Zip It: The Keep It Shut 40-Day Challenge, by Karen Ehman
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Zondervan. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
This book joins an alarmingly lengthening list of challenging books that would be particularly difficult/impossible for me to achieve , and an even longer list of books written by women, about women, for women. That said, this book is by no means unworthy. Although the author makes no pretenses to be writing with an interest in a large male audience, something that is demonstrated by the immensely skewed gender ratio of those recommending the book as well as the examples chosen from the author’s own life as a wife and mother, the book is one that is clearly applicable to anyone who talks too much and says things that they later regret. Clearly I am a part of that large target audience. Fortunately, the author seems to intuitively recognize she is writing a book with a larger applicability than her general audience and does not make any obvious moves to alienate whatever chatterbox gentlemen like myself happen to read her book. That is about the best one can expect in such a situation as this where a book’s target market is assumed more broadly than is actually the case, and that is a common situation in the publishing world.
The book itself is organized in a similar fashion to other 40-day challenges . There are eight weeks designed, with five weekdays for each week, and the weekends off for other reflection. The book, thankfully, includes a lot more than merely calls to zip it for forty-days, as that would be entirely unreasonable of a request, but the book is sufficiently difficult even if not impossibly so. Opening with five devotionals on the power of our words, the author moves to the heart-mind-month connection, the places we go and the things we say, encourages readers to tame our tempers, contrasts good speech and bad speech, encourages readers on when to be silent and when to speak up, gives various examples from the Bible (Abigail, David, Boaz, Mordecai, and Jesus) on speech that is sweet and salty, and then closes with a discussion of how God’s words affect our words, or at least how they should. Within each chapter there is a consistent structure as well, including a Bible verse, a personal reflection that often draws on experience as well as Biblical commentary, some snappy takeaways for the reader, a lesson for the lips, and a prayer asking God to help shape the way that we use our tongues.
Although I feel it entirely appropriate to praise this book, as it is a very thoughtfully written work, I am concerned that it will be a book that is far easier to praise and appreciate than to apply. This is true of a great variety of worthwhile and enjoyable writing, to be sure, but is especially true for those books which place a great deal of demands on their readers. Yet there was a lot about this book that stung me somewhat personally, about the quantity of words multiplying the possibility that any of these could cause offense, the realization that for some people being quiet is simply an immense difficulty where not an impossibility, and the understanding that being a sharp-tongued and witty person can do a great deal of harm to ourselves and other people. Not that these insights are in any way new, but it is painful to read about them nonetheless. We would all rather not look into the darker and less pleasant sides of our own character, and to face the sort of people that we are at our worst times, after all.
 See, for example:
 See, for example: