Writing a Book Review

girl-160172_1280When you read a book, it’s really helpful for you to write a review on Amazon, and maybe even on Goodreads. That helps other readers decide whether to buy the book. If it’s a book you like, it’s especially important. When you write a review, however, there are several guidelines to keep in mind.

  1. If you know the author, don’t mention it.
  2. Say what the book is about.
  3. Give a few specific examples from the book itself.
  4. What did you like about it?
  5. Does the author accomplish his or her purpose?
  6. Do you recommend the book?

 

Here’s an example of a book review I recently wrote.

On Parr (2)I just finished Ken Murray’s “On Parr” about a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot. The story about Colonel Ralph Parr is fascinating, but so is Murray, the author. I found him to be part research historian, part flight instructor, and part master story-teller. The combination enables Murray’s skill as a writer to hold you in your seat, turning page after page, wanting to find out what happens next. He gives inside information about what it was like to attend an NFL game when the stadium announcer tells the crowd that Pearl Harbor was attacked. He describes in detail what it feels like to dive straight down in a fighter jet from 43,000 feet and pull up barely in time to avoid slamming into the ground, right behind eight Russian MiGs, and taking out the enemy leader. His narrative includes figures of speech, dialogue, and technical information. It’s full of sensory detail: sights, sounds, and smells. He doesn’t shy away from the emotions the characters in the stories are dealing with during hellish battle scenes of war: fear, anger, loneliness, or depression. In the process, Murray brings the reader into the action, into the context, into the time period. I discovered nuggets of wisdom, such as how to approach relationships when starting a new job, and how to balance your personal life with your career. Murray does a really good job showing the interplay between national and international politics, and how it impacts average citizens as well as military personnel. And, while shining the spotlight on Colonel Parr, Murray manages to reveal a bit of himself. For he, too, is a decorated military aviator, an accomplished writer and editor, and an outstanding example of a human being who has so much to offer. I recommend the book.

British Library Book and Chain 2

Being Spiritual Together

Couple 3Early in our marriage, at a time when my wife and I were really busy, with three kids at home, finances that were really tight, and life was stressful, we didn’t know about the connection between spirituality and happiness in marriage. What we did know was that because of our circumstances, we got out of the habit of reading our Bibles, praying together, and taking time to worship together. We were totally unaware of the invisible toll it was taking.

We were snippy with each other, which isn’t usually the case. We didn’t have much patience. And, I was facing some strong sexual temptations. In the middle of this chapter of our lives, Linda said to me one day, “You know, we haven’t prayed together or done family devotions in several weeks. I wonder if that’s part of why we’re struggling.”

Bible2She was right. Almost as soon as we reinstated our spiritual disciplines, a sense of unity was restored, we got along better, and the other circumstances were much easier to handle.

Couples who are active in their spiritual life together have a much higher rate of marital success. The opposite is also true. Couples who don’t practice their faith together tend to fall apart when life gets tough or when there are sexual temptations. Pursuing faith together and maintaining a spiritual focus are crucial to growing a strong, close marriage.

For this reason, Kay Arthur teaches that your relationship with Christ is the glue that can bond a husband and wife together for life, the secret that can hold your marriage together.

Genesis 2:24 says when a man and a woman marry, they become one flesh. The emphasis is on physical intimacy or oneness. However, the unity the Lord wants couples to experience extends far beyond the physical dimension of the relationship. It includes intellectual and spiritual unity as well.

venn-diagram-41219_1280Humans are three-fold beings. We are physical, intellectual, and spiritual, and the Lord designed us to remain active in all three ways throughout our lives. To omit any one of these dimensions is to neglect a third of what life is all about. Some couples leave out two aspects of humanness in their marriage, focusing only on sex, disregarding the importance of the mind and the spirit. When they do this, they’re ignoring two-thirds of their potential for intimacy, meaning, and happiness together. They’re simply too shallow as a couple, and their marriage is headed for troubled waters, certain to crash against the rocks or run aground.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.

The wisdom found in this proverb encourages you to acknowledge the Lord in every part of your life. This would include your career, your health, your finances, your lifestyle choices, and your relationships. It encompasses your education, the books you read, and the movies and shows you watch. And, it involves your marriage and family. In other words, if you want to know how to make your marriage work, it’s important to start with making sure you are being spiritual together.

Spirituality, is a gift from God, designed to help us succeed in marriage, which is the most important human relationship. The Bible says every perfect gift is from above. Spirituality is a gift designed by God to help us, to bring happiness and fulfillment, to draw us closer to him, and to one another as husband and wife. It’s one of the ways God empowers us, helps us make sense of the world, and make sense of our lives.

Having Fun Together as a Couple

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.

Proverbs 17:22

Elegant Divider

Courtauld CafeThey liked each other as soon as they met, so they started dating. They did all kinds of fun things. They saw movies and went to concerts. They both liked to ski, loved the same music, and enjoyed talking about the Bible. They had fun together. They laughed often. They made life feel good for anyone who was around. It was obvious to them and their friends that they were meant to be together, so they got married. They were best friends.

After the wedding, they settled into their new life together, and the dating gradually stopped. Life got serious, and they forgot the importance of having fun together.

Almost every time I ask an engaged couple what drew them together and what they like about each other, invariably their answer is that they are best friends. They have fun together, they laugh together, and they want to be together all the time.

People are wired for fun, to enjoy life. We love to laugh, experience new things, and have adventures. We tend to gravitate toward people who are fun to be with, who want to do things we like to do. When a couple keeps on having fun together, their marriage tends to stay fresh, they continue to like each other, and they don’t have to look elsewhere for satisfaction. But when a couple stops having fun together, their marriage is headed for trouble.

Why is this the case? Simply because having fun is one of the top three major areas of fulfillment in human experience. People everywhere need spiritual fulfillment. There is a strong, almost universal desire for sexual fulfillment. And everyone needs to have fun in order to enjoy life. When you combine spirituality, sexuality, and fun, you create a life that is deeply satisfying and meaningful. When you do that in your marriage, the result is an amazing marriage and home life.

popcorn-1433326_1920Think back to the time just before you got married. Can you remember the things you did together? Who planned the dates? Where did you go? Did you have fun together?

While My wife and I were dating, we would go to a movie, spend an afternoon at a park, or go to the beach. We played miniature golf, hung out with friends, and played tennis. We played cards with her family, spent a lot of time talking, and went to church. One time, we had a midnight picnic with another couple. The event was planned by the ladies, and was a lot of fun.

After marriage, things begin to change. You finish school, look for jobs, have a few kids, get into debt, and life gets serious and heavy. It seems there’s no time or energy or interest in having fun anymore. Some couples just don’t have enough money.

It’s important, however, that you build fun into your lifestyle. You have to balance the seriousness and responsibility with lightheartedness and fun. You have to make time to play, and you need to do it together, not just with other people.

Kayak 4

This Book Is a Winner!

I highly recommend WisdomBuilt Biblical Principles of Marriage. This practical and readable volume will enrich and strengthen marriage relationships. What makes this such a relevant book is the way Paul integrates insights from current research and the best of psychological studies—underscoring the reality that “all truth is God’s truth.” This will be valuable for any couple to read and study together as they strive for a healthy relationship. And, for church leaders wanting a great small group resource to enhance the marriages in their congregations, this book is a winner!

RIch Guerra

Rich Guerra, Superintendent, SoCal Network, Assemblies of God