Carpe Diem by Katy Huth Jones

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Carpe Diem by Katy Huth Jones

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Face that “if” if it comes…

I only read poetry collections once in the very bluest of moons, but I decided to take a quick break with Carpe Diem by Katy Huth Jones.

I connected most with her reflections on her experiences with illness, especially where “true love” comes in. Can’t say I didn’t tear up a couple times while reading, and I wasn’t expecting that at all.

Anyone who can appreciate inspirational poetry can find something to appreciate in this collection. Light and sweet here, haunting and defiant there, with moments that are profound and uplifting.

Uplifting–and now I can see just how fitting the balloon on the book cover is!

…For now, live and rejoice.
That is hope.

 

Jonah: A Comedy

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Jonah: A Comedy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Countless people are familiar with the biblical account of Jonah, the prophet who ran from his sacred duty and got himself swallowed by a big fish for his trouble. While I’ve always found enough in the story to take seriously, I’ve seen enough in there to shake my head at, too. But this may be the first time I genuinely chortled at it, reading Jonah: A Comedy, retold by Matt Mikalatos.

The Bible isn’t immune to the way that various ideas get lost in translation when writings in one language are written into another. So it was cool to read someone’s take on the book of Jonah in a version that brings out the humor that tends not to fully translate all the time.

That is, I’m not sure I would necessarily call this a translation, as I think there’s a difference between a translation and a paraphrase. Still, the storyteller’s notes on the matter are as interesting as the story itself.

For me, the experience was like a cross between reading the biblical book, reading an ancient tale in my World Lit class back in college, and reading a historical short story written in contemporary times. If you’ve got a few minutes and an interest in biblical themes, check this little book out—and don’t skip the notes in the back!

Oh, and, yeah. Don’t be like Jonah, either. In general.

 

The End of Youngblood Johnson by Aaron Johnson

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

The End of Youngblood Johnson by Aaron Johnson with Jamie Buckingham

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Immediately I felt the rush in my stomach. I knew I had killed myself. I tried to get up but could not move. Youngblood Johnson was dying.

For someone who doesn’t read a ton of memoirs, it’s almost strange how engrossed I get whenever I read this one from the 1970s, The End of Youngblood Johnson by Aaron Johnson (as told to Jamie Buckingham.) I’ve read the book three times now.

I mean, if it were a movie, it might be one I’d personally pass on watching. Heroin addiction is absolutely no joke, and Johnson’s earlier life as a junkie wasn’t any joke either. Add in some broken families, poverty, violence, pimps and prostitutes, crooked preachers, crooked cops, jail time–and you’ve got anything but a pleasant, feel-good story on your hands.

Yet, this is a real story. A story of faith that someone actually lived. And, no, the memoir isn’t exactly a pretty one, but life isn’t always pretty.

I don’t read books that seem messy for the sake of mess, books that go into salacious or gory details apparently just to shock my senses. But there are a lot of people who won’t know or imagine just how far redemption can reach if redeemed folks gloss over or remain silent about the dark places they’ve been redeemed from.

So, no, this isn’t a book for the faint of heart. It’s a tragic but ultimately touching and memorable account of one man’s passage from darkness into light.

 

How to Be a Perfect Christian: Your Comprehensive Guide to Flawless Spiritual Living by The Babylon Bee

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. WaterBrook & Multnomah provided me with a complimentary copy of this book, for which I’ve given an honest review.

How to Be a Perfect Christian: Your Comprehensive Guide to Flawless Spiritual Living by The Babylon Bee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

I’d never heard of The Babylon Bee until a little earlier this year, and I had no particular inclination to read How to Be a Perfect Christian: Your Comprehensive Guide to Flawless Spiritual Living. As much as I like to laugh, I’m not one who goes out of my way looking for satire.

But when the publisher unexpectedly sent me a copy, I figured, hey, why not take a look?

And, then, the book got me within the first few pages, letting me know how Christian culture can lead me to be “transformed day by day into the radiant image of the modern American Jesus.”

Hello. Sounds like a goal. Especially if He’s the Son of a Father “who sits on a cloud somewhere…and is suspicious of non-Americans and people with brown skin.”

Uh huh.

Now, do I totally agree with the attitude of the Bee at every point in this comprehensive guide? Nah. I think some of the Bee’s blanket jokes might overlook how issues like manipulation and abuse are very real problems in too many churches (what’s making folks feel horrible at church isn’t always holy conviction), and for a lot of people, matters of social justice aren’t merely “politics,” or concepts to debate. They’re real matters of life and death.

Still, I doubt the point of a book like this is to make you agree with all of it. Satire is supposed to make you think. Sometimes humor that’s unafraid to tackle what others are reluctant to speak up about can help you take a serious second look at something in life or society (or Christian culture) that’s backward or off. Not to simply laugh about it, or not to only be offended, but to really stop and think about it.

If you don’t seriously think, you can’t seriously grow.

Make no mistake, though. I did heartily crack up while reading this thing. And the conclusion is, well, beautiful, I must say.