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Review: A Restless Age by Austin Gohn

Hey there folks! Before we get into the review, I want to thank Austin for letting me have a read of this book prior to its official release date. As you’ll quickly find, I really liked this book and encourage you to check it out, too. A Restless Age releases on March 19, 2019, and you can snag yourself a copy at this link.

You know, it’s sort of sad we never get to know the authors behind our favorite titles.

I don’t know about you, but I often think about the person behind the book. What led them to share the story they did? And does their life exemplify that message they’re sending out to the world? They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, and I’ve found that you can’t really judge an author by their book, either.

Fortunately, this is one of those rare exceptions where I actually do know the author. Austin Gohn and I attended the same Christian undergraduate school, and given that my wife’s high school class was larger than our university’s on campus presence, everybody knew everybody in some capacity. And I gotta say, folks… Austin is the real deal. It made me excited to read this book because I instantly knew that whatever lies between these covers, there’s no doubt this guy definitely practices what he preaches.

A Restless Age is a book all about living through that troublesome period in life we call the twenties. Less than 6 months away from my 30th birthday, I can say with confidence that my twenties were just weird, weird, and… did I say weird? My twenties started off with me playing Xbox for hours on end in my dorm room. Now, I have two beautiful daughters, a lovely wife, a budding career, and a hopeful future.

But… there were a lot of low times in between. For as many positive memories I have, there were twice as many painful, confusing, or downright messy experiences, many of which I hope no twenty-something ever has to go through.

Given that Austin’s life matches up with my own in some key ways, I was very curious to see how A Restless Age matched up with my own experiences. As I continue with my own faith journey, what new insights can I glean from somebody who is pretty similar to me? And how can the voices of the past guide any young person in their twenties through an undoubtedly trying season of life?

Let’s see what this book has to offer.

It might surprise you to learn that for somebody who loves to read, I’m a terrible reader. If you get above about a 6th grade reading level, you lose me really quickly. Ironically, Augustine’s writings have traditionally fallen in this category for me. Based on recommendations from friends, I’ve tried picking up Augustine’s Confessions two or three times now, only to falter when I got too lazy to try connecting it to my own life.

After reading A Restless Age, my view on Augustine has turned 180 degrees.

What Austin does most successfully in this book is tying the seemingly outdated notion of a random fourth century guy‘s life into something that maps directly, one-for-one onto our modern lives, even as Millennials. If Augustine were born today, he would undoubtedly be like you or me. In fact, he’d probably experience many of the same things he did in the fourth century, albeit with advancements in technology and other societal shifts.

From stories about pogs to Beanie Babies, Austin writes in a way that kept my short attention span intact. Even though he used light hearted stories to capture the reader’s attention, Austin was still able to successfully convey big ideas in regular language. Here’s an example of one of the things I highlighted as I was reading:

In Augustine’s dictionary, rest is not just a good nap on an old couch; it’s discovering and reordering our lives around the One whole made us for himself.

That’s a beautiful phrase, and you don’t have to be a scholar to understand it. So if seeing “Augustine” on the cover dismays you, don’t worry at all. This book isn’t here to make you feel dumb or talk down to you. Rather, Austin gracefully uses Augustine as an invitation to ascent.

A Restless Age is broken down succinctly into five different chapters that encapsulate an overarching topic you will almost certainly run into in your 20's, and I definitely agree with Austin on his choice here. From habits to love to jobs, the book will almost assuredly touch on the thing that will cause the existential crisis you’ll inevitably face in this troublesome decade.

Being somebody who blogs a lot about business, I wish I could sit down with any 18 year old and go into detail about why Austin’s sentiments about job life in your 20s are 1000% spot on. Whether you struggle to make money or make more than you know what to do with, Austin correctly captures the emotional anguish caused with each. (And yes, having money can cause emotional anguish because, spoiler alert, I’ve found money doesn’t bring you happiness.)

Of course, I point that chapter out because it resonated the most with me personally. I imagine you’ll probably find another chapter to be just as meaningful to you. Maybe you’re struggling addiction to porn or social media. Maybe you’re lonely and so desperately desire a companion. Whatever seems to plague you the most I’m sure is encapsulated in some form in this book. And again, I find it really cool how Austin is able to seamlessly tie our woes today to the wisdom of Augustine in the fourth century.

Austin does a great job at connecting Augustine to the modern day reader, and there’s no doubt I find a lot of solidarity with him in my own life. If you‘ve hung around my blog in the last 8 or so months, you know that I’ve called into question many things about the Christian faith. And transparently, I don’t know if I agree with everything Austin shares. I mean that quite literally when I say “I don’t know.” Here at the end of my 20s, my faith life can be summarized in a single emoji: 🤷🏽‍♂️

What I do know is that, just like Augustine, I keep finding myself pulled back to the Christ consciousness. No matter how far I wander into the blackness of uncertainty, I keep finding the God of the Bible at every turn. I don’t find that discouraging at all. In fact, I find it comforting to know the God of my childhood remains well into my adulthood. It reminds me of one of my favorite phrases:

First a mountain is a mountain and a river is a river, then a mountain is not a mountain and a river is not a river, and then a mountain is a mountain and a river is a river again.

All that said, this is book is not just for twenty-somethings… It’s a book for all of us. Sure, I totally agree that if we were to target one group that needs this book the most, it’s the twenty-something crowd. But this journey of faith, this journey of trying to make sense of what life is… that’s ageless and timeless.

And that’s why I’m grateful for people like Austin and Augustine to help light the journey along this dark trail.

The third decade of your life we call the 20's can undoubtedly be one of the most trying times you’ll ever experience. Fortunately, you don’t have to go through this journey alone. In A Restless Age, Austin Gohn connects readers to Saint Augustine and shows that the trials of today aren’t too different from Augustine’s experiences in the fourth century. And while aimed at twenty-somethings, I’m confident you’ll walk away from this read with insight to apply to your life, whether you’re 22 or 52.

Written by

Machine learning engineer by day, spiritual explorer by night.

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