Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Read a Book. Check.

If you recall, I made an adventure list a few months back. My very first goal was to finish reading a book. Just one. That's all. I made it my first goal because I considered it to be the easiest. However, it turned out that actually finishing a book was more taxing on me than training for and running an 8k.

But I did it! (Here's where you applaud, please.)

Interestingly enough, after starting a number of books, the book that I actually chose to finish was "The Shack" by William P. Young. I received it as a Christmas present this year and when I picked it up, I vowed to myself that I would finish it.

Here is where I step out of my comfort zone a bit. I do not consider myself a book critic. But I thought I'd stretch myself and give it a try. Here goes. Clears throat...

I did not like the book. I like a book that makes me like it, and this one did not. It wasn't even about the theology (although I often disagreed). It wasn't about the fact that God the Father was portrayed as a black woman named Papa (which frankly, just felt a little strange).

The best way I know how to describe it is that I got the same feeling reading this book as I do when I watch a Hallmark made-for-tv movie. Do you know what I mean? That feeling you get when the plot is too contrived, the characters are under-developed and sickeningly sweet, and every single issue must be completely resolved? Yep. That feeling. (My apologies to those who enjoy Hallmark's Hall of Fame. I am, admittedly, a big fan of their commercials.)

All that being said, I'm glad I read it. It has become a marketing phenomenon and has scores of people singing its praises and saying it has transformed their life. I'm glad I read it, so I can better understand what fascinates our culture. That's the kind of thing that fascinates me.

So, let me ask you. Why do you think this book has been such a success? Why are so many people in love with this book?

Oh, and while you are at it, I'd love a few suggestions on what to read next. Something that I like so much that I can't put it down and it makes me neglect my children, please.

8 comments:

Julie-Pho-Tog said...

I'm so glad you wrote this, it made me laugh out loud when you told what you think of hallmark movies, i totally agree.. same with CBS, i grew up being forced to watch Dr. Quinn and Touched by an Angel with my mom.. that kind of.. peachy all is well that ends well stuff. My sister just made a facebook. She is a new christian and she wrote a bunch of stuff about christianity on it and under books she listed the bible and The Shack by Young. I was like wow, she read a book?? cool! But now that i read your blog on it I dont think i want to waste my time on it. I scarcely have the time as it is, and i hate when you do take the time to and then it's a dissapointment! Leaves your stomach feeling knotted. and seriously?? a black woman named papa??

Tiffany Percival said...

OK I had to respond. I went into "The Shack" not knowing what to expect except that I had heard good AND bad. And while I agree it was a bit of a drag for the first 80 or so pages, I was thrilled to have my boxed-in view of God challenged! My ultimate conclusion is that this book is for those looking for more from God. If your relationship with Him is stable and fixed and needs no repairing, don't read the book. BUT, if you want to see Him completely differently than you ever have, you may want to spend the few hours this book will take to read. Is it a bit unorthodoxed, YEP! You need to have your beliefs firmly planted, otherwise this book can be a bit confusing/misleading. But if you know what you believe in and are simply looking to reignite a lost passion for God, or acquire one you never really had, I would recommend it. Anyway, I could go on and on, but really what it comes down to is whether your heart is in a place that can be cultivated by a work of fiction that is a bit controversial. It's all individual... just like everything else in life!

Lindsay said...

Someone had just recommended this book to me, I'm not sure yet if I'll read it. I seem to have a pretty long list of books I want to read! Right now I am in a book club with a few friends and we are reading Little Women. Yes, we have all read it many times before but it is still good! I recommend it! And in the book the March sisters always relate their lives to Pilgrims Progress. I am going to read that next.
I like to read classics, it's neat to think about why those books made such an impact in their time and how they still mean something today.

sand in my shorts said...

without a doubt, the next book you should read is Crazy Love by Francis Chan!!!! I would be happy to let you borrow it if you can't get your hands on it, let me know...

Braden/Cayman said...

Ok, so I went into this book with high expectations based on others' recommendations. Like you, I was really disappointed. I also read this book as a follow up, to what I think was one of the best books I've ever read (A Thousand Splendid Suns-which is my recommendation!). I completely agree that this book was poorly written and you explained it well with the "Hallmark" analogy. So the fact that it was not engaging, the personas were whacky and the theology was a little funky made this not a favorite. Oh yeah... and the whole "Judge" part with no hint of righteous anger, like God is pillowy soft, that was irritating! I think it is a cultural fad because it is taken as sound theology, even though that was not the intention. It is appealing because it sounds like something new and exciting. So... if you want a book you can't put down and will also challenge your stereotypes... A Thousand Splendid Suns!!!! I have a copy if you would like to borrow!

Mandy said...

I'm so glad you wrote about not liking The Shack. My husband - a youth Pastor - was quite distressed by the book. The portrayal of God as a woman is outright wrong. So thanks for helping others see that this book may not be the best thing since individual slices of cheese. For a good book idea....I suggest the Yada Yada Prayer Group series. While they have some theology that I don't agree with 100%, they are excellent books with a powerful message of the power of prayer in an easy read style. And for soem heavier reading I suggest the Sacred Marriage. Just finished it and WOW!!!!! You have GOT to read it!

Lindsay said...

Hey Kaley! I've haven't read The Shack yet, but it's high on my list. I just need to find time to actually read and with school, it's not looking like its going to happen for a while. When I do read I'll let you know what I think! As for book suggestions I HIGHLY recommend My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult! It's my 2nd favorite book next to Reedeming Love by Francine Rivers. I've read it over 4 times in the last 3 years, it's that good! I'm home in a couple weeks and we should definitly get together!

Anonymous said...

Got The Shack for a CHristmas present so feel obligated to read it. Such mixed reviews. It's at the bottom of my list though because I'm in a book club (you should start one) and we have a busy list going. I'm only going to insist one more time that you read No Compromise the life story of Keith Green. (if you haven't already) I love bio/autobiographies and his is fascinating and challenging.
Also the gals I hang with insist that the Mark of Lion series by Francine Rivers is awesome. It's on my list for the spring so I'll see.
Natalie