I usually went to work with my dad on Saturday mornings at 6 a.m. This day we got into my dads panel Chevy truck and he started it up and put it into reverse and let out the clutch. It didn’t move. He tried rocking it back and forth but it didn’t move. So we went back into the house and turned on the radio to see what was happening. By that time everyone in the house had gotten up, My mom, my sister and her husband, Art, Aunt Lil, Ernie, Zidie and Uncle Jack. In those days a lot of the family lived together. So anyway we all sat at the table having coffee and listening to the radio. The announcer asked for anyone that had grocery stores to open them if they could. So Uncle Jack and my dad decided to walk to work from the south side to the west side where our store was. I decided to go too. I put on to much clothing, like I was going to go to Alaska. To say I was very warm would be an under statement. We set out and walked down the middle of our street and down Glenwood ave. There was a set od tracks there as we learned a little later it was a halftrack army vehicle that made them.
    We walked all the way down to Mahoning ave. My dad wanted to stop at the big Isaly’s store there to get some coffee but Uncle Jack told him that when he was in the army and marching a long way you never wanted to stop because you wouldn’t want to resume the treck.So we didn’t stop. We went over the Mahoning Ave . bridge. Right up the middle where the snow was almost hip deep. A few streets over the bridge is where our store was. People were walking all over the streets. There was no car traffic. We opened and people started to come in and bought staple items like bacon, eggs, bread and milk and a few other things.
    The Wonder bakery was across the street from the store and I called them to see if they could get some bread delivered to our store. They were able to drive that far so they loaded up a truck and brought in 400 loaves of bread. They said sell what you can because they can’t take them any place else. We didn’t sell that many but we did sell a lot. Our meat cutters walked a long way to get to the store too. By the time we were going to close we were able to get a ride from a guy that had a 1938 Buick with chains on his tires and he took us all home.
    The next day my dad and Uncle Jack decided to dig out our driveway. So we got it all dug out and decided to use an old door we had in the basement to put infront of the truck and push the snow like a plow from out the driveway to the street in front of our house. I drove the truck while Uncle Jack and my dad held the door upright till it would turn under. Then I would back up and start again till we got to the street in front of our house where there was tire tracks that we could get in and drive to the store on that Sunday for a few hours
    By Monday the streets were passable but the police said we couldn’t park our cars in front of the store so we had to dig into our driveway next to the store to put our cars there. We got some guys to dig for us for beer. Most of the day I was out with my brother -in-law Art getting supplies from the Bordens dairy, Unger bros., a meat packing plant and other places that we needed to get things from. We also took supplies to my dad’s brothers stores on the south side of town. By Tuesday we were about back to normal. Lots of snow that time and it did stop everything for a day or so. But we got thru it. Those were the good old days.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sheldon, thanks for writing about your experience in the 1950 blizzard, which is legendary. I’ve written about both blizzards but did not experience the 1950 one. So appreciate your eyewitness account!


  23. Let me know if you would be interested in a Biblical study on Regeneration. “The Magnitude of the Cross: Understanding the New Birth” is written with the intent of examining Regeneration based on what Scripture teaches, rather than the popular notions found in modern Theologies. If I ask you the question, “Were men born again before Pentecost,” what would your answer be? Would you need to think about it before you answered? Most are not able to answer the question and when they make a guess…they say “yes, of course, they were!” If the Lord stated “…except a man be born again he cannot enter the Kingdom of God,” shouldn’t we be able to answer this?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Darrell, thank you for writing. This sounds interesting but I have a stack of books I’ve already agreed to review. I need to say, no, but it is not about your book but simply a function of how much I’ve agreed to review and the time in which I have to do it. Thanks!


  24. This is the last thing you want to read, but I have this book…. (Told you!) No, I am a Youngstown native that has a number of books, some of which have been catalogued in the Library of Congress. I am too old to worry about reviews, but thought you might like my McGowan Series (the first is “McGowan’s Call”). To my surprise the LOC tagged it as “pastoral care”. The books are mysteries, but evidently, my character’s profession made the cataloguers think twice.

    I’d be glad to send out copies of any of my books for review or, for that matter, to share.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. A heartfelt thank you!!!! The enjoyment and discussions and reminiscing your works provide is priceless. I have begun printing and sharing posts everyweek with a group of nursing home residents (no computer access or knowledge ). Their joy is immense.
    Your knowledge in combination with your spirituality is perfection. Muchas Gracias

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Just found this site. Almost fell off the couch when, scrolling, I saw a post about Youngstown. !! Then another. And another!
    I’m a believer, living in Salem, attend Old North. I write occasionally for several regional communications firms. YSU then GW in art history. Worked at The Butler for ten years. Love God, family, words, and The Bread Chef.
    And the Elmton.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Robert, glad you found the page! There’s about seven years of Youngstown posts, one a week, so that can keep you going for a while. I work with a collegiate ministry as national director of an online effort to equip and encourage the next generation of Christian faculty. We love a lot of the same things. Youngstown pizza is the best!


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