I must make a confession before sharing my thoughts on this book. I have a very short attention span. I’m old enough now … at the ripe age of thirty-two, to know that I have a short attention span. I can muster up the strength, the courage, and the right amount of caffeinated cranberry-blood orange tea to overcome this propensity and get me through reading whole books.
You see, I love books. They delight me. They change me. They give me relief.
And yet, despite my deep love for books and the stories they contain, I still struggle to find the desire to sit down and read them. It always feels like a chore when I think about it. I rarely get giddy at the idea of reading time. This is true for just about every book I’ve ever read, no matter how sensational or wonderful it is.
When I first discovered Eight Whopping Lies and Other Stories of Bruised Grace by Brian Doyle, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. What’s it really about? I’m not sure I get it. A bunch of stories though no apparent theme to them. A book cover I didn’t really understand. An author lauded as someone who “wrote more powerfully about faith than anyone in his generation” and yet I had never heard of him. I’m from Oregon too!
It collected dust and remained unopened. Actually, it was a digital copy so it slept peacefully on my Kindle and didn’t complain about being ignored.
Then one day, a cloudy day in the fall, I grabbed it out of the sheer willpower to work. I needed to feel a sense of progress and this book felt like a milestone somehow.
I read the first essay and smile. It was sweet. I read the second essay and shed one single tear. We will never forget. I read the third and sent a prayer up to Heaven that my children would be great friends.
By the fourth, having been caught off guard by the depth of these essays, I asked myself, “Did Brian write all of these are were they written by other people?” I read the back cover again. These are all Brian’s own words and own stories.
I figured out what these essays were all about: life.
In a world where we want something sensational, there is something utterly beautiful in the simple. Brian has captured a bunch of simple and yet profound moments. He lured me in and when I thought I would just read one more essay, I found myself reading another and then another.
This book appealed to both my short attention span (each essay is about two pages), but also to my quiet longing to feel good about humanity again, so I kept reading. I have to admit, I’ve been worried about us for a while. We seem to be going off the rails, losing sight of what matters, creating more noise and understanding less and less.
I cannot give you meaningful quotes from this book without copying whole essays. You’ll just have to pick it up and read one for yourself. I will say though that Brian’s view of the world gave me hope. It moved me to the point of wanting to sit in my backyard and stare at my own trees and just take them in. It showed me how we can find beauty and truth in the everyday simple things. We certainly could use more of that.
The more I read, the harder it was for me to accept that this man passed away before this book was published. I didn’t even know him and yet I felt this loss keenly.
“When a child asks you to play chess you say yes.”
When I tell you to read this book, just do it. You may not understand why but you will meet God on these pages and He will point you right back to your own beautiful life.
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Copyright 2017 Sterling Jaquith
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