Book Chat

I love to read. Here are some book reviews of books I’ve finished recently.

shackI read The Shack because it was supposed to be life-changing, and it has been sweeping churches nation-wide.

It didn’t do much for me.

The story, in case you haven’t read it, involves a man whose young daughter was murdered.  In an effort at “closure” (I hate that word), he heads out to a shack in the boonies near where she was killed.  While he’s there, he meets God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, all in the flesh, and spends the weekend with them.

God appears as a black woman, a la Aunt Jemima.  This annoyed me, not because I was necessarily offended at God being portrayed as black or female (He IS a spirit after all, not a person of any kind), but because it seemed so gimmicky and like it was done to stir people up and get attention.

Jesus is an ugly Middle Eastern man with a hippie-like demeanor (which again was distracting to me just because it seemed to try too hard at being anti-establishment), and the Holy Spirit was an Asian lady named Sarayu.

I can see why people might like the book, because in personifying the members of the Trinity, it does give them real personality and makes them seem “relatable”.

However, the book just kept seeming to try too hard to knock down the evil, bad traditions of religion (Jesus says, “I’m not a Christian” in the book, etc).

I’m surprised it has been so popular.  But, to paraphrase a popular Seinfeld line, maybe it’s not the book – it’s me.

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newearthOkay, onward and upward.  And I do mean upward with this one – up, up and away to enlightenment!  This is an Oprah club book.  I am no fan of Oprah, especially since she began worshiping at the altar of Obama, but I have enjoyed many of her recommended books  (aside from the fact that I find a majority of them depressing, but usually they’re good stories).

I was planning to skip A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose .  When Oprah endorsed it, there was a big stink about it being anti-Christian.  I figured, as a Christian, I’d just avoid the book.

But then.  A friend was quite taken by this book.  She kept talking about it, telling me that she was recommending it to friends “when I feel they’re ready to hear it”.

Hmmm.  Okay, what’s this all about?  Well, about two months ago she loaned me her copy of the book, which I took to be a good sign:  I was “ready” to hear its message, right?  Woo hoo!

I’m still working on it.  I tell you, it’s another best-seller that I’m having a real hard time appreciating.  Tolle throws in all these terms (I’m not enlightened enough to know whether they are standard terminology or just things he made up) like ego, pain-body, etc.

I found the whole book hard to follow.  He tends to go off in tangents, and is also pretty self-satisfied if I do say so myself.  He tends to make statements to the effect that if you don’t agree with his thinking, you are not yet enlightened enough.

I’m going to finish it, just to please my friend, but it’s not changing my life.  I guess I’ll just keep trudging along with my ego in control, dragging around my darn pain-body 🙂

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pillarsMy friends, you will be glad to know that I do have a book that I thoroughly enjoyed – The Pillars of the Earth.

Yes, it is an Oprah book, but I didn’t choose it for that reason.  I was browsing in the library – something I love but rarely find time for – and came across this huge (almost 1000 pages) book about medieval England.  Ahhh … I think heaven will be full of books like this.  I had previously enjoyed similar epic-style books by Edward Rutherford (Sarum, London, etc).

I have not been disappointed.

In this book, you’ll follow characters through a 50+ year period.  You’ll get to know masons, merchants, priests, and royalty.  Follett is a master storyteller, and he throws in a lot of surprises to keep your interested piqued throughout the hundreds of pages of this book.

One big surprise is when the book’s most evil character jumps into real history at the end, killing Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral.

If I have a complaint, it’s that Follett throws in a few too many rape scenes for my taste (okay, was medieval England really like that, or is it just a dramatic thing authors like to use?).

Anyway, I recommend this one wholeheartedly.  Read it – you won’t be sorry.
*****************************************************************greatFinally.  The Great Eight: How to Be Happy (Even When You Have Every Reason to be Miserable), by skater Scott Hamilton.  I am no athlete, and I really have very little interest in sports of any kind.  However, I can work up some enthusiasm for figure skating and gymnastics (probably because they’re really more similar to dance than to sports, but that’s another topic).

In this book, Scott Hamilton shares his eight tips for being happy.  It’s also autobiographical (although that part is not complete; he’s written another autobiography).  Each tip has its own chapter:

1. Fall, Get Up, and Land Your First Jumps
2. Trust Your Almighty Coach
3. Make Your Losses Your Wins
4. Keep the Ice Clear
5. Think Positive, Laugh, and Smile Like Kristi Yamaguchi
6. Win by Going Last
7. Learn a New Routine
8. Stand in the Spotlight

You really can’t find fault with Hamilton.  Despite severe health issues in his childhood, and two battles with cancer as an adult, he has a great outlook and obviously practices what he preaches.

But, this book just didn’t intrigue me.  He would make his point in a chapter, and then seem to repeat it over and over (it struck me that perhaps he was doing this on purpose, to parallel the repetition of making figure 8’s on the ice?).  However, the effect was that I began skimming his points after he had made them a time or two.

Enjoy this book, but read it quickly.  I think it could have been improved by being half its length, but at under 200 pages already, that probably wasn’t going to happen.

11 thoughts on “Book Chat

  1. Wow, you must be a verocious reader. That’s good! It’s healthy to read so much. I’m an old stick-in-the-mud and will stay with my Reader’s Digest, Forbes magazine, Berean Searchlight and all my Agatha Christie novels. :o) I’m so boring. ha ha ♥ ∞

  2. Thanks for the reviews! I’ll read “The Shack” if I get my hands on it this summer, but when I’m doing a bible study, I try not to get too much other deep reading going. (I am seriously ADD)

  3. The Shack seems to be a book everyone is reading. Thanks for an honest review of it. Still not sure if I want to jump into reading it or not. I have had Pillars of the Earth setting on my bookshelf for ages. Not sure if I want to start a 900 plus book or not. =) Happy reading.

  4. I’m seeing more and more negative reviews of The Shack. I need to read it so I can make up my own mind, but the negatives are coming from people I respect, so it will be hard for me to read it without prejudice.

    If you love medieval British stories, try Stephen Lawhead’s King Raven trilogy about Robin Hood. I’m on the second book…read all 400+ pages of the first one in three days! He also has a five-book series on the King Arthur legend. I haven’t read any of those, but it’s on the TBR list.

  5. Yeah. I’m NOT a Shack fan. And I do’nt think it’s you. I think it’s the book. I have a major pet peeve against that one, I do!

    Anyway, welcome to the carnival! I’m glad you participated!

  6. Worshipping at the altar of Obama…lol!!

    I read so many off the wall books that no one ever has a booklist of them! It was good to read your reviews. I thought the medieval one sounded interesting. Thanks!

  7. I don’t care for books like The Shack, or Five People You Meet In Heaven, either. Like you say, they try too hard and kill the message they supposedly want to share. As for Oprah and that charlatan Tolle! This stuff is just New Age repackaged for the next generation. It’s a bunch of garbage, and quite blasphemous at that. It’s all about “Christ consiousness” (sp) as opposed to Jesus Christ, whom they quite casually dismiss as not being God at all, but just a “good teacher” or some such blather. Which would make him a lyer or a psychopath, which He is not. Sorry, but this stuff makes me mad, and the arrogance of Oprah and Tolle are breathtaking. I can’t understand why she wants to claim to be a Christian while undermining everything it claims to be! (I’m currently reading Mere Christianity by C.S.Lewis. What a contrast!)

  8. I have a friend who is reading The shack. I am curious as to what she has to say. I, myself, am not interested in reading the book because I reading more and more negative about the book…views such as yours.

  9. I read the Shack.. I thought it was kind of thought provoking to see the trinity protrayed the way he did.
    It really did keep me engrossed to the end.

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