I Like Giving: The Transformational Power Of A Generous Life, by Brad Formsma
[Note: This book was provided by WaterBrook Multnomah Press in exchange for an honest review.]
This book promises to give practical ideas and inspiring stories about generosity, and the book manages to deliver on that promise. One of the strengths of this book is the way in which the course of the book is filled with a variety of stories framed around “I Like…” that show unexpected generosity from people who have written in to the I Like Giving website (www.ilikegiving.com). These stories show generosity in the moment, to those who are thought of as the ‘least of these’ (like the homeless or elderly or poor or strangers), and generosity of time and attention and affection as well as money. Expanding the concept of generous living and service to something that is beyond money is something that helps make it a part of our daily lives, no matter what means we have. We can all be generous, even if we have very little.
This particular book is very short, barely over 200 pages (and reading even lighter than that given its small pages and fairly widely spaced text) and organized in a logical flow. The author starts by examining the power of gifts, the efforts that are taken to begin giving and to overcome initial fears, examines the health benefits of generosity, as well as the filters that lead us to ignore opportunities to give, before examining tactics of giving (including giving anonymously to avoid fear). There is a group of stories in the middle, and then the book changes its focus to the realms of giving in families and communities, what it means to be a gracious recipient of gifts, including cycles of giving, before looking at how we are to become a gift in all aspects of our lives (focusing our efforts to those areas that meet our talents ) with the goal of making a more generous world. The author ends by encouraging readers to imagine a more generous world through the spreading influence over our examples.
A key to understanding this book and its approach, besides its theme of generosity, is understanding the word “like.” This book belongs squarely within the company of those books that seek to focus on the emotional motivations, in pointing out the superiority of generosity as a virtue to giving as a continent duty. In its focus on feelings as opposed to responsibility, this is a book that would appear to argue that those things that are done out of duty might as well not be done at all, because there is a sense of coercion. Over and over again the book talks about the “nudge,” as in the emotional pull to do something as the source of legitimacy in one’s giving. The book even includes examples of giving that turn sour because of betrayal or others taking advantage, and comment that we should be generous even if others will occasionally take advantage of our generosity. If we cannot always entirely trust our hearts, this book will encourage those who wish to become generous not merely for attention or on occasion but rather as an aspect of our character. Let us all be people known for generosity in all walks of life and overcome the greed and manipulation of our world.
 See, for example: