How I Passionately Feared A Book and Accidentally Loved It

I was afraid to read Jennifer Fulwiler’s recently-released memoir, Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found It.  More specifically, I was afraid to review it.

You see, there’s been a lot of hubbub about this book in the little section of the internet where I hang out.  A bandwagon, of sorts.  And I’m a bandwagon-avoider.  When I hear the band music playing, I prefer to hang back rather than jump on the wagon.  Sometimes I might roll my eyes just a bit.

It’s not because I’m so terribly original or that I’m so terribly secure in my own opinions.  Not at all.  I just tend to hang back a bit and not to hop on, at least not right away. Usually, anyway.

So when Jennifer’s book came out, I got paranoid: “What if I don’t like it?”

Another blogger got some flak for giving it four stars instead of five on Amazon.  Seriously??

Also, other (apparent) Catholics have jumped all over those who critiqued the book.

What if I gave it an outright negative review?  I’d be tarred and feathered and banished from Catholic blog world.  At the very least, it would be awkward to do a Seven Quick Takes link up again.

Would I have the guts to write what I really thought?

That Thing You Do Jimmy

But then I needed reading material for a flight one recent weekend, and I couldn’t resist loading the book onto my [Pat’s] Kindle.

Plus, a scathingly brilliant idea occurred to me: if I didn’t like the book, I didn’t have to blog about it.  I could keep my critique to my self.  The internet would live to see another day without my thoughts on this particular book.  The world would keep on turning.

 But I needn’t have worried,

 because I really like the book.  Seriously, seriously like it a lot.

You can read all about the book in plenty of other places.  I don’t have much to add about the content.  In a nutshell:

What struck me is that the writing is tight.  Jennifer is a talented writer, and apparently her editor is very talented too.  Also, I’d venture a guess that Jennifer’s computer-programming background might help her, because the book is so cohesive.   Every anecdote, every bit of dialogue plays a part and develops the story as a whole.

I really appreciate writers who stick with what they know.  I also appreciate books that are succinct.   Jennifer’s book satisfies on both counts.   I’m sure Jennifer had dozens of experiences and thoughts that she wanted to include but didn’t, just as a good computer programmer doesn’t leave stray lines of code in a program that the software doesn’t need (so my husband tells me).   Instead, she leaves in just those that move the story along.

I’ve seen a critique or two asking why Something Other Than God doesn’t address this or that objection to Catholicism.  I can see how a lesser writer would have tried to address more of those objections.  But Jennifer didn’t write a book called, “Everything You Could Possibly Want To Know About Catholicism.”  She wrote a memoir.  She keeps the focus on her thought processes, her conversion experience, her story.

And it’s a great story.


I’m linking up with Housewife Spice for What We’re Reading Wednesday.

Housewifespice had more important things going on.  Congratulations!

6 thoughts on “How I Passionately Feared A Book and Accidentally Loved It

  1. “There he goes off to his room to write that hit song ‘Alone in My Principles'”.
    Great review, Laura! I’m hoping to get my hands on a copy soon.

  2. Thank you. Thank you. Haven’t read the book. Don’t know if I will. I’m sure it’s good but I have other books on my to read list that trump this one. But again THANK YOU for pointing out the Catholic blog wotld’s mob mentality of “Attack! Anyone who has anything critical to say even if it’s said respectfully and intelligently!” Geez, people. Okay. Enough. This is not being expressed intelligently or respectfully so I’d best just shut up.

  3. I had the exact same thought about this book and its bandwagon, and had the exact same reaction to the quality of her writing after I read it. Her process of coming to an understanding of the Catholic teachings of contraception and abortion are especially good and demonstrate how faith builds on reason.

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