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The Wondering Years: How Pop Culture Helped Me Answer Life’s Biggest Questions

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When you hear the phrase pop culture, you likely think reality television, boy bands or Real Housewives of various cities. While these are elements of popular culture, they aren’t all it has to offer. Pop culture may not cure diseases, topple political regimes, or make scientific breakthroughs, but it does play a vital role in the story of humanity. In fact, it’s pretty har When you hear the phrase pop culture, you likely think reality television, boy bands or Real Housewives of various cities. While these are elements of popular culture, they aren’t all it has to offer. Pop culture may not cure diseases, topple political regimes, or make scientific breakthroughs, but it does play a vital role in the story of humanity. In fact, it’s pretty hard to define the human experience without it. And it’s impossible to create pop culture without the human experience. Popular podcaster Knox McCoy understands this, and so do the tens of thousands of listeners who tune in to hear him talk about pop culture every week on his wildly popular podcast, The Popcast with Knox and Jamie. In The Wondering Years, Knox explores this idea of connecting popular culture to his own experiences. Through hilarious yet poignant stories, he reflects on how pop culture has helped shape his life and carve out the foundation of his faith. While the three cultural tentpoles—the South, the Church, and Sports—defined many aspects of his East Tennessee upbringing, it was pop culture that most definitively influenced Knox and his sense of the world at large.  Through books, television, music, and movies, Knox found many of the answers he was searching for about God and the universe and why we are all here. The Wondering Years is a hilarious look back at the key influences that shaped Knox’s formative years and his faith, a reminder of our own encounters with pop culture that have shaped each of our formative years and continue to influence us today.


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When you hear the phrase pop culture, you likely think reality television, boy bands or Real Housewives of various cities. While these are elements of popular culture, they aren’t all it has to offer. Pop culture may not cure diseases, topple political regimes, or make scientific breakthroughs, but it does play a vital role in the story of humanity. In fact, it’s pretty har When you hear the phrase pop culture, you likely think reality television, boy bands or Real Housewives of various cities. While these are elements of popular culture, they aren’t all it has to offer. Pop culture may not cure diseases, topple political regimes, or make scientific breakthroughs, but it does play a vital role in the story of humanity. In fact, it’s pretty hard to define the human experience without it. And it’s impossible to create pop culture without the human experience. Popular podcaster Knox McCoy understands this, and so do the tens of thousands of listeners who tune in to hear him talk about pop culture every week on his wildly popular podcast, The Popcast with Knox and Jamie. In The Wondering Years, Knox explores this idea of connecting popular culture to his own experiences. Through hilarious yet poignant stories, he reflects on how pop culture has helped shape his life and carve out the foundation of his faith. While the three cultural tentpoles—the South, the Church, and Sports—defined many aspects of his East Tennessee upbringing, it was pop culture that most definitively influenced Knox and his sense of the world at large.  Through books, television, music, and movies, Knox found many of the answers he was searching for about God and the universe and why we are all here. The Wondering Years is a hilarious look back at the key influences that shaped Knox’s formative years and his faith, a reminder of our own encounters with pop culture that have shaped each of our formative years and continue to influence us today.

30 review for The Wondering Years: How Pop Culture Helped Me Answer Life’s Biggest Questions

  1. 5 out of 5

    Emily Gardner

    Thanks to W Publishing and NetGalley for an early look at a book I've pre-ordered! In an effort to explain to my inquisitive four-year-old why saying "God is light" doesn't mean God is, in fact, the moon, I put my English degree to good use describing how metaphors use ideas we already understand to illuminate more complicated concepts. That's exactly what Knox McCoy does in The Wondering Years. In a voice that is humorous, heartwarming, and perceptive, Knox shares pop culture anecdotes and analo Thanks to W Publishing and NetGalley for an early look at a book I've pre-ordered! In an effort to explain to my inquisitive four-year-old why saying "God is light" doesn't mean God is, in fact, the moon, I put my English degree to good use describing how metaphors use ideas we already understand to illuminate more complicated concepts. That's exactly what Knox McCoy does in The Wondering Years. In a voice that is humorous, heartwarming, and perceptive, Knox shares pop culture anecdotes and analogies that have helped him (and now us) make sense of life and faith. Though I've never been punched in the face (you'll understand after the first chapter) and don't consider myself any sort of pop culture maven*, Knox's stories and insights were infinitely relatable. His ability to transition from funny story to personal reflection is seamless. Also, his footnotes are perfection. If you you're a Popcast fan, you will love this book. If you love Jesus and Netflix, you will love this book. If you are a bit dubious about Christianity or have lots of questions, you will love this book. If you've ever wondered who the seven suspected antichrists are, you will love this book. "There's a cheesy cliche you've probably heard of: 'Not all who wander are lost.' But the truth is, not all who wonder are lost either." - Knox *The Popcast with Knox and Jamie is the only reason I ever kind of know what I'm talking about in regards to pop culture. And a lot of times, I don't always know what they're talking about. But I still tune in every Wednesday - it's that good. Same goes with this book. I didn't always catch the references, but it didn't diminish my enjoyment one bit.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Laura Tremaine

    Really enjoyed these essays from my friend and fellow podcaster Knox McCoy. I laughed out loud throughout.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kate Mcpherson

    Uh, 10,000 points to Gryffindor because this book is amazing. It's like if Lorelai Gilmore wandering into your living room and started waxing theologic. I have never met Knox, but I'm pretty sure we would be best friends based on the sheer pop culture references that made me laugh. And the section where he talks about converting dogs to Christianity after seeing All Dogs Go To Heaven? Literally on the floor laughing (and yes, I know what literally means). Must read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Knox McCoy must be about the same age as I am, because we have almost all the same pop-culture touchstones (minus, for me, most of the sports references) although I have not kept up with his pace of pop-culture consumption. He grew up in the South so his early faith framework is familiar but certainly more rigid than what I grew up with. Nonetheless, I related strongly to his childhood perspectives. This book definitely made me laugh out loud (That dog-conversion chapter? Golden) and there were Knox McCoy must be about the same age as I am, because we have almost all the same pop-culture touchstones (minus, for me, most of the sports references) although I have not kept up with his pace of pop-culture consumption. He grew up in the South so his early faith framework is familiar but certainly more rigid than what I grew up with. Nonetheless, I related strongly to his childhood perspectives. This book definitely made me laugh out loud (That dog-conversion chapter? Golden) and there were almost hints of, and I don't say this lightly, Dave Barry-level humor. (Update: Yeah, I don't think this one is for the audience at Servants of Grace. But it is super funny for Christians who grew up in the 80's/90's and he always manages to land the plane by the end of the chapter. No matter how bizarre the story, it ends up illuminating some aspect of his faith.)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kaytee Cobb

    Plenty of fun and laughs and cunning observations. Audiobook is totally the way to go. Had a great time listening to this on a road trip with my adult sibling and parents. We all found something to laugh at.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jill Robinson

    At first I was less than impressed. After all, I am a huge Popcast fan and it almost felt like Knox was just throwing around a ton of words and not saying much of anything. But the more I got into it, the deeper it got and Knox’s transparency is greatly appreciated. He admits what we all know about ourselves—we don’t have it all together. But God is so much bigger than that. Well done Knox! PS: you can definitely tell this was written by an enneagram 5!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tyler Mills

    After finishing this book, I had to step back and assess whether Knox McCoy and I are actually the same person. Was my life the plot of Mr. Robot, just with (slightly) less existential dread and more teen TV dramas? While I may never know if I've actually been a popular podcaster and talented writer my entire life, I do know that this book is simultaneously the most entertaining and thought provoking piece of literature I've read in a long time. The Wondering Years is a refreshingly vulnerable After finishing this book, I had to step back and assess whether Knox McCoy and I are actually the same person. Was my life the plot of Mr. Robot, just with (slightly) less existential dread and more teen TV dramas? While I may never know if I've actually been a popular podcaster and talented writer my entire life, I do know that this book is simultaneously the most entertaining and thought provoking piece of literature I've read in a long time. The Wondering Years is a refreshingly vulnerable look at the author's faith and life growing up in the South, filtered through the lens of pop culture. So much of Knox's life experience resonated with me personally, as it mirrors my childhood in many hilarious and painful ways, but this book is thoroughly enjoyable regardless of faith or background. Every chapter seamlessly ties pop culture references (If you've ever needed LOST, Zoolander, and Dumb & Dumber referenced in the same sentence, this is your book) and touchstones into Knox's own experiences and struggles, complete with entertaining footnotes that add another layer of wit and humor to an already incredibly funny book. The simplicity of the concept allows for the exploration of some deeply profound ideas about life and faith while remaining lighthearted and self-deprecating. I especially enjoyed that Knox admittedly doesn't have all the answers. None of us do. There's a chapter on the inflated importance that we place on conclusions in TV, books, movies, and our own lives. In reality, the journey to those conclusions is why they're worth enjoying in the first place.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Carmen Marie

    What's my green light this week? The Wondering Years! As a long time listener of the Popcast with Knox and Jamie, I was eager to read Knox's book, The Wondering Years. I was not disappointed by his memoir. He's equal parts humorous and introspective. The Wondering Years is about the intersection of faith and pop culture. Knox grew up Evangelical in the South. He makes a compelling case about how his touchstones for pop culture taught him nuance somehow filling in the gaps in his faith formation. What's my green light this week? The Wondering Years! As a long time listener of the Popcast with Knox and Jamie, I was eager to read Knox's book, The Wondering Years. I was not disappointed by his memoir. He's equal parts humorous and introspective. The Wondering Years is about the intersection of faith and pop culture. Knox grew up Evangelical in the South. He makes a compelling case about how his touchstones for pop culture taught him nuance somehow filling in the gaps in his faith formation. Don't skip the footnotes. They are hilarious. I spent a lot of time watching the WB back in the day. So, yeah, when mentions he was also watching Dawson's Creek, I can't help laugh out loud over a footnote like this: In a lot of ways, James van der Beek's Dawson Leery gets a bad rap. And he should. That's the end of that sentence. I acted like I was going to bring a some redemptory context to Dawson Leery that would make him seem better than he was, but I deceived you just now, cherished reader. If you are waiting for me to say nice things about the character Dawson Leery, you will be waiting for infinity. Or this one: A religious teenager who doesn't drink is in the same family tree as an adult vegan or Crossfitter. The Popcast may educate on things that entertain but do not matter, but both Knox and Jamie do their homework and they know how much pop culture actually shapes our lives and helps us make sense of difficult topics. Well done, Knox!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Aimee Kollmansberger

    Fun + entertaining read but the essays were a bit disjointed for me. I would read several and then wonder what did I just read? The consistent footnotes are one of the humor highlights, and the last chapter is more of what I wish the whole book had been. It was in that chapter where I felt a true connection + real relatability to the author. That’s where he found his stride.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Taddey

    When a book can make you laugh out loud and think deeply on the same page, you know it’s a winner. Knox shares insights into how pop culture has helped to shift his views on faith and God. He doesn’t have all the answers and neither should we. His vulnerability is inspiring and hilarious at the same time. FIVE STARS FOREVER!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rissie

    The humor in these essays is top notch, but the message was not always clear. I would get to the end of a chapter and think ... wait, what? But still, very funny. I would recommend this one for sure!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Burrell

    I laughed. I cried. I did all the things, then I came back for more. Knox McCoy’s “The Wondering Years” is a candid look at his life and faith, told by way of a series of entertaining anecdotes and cultural references galore. It is -a rare thing- a book that will make you think about your own relationship with God while not boring you at all. A book that sounds and feels personal, like a friend talking to you in a coffee shop...talking to you, not at you. Big difference. Every kid who grew up in c I laughed. I cried. I did all the things, then I came back for more. Knox McCoy’s “The Wondering Years” is a candid look at his life and faith, told by way of a series of entertaining anecdotes and cultural references galore. It is -a rare thing- a book that will make you think about your own relationship with God while not boring you at all. A book that sounds and feels personal, like a friend talking to you in a coffee shop...talking to you, not at you. Big difference. Every kid who grew up in church faced a moment when they had to decide if they wanted a faith of their own, separate from the one presented to them by their parents. I distinctly remember this phase of my life. I also know that, for many second or third-generation Christians, the struggle to reconcile the image of God we were taught, with the world we live in can be difficult. Knox addresses these struggles and more, wondering what faith should feel and look like as well as asking who God is at our darkest moments. Disguised in this easy-to-read book are deep thoughts and challenging statements. And I didn’t hate that at all. On the lighter side, you are going to be hard pressed to find a book that has a stronger 90’s pop culture game than “The Wondering Years”. Knox hits all the high points AND all the Christian pop culture hits too (yes, that is a thing!). If you can work a reference to Nicolae Carpathia into your book, you’re winning in mine. If the honest look at faith is the heart of this book, the pop culture is the heartBEAT. It keeps you moving right through the pages until you’re done and you don’t want to be. Perhaps what I loved most about “The Wondering Years” was Knox’s willingness to leave his faith journey unfinished. He bypassed the pitfall of so many spiritual books, the painful pull to tie his story up in a neat bow. You don’t finish this book feeling like Knox has it all figured it out. You might not even agree with some of the things he says. That’s okay. He is just one of us, processing and reprocessing as he moves along life’s journey, and his willingness to admit that makes this book even more worthy of your time. *Thomas Nelson has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. "The Wondering Years" releases in November of 2018.*

  13. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    If you're a fan of Popcast (On Wednesdays, we Popcast!), you will definitely enjoy The Wondering Years. I could hear McCoy's voice throughout the book, although more so in the beginning. As entertaining and light as the first half of the book was, what I really appreciated was when he became more serious and talked about the evolution of his faith and the doubts and struggles he went through. I look forward to reading more from him!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Britanioverman

    "Yes, you can binge Netflix and love God!" The Wondering Years is a conversation with your best friend you didn't know you were desperately longing to have! Knox McCoy perfectly illustrates how pop culture and Christianity can coexist and it's okay to enjoy both. This book will say everything you're thinking but won't say out loud because you'll probably be dammed to hell by those listening. He perfectly sums up issues with organized religion by still being respectful. And somehow, Knox can be hi "Yes, you can binge Netflix and love God!" The Wondering Years is a conversation with your best friend you didn't know you were desperately longing to have! Knox McCoy perfectly illustrates how pop culture and Christianity can coexist and it's okay to enjoy both. This book will say everything you're thinking but won't say out loud because you'll probably be dammed to hell by those listening. He perfectly sums up issues with organized religion by still being respectful. And somehow, Knox can be hilarious and serious in his thought process for going through life which I believe everyone actually does in their own heads. Even if you disagree with Knox *cough*dinosaurs*cough* you can't help but love him! This is the most loving, open minded conversation regarding faith and pop culture you will ever engage in. A MUST READ!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tracie Collier

    If you enjoy laughing out loud while reading in public, pop culture references that stretch out for miles, and wondering about all of the wacky, sacred, denominationally challenging things that make up a Christian life, this book is for you! I can't remember the last time I laughed so much reading a book. Just delightful! If you listen to The Popcast with Knox and Jamie, you'll likely hear Knox's voice in your head as you read. You might even hear his Wheezy Laugh...who can say?! (Hallucination If you enjoy laughing out loud while reading in public, pop culture references that stretch out for miles, and wondering about all of the wacky, sacred, denominationally challenging things that make up a Christian life, this book is for you! I can't remember the last time I laughed so much reading a book. Just delightful! If you listen to The Popcast with Knox and Jamie, you'll likely hear Knox's voice in your head as you read. You might even hear his Wheezy Laugh...who can say?! (Hallucination of Wheezy Laugh not guaranteed. Please see your State's Laws and Restrictions.) Buy it. Read it. Laugh. Think. Laugh. Wonder. Repeat. Share.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea Gaarder

    This very timely memoir was a confirmation bias that Knox has one of the most top notch senses of humor as I had expected it to be, while simultaneously an extraordinary piece of evidence that gave me no choice but to acknowledge what a talented writer he is. He artfully crafts together stories that seem wildly unrelated to any sort of moral message, yet somehow it is weaved together so intentionally, in this discreet and non flowery way (which I greatly appreciate), that it indeed makes you fee This very timely memoir was a confirmation bias that Knox has one of the most top notch senses of humor as I had expected it to be, while simultaneously an extraordinary piece of evidence that gave me no choice but to acknowledge what a talented writer he is. He artfully crafts together stories that seem wildly unrelated to any sort of moral message, yet somehow it is weaved together so intentionally, in this discreet and non flowery way (which I greatly appreciate), that it indeed makes you feel as an audience member of both a comedian and wise, uplifting professor on the subject of life’s most fundamental questions. It incorporates prolific pop culture references while somehow simultaneously causing the reader to take a deep reflection on Christian culture/practices. In honor of his work in meshing pop culture as a means of pedagogical construct in which to frame more complicated ideas, I am going to try my own hand at it to review his book! (Please have reasonably low expectations at this attempt, as this is most definitely a first for me..) I know from the podcast that he isn’t personally a fan of the show, This Is Us… However, I hope upon cross examination of my reasoning, he would have an appreciation at the comparison I will attempt to make between my experience reading this book with how I experience that show. The solid and widely relatable theme, Knox’s love for pop culture and (believe it or not!) his simultaneous love for Jesus that is ever present throughout the book is essential in understanding both the author and his message, as is the similarly careful weaving and usage of Rebecca and Jack’s relationship, a foundation upon which all the rest of storylines stem. He explored what I narrowed down to be his Big Three.. Like Kate, Knox’s childhood story dealt largely with a central concern of disappointing those he loved most. Through his experience, much like hers, though I would argue she is still much a work in progress, he has learned to open his eyes to the positive possibilities life holds in faith and love through the use of his Christian upbringing, rather than his prior alternative of focusing on negative threats due to fear and rejection. Knox’s Kevin really shines through his autobiographical accounts as a young aspiring athlete. From my observations of the evidence, Kevin might have had a leg up in a race to become the next great quarterback at the University of Georgia (as Knox was predicted to be) but they were both equally shaped by their experience through sports. They both had to deal with figuring out what was next for them when their dreams fell short of what they had always dreamed their futures to hold. And the best for last (come @ me all you want, he is by FAR the best Pearson sibling), Randall, who I also feel shares the most in common with Knox. Both have a bit of anxious tendencies and hold high and sometimes impossible standards for themselves. Always trying to do what is right even if it may involved some cringe worthy moments like forcibly converting friends and families dogs to Christianity. Though they both experience their fair share of mishaps along the way, they never fail to be strategic, logical, and well intentioned, coming out on the other side of adolescence as exceptional people with well crafted (and probably white board drafted), self formulated answers to some of life’s biggest questions. The fact that This Is Us is a pop culture phenomenon represents the perfect and hilariously funny pop culture references and comparisons throughout the book. I’m so grateful for Knox’s childhood tendency (which fortunately extended and developed into comedic perfection through adulthood) to embody people and ideas that were unknowable without his assignment of familiar representation to characters, celebrities, storylines, etc.. Let’s not forget that it also had its gut busting and comic relief Toby moments, incredibly insightful and wisdom filled moments like that of the beloved William, and my very favorite, hit the nail on the head, spot on and appropriately snarky, AMEN moments just like the best character on the show Beth is never short of. What makes that show so special is the way it finds a way to relate to every single person. If you allow yourself to submit to the emotional agony, a feelings rollercoaster if you will, you might be able to put a finger on a feeling or problem you hadn’t been able to unravel within yourself to that point. This book likewise gave me ALL the feels and caused me to reach for my Kleenex multiple times (though the bar of what made me cry this week is set pretty low if I’m being 100% real), but in a therapeutic and life affirming way. As you all know, I LOVE books, not so much a tv gal. This Is Us is the only show I watch that’s currently running, which means you know I love it. The comparison extends to this point, I LOVED this book. 5 stars for both and I highly recommend you get your hands on a copy of this today. It would be the perfect holiday gift for any of your Christian friends (probably best for those that can take a joke about some of our religions more questionable/hypocritical teaching methods/strategies). The only criticism I have to give was that it lacked Knox’s contagious wheezing laugh that is a shared favorite between me and my husband that’s almost certain to be found somewhere within every Podcast episode and the failure to include (for obvious reasons, I get it…) Donald Trump on his list of possible Antichrists. Because come on, you can’t honestly tell me when you read that section he wasn’t the first person that popped into your head…

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ruth Anne

    I laughed hard and it got me thinking about God in some new ways. I can't recommend it enough, if you enjoy pop culture at all, you'll love this book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Thanks to W Publishing and NetGalley for an ARC of this book! Every so often, a book comes along that, when you finish the last page, you look back and realize, “I needed this book in my life at this moment.” For me, The Wondering Years was one of those books. The Wondering Years is a heart-felt account of the author’s faith journey and love of pop-culture. Knox McCoy does a fantastic job of being vulnerable with questions of faith he has been, and continues to be, wrestling with. At the same time Thanks to W Publishing and NetGalley for an ARC of this book! Every so often, a book comes along that, when you finish the last page, you look back and realize, “I needed this book in my life at this moment.” For me, The Wondering Years was one of those books. The Wondering Years is a heart-felt account of the author’s faith journey and love of pop-culture. Knox McCoy does a fantastic job of being vulnerable with questions of faith he has been, and continues to be, wrestling with. At the same time, he folds in hilarious anecdotes and illustrations of how pop-culture has helped him put words to or illustrate these wrestlings. At the beginning of some chapters, I seriously questioned how he was going to tie in a pop-culture reference to his Christian faith, but every time (and I am serious here, EVERY. TIME.) I ended the chapter nodding, saying “Ooooohhhhh...that makes sense,” under my breath, or with tears in my eyes. There are 3 reasons this book resonated with me: 1. The subject of “faith crisis” has come up in multiple conversations over the time of reading this book, and many of the chapters were a punch to the gut (in a good way). 2. Over the course of reading this book, sermons and other books I have been reading ended up reminding me of sections of Knox’s book (specifically Ch. 12 Knox McCoy, Evangelist to That Kid I Met on a Mission Trip) and great discussions ensued. 3. I grew up in the same decades as Knox, and often found myself delighting in the pop-culture references (except for Ch. 4 Knox McCoy, Canine Evangelist, because no one needs to be reminded about All Dogs Go to Heaven and how soul-crushing that movie was for my 9 year old self). In regards to number 3, I am going to be honest: if you have little to no knowledge of pop-culture, this book may not be for you, as the references will probably not make any sense at all. However, if you have somewhat of a handle on pop-culture, have questions about God and Christianity, love Jesus but have questions, and/or like really, really good writing, I cannot recommend this book enough.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Tagg

    YAY! I'm happy to say my fandom of Knox McCoy, thanks to The Popcast with Knox and Jamie, now translates to his writing as well. I really loved this book. The pop culture references are, of course, all over the place—and perfectly placed, at that—and the humor is spot-on. Non-fiction can be a hard sell for me, but an awesome writing voice will get me every time. And as someone who grew up in the same time period, similar evangelical background who doesn't resent it at all and yet, still has quest YAY! I'm happy to say my fandom of Knox McCoy, thanks to The Popcast with Knox and Jamie, now translates to his writing as well. I really loved this book. The pop culture references are, of course, all over the place—and perfectly placed, at that—and the humor is spot-on. Non-fiction can be a hard sell for me, but an awesome writing voice will get me every time. And as someone who grew up in the same time period, similar evangelical background who doesn't resent it at all and yet, still has questions, concerns, etc...well, this book spoke to me. The reminder that God doesn't just tolerate our questions, but actually welcomes them...I loved it. And can I just say, I also loved McCoy's approach...sure, he's not afraid to level criticism here and there, but he doesn't seem to be coming from a place of bitterness or arrogance (like, um, some others)...but instead, it feels sincere and honest and to me, that makes any criticism all the more compelling. When I first started reading, I thought perhaps if I was going to have one minor downside about the book, it might be that maybe its audience would end up being a somewhat narrow slice of people—certain age groups, certain backgrounds, certain pop culture aficionados. But by the end, I realized that actually, one of The Wondering Years' greatest strengths—and any book, really—is its specificity. Non-fic books that appeal to a crazy wide audience can often feel a little shallow because they're trying to be relevant to too many people at once. The Wondering Years knows its audience and for readers in that audience, it's all the richer and more authentic. Super loved it. Super recommend it. Super hope we get more from Knox McCoy in the future. Thanks to NetGalley for the courtesy copy. I was not required to write a positive review and all thoughts are my own.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    I'm unsure if my review below would be considered a spoiler, so just...proceed with caution? ******** When I pre-ordered The Wondering Years, it was for several reasons: 1. I love to read. 2. I am pretty saturated in pop culture - TV, movies, music, books, etc. - and from what I've learned about Knox via The Popcast with Knox and Jamie, our pop culture oceans are the same. 3. From listening to his and Jamie's hit podcast, I feel like I know him. And also I know people who know him. Acquaintance-ship I'm unsure if my review below would be considered a spoiler, so just...proceed with caution? ******** When I pre-ordered The Wondering Years, it was for several reasons: 1. I love to read. 2. I am pretty saturated in pop culture - TV, movies, music, books, etc. - and from what I've learned about Knox via The Popcast with Knox and Jamie, our pop culture oceans are the same. 3. From listening to his and Jamie's hit podcast, I feel like I know him. And also I know people who know him. Acquaintance-ship by association. I expected a look into pop culture through Knox's lens, and to "get" the references, and to laugh a TON. I didn't expect to realize so many other similarities in our up-bringings, particularly in regard to family and church. I DEVOURED this book about wondering - not WANDERING (regardless of what my more socially and politically conservative relatives may say) - through my teens and throughout adulthood. Wondering as a means to fully understand a Christian calling, to reconcile experiences in the world (via the lens of consuming pop culture) with the hard and fast rules of childhood/immature Christianity. So while I did come away with having gotten the references, laughed, and been encouraged to binge Beverly Hills, 90210 this Winter, I am also so thankful and appreciative of Knox for putting to paper this notion of healthy and necessary questioning and searching, and allowing God to be revealed beyond the "facts" provided to us in sermons and soundbites.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    I “met” Knox via my ears while listening to The Popcast and then in real life at a Popcast live event. I think he and Jamie are wonderful and I was so excited he was publishing a book. I have been waiting on pins and needles to finally read it and it did not disappoint. This book made me laugh out loud more than any book I’ve read in the recent past. I also got quite teary-eyed at some parts. I loved all the pop culture references because I’m close to his age and I’m familiar with most of them ( I “met” Knox via my ears while listening to The Popcast and then in real life at a Popcast live event. I think he and Jamie are wonderful and I was so excited he was publishing a book. I have been waiting on pins and needles to finally read it and it did not disappoint. This book made me laugh out loud more than any book I’ve read in the recent past. I also got quite teary-eyed at some parts. I loved all the pop culture references because I’m close to his age and I’m familiar with most of them (minus the sports!). Sometime I felt like I was a little lost as to the “theme” of the chapter relating past or pop culture to ideas of faith or Christianity but Knox’s intent always came through. I think the concepts of eventually feeling confident in your salvation but still needing to work out details and then basically realizing you’ll never work it all out really resonated with me and I’m sure a lot of other people will feel the same. I feel like Knox had to really dig deep for some (or a lot) of this stuff and he is to be commended. He is very vulnerable throughout the book but also injects humor and fun into it, which is really a lot like life. I would recommend this book to anyone but especially people in their 30’s-40’s-ish and especially those who grew up in church. However, I feel this book is accessible to people in many walks of life. My rating is essentially a 4.5 star but I can’t actually do that so there you go.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kwl

    Thank you W Publishing for an early look at a book I’ve been looking forward to for months! The number of times I found myself nodding along to Knox’s childhood pop culture memories were too many to count! I’ve lived all of these years not realizing there were other people in the world who associate Wheel of Fortune so strongly with bedtime! East cost 8:00 p.m. bedtime struggles. From Beverly Hills 90210 to those evangelical t-shirts Knox nailed the life experience I remember growing up as a sout Thank you W Publishing for an early look at a book I’ve been looking forward to for months! The number of times I found myself nodding along to Knox’s childhood pop culture memories were too many to count! I’ve lived all of these years not realizing there were other people in the world who associate Wheel of Fortune so strongly with bedtime! East cost 8:00 p.m. bedtime struggles. From Beverly Hills 90210 to those evangelical t-shirts Knox nailed the life experience I remember growing up as a southern, baptist girl. I didn’t realize how many of my memories were so universal for us at the time. Now, my only hesitation going into this book was that I’m pretty far theologically and spiritually from where I was back then. I was afraid the fact that it was a Christian publisher would mean that I’d have to wade through a lot of being hit on the head with evangelical “truths” in order to get to the good stuff I was looking for about 90s pop culture but I needn’t worry. Knox made a lot of the same discoveries I did along the way and he used those experiences to explain who he is today. I never felt hit on the head so thanks for that,Knox! If you loved pop culture in the 90s, remember the very confusing feelings of hell houses, or appreciate a memoir from someone who is honest about very specific things they wished they’d done differently along the way - there’s something for you here!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    When I heard that Knox McCoy from my favorite podcast was going to write a book about pop culture, I was really excited. I guess I figured it was going to be an extension of the podcast, just minus Jamie. I had heard the advertising and the build up and the moment there was a publication date, I checked to see if the book could be pre-ordered. I read the blurb and decided to pre-order. THEN I found out that I could be part of the launch team and immediately signed up! I received an ARC of The Wo When I heard that Knox McCoy from my favorite podcast was going to write a book about pop culture, I was really excited. I guess I figured it was going to be an extension of the podcast, just minus Jamie. I had heard the advertising and the build up and the moment there was a publication date, I checked to see if the book could be pre-ordered. I read the blurb and decided to pre-order. THEN I found out that I could be part of the launch team and immediately signed up! I received an ARC of The Wondering Years from the publisher, via NetGalley. I read this book in one sitting, taking breaks for important stuff like letting the dog out. I enjoyed all of the pop culture references. The author and I grew up in the same era, so all of his references resonated with me and my growing up years. The pacing was quick, but thorough. The language a was clear and easy to understand. The memoir feeling combined with the pop culture references made for an enjoyable read. There were a few flaws, however. The footnotes in the digital copy were not well-placed and some of the notes and jokes lacked the comedic timing intended. I am sure that will be taken care of in publication. And in one instance, McCoy refers to former Georgia and current Detroit Lions quarterback as Matt Stafford. That is NOT his name. His name is Matthew Stafford. This is a small and trivial piece of pop culture trivia, but as a fan of Stafford and his family (Instragram is a fun place), I know how much he does not like to be referred to as Matt and its appearance in the book stuck with me. Overall, I enjoyed the book. I was glad to have a sneak peek.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    This book combined some of my favorite things - faith, pop culture, childhood nostalgia, sarcasm and storytelling. The author does a great job weaving in personal stories while sprinkling in references about some old favorites like Pee Wee Herman, He-Man, the Simpsons, Family Matters and more! How he manages to make me smile, laugh, and cry all in one chapter is mind boggling, but it happened time and time again. He weaves together metaphors that build into full-blown life lessons, and I love a This book combined some of my favorite things - faith, pop culture, childhood nostalgia, sarcasm and storytelling. The author does a great job weaving in personal stories while sprinkling in references about some old favorites like Pee Wee Herman, He-Man, the Simpsons, Family Matters and more! How he manages to make me smile, laugh, and cry all in one chapter is mind boggling, but it happened time and time again. He weaves together metaphors that build into full-blown life lessons, and I love a good metaphor! If you love The Popcast or Bible Binge, you will love this book because it has a similar style that I am here for! I appreciate his heartfelt, and some might say irreverent approach to faith, because it speaks to a generation of folks who have really struggled to make sense of a childhood spent in and absorbed by church. He speaks at length to the processes he has gone through to get from dog evangelist to God seeker. Much like Mr. McCoy, I struggle with knowing when to sign off, so I'll just say that I highly recommend this book, and HEY! Look over there!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Vander Ley

    Honestly, I rarely give books 5 stars. I feel like that’s for the Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium type of books. I wish Goodreads would let you rate books to the 10th degree, because then I would give this book a 4.8 and be happy instead of sitting here running my finger between 4 and 5. But, my finger hovered over the 5 and committed, mostly because I can’t remember the last book I read that I highlighted as much or screenshot as much or sent excerpts to my friends as much. There were times I lite Honestly, I rarely give books 5 stars. I feel like that’s for the Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium type of books. I wish Goodreads would let you rate books to the 10th degree, because then I would give this book a 4.8 and be happy instead of sitting here running my finger between 4 and 5. But, my finger hovered over the 5 and committed, mostly because I can’t remember the last book I read that I highlighted as much or screenshot as much or sent excerpts to my friends as much. There were times I literally shook with laughter as I lay with my children trying to get them to sleep, so I couldn’t laugh out loud, but I couldn’t not laugh. But, then Knox would take an anecdote, dig deeper, and slap me over the face with truth. I love that skill. He makes it seem so effortless, but it is so rare. I was introduced to Knox through his podcast, and I am a big fan of their work. When I heard he was writing a book, I knew I had to get my hands on it because that’s just what I do with all Popcast and Popcast adjacent content. I’m glad I did, because I will be rolling a lot of his truth nuggets around in my brain for quite awhile.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    Knox is a part of a Podcast called the Popcast. Their motto is: we educate you on the things that do not matter. In this book, Knox did the exact opposite. He educated us on the things that do matter - with a little bit on the things that don't. As a enneagram 4wing5, and married to an enneagram 5 - reading this book felt very much at home, and a creepily clear glimpse into conversations I have with my husband. There were many times I would poke my husband, make him stop watching his 'learn to c Knox is a part of a Podcast called the Popcast. Their motto is: we educate you on the things that do not matter. In this book, Knox did the exact opposite. He educated us on the things that do matter - with a little bit on the things that don't. As a enneagram 4wing5, and married to an enneagram 5 - reading this book felt very much at home, and a creepily clear glimpse into conversations I have with my husband. There were many times I would poke my husband, make him stop watching his 'learn to code a videogame' youtube video and listen to me read portions of this book out loud to him - he would chuckle, laugh heartily, or just got YAS, and return to his video. If you know my husband, this is the highest compliment. I aggressively support you reading this book. Knox beautifully weaves extremely specific cultural references in with life, faith, crisis, and everyday high jinks. I could not put this book down once I started. I laughed, maybe cried, re-read portions so they would stick, and wondered if Knox was secretly a family member making movie references I thought only my brothers and I found important. Thank you Knox for putting this book out into the world!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Kidwell

    The Wondering Years How Pop Culture Helped Me Answer Life’s Biggest Questions by Knox McCoy Thomas Nelson--W Publishing Thomas Nelson Christian Pub Date 13 Nov 2018 I am reviewing a copy of The Wondering Years through Thomas Nelson -W Publishing and Netgalley: In this book we are reminded that though Pop Culture won't cure diseases, topple political regimes or make scientific breakthroughs but it does play a vital role in the story of humanity. It is in fact pretty hard to define the human experience wit The Wondering Years How Pop Culture Helped Me Answer Life’s Biggest Questions by Knox McCoy Thomas Nelson--W Publishing Thomas Nelson Christian Pub Date 13 Nov 2018 I am reviewing a copy of The Wondering Years through Thomas Nelson -W Publishing and Netgalley: In this book we are reminded that though Pop Culture won't cure diseases, topple political regimes or make scientific breakthroughs but it does play a vital role in the story of humanity. It is in fact pretty hard to define the human experience without it. And it is impossible to create pop culture without the human experience. Popular podcaster Knox Mccoy understands this as do the tens of thousands of listeners who tune into his podcasts weekly to listen to him talk about Pop Culture! In the Wondering Years Knox Mccoy explores the idea of connecting popular culture to his own experiences, through Hilarious yet poignant stories, he reflects on how pop culture has helped shape his life and carve out the foundation of faith. In a humorous style Knox Mccoy is able to draw his life experiences to pop culture. I give The Wondering Years five out of five stars! Happy Reading!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Renee Davis Meyer

    Wow, I really enjoyed this book. I was expecting to like it, Knox is cohost of my favorite podcast, and I thought I knew just what I was going to get. And it is funny and sarcastic, full of pop cultural analogies and witty insight. But it is also profound, the story of one man’s faith journey, being faced with hard questions and incomplete answers. Whether or not you listen to The Popcast with Knox and Jamie (if not, you are missing out!), I think you will enjoy Knox’s book if you: - Are interest Wow, I really enjoyed this book. I was expecting to like it, Knox is cohost of my favorite podcast, and I thought I knew just what I was going to get. And it is funny and sarcastic, full of pop cultural analogies and witty insight. But it is also profound, the story of one man’s faith journey, being faced with hard questions and incomplete answers. Whether or not you listen to The Popcast with Knox and Jamie (if not, you are missing out!), I think you will enjoy Knox’s book if you: - Are interested in sports or pop culture - think sports and pop culture can be a pathway to deeper conversations - feel like there is no room in evangelical Christianity for your questions and doubts (spoiler alert: there’s room) - like funny memoirs or are looking for a light, fast read that will give you things to think about. I will probably buy and give this book to a couple of young men in my life, as it’s sports-soaked and faith-themed, but not pushy or theologically heavy. I enjoyed the audio, since Knox’s voice is so familiar to me (but: Jamie is not there to make him wheezy laugh.)

  29. 5 out of 5

    Teresa Staton

    Honest, spiritual memoirs are one of my favorite genres, and in that light, this is an honest, spiritual memoir. McCoy grew up in a Southern Baptist church, and as he got older, he began to question some of the practices he was taught. His questioning seems to be the premise of this book, and he uses pop-culture analogies to explain his reasoning. This book had several laugh-out-loud funnies, and I appreciate his willingness to write about his faith questions. Some of the analogies carried on a Honest, spiritual memoirs are one of my favorite genres, and in that light, this is an honest, spiritual memoir. McCoy grew up in a Southern Baptist church, and as he got older, he began to question some of the practices he was taught. His questioning seems to be the premise of this book, and he uses pop-culture analogies to explain his reasoning. This book had several laugh-out-loud funnies, and I appreciate his willingness to write about his faith questions. Some of the analogies carried on a little long for me, and at times, I felt like he was teetering more on the side of poking-fun of his childhood church. I will give a warning for Chapter Nine. It’s an account of 11-year-old McCoy spending the night at a friend’s house. While there, the friend invites him to shot a handgun, which he does, and also to watch an adult movie, which he also does. As a mother of an 11-year-old boy, this chapter made me nervous. There are many aspects of this book that I admire, but this is not a book that is for everyone.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Gretchen

    I have been a fan of Knox McCoy for awhile now as a devoted listener of both of his podcasts, but this book...I just...I mean...[insert 😂👍🏻🤩🙌🏻🌈🔥🍕🥇💰😍]. I laughed. At one part I shot Red Bull out of my actual nose (it was worth the pain). I also wondered and reflected and perhaps at times shouted “Amen” to his apt descriptions of the Christian subculture that I am both loyal to and critical of. Even his acknowledgements were dope. Like I laughed during them. That is true artistic talent (note to r I have been a fan of Knox McCoy for awhile now as a devoted listener of both of his podcasts, but this book...I just...I mean...[insert 😂👍🏻🤩🙌🏻🌈🔥🍕🥇💰😍]. I laughed. At one part I shot Red Bull out of my actual nose (it was worth the pain). I also wondered and reflected and perhaps at times shouted “Amen” to his apt descriptions of the Christian subculture that I am both loyal to and critical of. Even his acknowledgements were dope. Like I laughed during them. That is true artistic talent (note to reader: I am an acknowledgement connoisseur so take this to heart). Congrats, Knox. I hope this is the beginning of a long and prolific writing career where you give the people more of what we so desperately want and maybe sometimes feel guilty about and maybe don’t know how badly we actually desperately need it...juxtaposition of the holy and reverent with the popular culture we are surrounded by. This book is proof that God can use truly anything to reach us including but not limited to Peewee Herman and Saved by the Bell.

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