Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What is on my Nightstand - March

What's On Your Nightstand

It is time once again for What's On Your Nightstand hosted by 5 Minutes for Books.

I was only able to read 3 books last month:

  • The Great Eight by Scott Hamilton (My Review)
  • Luke's Story by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins
  • The Shack by William P. Young (My Review)

I am currently reading:

  • Weekend Makeover by Don Aslett
  • Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne

I have a lot of books on my nightstand that I hope to get to this month. With spring break coming up, I am not sure how much reading time I will have. So, here goes:

  • The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
  • The Prayer Chest by August Gold and Joel Fotinos
  • Beauty by Robin McKinley
  • The Door in the Hedge by Robin McKinley
  • Inside the Revolution by Joel C. Rosenberg
  • Blog Blazers by Stephane Grenier
  • The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Take One by Karen Kingsbury

Now I can go see what other bloggers have on their nightstands and I am sure that my list will grow and grow and grow.

Book Review: The Shack by William P. Young

The Shack
William P. Young
Windblown Media
256 pages

The Shack was recommended to me by many people. I read reviews on book blogs that I follow. My friends and family on Facebook recommended it. Some said it was the best book they have ever read. When I checked it out of the library, the librarian told me to have tissues handy. So I was really looking forward to reading it. Now that I have finished it, I have mixed feelings about it.

First, about the book. From the back of the book:

Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend.

Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever.

In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant "The Shack" wrestles with the timeless question, "Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?" The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You'll want everyone you know to read this book!

This book seemed to me to be two different stories. The first story is about Mack and what happens to his family and how they deal with it. The second story is about what Mack experiences in the shack.

The first story reads like any other story of tragedy. How it effects people and how the people involved deal with it. And on that level, it is a good story.

The second part reads more like a dream. It's style reminds me of The Pilgrim's Progress. When Mack meets God in the shack, he meets God in all three persons. He calls God the Father, "Papa", even though God is personified as a woman. He is taken aback by Jesus' appearance. He is expecting Him to look like we see Him portrayed in the movies. Instead, He looks like an average looking Jewish man. The Holy Spirit is personified as a woman named Sarayu who is hard to focus your eyes on. She is colorful, translucent and rarely still. Papa, Jesus and Sarayu help Mack find his way past the pain to forgiveness and love.

The more I think about this part of the story, the more I don't care for it. God is portrayed as human-like and flawed. He marginalizes institutions like church, seminaries and even marriage. According to this book, all God cares about is relationships. If we love Him, then that is good enough for Him. It suggests that people can come to God on any path.

I feel like I cannot recommend this book. To me, this is not an accurate depiction of how the Bible describes God. I know that many people will disagree with me, but this is how I feel.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Monday, March 16, 2009

Book Review: The Great Eight by Scott Hamilton

The Great Eight
Scott Hamilton with Ken Baker
Thomas Nelson Publishers
224 pages

I was very excited to receive a copy of The Great Eight to review from Thomas Nelson. I have been a fan of Scott Hamilton's figure skating for a long time. I was intrigued by the subtitle: The Great Eight: How to Be Happy (even when you have every reason to be miserable). He has certainly had reasons to be miserable.

From the back cover:

From Gold Medalist to cancer and brain tumor survivor, Scott Hamilton has experienced the heights of accomplishment to the depths of disease. But through his successes, struggles, and setbacks, Hamilton has never lost his trademark humor and honesty. But more important, he has never lost his faith and optimism. Hoe does he keep smiling?

In The Great Eight, Scott uses stories from his international career and personal life to describe the eight secrets that - through commitment and repetition - have helped him "clear the ice," get back up, and "smile like Kristi Yamaguchi".

Most of Scott's eight secrets are common sense, but very few people try to do all eight of these things. We know that when we fall (or fail), that we need to get up and keep going. Reading about Scott's approach to each of these secrets makes it a little easier to see how to apply them to my own life.

Number four on the list, keeping the ice clear, is a difficult one for me. He says that trying to please others all the time is a recipe for unhappiness. He had to learn how to have open and honest communication about what he felt and needed. Many times in my life I have felt unhappy because I didn't communicate what I needed and was left out.

Another good one is learn a new routine. Don't fight the changes that life brings. Use change as an opportunity to grow.

This book is filled with stories from Scott's life that illustrate the point that he is trying to make. The only thing that bothered me was that the life stories kept going back and forth and some were repeated several times. But then again this is not an autobiography.

It is a good book to remind us of options that we have to live happier lives.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars