While I enjoy a good story, I always appreciate non-fiction books that make me think. These two books, a Bible study and a self-help book have sparked many internal debates over the past months. Probably not what their authors intended.
I receive free electronic advanced reader copies of these books through an arrangement between the publishers and NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion on NetGalley’s website. I only review books on my blog that I really love.
Do You Ever Think About Your Dreams and Aspirations?
I probably don’t think about my dreams enough, so this new release from Bob Goff got my attention.
By Bob Goff, Thomas Nelson, June 2020, 256 pages.
I fall into the category of people who don’t dream much. Is that even a category? Sure, I have dreams when I sleep at night, and one or two things in my life I’d like to do one day, but big dreams? The kind that change the world (or even my world)? Not so much. Perhaps my propensity towards perfectionism plays a part in not dreaming big. If I don’t dream big, I can’t fail.
But I love Bob Goff’s books, so I read Dream Big. As always, Goff’s masterful storytelling draws readers in and plants a longing for whatever he wants us to do (make love an action, love everyone, and now, dream big). When I finished the stories, I realized I hadn’t finished the book. This one has a long appendix with activities for helping the reader discover his or her dreams.
I haven’t done my homework yet, though. That will take quiet contemplation and maybe a weekend away by myself to really think and pray about dreaming big. Until then, I’ll keep my mind open and continue to ask God to reveal his dreams for me TO me.
By Teresa Swanstrom Anderson, NavPress, July 2020, 256 pages.
I’ve never reviewed a Bible study before, but while perusing through NetGalley’s offerings, the cover of Living for What Really Matters: Seven Weeks in the Book of Philippians caught my eye. In fact, all of the covers in the Get Wisdom Bible Studies caught my eye—for their simplicity and hint of diversity. ‘Sweet!’ I thought to myself, ‘finally, a Bible study by a Black author!’
Well, not exactly. Although the covers show diversity, the author, a pink-haired woman, doesn’t appear to have a drop of diverse blood running through her veins. As I read through the introduction to the study, I realized that Teresa Swanstrom Anderson does embrace diversity (her four adopted children hail from Ethopia) and she spent time living in Guatemala. I felt better. Sort of.
I shouldn’t let a book’s cover distract me from the words inside, but I confess to feeling as if the publisher chose the covers in a token attempt to appeal to an audience of readers seeking to learn from underrepresented voices. So, if you’re reading this, NavPress, know that Christian women out there WANT to read Bible studies by Black, Asian, and Indigenous voices. Having a book with a Black or Asian on the cover doesn’t go far enough. It’s like publishing a Bible study by white male and putting a pretty woman on the cover.
What I Think of the Book (Not Just the Cover)
Now, for my review. Despite my disgruntlement at the cover/author dissonance, I really enjoyed the Bible study. The author taught me how to use the Blue Letter Bible app (something I had downloaded and promptly given up on a few years ago). The bible study has five lessons in each of the seven chapters. Each chapter has a good mix of personal anecdote, biblical teaching, reflection questions, and challenges to keep either an individual or a group of women immersed for seven weeks of study into the book of Philippians.
I’ll use the skills the author taught me as I continue to dig deeper into God’s word. But I still wish I had read a Bible study by a Black author so that I could learn from someone with a different perspective from my own. Our lives would be so much richer if we sat at other culture’s feet and learned their ways of seeing, doing, and thinking.