Book Review: Let The Journey Begin

[Note: This book was sent free of charge, without my having requested it, from BookLook/Thomas Nelson Publishers, in exchange for an honest review.]

Yesterday, when the large box containing this small book (it comes in at around 160 pages or so) was dropped on my doorstep by UPS, I searched through my e-mail archives and my own data records of the books I request to see if I had requested it, and I found that I had not. That said, I am not someone to look a gift package in the mouth, and so I resolved to read this book anyway, even if it had not been requested. It is hard to judge a book like this fairly, given that it is unclear what purpose the author (and I will have more about this to say later) had for the book. In the larger sense, it is clear this book is meant as encouragement for believers. Max Lucado writes with a sense of humor, uses a lot of personal examples, and most of this book, with a few very rare exceptions, stays away from contentious issues, except for one extremely poorly translated verse in Acts that is twisted to support giving offerings every Sunday [1], when the verse spoke of a particular message with a particular purpose from Paul’s ministry, where he began speaking at the end of the Sabbath and continued speaking until midnight, collecting the offerings after the Sabbath was done because it was considered improper to offer from one’s labor on the Sabbath itself.

That said, in terms of its organization and structure, this is a fairly simple and straightforward book. The book has five larger parts, with a topical organization starting with a road map for one’s spiritual journey, good habits to travel with, making decisions at forks in the road, slowing down and avoiding disaster, and having a friend in God and Jesus Christ along for the journey. These parts are then divided into very specific posts ranging from one to a few paragraphs, most of them fitting on a single page, with Hallmark card quotes on the other page. At the beginning of the book there is an encouraging and extremely brief preface and at the end of the book there are some lined pages for readers to take their own notes for a prayer, goals, steps taken to achieve those goals, and favorite scripture quotes, poems, and sayings, like those that fill the brief pages of the book. All in all, this is not a difficult read, and despite its occasional shortcomings the book is pleasant and encouraging, and will likely be best used as an occasional reference as well as a devotional, with a day devoted briefly to each brief passage. Reading the book straight through would not present a challenge to any reader either.

Yet despite the fact that the book itself, if taken merely for its passages, is basically encouraging and positive, full of hope and love and even humor, there is one massive offending aspect of this book. When looking at the passages, one finds that all of them come from various volumes in Max Lucado’s extensive oeuvre, like “The Applause Of Heaven,” “In The Grip Of Grace,” or “When God Whispers Your Name,” to give but three examples. This leads to a few awkward questions. For one, who is to be counted as the author of this book? Its material comes from Max Lucado, to be sure, but did he copy and paste the material from his own works and determine its organization and structure or did some fifteen-dollar-an-hour employee at Thomas Nelson do the actual book design work and copying and pasting labor while Mr. Lucado collects the royalty checks? For another, who decided this book needed to be written in the first place? Again, is this book the sort of dreaded contractual obligation that leads to all kinds of second-rate compilation efforts done without any active input from the author himself or did the author decide that in lieu of actually writing a book that he would release this book to bridge the gap while he recovers from the grips of some particularly fierce writer’s block? This is a lazy book, like a couple of recent books I have read from another author [2], and being a fairly hardworking writer myself, I dislike seeing people make money and adding books to their bibliographies off of this kind of laziness, even if in their original context they were no doubt original and pleasant. As far as a book goes, this is a remix, and if you have the original, you will probably want to know that the material here will not be original itself.

[1] For a better discussion of this issue, see the following entry:

[2] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Book Reviews, Christianity and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Book Review: Let The Journey Begin

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