Three brief moments of disclosure before I begin: 1) This book took me months to read. That was all on me. I slowly and carefully digested each word. IThree brief moments of disclosure before I begin: 1) This book took me months to read. That was all on me. I slowly and carefully digested each word. I'm certain it could have been read faster, but I couldn't do it. 2) I haven't read Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. Still, I have my preconceived notions about the spiritual disciplines and Richard Foster's beautiful (and comical) use of antonyms in his title. 3) One of my dearest friends edited this book. She knows me well enough to know that means nothing as to my liking this book.
Now. On to the review.
Nathan Foster is the son of Richard Foster, whom I have always referred to as "The Disciplines Guy." Richard's famous book Celebration of Discipline was published when I was one year old and has always felt like a daunting, "must-do" task for me if I want to be a true Christian. I'm not sure anyone put that on me besides me, but it has always sat there nonetheless. So, when my editor friend told me what she was working on, I was skeptical and intrigued. Then I got my hands on the book. And I spent the next three months eating, chewing, laughing, wiping away tears, nodding my head, and shaking my head in amazement.
For starters, I was glad to find out I wasn't the only one who found the concept of the spiritual disciplines as a formidable but essential checklist in order to reach true Christian status. Richard Foster's own son felt that way too! And, in much the same words my own pastor father would use, Richard gently explained to his son (and to the reader--in a coup we get "The Spiritual Disciplines Guy" AND his "Skeptical About the Disciplines Son"!): "This isn't supposed to hurt. It's not supposed to be a checklist about succeeding or failing. It's supposed to be about choosing God."
With candid honesty, vulnerable humility, and well-sprinkled humor, Nathan Foster details his four-year journey with the spiritual disciplines. It's a journey from fear, trepidation, and duty to freedom, love, and joy. Through his journey, Foster makes approachable what has long felt daunting. And he helps his reader see the secret Richard Foster tried to share with us all along: It isn't about twelve rigid practices; in fact, as I go about each day, there are so many simple ways I can intentionally direct my will and actions toward God. While the categories are helpful, they are only constructed to enable us to frame our experiences. In a sense there is only one discipline: an active response to a loving God. (p191)
And, in that learning to actively respond to a loving God, through Richard Foster's introductions to each chapter, Nathan Foster's prosaic explanations of his practical implementation of each discipline (sometimes accidental, always simple, and never with mundane results), and a brief essay on a "mother or father" of the faith who lived that discipline daily, we see that this really is practical. It really is about responding actively to a loving God. It really is about choosing joy and choosing love and seeing God and needing Him and wanting Him more than anything else.
I'll read this book again. Next time it won't be for an assignment or with a deadline I already missed. It will be with a journal and a plan to actively and intentionally walk this journey on my own.
Addiction is heart-breaking. While the book didn't have that much literary value (aside from serving as a text on the need for editing--so many typos!Addiction is heart-breaking. While the book didn't have that much literary value (aside from serving as a text on the need for editing--so many typos!), it was one more cautionary tale about the power of addiction and its destructive power. I'm learning that there are alcoholics who have to drink a couple of drinks every day and those who can go without for many days but for whom one sip turns into the whole bottle...or two. Sweetin fully admits to being the latter. The power in recovery there is admitting it, finding the reasons behind the need for alochol, and then never taking that sip. In a year or two where we have lost too many actors and non-famous people, too, to addiction this is a lesson worth remembering and embracing. ...more
The story of the Nichols family is told here--through recollection and research--in a hauntingly beautiful narrative. In her introduction, Alonzo alloThe story of the Nichols family is told here--through recollection and research--in a hauntingly beautiful narrative. In her introduction, Alonzo allows that portions of the story are unbelievable. She was right. At times I had to remind myself that she was recounting true events supported by evidence, police accounts, and memories.
What is perhaps even more unbelievable than the events are the true themes of this story: submitting to God's call, no matter what or where it is; trust in God's protection and ultimate goodness; integrity; and, most significantly, forgiveness. This book is a beautiful reminder that forgiveness truly is the language of heaven. Even when--or perhaps especially when--it doesn't make sense....more
Hamilton wrote Beyond Belief with a cowriter, so it's hard to know what, if anything, he actually wrote of his story. Either way, Hamilton comes acrosHamilton wrote Beyond Belief with a cowriter, so it's hard to know what, if anything, he actually wrote of his story. Either way, Hamilton comes across as a bit pompous and strangely defensive of his parents. The early portions of the book, while engaging, were hard for me to read. All I could see in Hamilton was a jock who was still attached to his mother and father ("momma" and "daddy," to hear him tell it). Time and time again he defended his parents in places that I didn't think they needed defending. As the book goes on, though, it seemed to me that Hamilton is not pompous or still attached to his umbilical cord--I think he's naive. I think he's, um, simple. And I think he's sweet.
As Hamilton recounts his descent into cocaine addiction, the story becomes at times engrossing and appalling. It's rather like watching a car crash--you want to look away from the destruction, but you have to know how it comes out. You can't look away. At least with Hamilton's story anyone who follows baseball knows at least how it comes around. The self-destruction is evident, and (this is why I think he's simple and sweet) Hamilton doesn't hide any of it. He details the squarlor in which he was willing to find his drugs, his descent into crack, and the levels he sunk to in order to feed his demons. Hamilton also doesn't hide the fact that his faith in God is all that brought him through. At face value, Beyond Belief is the tale of Josh Hamilton's addiction, his efforts to throw away the natural baseball talent that God gave him, and his recovery from drugs and of his career. When it comes down to it, though, this is a tale of spiritual warfare. From his tattoos to his drug addiction to his reclaimed career to his two relapses, that's what Hamilton's story is. And, at the end of the day, that's what our stories are too.
Our book club has been struggling this summer, both with our reading and with our getting together to discuss what we're reading. As a result, we're gOur book club has been struggling this summer, both with our reading and with our getting together to discuss what we're reading. As a result, we're going to meet this week to discuss our June and August books. We're skipping our July book, which was maybe a little depressing to add to a summer month. Anyway, thankfully our August book is the Mindy Kaling autobiography. Easy enough.
And fluffy. And only mildly funny.
I'll confess to being a bit disappointed. I don't know really what I was expecting, except maybe some wipe the tears from my eyes laughter and hilarity. I didn't get that. The book is certainly light and easy to read. It will be even easier to discuss, I'm sure.
Kaling is a good writer. She turns a phrase nicely from time to time, and her descriptions of herself are candid. I appreciate that she doesn't try to make herself more amazing than she already is (which is pretty amazing, if she does say so herself). There are certainly moments when I laughed out loud. Those came in her description of one-night stands, the "Irish" exit, and the pictures on her Blackberry.
The subtitle of this book is perhaps the most descriptive title I've ever seen in a book. Sometimes when I'm reading a book I will read almost the entire book before I understand where the title originated. Other times it is only on reflection days later. With this it was clear from the beginning--Kaling is simply sharing 200 or so pages of her concerns about growing up, friendships, work, boys and men, and fashion. I'm not saying that's a bad thing. I'm just saying that sometimes it's funny, and sometimes it isn't. But all of it made me like her more and wish that we were friends. My concerns are pretty random and only mildly funny too. ...more
Hooray, Tina Fey! She seems to write everything she thinks, which is also how I write. Except then I delete most of it. I appreciate that Tina leavesHooray, Tina Fey! She seems to write everything she thinks, which is also how I write. Except then I delete most of it. I appreciate that Tina leaves it all in--her random thoughts, her tangents, her unnecessary explanations. It all makes it into Bossypants, and that's what makes it hilarious.
While the structure of the book is seemingly nonexistent, it almost doesn't matter. Fey covers a wide range of her life, from her childhood to her early career to her current work at 30 Rock and as a mother, with a stop with Sarah Palin in between. It all feels equally important to who she is now. If you're looking for a chronological autobiography, this is not your book. If, however, you are looking for candid and random facts from one of the funnier women in America--quit reading this review and pick up Bossypants!...more
At first I was a bit skeptical--I've read celebrity biographies, and they aren't usually worth their salt, especially as self-help books. I had heardAt first I was a bit skeptical--I've read celebrity biographies, and they aren't usually worth their salt, especially as self-help books. I had heard about the book from following Cameron Bure on Twitter, and I came across it when I was at a local Christian bookstore in the health section. For a long time I have struggled with healthy eating and snacking, and I have come to feel that it was connected to my spiritual life and the "snacking" I do with my relationship with God. When I picked this book off the shelf and saw that that's exactly what it was about, I decided to give it a try. I'm so glad I did! Because there is a co-writer, the writing is actually good. The analogies are also spiritually based and don't feel hokey. There is a good use of scripture and encouragement to see overeating/undereating as sinning in not propery caring for your body. I was inspired and also gained helpful tips and "nuggets" that I can post on my mirror, on my fridge, and anywhere else that I need a reminder about who I really am.
If you are a Christian, and you struggle with eating improperly, I highly recommend this book!...more