The Week in Books 2008, No. 45

Until recently I wasn’t aware that C.S. Lewis wrote science fiction, and although I generally don’t care for that genre, the fact that Lewis wrote it inspired me to check out his trilogy, which begins with Out of the Silent Planet.
Unlike other science fiction, which I tend to think of as being the realm of adolescent males (sorry, that’s just my perception!), Lewis’ work was plot-driven and not overly reliant on battle scenes. Although it has clear allegorical ties to Christian themes, the book does not beat one over the head with clumsy references. After all, this is C.S. Lewis! I can see that this book would be appropriate for, and resonate well with junior high and high school readers, but it was a fast and interesting read for me, so I’d recommend it for adults as well.

On Heather L.’s recommendation I checked out Karen Ehman’s book A Life That Says Welcome: Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others.
I found the book to be a helpful discussion of hospitality, especially as the author challenges readers to think about what is really holding them back from showing hospitality, and then addresses further sections of the book to the most common reasons she finds Christians are reluctant to open their homes to others. I decided my top three reasons for not practicing better hospitality are that we live so far from most people we know (and I often feel like it’s an inconvenience and imposition to ask people to drive 45 minutes or more to visit us), that we’re on a pretty tight budget, and, related to the budget, I have an unfortunate tendency to confuse hospitality with entertaining and so I feel like unless my house is spotless and I can really impress people with heights of culinary sophistication, I shouldn’t have them over. Regular readers will understand why the culinary sophistication requirement often disqualifies me!

I was inspired by this book though to move past those objections. Ehman writes that “Entertaining puts the emphasis on you and how you can impress others. Offering hospitality puts the emphasis on others and strives to meet their physical and spiritual needs so that they feel refreshed, not impressed, when they leave your home.” The book contains a helpful chapter on using your week to prepare for Sunday so you are free to rest and show hospitality then, and another useful discussion on the importance of showing hospitality to your own immediate family before you go doing special things for other people at the expense of your husband and kids. I got some great tips from this book, but there were some parts I found to be a little overstated or understated, so as always I suggest you take the good and leave the weird.

I found Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers
to be a better book on blogging than Hugh Hewitt’s “Blog” because it’s more comprehensive and useful than Hewitt’s somewhat dated and hyperbolic approach. “Naked Conversations” would be especially helpful if you have an interest in marketing or run a business, but the authors’ tips on how to build and maintain a successful blog would interest personal bloggers as well. If you’re interested, I wrote a more in-depth review of this book over on
our company’s blog
.

{Caveat: I was sent a copy of the following book from the publisher. My policy on receiving books to review is that I still publish an honest review of the book.}

Because I’m a mother, and enjoy sarcastic humor, and can’t stand the book “What To Expect When You’re Expecting” because it’s full of incorrect information and blows some things way out of proportion while minimizing other things that are actually important, I thought I would LOVE The The Unexpected When You’re Expecting
by Mary K. Moore. The book is a parody of the popular “What To Expect” series written by an author who formerly wrote for and edited magazines like Cosmopolitan, Redbook, and Marie Claire.

Actually the Cosmo connection might give you a tip-off as to the type of humor in this book. Although as I said I do really enjoy sarcasm, unfortunately I think this book too often veers off into unimaginative and derivative jabs and stereotypes. There are so many funny things about motherhood and first time parents that the book didn’t get to or didn’t develop enough to make funny. I’m not averse to parodies of serious topics, as long as they are funny and witty, but when it’s just the “and you’re dumb!” variety, I get tired of it pretty quickly. That said, I don’t want to totally pan the book because there were some funny parts, just not as many as I would have liked. A certain type of person will probably find this book funny, but my guess is if you read my blog you may be kind of turned off by some of the language and crass descriptions.

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