Jo's Reviews > One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
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Jul 31, 2011

did not like it
bookshelves: religious-spiritual
Read from May 28 to August 11, 2012

I almost hate to review this because I know so very many people absolutely love it. And I guess it's become something of a Christian classic. But, this was a difficult book for me to read, and therefore difficult to get into enough to relate well to it. This was my second try. I was reading it (slowly - having the same problems getting into it) when my brother died and I just stopped reading it. After two years, and continued sightings of gushing reviews I figured it was only fair to give it another shot. It just isn't for me. I don't like most poetry either and that is likely the problem as the book is written in a mystical, image-laden, drippy, free form poetical style, with long descriptions and odd metaphors and cutesy nicknames - instead of names - for every person in her family. Glurgh. I made myself finish it this time. It took months & it's really not a very big book. It did nothing for me spiritually because it was so hard to read/relate to.

I should say that I've done gratitude journals for years. That has helped me immensely over the years, both personally and spiritually. And the gratitude journal-thing is at the root of this book: listing 1000 gifts/grace notes in your life. For people who like her writing style, it is probably spiritually helpful. If you don't like her writing style, just start a gratitude journal, keep at it, and you'll be surprised how much it changes you/the way you live.
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Comments (showing 1-30 of 30) (30 new)

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message 1: by Meaghan (new)

Meaghan *pedantry* Should be "some" not "same."

What's a gratitude journal?


message 2: by Jo (last edited Jul 10, 2013 07:54PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Jo No, actually I meant the same problems I had this time, not some problems, but I dropped the "the". Thanks for pointing it out. I fixed it and a couple other fiddly things.

A gratitude journal can be kept in a fancy blank journal book or in a note book, whatever. The important thing (in my version) is to each night write down at least five things that happened that day that you are grateful/thankful for. When I started it I was in a very bad period of life and didn't think I could find five things each day. Some days I had entries which included being grateful for having heat (January - upstate NY), basic stuff like that because I couldn't see any further really. But when you know you have to to come up with five each day, you start looking for the good things in your day, and you start seeing them (a double rainbow, thank you God, so pretty; a stranger complimented my outfit, wow; a friend calling at just the right time...so grateful for that friend in my life...so grateful for the timing of the call; etc.). So simple things but I was now seeing them, and consciously looking for and appreciating good things in my life instead of focussing on the negative. And at some point I remembered Corrie ten Boom's story in The Hiding Place about being grateful for all things in all places, and the struggle she had with that, eventually reluctantly thanking God for the fleas in the women's barracks at the concentration camp & later it turned out that those fleas were what kept the Nazi guards out of the barracks. So I tried more to be grateful in even hard circumstances, like when I got my diagnosis of Gastroparesis. It was hard, but it helped, and I do have reasons to be grateful for it (it took awhile to find them). It even helped after Carl died although the entries got a lot longer & more anguished, but it helped. (I am grateful to have had him in my life as long as I did; that he didn't have to go through these feelings because someone he loved died; other things, little and big but too personal for this - (& I'm afraid my journals looked more like her book just then.) Anyway, consciously focussing on the good in life, looking for it, helps me see God's gifts in my life, helps me feel more of a connection to God. In One Thousand Gifts, she didn't do 5 a night, she carried her notebook with her throughout the day and wrote whenever she was grateful or trying to be grateful (I admit her description of doing dishes by hand for her family is lovely). Her goal was to write down 1000 such gifts/things she was grateful for in her life. It's worked for her and a lot of other people. But for me, especially when I started, in a major depressive period of my life, the idea of coming up with 5, although hard then, was not nearly as intimidating or impossible sounding as 1000! (They add up though - in my journals, kept sporadically, I probably have far more than 1000 now. I do have a blessed life.)

I'm typing by poking at my phone, which is a royal pain, & I hope I caught & corrected all the autocorrect butcherings (you wouldn't believe what it kept turning God into, or Corrie ten Boom, argh!). When I get to a computer I'll come back & review/edit as necessary. Anyway, I hope this explanation was helpful.


message 3: by Jody (new) - rated it 1 star

Jody I'm relieved to discover I'm not alone in my, ah, dislike isn't the right word maybe, but - props to you - I couldn't even finish the book. Seems like pretty much everyone else I know cannot stop raving about it, while I keep thinking "really? this?." Agreeing too that the advice to just start a gratitude journal is enough.


message 4: by Dawn (new) - rated it 1 star

Dawn I'm so relieved to read your review. I was a few chapter into it when I decided I just couldn't get past her writing style. It's too over the top for me.


message 5: by Michael (new)

Michael Thanks for taking so much effort to explain what a gratitude journal is.


Leona I too had a difficult time reading this book, and skimmed over many sections just to get to the end. Glad I am not the only one.


message 7: by Jo (new) - rated it 1 star

Jo Michael wrote: "Thanks for taking so much effort to explain what a gratitude journal is."

I'm glad you liked it. I was afraid it was too much; but it was hard for me to explain what it is, really, without examples and explaining why it was helpful to me.


Erin I also say thanks for posting! I have read half, then shelved it... Now attempting the rest of it! I love the message and content, intentions were great... But the style for me was very distracting. Thanks for being honest!


message 9: by Nichole (new)

Nichole The concept is beautiful... I've been basically doing as she has for the last year.... Giving thanks for everything. After a difficult year in many ways, counting my blessing has driven out anger or bitterness that could have taken root. But that being said I also found her writing style difficult to grasp. And two pages describing the beauty of dishwater? I love hearing how she has overcome the difficulties by Gods Grace and how she has grown. I just found the book a bit difficult to connect with. On the other hand.... Her blog is awesome!


Jennannej Jo, I love that you referred back to The Hiding Place. It's probably been more than 10 years since I read that book, but I still think (and tell people) about the incident where Corrie's sister praised God for the fleas. It really changed my outlook on life- and that's why I regularly list The Hiding Place in my top 5 books.

I was also a bit put off by this One Thousand Gifts book. The style was just too distracting for me.


message 11: by Kara (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kara I'm currently reading this and also feel a but of an oddball bc people say it's so good but I'm really struggling to get into it...


Phyllis I think this is one of those books you have to be in a "mood" for. :)


message 13: by Jody (new) - rated it 1 star

Jody Kara wrote: "I'm currently reading this and also feel a but of an oddball bc people say it's so good but I'm really struggling to get into it..."

Don't feel bad. I completely gave up & gave my book away; there is so much other stuff that I actually want to read!


message 14: by Michael (new)

Michael Jody's comment, above, hit my email reminder function and brought me back to this discussion. Jo, I've already said this, but I read (again) your explanation in post #2 and it is just magnificent. Your feelings, your experiences, and how much you captured in doing your gratitude journal, just from the glimpse you give us there. After reading that the first time, I started one, in a less disciplined format, and sure enough it changed or I didn't truly continue, but this reminder is firing me up again. I am fortunate and have much to be grateful for, although life changes and one never knows what is around that simple little corner over there.


Donna Brown I agree with your review


Nicole Denekamp You are so right on and accurate. I too felt like an oddball for not liking it as it came highly recommended. I'm wondering if all those people truly liked it or just feel like they need to say they did!


Mandelbrotr I enjoyed this book. But I completely understand that the writing style could make it unreadable for some.


message 18: by Niki (new)

Niki Nichols I totally agree with your review. It is very difficult to read.


Registered Bibliophile This is the first time in years that I've stopped a book before completion. I just couldn't do it anymore. I don't like her style of writing, and I found myself having to reread portions just to understand what the author was trying to convey.


David Pfanschmidt Totally agree. It's a slow and difficult read. Frankly, I'm not sure what all the hype us about.


message 21: by Amy (new) - rated it 1 star

Amy Our small group is reading this and I'm having such a hard time following any of it. I don't care for the writing style at all.


message 22: by Krissy (new) - added it

Krissy Burke Wheeeewww! I'm only on page 24 and it's so hard to keep reading. It really feels like the author is trying too hard to be...something. For me, even though it's a tough subject matter, it feels to "running in the field of daisies" while trying to drip out colorful droplets of perfume instead of sweat. I'm going to try to trudge through it as it was a gift but, I don't know if I'm going to make it.


Sandy Schelthelm Some of us feel like this book is written exactly how our brains work/think. Every. Single. Day. I've read some to my hubby and he could get it because we have been married 25 years but I'm certain he couldn't just read it on his own. Lol. I guess you can be grateful your brains don't "look" like this. Add it to your list. And maybe now you can understand why some of us take a little longer with the dishes. Hahaha.


Ashleigh I'm listening to the audiobook and having problems because its so much drama! But parts of it are good and quotable. I think I'd do better with an actual book because I could skip the verbosity and get to the good quotes and the points.


message 25: by Lorene (new)

Lorene Cobb Thank you! I though I was the only one who couldn't get into this book. I wanted to like it and I too picked it up again for a second chance. Then I bought the Christmas devo she wrote hoping I would like that format. Just couldn't get there.


message 26: by Angela (new)

Angela Howell Gosh this is interesting feedback. I've just published a book myself called "Finding the Gift: Daily Meditations for Mindfulness." It's also a daily reader, largely using everyday metaphors to deliver life insight.. Someone heard about my book and recommended this one to me. Hmmm... my friend really raved about it. I guess every book isn't for everybody. I personally don't like too much flowery language. Descriptive is good if not overboard. Keep it simple! I'm doing a giveaway if you want to check mine out. I hope you would have a different experience. Enter by Feb 5! Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and reminding me of "The Hiding Place."


message 27: by Ashley (new)

Ashley I also struggled with this book. Great concept and beautiful language (both a victory and a downfall, in my opinion). There were times when I just sat there thinking, "What in the world is this woman getting at?" *look at chapter heading to reorient myself* Beautiful language is a gift, but if you can't get your point across clearly... well... What are we all here for?

I know this book is SUPER popular, but it just didn't do it for me. Glad I'm not the only one.

Thanks for sharing!


message 28: by Tonya (new)

Tonya  H I also want to like it, but can't make heads or tails of what the author is trying to say. :(
So glad I'm not the only one ...


message 29: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Harris I'm with Jo on this. I don't even want to pick up this book. What's with going to Paris and "finally learning how to make love to God"?! Or this: And I fill my mother’s tearing ring of fire with my body emerging, virgin lungs searing with air of this earth and I enter the world like every person born enters the world: with clenched fists.

From the diameter of her fullness, I empty her out–and she bleeds. Vernix-creased and squalling, I am held to the light.

I don't understand that and know I wouldn't enjoy the rest of the book.


Killian I am a 100 percent agree and I am listening to it. Think that is easier than reading!


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