Talk Yourself Happy: Transform Your Heart By Speaking God’s Promises, by Kristi Watts
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Blogging For Books/Thomas Nelson Publishers. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
As I have some rather critical things to say about this book, I would like to state at the outset that this book did a good job at pointing readers to the Bible and to God’s promises and also told a compelling story about the author’s own long personal struggle with depression and her own crisis of faith, her “dark night of the soul ” after having lost her position as a co-host of the 700 Club and her marriage crumbled and she faced what she viewed to be ruin. The account is more than a little scattered, organized in a thematic fashion rather than a chronological one and there are a lot of flashbacks and flashfowards and the like, making it difficult for the reader to get the sense of what it was like although the author is very engaging and a sympathetic figure. This is a book that will no doubt encourage many people, especially women, as this book is directed specifically to them as is often the case with books written by women, given its references to the author being a chocoholic and her struggles as a single mom who would very much like to get remarried, but who (at least in this account) has not yet. Suffice it to say that I know a lot of people who can relate to this book and what it talks about.
This book is a bit more than 200 pages, but that comes with a bit of an asterisk. There are two elements that add length to this book to give it the general size of books published by this publisher. The first is a large appendix called a scripture wrap that includes biblical citations for the book’s chapters, and this is the kind of additional material few readers, least of all myself, would complain about. The second sort of padding is more objectionable, as there is a substantial number of pages that in this book that are taken up by repeats of quotes from the book whose main purpose appears to make the book appear larger than it is, to get it to that 200 page threshold, the sort of puffing of book size that I have seen and commented on before . Given the quality of the material in the book, this appears unnecessary. Why did the designers of this book feel it necessary to add fluff pages to make the book appear larger than it was? It does not add to the book’s contents, but rather is an exercise in pretense, which directly cuts against the message of the book.
It is to the message of that book that we should now turn. This book features chapters on such commonplace themes as: compassion, trust, identity, obedience, forgiveness, praise, help, and promise. The author encourages readers to take advantage of the power of positive thinking and to rewire their negative and depressing self-talk. The author also manages to discuss a variety of matters here from divided families and our lack of awareness of other people and their struggles and even more than a hint of discussion of spiritual warfare, which plays a large role in the author’s own story. At the end of the book’s chapters there are steps to talk oneself happy and action steps to take the message of the chapter, speak it, and live it, often with the help and encouragement of others. There is little that is new about the author’s suggestions, but she has a sound reading of scripture and her own personal story is compelling, albeit somewhat opaque in some ways, as the author discusses her feeling that her sins had made her feel unable to speak out for God’s ways but spends much of the book talking about the sins of others, especially her ex-husband, against her. At its heart, this book exists in a tension between a design and structure that makes it sound like a lot of other books on encouraging people through dark times and a compelling personal story that encourages readers to embrace honesty and vulnerability, even if there are elements of the book’s design that are patently dishonest. As a result, this is a book whose message is to be found encouraging, even if the book itself could have used more work in other respects.
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