Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mini Book Reviews

Once again I've just been zooming through books and I haven't always felt like writing up a full review for them. So here are my litle "blurbs" on some of the books I have been reading.

Tim Challies discussed Lou Priolo's book Pleasing People in such a way that made it an instant "must read" for me. When I say "instant" I mean it! I hopped right over to Amazon and bought the book the same day! (Challies is someone whose opinion/advice and counsel is worth taking in my opinion. If he says one should read a certain book, I typically assume that 'one' is me!)

Am I glad I read this book? I almost took a picture of my copy of it. It has Post-It Notes stuck out at all angles. (In other words, yes, I'm glad I read this book.)

The book started out with a little unscientific test which the reader was to take to determine how much of a people pleaser they really were. Normally I skip such tests in books but this time I decided to take it and was frightened and surprised to discover that I, myself, Carrie of Reading to Know, ranked as an "approval addict." Are you surprised!?!? (Well, maybe . . . not?) *I* was. (I bet my family would be too if I told them. I haven't decided whether or not to tell them though because I don't know how it will effect their opinion of me. See? I'm pathetically addicted! Waaa!)

Even though I'm "harsh" and brash and opinionated and lots of negative things, I still really care a great deal about how I am perceived and about my reputation. HONOR is a big deal to me. I don't really care if people LIKE me. I just care that they treat my name well and deal with me in a truthful manner. (Sometimes I don't like them so I consider us even.) But still, that leaves me in a position where I have to be false to truth, craving a mirage instead of being a genuine follower of Christ who cares more about His opinion of me than of others.

Best quote from the book for me: "It is useless to try to please people because they are fundamentally incapable of being pleased by anyone or anything other than Christ. To be sure, man can look to virtually anything for pleasure and satisfaction. But in the final analysis, nothing pleases and satisfies man the way God does." (page 92)

For more thoughts on this book, see what Challies had to say. I'll just add my recommendation to his.


I read A Wife After God's Own Heart almost a month back and then just never sat down and wrote up a "review" detailing my thoughts. Really, all I wanted to do was to detail my thoughts. I've talked about how much I enjoy Elizabeth George before so there's nothing new for me to say about her style of talking to her reader. I still appreciate her approach to sharing wisdom with women. That's really what she does with this book - she shares the wisdom she has gained after nearly 40 years of marriage to her husband, Jim. Now, when someone has been married for almost 40 years, I will definitely sit up and have a listen to what it is they have to say!

This book, as Mrs. George's others do, gives a lot of practical advice mixed in with the encouragement you need to know that you too can be a success as a Christian wife. She addresses issues such as finances, communication styles, parenting and how to make time for fun in your marriage. I particularly honed in on that aspect of the book because I had grown a little rusty at trying to make ANYthing fun. As a mother of a toddler (with one on the way via adoption) and family things exploding left and right, having fun wasn't at the top of my priority list. Post reading this book, I tried to find ways to relax my mind, so as to relax our home, so as to just plain relax! We aren't all the way there yet, but we're working on it!

There isn't any reason NOT to recommend A Wife After God's Own Heart. Married? Grab a copy! Who knows which topic that she hits on will speak to you. It's worth a "listen." (And if you are remotely aware of George's style - you know you'll be listening more than you will be reading!)


I've talked about Face to Face: Meditations on Friendship and Hospitality before. I've read it before too (a few times) because it offers much in the way of discipline and encouragement when it comes to the way to approach relationships. I think this book is fantastic. I skimmed it again recently. Here are some gems from the first chapter alone:

On needing others:

We are finite beings and therefore cannot be self-sufficient. We are utterly dependent upon others, and the longer we live, the more we feel this fact. He is a fool who thinks he can live by himself. It is impossible. Nevertheless, many people are very attracted to the Romantic idea of escaping into the wilderness, living by themselves,a dn not depending on anyone else. It is attractive because God alone is self-sufficient, and every rebel wants to be like Him. There is something in the heart of sinful man which dislikes being indebted to anyone. If man is indebted, he is obligated to show his gratitude and sinful man is not grateful." (page 14)

On needing others, but on carefully selecting intimate friends:

"A second demand qualifies the demand of friendliness: though we are to be friendly to all we cannot be the friends, companions, or intimates of all. Though we are required to be friendly, we are to have certain criteria for those we choose to allow into our intimate circle. Choosing close companions must be done very carefully. In Psalm 119:63, David summarizes these criteria: "I am a companion of all those who fear You and of those who keep Your precepts." David does not just embrace anyone off the street as his friend. He associates closely only with those who fear God and keep His commandments. He may show love and friendliness to an unbelieving man, but that man could never be his friend. Was Davidthen simply acting like a snob, acting "holier than thou"? Certainly not. He recognizes the realities of his nature and the realities of God's demands upon him. "He that walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer" (Proverbers 13:20). According to David, you cannot have fools for friends and escape the consequences. No one could ever be so upright and holy that he could afford to have foolish friends, because we are all influenced deeply by the people close to us." (page 22)

Whether or not you agree on all of Wilkins' conclusions regarding friendships and relationships, I think Face to Face is an extremely worthwhile read in a day and age where "anything goes" and it is expected of every person to make friends with every other person. Sometimes that's not wise and sometimes that's not safe. Yes, it's important to be FRIENDLY but we so often confuse that with friendships and I appreciate the way Wilkins defines the two a little clearer and provides ample food for thought. At the very leat I would hope we can agree that friendships aren't given much thought and Wikins shifts the spotlight back on them again, to motivate us towards relationships that are beneficial towards us both indvidually and coporately.

I like the book!


Stephanie said...

I'm rereading E. George's Woman of Prayer book ... good stuff. I may have to add the "wife" book to my list, now. :)

Unknown said...

I like you. Oh, you don't care? I respect you too. Ha!

I was a bit surprised too at the results of your quiz, and think that while I don't think I'm as much of a "people pleaser" as many are (I do what I want) -- I do seek approval. Hmmm.

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

That People Pleaser book sounds like one I NEED!!! Thanks for the review, Carrie!

Stephanie Kay said...

They all sound good! Since our personalities seem so similar, I wonder how I would do on the quiz. I'm afraid to find out!! :)

Melissa said...

I think I need to read all of these books!

Carrie said...

Well, I'm glad you like me, Jennifer. I like you to (and therefore am relieved you like me!). ;D

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