A Brief Review of
Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life.
Hardback: Zondervan, 2007.
Buy Now: [ ChristianBook.com ]
Reviewed by Jeff Goins.
One day, my wife came home from a book reading in Franklin, TN, absolutely in love. Being her husband, I was a tad jealous that something had stolen her affections. When I realized that the culprit was a book – albeit, an excellent book – I could empathize (I, too, am a sucker for good books).
The book was Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist. Subtitled “Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life,” Cold Tangerines is a collection of essays and reflections on faith and the simple pleasures in life. Written in a memoir-esque fashion (a la Donald Miller’s writing or Anne Lamott’s essays), this is a charming book that is both approachable and enjoyable for the reader. Niequist’s subtle, yet clever approach to life is endearing, humorous, and challenging.
Niequist is the daughter of Bill Hybels, pastor of Willow Creek Church in Chicago, but her story is full of much more than the stereotypical mega-church anecdotes and hyper-spiritual platitudes (no offense to Hybels). Her story is one of struggle and disappointment, of finding beauty amidst pain and trial, of ultimate redemption in the little things that get neglected in a 50-minute service that concludes in an altar call.
As my wife read through the book, sharing portions of it with me, she helped me understand why this book was so important to her (and many others) It reminded her of the beauty that was all around her – in simple things, like the changing of the seasons or a childhood memory. She would keep me up in bed at night, laughing out loud at the funny parts and sniffling at the sad parts. When we would go on road trips, she would read short chapters to me. She was enthralled by it, and I, too, began to appreciate Niequist’s pensive collection of reflections on the seemingly mundane and ordinary.
It’s nothing novel to say that we live in a fast-paced, consumer-driven culture, where everything we want (and more) is available to us in the blink of an eye. It doesn’t make a lot of rational sense to slow down and enjoy the scenery in a culture like this, but that is precisely what we need to do. That is, according to Niequist, if we are to embrace how extraordinary every day can be.
C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com
Reading for the Common Good
From ERB Editor Christopher Smith
"This book will inspire, motivate and challenge anyone who cares a whit about the written word, the world of ideas, the shape of our communities and the life of the church."
-Karen Swallow Prior
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