Book Review Overview, Part Two

In my last overview, I shared with you about the books that filled my evenings. Today is the day for day-reading. Since July, I have read The Memoir Project, The Art of Slow Writing, and The Magnolia Story.

I picked up and put down The Artist’s Way. 

The Memoir Project.

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This book is amazing! It is concise, to the point, and brilliantly informative. The author dismisses false notions of what a memoir is (not an autobiography), encourages the memoir writer (if you make it through childhood you have enough material for many memoirs), and points the memoir writer in the right direction (edit, edit, edit). I will use her guide in the editing process of my memoir.

The Artists’ Way.

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Oh, people love this book. I did not have the stomach to listen to the little child artist inside my head, wanting to take me on a walk. The author wants to write a spiritual book for non-spiritual people, but instead of simply stating we are transcendental with examples of feeling connected to something bigger than ourselves, she must go at length about “whatever you believe in” and on and on (and on). Her approach ends up as sentimental with new-age vibrations. In the beginning, the reader is subjected to what felt like 30 pages of why this book is so amazing. Show. Don’t tell.

Perhaps it is the exercises people like so much (Morning pages: spend time every morning writing three pages stream of consciousness). The book is targeted towards those who doubt themselves in creativity and thus hold themselves back. I do not share that struggle so perhaps I cannot see the benefit. What this author says in ten pages, I could say in one. I began to skim. I put it down. If you love it, great. I do not recommend it. There are other books to get you writing, leaving out the dissociative identities.

The Art of Slow Writing.

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This is the example of other books that can get you writing. The crux: Take your time. Do not feel the need to produce. Be patient. It takes time to discover the layers of a work, time to let it unfold, time to discover its deeper themes.

We can talk about a piece of art having a life of its own, a story to tell, without indulging Jungian fantasies. Perfectly sane people can talk about art this way, Author Louise DeSalvo does just that. This book; my experience with the online group, The Hope Writers; and The Memoir Project are great examples of how if you want to write for publication, you need to learn from someone who has been published (by a publisher, rather than self-published). It seems the writing might be 30% of the work, the rest is editing. Editing does not just take away. With your edits you add, look what for is lacking, improve, and then take away. I highly recommend it.

The Magnolia Story.


It keeps me reading, not profound, but pleasant. I was moved by their financial struggles early on. Joanna Gaines points out we often see people on television and think television made their life flush, but there was a foundation in place and faith in God that brought these blessings. The writing is long-winded. But like the show, this couple is just so damn pleasant. I skimmed the ending reflections. Good reading to pass the time.

Additional comments.

You may have noticed I prefer books to get to the point. Reading philosophy (Summa Theologiae by Thomas Aquinas) taught me what a few sentences can pack in while still saying a lot. Many styles of writing in this world are needed. They need not all be dense. It is a style preference and personality trait. With little interest in the rural scene and house architecture, I like Bronte better than Austen. I still read Austen. I did not like or finish In this House of Brede but I acknowledge its value. I make the same complaints about movies, “too long!” Give me a 90-minute film I can finish in one sitting. Some things are drawn out just to draw them out. I will try to make distinctions when I share my opinions.

It is not my intention to offend or say the book you like is garbage or the book that ruined your life is gold. These are just opinions and experiences. I would love to hear in the comments what you are reading and if you agree or disagree with my recommendations.