I read a lot, and as a writer, I am often asked to give reviews. Because I understand how important those can be, I won’t write one unless it’s worthy of 4 or 5 stars. Often (not surprisingly) my choice of books to read are faith-based, but I’m open to most genres.
When I wrote Simple Things to Make This World a Better Place, the Biblical annotations were unobtrusive and it was written not to be preachy. This wasn’t done to hide my faith, but to reach audiences beyond those who are Christian because I think we all have a part in making this world a better place. So why “preach” just to the choir? The addendum containing the referenced Biblical verses can be viewed by broader audiences, and that just might encourage others to explore a little more.
I’ve often said I’m not a zealot, but I have a deep faith so it’s a bit disconcerting to me when I read a well-intentioned, but too over-the-top, in-your-face, contrived “religious” novel. If I found it to be too preachy and sanctimonious, what must others think? I also believe that such methods do more harm than good in trying to gain others to your way of believing. Besides, actions really do speak louder than words.
So here is the dilemma – do I write a review as a possible warning to others? From an author’s standpoint, I can appreciate what it takes to write a book, but when the work is simply too “out there,” should that just be a discovery for someone else? Then again, not everybody likes the same thing, so maybe there are some who will respond positively to what they read in this book. After all, not everyone likes what I write, but my words do occasionally touch something in others.
After finishing the book in question, I checked to see if this was the author’s first book and it is not. I’m not inclined to read the others because of my negative response to the one I’ve read. Part of me would like to encourage and offer a few suggestions, but it’s uncertain how that would be received - a lot like other dilemmas we have in life.
So maybe I shouldn’t be so critical or judgmental, although I think my dislike of the book is really because it is geared toward the latter of those two. I certainly don’t have all the answers, and therefore, it bothers me when others presume to know what God wants or is thinking. Personally, my belief is the best way to know that is to seek answers through prayer, and try to do the one thing we know God wants us to do – love one another.
Taking my own advice, I guess I’ll pray for the author and hope God sends him a little more wisdom on how to “tone it down a notch” for his next book. After all, if you can’t say something good…you know the rest.