Thursday, July 10, 2014

#59 Empty Shelf Challenge 03 [101 in 1001]

BookOne Thousand Gifts .

Author: Ann Voskamp

Info: Copyright 2010 Zondervan

Where acquired: Checked out of public library.

Availability: and local bookstores.

Why:  When this book first came out, my friends were flocking to read it.  I try never to read something simply based on hype, plus, I like to read a book before I plunk down money for it.  I saw it at the library a few weeks ago and decided to check it out.

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 hashtags):   #

What it's about:  The central theme of the book is eucharisteo, the Greek word meaning both thankfulness and grace.  The author goes on a journey of finding God's grace and being thankful not only in the spectacular, but the mundane.

Favorite quotes:
  • "Something always comes to fill the empty places.  And when I give thanks for the seemingly microscopic, I make a place for God to grow within me.  This, this, makes me full..." - p. 59
  • "Wherever you are, be all there." - p. 69
  • "'The foremost quality of a trusting disciple is thankfulness'" - p. 153 (A quote of Brennan Manning's book Ruthless Trust.)
What I Liked:
  • The photographs she took during the process sounded very interesting.  I wish she had put some of them in the book, especially those her small daughter took.
  • When her children behaved long enough to have good family times, Voskamp's descriptions were joyful to read.
  • The book did inspire me to start a gratitude journal of my own.
  • I liked the picture on the front cover (I'm pulling at straws here).

What I didn’t like: 

I like where the author was trying to go.  It's a shame that she didn't get there.  In the small pockets of examples of thankfulness, there were larger pockets of confusion.  In one sentence, Voskamp would overflow in gratitude to the Lord. In the next pages, she would go on a litany of guilt and shame because God had been good to her. 

For all the flowery language and vividly descriptive vignettes, the author seems to never get to the point.  I read this whole book hoping for it to get better; it didn't.  In all her encouragement not to get in a hurry, I hurried through the book trying to get to the meat of her message, I never got there.  Her writing reminds me of Lisa Bevere's writings; the depth of the message is lost in the imagery.  I was going to stop reading after the first couple of chapters, but kept on, hoping for the climax of the story or some kind of resolution. There was none.  I felt like I was hitting a piñata that refused to open and spill out any goodies.

There were too many nameless faces and unanswered questions.  The book swam in ambiguity.

The overall tone of the book was so depressing.  I still don't understand what all the hype was about.

This is not a fault of the author, but the book wasn't edited very well.  There were several typographical errors that caused many of the sentences to not make sense.

I know my review sounds harsh, but maybe I just didn't know how to read this book.  Not how, as in not know the physical process of viewing words on a page, but how, as in understanding the voice of the author.  Was this book to be read as a whole, or was each chapter supposed to be a separate entity?  I never could catch the rhythm and tone of Voskamp.  What was she trying to say?

To sum up: My main takeaway from the book was this:  Be thankful and look for God even when you think He's not there.  He's there.

Want to join the challenge?  Click the empty shelf photo on the right to learn more.  It's not too late!

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