My Top Ten Reads of 2021

So you know what lies ahead, this is 2021’s list:

  1. The Brain’s Way of Healing by Norman Doidge, M.D. (2016)
  2. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin (2006)
  3. The Forever War by Dexter Filkins (2006)
  4. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (2005)
  5. Wonder Works by Angus Fletcher (2021)
  6. Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell (2019)
  7. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (2020)
  8. Tecumseh and the Prophet by Peter Cozzens (2020)
  9. Under Jerusalem by Andrew Lawler (2021)
  10. Dune by Frank Herbert (1965)

I used most of my “leisure” time in 2021 completing the first draft of my most ambitious project yet: Valley of Wolves, the sequel to my Gypsy Spy novel. Even so, I still managed to enjoy thirty-four tomes from other authors. If you are in the mood to break away from streaming by breaking open a book, this list contains titles worthy of your time and attention.

This year’s list features inspiring neuroscience, sweeping history, on-the-ground views of the war on terror, third world hope, Shawnee courage, classic science fiction, dystopian mastery, and social commentary par excellence. In the past, I have listed my recommendations in the order they were read. I’m breaking from that tradition this year. Though all ten are worthy reads, I’ve stacked the most impactful at the front. Also, I’ve added the publication year next to the author’s name.

Happy New Year, everyone!

The Brain’s Way of Healing by Norman Doidge, M.D. (2016)

This book on neuroplasticity and the innovative therapies used to engage it to prompt the brain to repair itself brought me to tears time and again—tears of joy, amazement, and praise. It is a narrative of the impacts of the avant-garde neuroplastic therapies and the results they have engendered for patients who were given hopeless prognoses. In highlighting neuroplasticity, Doidge exposes the wonders of the Creator’s wiring. From the truth that our cells run on light to the revelation that the ear can reset the brain, I was reminded time and again that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

If you have suffered from any neurological set back (chemo brain, traumatic brain injury, concussion, etc.) or are close to any who have, this book will not only give you hope but ideas as well. From people born with half a brain to severely autistic children, the author highlights therapies that have energized the marvelous brain to function as designed. Read this book. You will be amazed.

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin (2006)

When the Taliban surged to take over Afghanistan during the current administration’s precipitous withdrawal despite U.S. efforts over more than twenty years to neuter them, I was made painfully aware of my ignorance regarding them. Deciding to remedy my problem, I did a library search on the subject of the Taliban and this little jewel popped up as a suggestion.

It’s not about the Taliban.

It is, however, about one man’s journey to improve the lives of many in areas controlled by the Taliban and others like them. The full title of the work is Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace … One School at a time. Greg Mortenson was a mountain climber who after a failed attempt to reach the summit of Pakistan’s K2 mountain, got separated from his guide and wound up in an impoverished, remote mountain village and promised to build them a school as a thanks for his rescue. To call what follows next “awe inspiring” would be an understatement. Mortenson’s journey is a testament to what one person committed to the betterment of others can accomplish.

The most profound quote from the work comes from Mortenson’s mouth. “In times of war,” he said, “you often hear leaders—Christian, Jewish, and Muslim—saying, ‘God is on our side.’ But that isn’t true. In war, God is on the side of refugees, widows, and orphans.”

The Forever War by Dexter Filkins (2006)

This was the other title Overdrive suggested I should read. I am returning the favor. Strap on a flak jacket, tighten your helmet, and read this book. Imagine Saving Private Ryan or American Sniper or Apocalypse Now except you’re not an officer or a soldier. You’re just a brave (or foolish) soul without rifle or side arm running through a war zone with a bunch of Marines. Yikes!

This book is front row seat to a confusing and catastrophic conflict. Filkins brings the reader into the offices of officials—U. S., Afghani, and Iraqi—and asks hard questions with no clear answers. But most of all, he takes the reader along for the civilian and grunt view of war. It reads at times like stream of consciousness reporting. His battle fatigue is apparent as the narrative unfolds. Following are some of my favorite lines from the work:

“I went to the Moshin Mosque to remind myself of what I didn’t know.”

“Iraq was filled with people like Yacob Yusef. They weren’t survivors as much as they were leftovers. The ruined by-products of terrible times.”

“For many Iraqis, the typical nineteen-year-old army corporal from South Dakota was not a youthful innocent carrying America’s goodwill; he was a terrifying combination of firepower and ignorance.”

Dexter Filkins

“There wasn’t any point in sentimentalizing the kids; they were trained killers, after all. They could hit a guy at five hundred yards or cut his throat from ear-to-ear. And they didn’t ask a lot of questions. They had faith, they did what they were told and they killed people.”

“…however many Iraqis opposed them before the Americans came into [Abu Shakur], dozens and dozens more did by the time they left. The Americans were making enemies faster than they could kill them.”

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (2005)

If you think I was inspired to read this biography because it inspired the mega-hit Broadway musical that Disney ultimately streamed on its nascent platform, well then, you’d be right.

I watched Hamilton expecting not to like it. I failed. Miserably. I read Alexander Hamilton expecting to learn more about the founding of the National Bank and instead found him at the founding of that and just about everything else one can think of when one thinks, “American.”

My review of the work in my reading journal is uncharacteristically concise and short.

Wow, just wow.

Larum Reading Journal

But Chernow’s sweeping view of Hamilton’s life and times deserves more. Though I was blessed with an extraordinary American History teacher in high school, he gave short shrift to Hamilton. I had no idea how instrumental he was in the founding our nation.

Following are some lengthy quotes from Chernow’s masterful work.

“If Jefferson provided the essential poetry of American political discourse, Hamilton established the prose of American statecraft. No other founder articulated such a clear and prescient vision of America’s future political, military, and economic strength or crafted such ingenious mechanisms to bind the nation together.”

“Hamilton was an exuberant genius who performed at a fiendish pace and must have produced the maximum number of words that a human being can scratch out in forty-nine years.”

“Hamilton’s besetting fear was that American democracy would be spoiled by demagogues who would mouth populist shibboleths to conceal their despotism. George Clinton, Thomas Jefferson, and Aaron Burr all came to incarnate that dread for Hamilton.”

“Hamilton was an American prophet without peer. No other founding father straddled both these revolutions [political and economic]—and only Franklin even came close—and therein lay Hamilton’s novelty and greatness. He was the clear-eyed apostle of America’s economic future, setting forth a vision that many found enthralling, others unsettling, but that would ultimately prevail. He stood squarely on the modern side of a historical divide that seemed to separate him from the other founders. Small wonder he aroused such fear and confusion.”

Last but far from least, Chernow includes Hamilton’s confession on his deathbed:

“I have a tender reliance on the mercy of the Almighty, through the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

alexander hamilton

Wonder Works: The 25 Most Powerful Inventions in the History of Literature by Angus Fletcher (2021)

Angus Fletcher is a PhD with dual degrees in neuroscience and literature. Yeah, if I met this guy at a party, I’d probably say, “You had me at hello.”

This work combines two subjects I am fascinated with: story science and neuroscience. The author not only takes us through literature’s innovative history, he explains how the rhetorical devices work on the brain. Fletcher’s writing is exquisite and he practices the devices he highlights throughout the tome. He hooked me early on with this literary and neural view of courage:

“… to Old French and Latin wordsmiths, courage wasn’t a stoic virtue or a rational choice. It was a feeling that collided with the terror that rushed through our veins in times of danger, counterbalancing one emotion with another, and rousing us with the psychological desire to hold our ground.

[This] insight has been extended by modern neuroscience. The neural origins of courage start deep in the primordial center of our brain, where there sits, ensconced upon a drop-shaped double throne, the coward despot known as our amygdala. As soon as our amygdala senses danger, it panics.”

Courage blooms with the addition of another ingredient. I would finish the thought, but you would do better to be brave and read the book.

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know, by Malcolm Gladwell (2019)

If you know me, you know I love Malcolm Gladwell. I consider him to be one of the most articulate thinkers of our times. In this work, Malcolm (I’ve read so many of his books—and took his MasterClass on writing and listened to all his podcasts—that I think I of myself as being on a first-name basis with him) begins with Sandra Bland, moves into spy rings, exposes truth-default theory and the cost of suspicion, looks at suicide and coupling, moves to crime and policing, and returns to Sandra Bland and the tragedy of strangers misunderstanding one another.


Some favorite bits:

From the Author’s Note: “Sometimes the best conversation between strangers allow the stranger to remain a stranger.”

I write spy novels. Malcolm has this to say about spies: “The issue with spies is not that there is something brilliant about them. It is that there is something wrong with us.”

While explaining myopia theory, he provides these insights about inebriation: “When you are drunk, your understanding of your true self changes…Alcohol isn’t an agent of revelation. It is an agent of transformation.”

And what of the role of benefit of the doubt regarding strangers and familiars alike? Malcolm drops this jewel: “To assume the best about another is the trait that has created modern society. Those occasions when our trusting nature gets violated are tragic. But the alternative—to abandon trust as a defense against predation and deception—is worse.”

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (2020)

The prequel to The Hunger Games, the story centers on Coriolanus Snow, the villain of the original trilogy. In my humble opinion, no one succeeds at making the anti-hero likeable quite like Stephen R. Donaldson. Collins comes close. I wonder if she ever considered making Lucy Gray the protagonist, though it’s understandable why she chose Snow. If she didn’t do as well as Donaldson in making the villain likeable, she definitely beat George Lucas at the task of showing us the early life of the tyrant. The songs and mockingjays steal the show. I have no idea how many were original compositions, but all were placed well and had meaning.

My favorite lines:

“The cabbage began to boil, filling the kitchen with the smell of poverty.”

“Staring up at the towering rows of seats made him feel diminished to the point of insignificance. A raindrop in a flood, a pebble in an avalanche.”

“Sejanus appeared in another brand-new suit, with a rumpled little woman in an expensive flowered dress on his arm. It didn’t matter. You could put a turnip in a ball gown and it would still beg to be mashed.”

“‘Then be kind, Coryo,’ she snapped. ‘And try not to look down on people who had to choose between death and disgrace.’”

Tecumseh and the Prophet: The Shawnee Brothers Who Defied a Nation by Peter Cozzens (2020)

If you like me only knew the name Tecumseh because of Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, it may interest you to know that his father gave him the name because he admired the Shawnee chieftan.

I confess to a woefully ignorance of serious native North American history, which is one of the reasons this book intrigued me. Dealing with the years leading up to and following the War of 1812, it provides insights to the dealings and cultures of the tribes of the Old Northwest along with highlighting a period of American History I am unfamiliar with. Though the Prophet is the vehicle of the tale, Tecumseh is the hero―a leader all admired. The British, the Americans (the Long Knives in Shawnee parlance), and the various tribes held him in the highest esteem. Histories of noble courage lift us all and this is such a history. Their dream was hopeless, but they fought for their hope nonetheless.

Under Jerusalem: The Buried History of the World’s Most Contested City by Andrew Lawler (2021)

As a history of archaeology in the holy city, it is a vivid illustration of the different world views that clash above ground. If nothing else, in searching for the remains of Herod’s temple, the archeologists have thus far proven Jesus’ words to be true when he said, “there will not be left here one stone upon another.”

Two quotes prove the poignancy and difficulty of the subject matter. The first comes from Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann who in 1937 said, “There are now two sorts of countries in the world, those that want to expel the Jews and those that don’t want to admit them.”

Later in the book, this observation is made: “A dozen years before the Soviets built the Berlin Wall, Jerusalem became the world’s most divided city.”

Dune by Frank Herbert (1965)

A story as old as I am, Dune remains for me the masterpiece of the genre. I consider the original trilogy to be science fiction’s equivalent to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings in stature and influence. I’m not prone to reading the same fiction book twice. This is perhaps my fifth reading of Dune in the past forty years. It was like visiting an old friend.

I make much of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s and Stephen King’s influences on my writing style, but Herbert’s Dune left its stamp on my voice, something I had not recognized until this reading. Shamelessly head hopping and introspective, its style guided my writing of Gypsy Spy.

If you are a fan of the book and haven’t seen the newest film adaptation, I highly recommend it. If you haven’t read the book, well then, you are in for a classic treat.

My Top Ten Reads of 2014

My Top Ten Reads of 2014

I don’t read nearly as fast as my wife or brother. So, I am fairly confident of my inability to complete another tome before December’s end. This means that I can confidently present to you my top ten reads from this year without fear of any of them losing their spot on the list to a year-end upstart. They are listed in the order which I read them.

  1. What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell. A fantastic collection of some of Galdwell’s best work in The New Yorker, this volume would be a welcome introduction to the author for any who haven’t read him and highly enjoyable for those who have. Gladwell is a master story teller disguised as a social commentator with a uniquely objective view. In this book, he covers topics as widely divergent as the mysteries of ketchup to the development of the Pill, the power of structured interviews to the pointlessness of current policies regarding the homeless. He has a knack for the unusual in the ordinary and a true talent to set the reader thinking.
  2. Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty by Abhijit V. Benerjee and Esther Duflo. If you are a conservative looking for a book that substantiates the belief that hard work can raise anybody out of poverty, this book isn’t for you. The poor of the world work plenty hard enough. If you are a liberal looking for a tome by respected economists that shows more government intervention and redistribution of wealth are what is needed to solve global poverty, this book isn’t for you either. If, however, you are intellectually inquisitive enough to get a realistic view of the economic decisions the poor make and why, I highly recommend this book. The authors aren’t interested in ideology. They are after facts and empirically proven methods of making the lives of the poor better. For evenhanded comparisons, they use the concept of Purchasing Power Parity where the poverty level is set at 16 rupees and converted to the actual buying power in the states, which is roughly $0.99. The real poor live on $0.99 or less per day. Makes poverty in America appear to be a vacation! One of my favorite paragraphs comes from page 68: “The poor seem to be trapped by the same kinds of problems that afflict the rest of us – lack of information, weak beliefs, and procrastination among them. It is true that we who are not poor are somewhat better educated and informed, but the difference is small because, in the end, we actually know very little, and almost surely less than we imagine.” Amen to that!
  3. Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger. Jonah Berger could be considered Malcolm Gladwell’s intellectual child. Berger was inspired by Gladwell’s now classic The Tipping Point and made it his life’s mission to figure out exactly why things catch on. Contagious is the result. If The Tipping Point be the original observation of the phenomenon in modern culture, Contagious is the empirically examined process of why things go viral. The principles are encapsulated in the acronym STEPPS: Social currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical value, and Stories. The notes about narrative on page 187 I found particularly insightful with applications for evangelism and teaching as well.
  4. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. In case you haven’t noticed, behavioral and cognitive sciences have made great strides in the past decade. This book not only rates high on the Fascinating Scale, it is also practical. It offers great explanations of how habits are formed, what triggers their expressions, and how to rewrite them. Information from this book helped me tell the tale of “Crawling Out of the Bottle” in a more frank fashion than I otherwise would have. Not prone to contacting authors, I actually reached out to Duhigg via e-mail to thank him for his work. To my delight and surprise, he kindly responded.
  5. Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. An amplification of the work and theories that earned him the Nobel Prize in Economics – a prize in economics because certain physical scientists were uncomfortable with the establishing of a prize in social science – Kahneman takes us on a tour of the thought and lab experiments that he and his colleague Amos Tversky carried out over their long collaboration. It is a book on judgment and decision making and exposes many of the mind traps and blindsides we set up for ourselves. The author examines the two primary thought process – automatic operations and controlled operations – and their impacts and influences on the decisions we make.
  6. What Is Secular Humanism? Why Christian Humanism Became Secular Humanism and How It is Changing Our World by James Hitchcock. This book was a large part of the backbone to my post “Secular Humanists Have a Problem.” I first read this book some twenty-five years ago. The author’s insights into the modern influences of secular humanism still hold up today. My interest in the subject was rekindled when Kevin Swanson sent me Apostate: The Men Who Destroyed the Christian West after the debacle of Doug Phillip’s fall and the collapse of Vision Forum Ministries. Though Swanson’s book is more detailed in the personal lives of secular humanisms leaders, Hitchcock’s treatment of the subject is more engaging and even handed.
  7. Why Science Does not Disprove God by Amir D. Aczel. This is not a book written by an evangelical to debate atheists. This is a work by an award winning mathematician and author to explain how and why the New Atheists have overreached in their claims for science. In my reading journal, I jokingly commented that the title could have as easily been Against the New Atheists or Dawkins, Kindly Eat Your Hat! If I had to pigeonhole Aczel, I would call him an agnostic, but a humble one at that. A quote from the introduction gives you a taste of things to come. “Roger Penrose, addressing only one of the many parameters necessary for a universe that would support life, has put the probability against the emergence of our universe as 1 over 10^10123, meaning 1 divided by 10 raised to the power of 10, raised to the power of 123. Such numbers are humbling. Now consider the odds of intelligent life developing. To assume there is no God or act of creation behind our immeasurably unlikely universe seems to me presumptuous.” (from page 4)
  8. Breaking Free: Escaping an Exclusivist Christian Group by Reb Bradley. I catalogued some of my own experiences in an exclusivist Christian group in my post “Membership Has Its Privileges.” When I spoke with the author at a conference, he told me that he had stopped putting his name on the cover of the book because he started getting death threats from folks who were sure he had written it about them. At only 82 pages, it packs a punch. Most insightful is his admonition to former members to take responsibility for their involvement and to stop playing the victim. It was his testimony that he seldom saw true healing begin until this was done.
  9. The Road to Serfdom by F. A. Hayek. First published in Britain in 1944, Hayek’s work stands the test of time. Writing in the gale wind of popularity that central planning held in economic and government circles of his day, Hayek did much to expose that Nazism and Communism were two sides of the same coin, slavery by different names. Hayek showed that social planners were inevitably forced to control more and more aspects of society if they ever hoped to hold it to their declared societal goals. The end result would always be the deterioration – if not outright eradication – of personal liberties. I consider it necessary reading for any serious student of real world economics and political science.
  10. Man: The Dwelling Place of God by A. W. Tozer. A compilation of articles that Tozer wrote on the subject, his depth of insight will challenge and bless your soul. Though Tozer died in 1963, his comments on the human condition, errant evangelical practices, and the markings of a real spirit-filled life are as applicable today as when he wrote them. Some notable quotes: “God is never found accidentally.” (p.41) “True faith brings a spiritual and moral transformation and an inward witness that cannot be mistaken. These come when we stop believing in belief and start believing in the Lord Jesus Christ indeed.” (p. 45) “Future historians will record that we of the twentieth century had intelligence enough to create a great civilization but not the moral wisdom to preserve it.” (p. 34) “The most fervent devotees of tolerance are invariably intolerant of everyone who speaks about God with certainty.” (p. 87) Drink slowly, absorb well.

My Top Ten Reads of 2013

Over the years, I’ve worked at formulating a personal motto that both encapsulates my passion and propels me forward in life. Thus far, I’ve narrowed it down to three: 1. “Your meetings do more harm than good”[1], 2. “All I want to know is everything”, and 3. “So many books, so little time.” In the spirit of the last two, I offer for your review my top ten reads from last year. I’ve listed them in the order that I read them.

  1. La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafron. This novel was the one I broke my fiction fast on. I’ve always been an avid reader. But somewhere around 1997, I stopped reading fiction. My mother was in the habit of sending me book store gift cards for my birthday. But in 2007, she decided to send me a book instead. It was The Shadow of the Wind. She said she knew if she sent the gift card, I would just go out and buy another dry science book and she wanted me to enjoy a good read. And so I did. I liked it so much; I went on line and bought it in the original language. Spanish is the first language I learned to read and write. To this day, my comprehension level reading it still exceeds hearing it. This novel is a Gothic tale set in Barcelona of the late 1940s and early 1950s. It revolves around the mysteries of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. I re-read the Spanish version again last year in preparation for a Spanish CLEP[2] test. It was my third time through the story and I still found it engrossing.
  2. What Love Is this? Calvinism’s Misrepresentation of God by Dave Hunt. This is a masterful exposition of Scripture regarding the love of God and the ways in which the Calvinist TULIP stands in contradiction to it. With all due respect to my Reformed brethren, this book is worth your honest investigation. You may find it liberating.
  3. Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves by George Church and Ed Regis. Genetic engineering has been an intellectual hobby of mine since 1999 when I began seriously researching the Nephilim of Genesis 6. Many of the articles I read then warned of what was to come in bio-engineering. Much that was theoretical then is old hat now. George Church is very prominent in the GE field. He compares the science used to sequence the human genome to the Stone Age compared to where the science is today. This book reads like science fiction, but it is scientific intent. And it is terrifying. Science may be amoral, but scientists are not. Humans beware!
  4. The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler. The author compiles cutting edge corporate team building techniques and applies them to the family context. He opens with a line from Tolsoy’s Anna Karenina, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” The author discovered that the way in which all happy families are alike is that they work at it continuously.
  5. El Capitan Alatriste  by Arturo and Carlota Perez-Reverte. I chanced upon a trailer of the film Alatriste starring Viggo Mortensen some years ago. I’ve wanted to see the film ever since, but decided to read the book first. Lucky for me, the movie is based on four books in the series! Thus far, I’ve only read this one but plan to continue on with the rest as time allows. The story revolves around Diego Alatriste, a soldier turned mercenary in 17th century Spain. High adventure and wry humor. Fun, fun read.
  6. How Islam Plans to Change the World by William Wagner. The author documents the recent history and strategies of Islamic evangelism. Having done missions work in Africa, I can attest to many of the methods he describes. The most surprising find in this book was the Baptist author’s appeal to the miraculous in the “Power Encounter” chapter as one asset in the Christian arsenal lacking in Islam. This book is a vital intelligence briefing if you are an evangelical and serious about world missions.
  7. The Mormonizing of America by Stephen Mansfield. In 2012, prominent evangelicals endorsed Mitt Romney in his bid for the presidency. The nation has come a long way from sending troops into Utah to stop plural marriage. From the days that Mormon missionaries visited my family when we lived in Spain, I’ve been a student of the religion. Though the author doesn’t shy away from the controversial areas of Mormonism, he primarily focuses on what most Mormons find important in their faith. Highly readable and informative.
  8. The Secret History of the War on Cancer by Devra Davis. I read this shortly after I completed my rounds of chemotherapy and radiation for tongue cancer. Dr. Davis has been in the cancer research field for many years. Her revelations from the trenches will open your eyes to the complexity of this disease and the complicity of government, industry, and the medical community in its continual propagation.
  9. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. I had read this book many years ago. But they finally made the movie and I had to read it again. Card has made a whole franchise from his Ender universe, but for my money, he could have stopped with this one and been fine. I read the three subsequent works in the series in the way back and none of them approached the sheer enjoyment of the first one. It ranks up there as one of my all-time favorite science fiction reads. (Dune tops the list, but Frank Herbert is hard to beat.)
  10. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell. Malcolm is in the rank of one of my top five favorite authors. His insights are brilliant and his writing is exquisite. When I grow up, I want to be able to write like Malcolm Gladwell. Don’t let the title fool you. This isn’t a Bible book. It’s a book about asymmetrical thinking and winning against the odds. For an idea of how insightful Gladwell is (or how thick-headed I am), I’ve been a serious Bible student for thirty-four years. I’ve read, studied, and taught on David’s confrontation with Goliath more times than I can count. I thought I knew the story until I read this book. If you think you know all about this historic encounter, you’re in for a real treat.

I trust you enjoyed this little slice of my library. If any of the titles intrigued you, don’t be shy. Hop out on Amazon or go to your favorite book store (or library) and pick one of them up. You won’t regret it.

[1] Believe it or not, this comes from my chosen “life verse” 1 Corinthians 11:17. From the days of my late teens, it has been a continual reminder to me that gathering together should result in net benefit, not harm.

[2] CLEP – College Level Examination Program. It is a great way to rack up college credits for pennies on the dollar. The tests usually cost around $90. Scoring well on the Spanish test is worth 12 credits. Not bad for a couple of hours in the evening.