Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Book Review: Things Not To Say To Someone Who Has Cancer, by Jo Hilder

Jo Hilder, a cancer survivor who lives in Australia, has written  something we all should read. I say all of us because, statistically, just about everyone reading this will know someone who faces cancer. I know I have a tendency to say insensitive things from time to time in all situations, but cancer is a situation which especially requires sensitivity.  Judging by the fact that Jon Acuff's "Stuff Christians Like" blog post about the same topic received hundreds of comments last June, this is a subject which needs addressing.

Hilder's experience as a cancer patient gave her an insight that we all can learn from, of course. But I have to say that when I read the title, I was afraid the book would be taking on a lecturing tone and would shine a light on all the buffoonish things I have said over the years. I am glad to say I was wrong.  "Things Not to Say to Someone Who Has Cancer" never condescends, never lectures, and never makes the reader feel discouraged by anything he might have said in the past. In fact, it's quite encouraging in many ways.

The tone of the book is not so much instructional as it is helpful. The author shares her observations and experiences, and these stories really helped me see how my words can be taken in a way I never intended.
Yes, I did wince a time or two as I read Hilder's stories about things she has heard from well-meaning folks not unlike myself. But I never felt like a heel; I simply learned. And that's the point.

I really liked this book, and I recommend it to you in the hopes you never have to apply it in your own life. That said, there's a pretty strong chance you will.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author, for the purpose of providing an honest review. 

Book Review: Everything, by Mary DeMuth

Although I was unfamiliar with Mary DeMuth prior to reading the free review copy of "Everything", I'm now a big fan of her work. I quoted from it in this post when I was part of the way into the book.

The main point of the book is simply to make Jesus your everything. That sounds so easy, so cliche, and certainly sounds like something that has been said before. It begs the question:  Why write a book like that? It can't possibly contain any original thoughts, right?

Wrong.  I've been a Christian for a long time, and heard thousands of sermons and read more books than I can count, but I've never heard anyone put it like DeMuth does. The purpose of this book isn't to pretend to come up with new ideas about how to live life. It's more like a compass: coupled with a map, it helps the reader re-orient and get back to a place where he can find True North and then find his way back to where he should be.

"Everything" is a breath of fresh air. At the end of a year when so many believers are expending their energy associating their Christianity with the stance they take on Chick-Fil-A, or their preferred political party, DeMuth encourages the reader to make it all about Jesus:

"The gospel…shouldn’t merely be the crutch we fall on when life gets ugly. It should be the legs we walk on, the air we breathe." 

I recommend Mary DeMuth's "Everything" for all Christians, and I intend to check out her previous work.