660 of 703 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are (Hardcover)I am a little baffled by One Thousand Gifts. Baffled that everyone seems to love the book, baffled at the reviews, and baffled that I do not seem to be enjoying the book like I expected.
I have seen some major comment craziness over this book which causes me a little apprehension in sharing my thoughts because I don't particularly want to be stoned or have virtual banana peels throw my way. The truth is; however, I did not love it. I had to force myself to keep reading which having a review copy demanded.
Sure, I was touched by the sadness author Ann VosKamp has had to deal with and I wished it was not so for her. Plus, I think giving thanks to God is important; however, I found myself weighed down by her constant, poetical voice. It was hard to follow and taxing to read. Sometimes, I wanted her to say what she meant straight out and not make me search for the intended meaning nor be forced to reread sentences because of the unconventional wording. I personally feel that her prose works for short blog posts but not an entire book, and I wondered if the entire message of the book could be condensed into one or more blog posts that would have been just as encouraging.
As I was reading, there were sentences and sections that made me pause and want to line it up with truth. I wondered if in her manner, there were liberties taken. Just three of the parts that made me wonder were as follows:
"If clinging to His goodness is the highest form of prayer, then seeing His goodness with a pen, with the shutter, with a word of thanks, these really are the most sacred acts conceivable." (pg. 61) So, writing down or taking pictures of what you are thankful for is a sacred act and actually "the most sacred act conceivable"?
"Here is the only place I can love Him." (pg. 70) She can only love God when she writes her list?
"...discover how to make love to God." (pg. 201) When you use certain words and phrases, you think certain things (sex, not necessarily intimacy).
Perhaps these questions I had were because I was not enjoying the poetry in it all. I do understand that a new voice, a break from ordinary is refreshing and her fan base is solid. Based on bloggers I read and Tweets I am following the majority are devouring One Thousand Gifts.
I did not enjoy One Thousand Gifts, but I do like Ann VosKamp. I read her blog, Holy Experience, at times and sometimes, I link up. From my readings, I believe she loves God with all her heart and desires to serve Him; so none of that is in question here. Plus, despite the fact that the reading was laborious to me, I did close the book desiring to keep writing my list of thanks and wanting to see God's hand in all of my life, which was the purpose and goal of the book to be sure. Thanks to Ann, I have a list going that started long before her book and because of her blog.
One Thousand Gifts was given to me by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 24, 2011 2:16:40 PM PDT
I whole-heartedly agree with this review. While I loved the meaning or intent of the book, I did NOT love the style of delivery. It was distracting and made it difficult to get through. In small doses, I would find her writing style lovely and poetic; but for an entire book, not so much.
Posted on Mar 25, 2011 11:12:15 AM PDT
I am a fellow fan of Ann Voskamp and "A Holy Experience," and I had a similar experience as you with the book. I wanted to love it, but I just couldn't, and I felt disappointed that I had to struggle to finish it. It was laborious to read after the first couple of chapters. I think what you said about her writings working as a blog but not as a book is spot-on.
Thank you for writing such an honest and gracious review.
Posted on Jun 4, 2011 7:49:12 PM PDT
la chap says:
I agree with you, spot-on, about the truths perhaps not lining up.......I'm not sure I agree with that Julian of Norwich bit about highest form of prayer being goodness (what is a form of prayer anyway?). And, "for of all the things our minds can think about God, it is thinking upon his goodness that pleases him most and brings the most profit to our soul" -- I want to substitute "his holiness" in there instead of "his goodness".
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 26, 2011 11:48:23 AM PDT
Agreed! I also find some of her mentions very scary. Dallas Williard? The days are getting more scary.
Posted on Dec 30, 2011 4:37:08 PM PST
While I love her style of writing and the mystery in it, I commend you for writing such a gracious review, even though you didn't love the book. I appreciate that you didn't attack the author, or even her work, so to speak. You merely questioned and honestly spoke from your heart on your preferences of reading.
It's hard to come by reviews that are 1-2 stars and aren't plain ol mean. I appreciate your review. :)
Posted on Aug 20, 2012 12:50:53 AM PDT
I guess she's trying to be poetic in her writing, and I'll admit I became quite turned off by her stream of consciousness style as I progressed in the book. I don't know. On the one hand, I feel her style would improve by using the elements of the alliterative verse the Anglo-Saxons were fond of, and she could have benefited from reading a bit of Lord Dunsany; then again, dressing up the prose will not improve the message. As the New York Times' review of Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist stated, it "is more self-help than literature."
She put out a worthy effort--I think she is a sincere believer--but there were a few distressing errors I found within her tome that have already been spoken of by other reviewers.
Posted on Sep 9, 2012 12:21:21 PM PDT
Crystal Chavarria says:
I'm not arguing with your review - I disagree, but I have no problem with you having your own opinion, I just wanted to say that you've misunderstood her on page 70 when she says, "Here is the only place I can love Him." She doesn't mean here - writing her list - she means HERE as in the moment she is in. In the HERE and NOW. She must be fully present in the moment (HERE) to love God.
I think that is also the mistake you make on page 61 - she's not saying the most sacred acts conceivable are writing and taking pictures - it's the giving thanks that is the most sacred act.
Maybe her writing style has made this difficult for you to understand what she's saying.
Posted on Jan 25, 2013 10:00:57 AM PST
Jane Adams says:
I thought you were very careful to not demean her person based on your review and I thank you for that. :) I understand you not liking the style as for example I love listening to John Piper, but I have the hardest time reading his books. However, in the quotes you listed I got a something totally different from them.
For : "If clinging to His goodness is the highest form of prayer, then seeing His goodness with a pen, with the shutter, with a word of thanks, these really are the most sacred acts conceivable." (pg. 61) You said "So, writing down or taking pictures of what you are thankful for is a sacred act and actually "the most sacred act conceivable"?" You left out the "with a word of thanks" part of her quote when you determined the meaning of what she said. She is not saying doing those things are the most sacred acts conceivable she is saying doing anything with thankfulness to God is the most sacred act conceivable.
For : "Here is the only place I can love Him." (pg. 70) You said "She can only love God when she writes her list?" but in the context of the book she was saying in a place of thankfulness is the only place she can love Him, writing her list just helps her to stay in that place.
For : "...discover how to make love to God." (pg. 201) You said "When you use certain words and phrases, you think certain things (sex, not necessarily intimacy)." I would just encourage you to read this page on her blog http://www.aholyexperience.com/intimacy-w
Posted on Mar 29, 2013 8:27:02 AM PDT
Marty Davis says:
I know yours is a review that has been up almost since the book was released. But, I wanted to say that, in spite of your misgivings, you captured "the purpose and goal of the book" for your own life. Personally, I believe Ann is been mostly misunderstood, but I love that you did not "throw the baby out with the bathwater." Would that I could always do the same in such situations.
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 17, 2013 9:07:01 AM PDT
Jane Adams, thank you so much for posting that link. It was very enlightening. I like where he says
"Since it's beyond us to know the depths of God's love but not beyond us to grasp marital love, God describes the former by the latter."
"sex is allegory, and as all allegory is.... Theology.
Our world has so tainted and dirtied sexual union that it is so hard for any of us to see that the reason God created it is because the bond of married love is a physical representation of the spiritual bond that we are to have with Him.