Saturday, March 26, 2011

Review - One Thousand Gifts

"One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Life Fully Right Where You Are" is a new book by Ann Voskamp, published by Zondervan in January 2011. Ann is a gifted and inspiring writer who hungers to live and share a live filled with grace - even amidst the pain, drama, and duties of life. One Thousand Gifts is a guide to living a life of joy. Ann discovered the tremendous benefit of living a life strongly characterized by thanksgiving. One Thousands gifts tells in part the story of putting together her list of 1000 blessings after confronting some very painful episodes of life. It's a challenging and inspirational book that may haunt, grip, or bless you. I feel somewhat bad that in the end I didn't enjoy the book that much.

Ann's style and perspective on life is unique. The book is as much poetry as it is story, mystical as much as educational. Ann portrays several difficult events and turns in her life with powerful authenticity. Her answer for all this... eucharisteo. No, I'm not trying to get academic on you; Ann describes this word early on and uses it constantly throughout the rest of the book. It's from Luke 22:19 "And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them..." (NIV). Thanksgiving = eucharisteo in the original greek, related to charis (grace) and chara (joy). Ann learned how to forsake her discontent and ungrateful life for a lifestyle of thanksgiving. Thanksgiving in all things, an all times. The remainder of the book chronicles and explains this simple yet profound concept.

One Thousand Gifts has captivated many readers, becoming a NYT bestseller and top ten at Amazon. If you are feeling a lack of joy and recognize a lack of thankfulness in your own life, if you lean towards poetry and the mystical, chances are very good you will be touched by this book. On the other hand, if poetry leaves you scratching your head, or if you prefer reading something more expository, you may (like me) find it a struggle to make it through the book, skimming through the latter chapters after a few powerful opening chapters. With no disrespect for the skill of the author, I found the book rather hard to follow. (My bad; this engineering brain can be a curse.) For example, here is how Chapter Four begins...
"April sun pools into a dishwasher sink, liquid daylight on hands. The water is hot. I wash dishes. On my arms, just below the hiked sleeves, suds leave delicate water marks. Suds glisten. And over the soaking pots, the soap bubbles stack. This fragile tension arched in spheres of slick elastic sheets. Light impinges on slippery film." This moment leads to gift #362 which she records. A few pages later she relates this as 'my answer to time. Time is a relentless river. It rages on, a respecter of no one."
One Thousand Gifts is available from Amazon and other book retailers. There is an excerpt available online that you might want to check out. Zondervan has also made available a free 19-pg reader's guide.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Zondervan Publishers as a review copy. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising".

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