Christians don’t casually recommend books. When we read a book about faith that we like, we say things like:
“This book changed my life.”
“That book spoke to my heart.”
“That book taught me how to be a man.”
We make wildly powerful statements about the wisdom shared between the pages of a book. And that’s great. Passion is a good thing, but it does create a potential problem. What do you do if you read the book too and didn’t have the same experience?
My middle brother is experiencing that right now. Just the other night he called and asked, “How do I let someone know that the book that changed the fabric of their very soul, didn’t change mine?”
That’s a legit question, because when you believe that a book changed your heart, you tend to take it personally when someone else didn’t have the same experience. You’ll get riled up if you loved Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell and someone else thought it had
Think I’m exaggerating? Today on Twitter, tweet, “The Shack didn’t really do it for me. I don’t see what the big deal is.” And then prepare for the firestorm.
But again, what do you do if you didn’t love the book too?
I have four ideas on how to handle this delicate situation:
1. Talk about politics
Last Friday a friend of mine named Rachel wrote a short guest post about politics on Stuff Christians Like. That one post got 767 comments. Whoa. That’s why I recommend going “OG” when you find yourself in an awkward conversation. And although you probably think I mean “Original Gangster,” because I’m so street, that’s not what I’m talking about. If you ever want to change the topic in a conversation, throw an “Obama Grenade.” Simply say, “Hey, what do you think about Obama.” Kaboom! There is no way they’ll talk about their book when you’ve just ignited that one.
2. Compliment something other than the content
Call this the “Friends” technique. On that show, when the character Joey would perform in a horrible TV show, Ross and Chandler would compliment things other than his performance. Like the lighting, “Wow, look how great that scene was lit.” Same goes here. If you didn’t like the book they loved, say something like, “What kind of paper is this printed on? It’s got a nice thickness. Feels great to the touch.” Or “What’s the font on this, is that a serif?”
3. Fall asleep
My neighbor’s four-year old will make herself fall asleep if she gets in trouble. Right in the middle of a lecture, she will lay down and fall asleep, waking hours later safely out of the conversation. Yeah, this is going to be weird, at first, but if you’re at Starbucks, ball up some napkins into a little pillow and then just start slumbering. Your friend will eventually leave and you get a nap. Win, win.
4. Be honest
Always an option, always an option. Just be honest and say, “This 174 page book by a 32 year old guy with a soul patch taught you how to be a man? Really? Really?” OK, don’t say that exactly. Cause that’s pretty jerky. But just be honest. And ask what they loved about the book. That’s all.
I wrote this list because I’ve been the guy who loved a certain book only to have a friend say, “Really?”
I love books like, “Bird by Bird,” and “The War of Art” but not everyone does.
How about you, what is a book, other than the Bible, that you would say changed your life or really challenged you?