Thursday, January 29, 2009

I have a secret

So, you guys know I love to read, right? And almost always have a book or two from the library going at all times. In fact, half of what I read doesn't even make it into the "Currently Reading" section of my sidebar because by the time I remember to update it, I've already moved on.

I joined a book club last summer and went to my first meeting in August. We read and discussed "Escape" by Carolyn Jessop. I enjoyed it. The next month they were reading "The Shack" by William Young. I vaguely remembered hearing about it, or maybe seeing it at Target, but I was on a cruise with my mom that month when they met, so I didn't get to go, and didn't get the book read. The next two months I couldn't go because Blaine was having radiation and couldn't help shuttle kids to activities those nights .... blah blah, no more book club for me, I was too embarrassed to show up again after missing three months in a row.

Somewhere, between then and now, a girlfriend of mine asked if I had read "The Shack". Told me several times how wonderful it was and encouraged me to read it. I thought about the fact I had missed that month in Book Club. I heard it mentioned a few more times ..... knew I should read it because it was so highly recommended ... then I got busy .... eating Doritos, whatever. (I'm kidding, I don't even like Doritos. But crunchy Cheetos? Oh, yeah, baby, I'm all over that.)

Last week, one of the moms at my kids' school came up and asked me if I had read "The Shack". Just came up, and asked me out of the blue, "Have you read 'The Shack'?" When I said no, she said, simply, "You must. It is life-altering." And I thought, ok, fine, I'll read it already!! So I went down and put my name on a wait-list at the library. She asked a few days later if I had gotten my copy yet, and reiterated that I. Simply. Must. Read. It.

The very next day I was in the teacher's workroom making copies and the art teacher walked in, with a copy of "The Shack" and asked if anyone wanted to borrow it.

I know! How creepy was that?!

So I brought it home, and during these past two snow days, read it.

Now, here's the part where I have a secret. I'm going to whisper, because I'm not sure I want to confess this out loud ..... {looking over my shoulder} ....

Shhhhhhhh......

Ok, are we in private? Because here's my secret ......

I freaking hated it.

HATED. IT.

Am I the only one???

Apparently it's been the number one bestseller for a kajillion months and is getting nothing but great reviews and everyone says Oh. Em. Gee. its the best message EVER and YOU MUST READ IT, IT WILL CHANGE THE WAY YOU THINK.

I ... thought it was exasperating. I thought it was hard to read. Not because it was a difficult subject matter, but literally hard to read, as in, the characters talked in riddles that I found annoying. I hated that the main character (main Earthly character, I guess I should stipulate) was so dense, and basically walked around the entire middle section of the book scratching his head, asking, "Huh?" and second-guessing himself the entire time. I found myself re-reading entire paragraphs, trying to decipher what the heck was actually being said, and who was questioning who (whom?) and what exactly the point was.

I also struggled with the personification of God as a black woman. Perhaps I'm unenlightened, but to me, God is referenced in the Bible in consistently masculine terms. Does that mean God IS a man? Or a male gender? I have no idea, and I'm not about to start a theological debate here. I just know that in my own mind, he's not a black woman I call "Papa".

And then I thought, well, maybe I'm just not very smart. Maybe this book is too cerebral, or the concept is too lofty for me to follow. Or perhaps the *goal* of the book was to take me out of my comfort zone, and make me question my own beliefs ..... but I don't think that was it. I really, truly found the book to be annoying.

I actually quit reading about half way through because I just wasn't interested in what was happening. Then I had that "no, don't give up, it will get better" thought. So many people love this book, how could I be the only one who didn't "get it"?

But you know what? I didn't. I didn't get it. I finished it, read every page, didn't skip or cheat or look ahead, and I still don't get what the fuss was about.

So there's my secret.

I'm the only person on the planet who didn't like it, and I'm TOTALLY breaking my "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" rule .... but I hated "The Shack".

Now, before I hit "publish" and William Young's publisher, or, you know, his MOM hops on here with hate mail, I feel compelled to point you all towards Dad Gone Mad's recent post about how it's ok to disagree with respect and politeness .....

I'm just saying.

55 comments:

vgsmom said...

I share this secret with you. I don't have quite such strong emotions about it. I just didn't get what all the hoopla was about. I found it difficult to read and had to force myself to finish it.

I think,for me, I already get it. I don't struggle with God being beyond my comprehension. I don't struggle with the thought of God's forgiveness. I think God is just as broken by the tragic things of this lost world, even more so, than us.

It was not a life-altering experience for me. I can see it's significance for those that it brought God into a new light. But I won't be the one handing out in the workroom.

Wonderful World of Weiners said...

Haven't read it but now sort of want to...weird huh? I'd love to see what I think about a book that seems to NOT be everyone's cup of tea.

I will, in a sign of solidarity, out myself as the one person who really did not love TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE. I know, probably going to hell just for admitting it, but just never got into it. (finished it but barely)

Hallie

Karalyn said...

Yay! I am not the only one! I thought that book was horrible. Boring, boring, boring. I could barely get through it. And I was so excited to read it too. The hype! The Shack! But yeah. No.

Missy K said...

Agree with you. HATED. IT.

Mrs. N said...

Maybe it's because I had a baby 12 weeks ago, but I've honestly never heard of the book and I'm usually a HUGE reader.

Anonymous said...

I have had this book sitting in my bedroom for months....unread. I bought it based on other people's recommendations, but I seriously don't even think that reading the back cover is all that interesting. I'm finishing "Three Cups of Tea" today (wonderful book, by the way....every American should read it, just to gain a little bit of insight in to what life in Pakistan/Afghanistan is truly like and Taliban issues, etc), so maybe I'll bust out "The Shack" to see what all the hype is about!
Julie H.
Bucks County, Pa

Angie said...

I agree with you!! My pastor highly recommended it to me. He told me to keep in mind that it is FICTION but that it was a great book. He has a huge library and loves to read so I decided to give it a try. I did not like it! I'm with you on the personifications. I have my own "picture" of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. I also agree with vgsmom. I understand God's grace and that it's not about what I "do" in life...he just wants me as I am. I honestly didn't get what all the hype was about either. I think it was over-rated.

On another note, I just finished "Same Kind of Different as Me" and enjoyed it. It's a true story about a woman who had made a difference in the homeless community in Texas. It's a good read...sometimes hard to follow because it's told from two different perspectives at the same time.

I now need a new book to read (or several). I am going to California in a few weeks and would like a book or two (or three) to read on the flights. I'm a pretty quick reader, so I can finish a book within a couple of hours. I haven't tried the Twilight series, even though I've heard it's good. I'm not a big fan of fantasy or sci-fi. Any recommendations??

The Running Girl said...

Haven't read it or even heard about it, but everyone has their style, and it's ok to not like something everyone else likes.

I LOVE chocolate and had heard nothing but rave reviews about the warm chocolate melting cake Carnival Cruise Lines serves as it's dessert. When we went on the cruise, I had one - and hated it! To each their own.

Maybe I'll have to read the book to get my own opinion.

Lori said...

I probably read about 2/3 of the book. My mother gave it to me and before I could open it, my pastor denounced it as not being theologically sound. It is very, nee extremely rare, for him to weigh in on topical issues but something must have been going on for him to feel the need to bring it up.

Then, of course, I was compelled to read it. I was not comfortable with the personification of God as a black woman or the Holy Spirit as tinkerbell. There were a few moments such as when they were sitting around the kitchen table that perhaps could help some folks grasp concepts, but I wasn't drawn in enough to finish the book.

SueK. said...

OMG. I hated it too and thought there must be something wrong with me. I feel so much better now. THANK YOU!!

Pam D said...

Threw my copy in the trash... disliked it SO strongly that I did not even want to pass it on to anyone else. My pastor recommended it (as fiction.. definitely NOT theologically sound), but I simply found it depressing. There are too many good, uplifting, funny, enjoyable books out there to waste my time on that one. But, I'm like that about movies and TV shows, too. Don't make me get down; real life tries too hard to do that. So no, Kristie, you aren't the Lone Ranger. Maybe we need to start a "Shack Haters" website.... or is there already one out there?

EBeth said...

two comments:

1) the shack just came up at my book club this week. we aren't reading it for book club (yet).

2) have you heard of goodreads? www.goodreads.com I love it. You can keep track of all the books you have read, are currently reading or would like to read. You can write and read reviews, see all the books by an author, etc... they also have widgets so you can post your lists on your blog. i just thought i would mention it if you are updating your blog currently reading list by hand.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I too read the book and found it to be very different....I was confused quite a bit!

Sherri
www.caringbridge.org/oh/kara

Kim said...

I'm with you. Not sure what all the fuss was about and I didn't like the portrayal of God AT all--fiction or not, just seemed oh-so wrong.
*smiles*
Kim

Jacqueline said...

I got the book for Christmas. There were like 3 or 4 people in the family that got each other the book for Christmas - although I was not a giver, just a receiver. Then, after Christmas, all I heard about at church, on the internet, everywhere was about The Shack. I haven't read it yet but plan to soon. I'll let you know my opinion. But, it's weird...I never heard anything about it until I got it for Christmas, and now it's all I hear about.

Mom on the Run said...

I must admit I've never heard of this book. I've also never read The Secret.

I have read New Earth by Eckhart Tolle--a book selected by an earthy lady in our book club. She held a yoga class before book club -- can you imagine how wierd that was? Most of our group loved New Earth. Me, I wondered why since the autrhor states the obvious about environmental issues and being nice to people. May be I am not cerebral but I thought I could have written the book.

Best book I read last year...The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. A Carnegie Mellong professor who was given a year to live after a diagnosis of colon cancer. Sad, very sad, but her book was written for his children. Poignant stories about his life. Some mundane stuff, but very readable. Think -- Mitch Albom, Afternoons with Morrie

Sandy P said...

After I read it, I went on line to read what other people were saying. I found many people with the same opinion as you for many of the same reasons. I did not LOVE the book, but I did not hate it either. I did make me stop and think a little, but I always struggle with how prayer, and bad things, and Gods will all fits together.

karen said...

HEY at least you read. That is more than what I do. Guess I need to start doing it more.

Anonymous said...

I had heard about this book and wanted to read it too. I bought it and read the first chapter. Put it down and haven't picked it back up since. I don't have time to read a book that doesn't grab me right away and this one definitely did not.
When is the next book in the Twilight series coming out?!!!

Diane in Cincinnati

Kristi said...

I was going to read it but my mom and a dear friend both said it sucked so I didn't even bother! You are not alone. ;)

Anonymous said...

I did not enjoy it much either. I guess by the end I took away the reminder that God loves me even though he allowed some pretty crappy things to happen in my life. It was definitly a hard read.

Cindy Agnew

shara said...

A friend mentioned it on her facebook that she read it adn LOVED it. I found out it was a "God" book or a religious book and that kinda turned me off.

I am a religious and spiritual person, but, for me, I often find that type of book preachy adn predictable. How snooty do I sound?! Sorry.

I was thinking about giving it a try, but, I think I will think again!

And, thanks to EBeth's comment- I will check out the goodread site.

SuperSuz said...

Wow...gonna go out on a limb here with all The Shack "haters" posters...but I enjoyed it. HOWEVER, I did have some issues with the writing style - often confusing for sure. Definitely NOT theologically sound but I found the portrayal interesting and less "damning" than many books of humans and their innate sins dealing with God. But then, I enjoy most books unless it's a book regarding some relative theory of how pine needles grow in accordance with the wind.

Anonymous said...

I did NOT enjoy this book and found it very badly written and boring. My daughter the college English professor shared my sentiments, and yours.

RSMDianne said...

Kristie, Me too! I read it last summer in Hawaii, having picked it up at the airport bookshop. I read the whole thing, but just didn't get in to it. And since "everyone else" seems to just love and rave over it, I've kept my mouth shut. Thank you for giving me the courage to come out and say I hated it! lol

M&Co. said...

I started reading it for my book club. I didn't finish it because I just wasn't that into it.

But it may just be me. I can't remember the last time I actually finished a book.

Mybook club pick book this month is that Edward Sawtelle book that everyone is raving about. I could take or leave and when it had to go back to the library, I didn't whine and complain to my husband.

lizinsumner said...

The Holy Spirit portrayed as Tinkerbelle???!!!! Pleeeeze!! I'd never heard of this book before - and I see no reason to change that now....sounds too weird and creepy for my tastes.....

Janna said...

Hey, I have been lurking for a LONG time, but I have decided to stop being such a pansy and start posting when I have something to say!

I did not love the book. I did not hate the book. For me, it was just several hours of my life that were spent floating on a cloud of procrastination. I did not at all like God to be a black woman. I think I could have lived with it had her name not been "Papa." I don't have a problem with God being black, or (really) with Him being a woman, or being named "papa," but all three was a bit much and I didn't feel like it really served any purpose to the story.

I think it is a book that sounds really good in theory, but if you are already a believer you probably already believe the things in the book, and if you are not a believer than I don't think a fiction book about a black woman named "Papa" living in a shack and helping a father get over his murdered daughter is going to make you go "AHA" now I know what this Bible stuff is about!

I will wholeheartedly recommend a book that has nothing to do with this called "Garlic and Sapphires." It is about the lengths the New York Time food critic had to go to to be able to review a restaurant. Nothing life altering or affirming, but a lot of fun!

Alicia said...

I'm 29 so a little young for the show even, I guess i remember reruns, but when I first saw the back of the book i said, isn't Mackenzie Phillips the girl from One Day at a Time??? Kind of ruined it for me.

I am going to try and see what all this is about. lol

Cate said...

Took me FIVE MONTHS to get through it. I kind of shrugged and said, "Uh, okay."

dena said...

Kristie,
Just heard about The Shack and was going to look it up at Barnes and Noble this weekend. So, I guess I am in the I dont have an opinion crowd, but I will take your opinion with me when I go look. I agree with Mom on the Run.....I gave both my sons(15 and 18) The Last Lecture and they both LOVED it. I snuck in and borrowed my sons copy while he was at school......and I have to admit.......it is very inspirational and enlightening. I have so little time to read I want to read something that does not suck the life out of me:) Also, if you want to read a good book about women of the Bible era.....read The Read Tent by Anita Diamont. It was awesome:) Have a great day.....Dena

Anonymous said...

I haven't read The Shack, BUT EVERYBODY GO GET CAROLYN JESSUP'S BOOK, "ESCAPE"!!! Sorry. I kind of yelled that, didn't I? I read her book from cover to cover in two days. It was mesmorizing. I kept thinking, "You go, girl!!!"

God is always referred to in the masculine but "He" is neither a he nor a she but rather a spirit or a non-gendered entity (how's that for being vague?) Of course, Jesus was a He, and the Holy Spirit is neither male nor female. Myself, I always thinkof God as a "he" but the bottom line is that He's bigger than we'll ever comprehend so we won't figure it all out here on earth anyway and if we make him Lord of our lives then we can get all the details when we're in eternity.

Claire in Indiana

Anonymous said...

I am so glad there is some one besides me out there....I didn't get how my life would change. Or the papa thing, or etc, etc. I am a Christian who goes to church, reads the bible, etc..My husband thought why should we love this book about God so much and it is fiction...Thanks for making me feel better.
Jennifer in NC

Lissy said...

I haven't read it..but i do know what it's like to HATE HATE HATE a book that everyone else loves. (Da Vinci Code, i believe it is called??) I find that a lot with books - being a big reader, some of the "trendy" books just don't do it for me.

and someone actually had recommended The Shack to me, but after your review...I'm actually more curious now than i was before. haha.

Jeanette in Ga said...

I agree-Everyone acts like The Shack is the be-all end-all book of the year, but I DID NOT LIKE IT. I don't even think I finished it! Does that make us un-American?

Jeanette in Ga said...

Have you read Angela's Ashes? That book stopped me in my tracks. Try it instead.

Mom2Toribug said...

Oh WOW! I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Really, I did. I thought it was life-altering too, but did have a little problem with the reference to God being a black woman too. My office manager actually read the book about 50 times. Weird, huh?
I say to each their own. I love, love, love to read so I will read just about anything, but I don't love everything everyone suggests, so don't worry about it.

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely entitled to feel that way, but I have to put a plug in for the Shack supporters! For me, the book was life-changing after the death of my daughter. I was struggling to reconcile my feelings with God (even having been a believer for years and years), and something about the book struck a chord in me. I think God had to be totally diffeernt than what the main character expected or he wouldn't have been open to listening (especially with all his father issues), but I'll grant you - it definitely takes some suspension of belief. It has definitely shocked me how the world at large has embraced the book. I thought it would be a pretty niche market. Oh well. At least we agree on the genious of Harry Potter and Twilight!

Angeal said...

I totally agree with you. I read it and had to go back several times and "re-read". My pastor mentioned it and I acted like I kind of liked it, but I didn't. My mother-in-law raved over it and said she cried all the way thru. I am a huge "crier" and never shed a tear. I am with you...I don't get what all of the hoopla is about on this one!

Anonymous said...

Well I've not read The Shack...b/c I never read anything when it's "the thing to do" :-) So I'll pass along my non-trendy reads for the others of you who seemed to have the same aversion.

I read Three Cups of Tea way, way late. A current one I read (actually I listened to it from audible.com b/c I was doing a lot of driving at the time) was Kabul Beauty School, which is sort of similar to Three Cups, other than it's a woman's story of someone (who obviously) starts a beauty school to help the Afghani women. I thought it was very interesting!

Anyone who liked Eat, Pray, Love when it was out might enjoy Holy Cow! I actually preferred that one (again, maybe b/c EPL had been SO popular for ages)

And The Twentieth Wife and Veil of Roses were really interesting (those, again, were audio for me b/c of the drive) about Mughal India, and some of the story of how the Taj Mahal came about. They were historical fiction and the first few chapters took some getting used to b/c of all the detail, but then I was voluntarily driving all over just to listen to more!

For lighter reading, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series is pretty fun - set in Botswana. I've not gotten to any of his other couple of series, but they're fun, diversion from reality, character driven stories when you need to escape but don't want something heavier.

And with the kids I teach, they have been totally hooked on The Mysterious Benedict Society (and the sequel). The first few pages didn't sell them, but once we got beyond that, they were literally pleading with me to read, read, read. One even tried to get me fired because he was so into the story he couldn't believe I left them at a major cliff-hanger place. I've read it aloud with upper elementary, middle school, and high schoolers - for some reason I think it lends itself to that more than many books. I'll admit to being very intrigued myself, and it appears there will be a third in the series.

Lisa in SD

Connie Archer said...

I did not really care for this book either, although I can't say that I HATED it. I love to read, but this was really hard for me. I think God was portrayed as a black woman named "Papa" because this is the exact opposite of how most of us see Him. This was supposed to shock the main character enough that he would see God for who He really is, not how we think He is. Just a thought-anyway, I heard that this book was the modern day "Pilgrim's Progress". This book was definitely not on the same level as Pilgrim.

Marcia said...

I loved it!! As the anonymous poster a few up from me said, it really was something special to read after burying 2 of my kids.
I fully understood why the writer made the Father, Son and Holy Spirit the way he did, because the character wouldn't have understood them or have been open to them in any other form. God did change from a black woman once the character dealt with his father issues, to a male. He was ready for that change at that time.
Anyhow, I am sure one for not liking certain books. It takes me forever to finish most books, but I finished that one in a couple of days.

mom25in5 said...

OMG! I have had it on good authority that this is NOT a book you want to read if you have any spiritual leanings! I had someone rave about it..and I thought...hmmm, maybe I should give it a read. Then the next day it became a discussion during my Bible study. Yeah...I'm not reading it. Glad now that I have it on my favourite blogger's recommendation to not read it too!!

You want an amazing testimony book? Read Glenn Beck's "Christmas Sweater". Yup, cried and so did my dh. Who knew Glenn Beck could be deep?!! ;)

Oh and btw, I would hate hate hate your school. God bless you for even staying there!! 5 kids and I'd be wrapped in a tidy white coat by now if I even had to make one costume!!

Twenty Four At Heart said...

HATED it! Couldn't even finish it and I never, ever stop reading a book before it's done. I thought it was poorly written, hard to follow and basically just crap. Thank you so much for this post - I honestly thought I was alone in my hatred of this book. Thank God I downloaded it onto my kindle so I didn't waste quite as much money on it as if I had bought a paper version.

Karen - Mommy to four sweeties said...

I also hated it.

I had heard so much about it and looked forward to reading it....
but wondered what all the hype was about after I finished it.

Very disappointing!

Anonymous said...

I am glad I read it, and while I didn't hate it, it wasn't life altering for me. Certainly not on my favorite books list though. :)

Now Twilight.... that's up there. :)

Ali

emleonard11 said...

Checked it out from the library, tried to read it, couldn't figure out what all the hype was, it became way too overdue so returned it. Didn't finish it. Not every book is for everyone.

Anonymous said...

I FREAKIN HATED IT TOO!!!!!!!!!
Begin was OK, end was OK, middle SUCKED!!!!!! with a capital S. Too wordy, very confusing, blah ,blah,blah'blah,blAH... I think my expectations going in were too high, like you everyone I know LOVED IT!!! HATED IT! HATED IT! HATED IT!

Glad to fine another someone!
Am reading Friday Night Knitting club now, so far so good :0)
Thanks for the vent,
Jo Anne , Pete's sis. DX gbm 3/04 still going strong!

Anonymous said...

I had someone go crazy in recommending this book to me - but when I looked at the cover notes I thought "meh". Not very open minded, I know, but that kind of stuff makes my eyes glaze over. But since you're a big reader, I have two books which I would like to recommend to you: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer, and Lottery by Patricia Wood. Both are absolutely delightful, and I would be more than surprised if you didn't like them. They're very different from each other but I didn't want either one to end. Enjoy!

Natalie said...

Well, I don't know about that book--I'm do busy rereading the whole Outlander series--but I do like Cheetos. So I still feel we have much in common.

Lisa Deaton said...

I think I might have been someone who recommended the book to you! Ha Ha....I personally like the book, but I had others friends who felt the same way you did. Good thing it was a small book and you are a fast reader!! :)

Natalie said...

My mother gave both of my sisters and I this book before Christmas and while they have raved about how wonderful it is....I still haven't read it. Your review hasn't encouraged me to do so, either! LOL

René S said...

I've read it, I really liked it, but I wonder if maybe your life experience has helped you already deal with the question of where God is in tragedy? Isn't that really what the book is about? When you've lived through cancer as many times as you have, and seen so many children's lives altered or lost, I'd guess that you had to ponder and maybe come to peace with how God could fit into this world. Lots of people just avoid the question, and I think the book resonated with people because it presented a unique perspective of how God can be and wants to be present for his children in the midst of tragedy. Not sure, just a thought. Again, I liked the book, but I did have to pay attention to the writing and often re-read passages. I would not describe it as an easy read. Congrats for at least finishing it. I think it is a good book for discussion because it makes people think -- even if they don't like it! Look at the discussion you've generated here.

Mommy to those Special Ks said...

I hated it too!!!! I am so glad I'm not alone!

Alisa said...

are you tired of my comments tonight?
i agree with you- I have the book, have been carrying it around for sometime, and just can't get into it-