Book Review: The Help

Welllllllll, I just wrote a lengthy book review on The Help. And it got erased. I thought auto-save helped with that…..

I just can’t write it all again.

Here’s my synopsis:

  • Fantastic book, great writing. Compelling, impactful, stirring.
  • Don’t read it if you have life to do. I couldn’t put it down. Kept it open on the counter so I could read a sentence as I walked by. Shame, shame!
  • Can’t believe that actually happened and in my parents lifetime. Can’t believe it still happens today in people’s private views toward black people and other races.
  • There are anti-Christian views and language used in this book. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it, just be aware. It makes it authentic and raw and real and is probably necessary. Probably less than a PG-13 movie.
  • The Gospel is the only thing that can truly change hearts. Activism, social justice, civil rights, education. All of these things help make progress, but none of them will do the work of eradicating hate in hearts. The Gospel is our solution. More on that in my next Book Review (which will hopefully be a real review): Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian.

Rating: A. Highly recommended! 

Title: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Length: 464 Pages
Genre: Fiction

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Book Review: Bringing the Gospel Home

The best book on evangelism I have read to date.

Randy Newman is witty and funny and completely not dry, which makes this book easy to read and really enjoyable.

He takes a different approach. He talks about many different tactics, but the overarching theme is that evangelism to your family or close friends can take time and when faced with conversation topics that clearly point to the BIble, don’t give cheesy, annoying Christian answers. Ask more questions, listen to them talk. See where they are at. Ask if they are interested in talking about spiritual things with you further. Don’t jump in and just offer your two cents on the matter. Don’t do a drive by evangelism where you get in, get out and get on with your life and the conversation. Be calm, be slow, be passionate, be patient, be loving.

There is only one remotely negative thing I can say about this book, and it’s almost not worth mentioning because it may be due to the author’s personality. It truly is the only thing holding this A back from an A+. The book is filled with stories. And he really inserts a story right in the middle of a paragraph without any warning. It illustrates his point perfectly, but there is just no introduction to it at all. No, “let me give you an example.” He just goes right into it, over and over again. Granted, he would be giving intros and segues every third paragraph because there are so many real-life examples in this book. But I felt like I got whiplash a little bit from his change of direction without any prep. The thoughts in this book don’t necessarily build upon one another. You could rearrange most of the book and it would still be readable because it seems to be a lot of scattered thoughts and helpful advice, but not necessarily with continuity. I don’t mind this at all; it’s actually kind of refreshing. But it was different.

The book is straight to the point. In a lot of books, I end up skimming because there is a lot of filler. Almost like they are trying to meet a word count. But I felt that this book said everything it needed to say and everything that was written in it needed to be there.

It was so helpful in my perspective on Evangelism. I will be taking much of his advice to heart and putting it to use. Not to robotically “share my faith” but to be better used by God with unbelievers and further the Kingdom, for His fame. If you share this heart, pick up this book.

It is still available for free in PDF from Desiring God.

Rating: A. Highly Recommended!

Title: Bringing the Gospel Home: Witnessing to Family Members and Others Who Know You Well
Author: Randy Newman
Length: 224 pages
Genre: Spiritual Life/Evangelism

Book Review: Living Organized

I think this may be one of those books that gets really high reviews and really low reviews, depending on the situation of the person who reads it.

I bought this book after missing a friend’s wedding because I thought it was the next day. The book was on my book list, so obviously I recognized that I was in need of some general help in the area of organization. But after missing the wedding, I literally logged on to Amazon and clicked ‘purchase’ right then and there.

Well, it disappointed. But like I said, maybe it depends upon the personality or level of need in the person doing the reading. I know how to be organized and I know how to clean. I don’t have a problem with not knowing my decorating style and my husband is great in this area and does not contribute to the messiness. These are situations and problems she emphasizes in this book and then offers advice on how to deal with them. Since I don’t have those particular problems, the book was not as beneficial to me as it maybe would be to some.

But it was well worth the $9.99 to find out what my problem really is.

Inability to make a decision
So many things in my house accumulate because I just don’t know what to do with it at the time. Better to do nothing than make the wrong decision, right? Yeah, that’s not working so well for me.

Mess-maker
I have kids and stay home with them. Meaning that I make and clean up 3 meals a day. And I homeschool, which sort of adds constant mess all throughout the day, if I’m not careful.

Procrastination 
It can wait until later when I really need to do it.

Avoidance of frustration
Leaving things undone because I don’t want to deal with the frustration of it right now… only to deal with the frustration of it later. Frustration never just goes away.

Desire for instant gratification
“I’m so hungry; I want to eat the sandwich now! I’ll put the mustard away after I’m done.” Gets me a cluttered kitchen and house in no time.

The very most helpful part of the book for me, took up one whole page. Just one.

A Procrastinator’s Creed:

  • I will make the bed as soon as it is empty.
  • I will clear the table and do the dishes and clean the kitchen immediately after eating. I will consider cleanup part of the meal.
  • I will put away what I get out and will not say I will be using it again soon.
  • I will handle the mail as soon as I pick it up and will not leave it in a pile to consider later.
  • I will hang up my clothes and put away my shoes as soon as they are off my body.
  • I will remember those three tender little words: “DO IT NOW.”

So that’s my game plan, “DO IT NOW.” Thank you, little average to less-than-average book for your $10 page of gold.

Hard to give a straight review because of the subjectivity involved, but sadly, I have to give it a C.  May be helpful to those in need of professional-level organizational help!

Rating: C. Average

Title: Living Organized: Proven Steps for a Clutter-Free and Beautiful Home
Author: Sandra Felton
Length: 222 pages
Genre: Home

Book Review: Raising Godly Tomatoes

This book was recommended by a friend, and oh, I am so thankful. I have been in love with No Greater Joy ministries for a long time and have effectively used it for training my rugrats. But there was still some small thing missing and I found it in this book.

She presents the idea behind the name of the book like this: with a tomato vine/plant/whatever you call it (I am not a gardener if you can’t tell!) you stake it or cage it so that it grows up straight. While she doesn’t recommend caging your child (even if you may want to!), it is in your best interest to stake them. Keep them next to you at all times while they are learning how to obey. Once they are sufficiently trained, they may travel more than 3 feet from you. But until then, they must stay right next to you so that you may catch every act they are doing either right before they do it, or while they are in the act. This is helpful and I have been using it with great success. Keep in mind, you will have to keep your phone calls short and have to do some things at night or naps, rearranging your life for a while so that you can make this your highest priority.

I have a few small things I dislike in this book. One, there are typos. The English student in me is bothered by this. Plus, when I recommend the book, I feel that I have to apologize to the potential reader for the ghetto-ness of it. Secondly, she recommends swatting your child with your hand, which I try very hard not to do. We teach our children that hands are for hugs. I don’t want them to be afraid of my hands when I reach out to wipe something off their face or pull them in to hug them. Also, for me personally, I have found that it is too easy to lash out in anger when you use your hands. When you have to go find a spanker, it gives you a moment to calm down, so as not to discipline when you are mad. That never helps anyone and I actually recommend not spanking at all if you are going to do it in anger. Third, she recommends swatting on a covered, diapered bottom, to get their attention. I can see her rationale in this, however, I do not find it as effective as pulling down the pants or pulling up the pant legs and just putting a little sting on the skin. I am not talking about welts or bruises. Spank the inside of your arm first and you’ll know how hard you need to swat their sensitive skin. Hint: It’s not that hard at all. A little sting on the skin does more to help them remember to obey your words than a harder-than-necessary swat on a padded butt that they only feel because it moved them a few inches from where they were standing.

This is not necessarily a book on training your child’s heart to love and obey Jesus or to repent from their sin. It does have a little of that in there, but largely this is a book with intentions to teach a child, any child, to obey your voice. When you say, “No whining, no fits, no arguing, no hitting your sister, no throwing balls in the house, no poking people in the eye with your sword” (maybe that’s just me?!?!?!) you should be able to train to and expect an obedient end.

With those caveats, if you are a parent, read this book! (And it’s free here, so you have no excuses!)

Rating: A. Highly recommended! 

Title: Raising Godly Tomatoes: Loving Parenting With Only Occasional Trips to the Woodshed
Author: L. Elizabeth Krueger
Publication Info: L. Elizabeth Krueger 2007
Genre: Parenting

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