Charity's Reviews > The Pen and the Bell: Mindlful Writing in a Busy

The Pen and the Bell by Brenda Miller
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Sep 27, 12

bookshelves: writing
Read from June 23 to September 27, 2012

I'm vacillating between a 4-star rating and a 5-star rating. Basically, I really enjoyed this book, but I wanted to wait until I went through and did several of the exercises before I decided for sure whether I just "really liked it" or thought it was "amazing."

Many times, I find books with two authors to be tedious and disjointed in style even if I find the content compelling, but I think the teamwork model works well for this book. Miller and Hughes address the topic for each chapter through an essay each, headed by the author's name. For the exercises, they draw from a variety of sources, from traditional religious practices (from Buddhism, which one might guess from the title, as well as Judaism and various Christian traditions) to books on writing and meditation by authors like Julia Cameron and Thich Nhat Hanh. They both seem to have had a reading list similar to mine, which might be part of why I connected with them.

The quotes, poem excerpts, and personal anecdotes they include are well-chosen and serve to elucidate the chapter topics well. I read this alongside The Sacred Way by Tony Jones, which outlines a variety of spiritual practices from Christian traditions, and I found that there was much overlap between the suggestions Miller and Hughes give in this book and those Jones gives in his book. For example, the practice of lectio divina, or meditation through close reading, appears in both texts. Miller and Hughes take it in a different direction than Jones does, and it was interesting to see the two (or rather, three) different takes on the same mindfulness practice. It helped me see other ways that I could take a practice and make it my own.

I'm planning to use this book and its prompts for the next ROW80 round in which I will be participating beginning October 1st. I'll plan to update on my blog (and here if I can remember to) as I see how well the book works for me in practice.
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