One Thousand Gifts–My Thoughts

I am a little baffled by One Thousand Gifts.  Baffled that everyone seems to love the book, baffled at the reviews, and baffled that I do not seem to be enjoying the book like I expected.

I have seen some major comment craziness over this book which causes me a little apprehension in sharing my thoughts because I don’t particularly want to be stoned or have virtual banana peels throw my way. The truth is; however, I did not love it. I had to force myself to keep reading which having a review copy demanded.

Sure, I was touched by the sadness author Ann VosKamp has had to deal with and I wished it was not so for her. Plus, I think giving thanks to God is important; however, I found myself weighed down by her constant, poetical voice. It was hard to follow and taxing to read. Sometimes, I wanted her to say what she meant straight out and not make me search for the intended meaning nor be forced to reread sentences because of the unconventional wording. I personally feel that her prose works for short blog posts but not an entire book, and I wondered if the entire message of the book could be condensed into one or more blog posts that would have been just as encouraging. 

As I was reading, there were sentences and sections that made me pause and want to line it up with truth. I wondered if in her manner, there were liberties taken. Just three of the parts that made me wonder were as follows:

  • “If clinging to His goodness is the highest form of prayer, then seeing His goodness with a pen, with the shutter, with a word of thanks, these really are the most sacred acts conceivable.” (pg. 61) So, writing down or taking pictures of what you are thankful for is a sacred act and actually “the most sacred act conceivable”?
  • “Here is the only place I can love Him.” (pg. 70) She can only love God when she writes her list?
  • “…discover how to make love to God.” (pg. 201) When you use certain words and phrases, you think certain things (sex, not necessarily intimacy). 

Perhaps these questions I had were because I was not enjoying the poetry in it all. I do understand that a new voice, a break from ordinary is refreshing and her fan base is solid. Based on bloggers I read and Tweets I am following the majority are devouring One Thousand Gifts.

I did not enjoy One Thousand Gifts, but I do like Ann VosKamp. I read her blog, Holy Experience, at times and sometimes, I link up. From my readings, I believe she loves God with all her heart and desires to serve Him; so none of that is in question here. Plus, despite the fact that the reading was laborious to me, I did close the book desiring to keep writing my list of thanks and wanting to see God’s hand in all of my life, which was the purpose and goal of the book to be sure. Thanks to Ann, I have a list going that started long before her book and because of her blog.

Have you read One Thousand Gifts? Ever have a book baffle you?

One Thousand Gifts was given to me by the publisher in exchange for my honest review. 


11 thoughts on “One Thousand Gifts–My Thoughts”

  1. It's somewhat refreshing to here another view point on this book. I haven't read the book yet but occasionally read and even link up to the blog (which I discovered only recently). I think I would agree with you about the poetic style. It is soothing in small amounts but laborious ,I suspect, for a whole book. Maybe I'm just not sappy enough. I like to say it like it is, and I appreciate people who can use words well…but say what they mean. It's good to be reminded of the beauty of now, and our blessings, as long as we are worshiping the giver not the gifts.

  2. I felt exactly the same way when I read the book, though did not voice my opinion for fears you listed. I found myself wondering if I was too linear, or perhaps even cyncial, in my thinking to appreciate her much-loved book. I, like you, enjoy her blog on occasion, and definitely love her photography. The book was taxing for me. I'm relieved to know I'm not alone. Thanks for your honest review. I really appreciate it.

  3. Well, you're not the only person I've read who feels that way about this book – though I can't for the life of me remember where I read the other review! Anyway, I started keeping a list of things I was thankful for long before I ever heard of Ann or her blog, and I think it's a healthy and good thing to do to keep us mindful of what God has blessed us with and to help with the gimme-gotchas when they come along. So, all of that to say, I haven't had any desire to read her book and after reading the other review (wherever it was) and yours I'm glad I made that choice. Honesty isn't always easy when writing a book review when you know you're reviewing a book that others love – but everyone is different! 🙂

  4. Oh, I so appreciate your honesty, Amy!! I too have felt (and this is based on her blog not the book which I've not read) that it's so heavily poetical that the focus is on the literary value and depth not on the actual meat.

    The questionable parts you pointed out are well worth mentioning. Like I frequently point out to our children – we must be like the Bereans (Acts 17) – testing to see whether what we hear or read is TRUE!

  5. Thanks, Amy ~ I'd only read part of the first chapter online as a sample and wondered where the rest of it would lead. It didn't strike me as a “must read” —
    Your examples from her book are cause for concern — and discernment.

    MUST give thanks to God ~ that's a biblical given and worth reminding myself (but I think Nancy Leigh deMoss's book covered that very well for me)

    No cyber tomato throwing it seems =) More of a “the emperor has no clothes”?

  6. Thanks for giving me a different view of the book. I am one of the readers who loves the book, but have read it in small doses. I have a book club and we are covering one chapter a week, which has been helpful in getting past her poetic style, which I admit, is at times, exhausting.

    Some portions may be questionable, but many…..I would say MOST are not. There is A LOT of Biblical truth in this book. Ann also does an excellent job of using Scripture to explain portions of her gratitude journey.

    I think this book is very encouraging and thought provoking for those struggling to live a life of joy. Struggling to live life now and stop reaching for the next thing.

    However, it is nice to read an honest review that is void of all the fluff and feel good stuff that some other readers have mentioned.

  7. This is probably the only book I have ever began reading where I want to “bang my head against the wall”. I'm tempted totake it back to the store and get a refund. Laborius, exhausted? That is putting it mildly. I find it difficult to understand anything she is saying. It's almost as if I'm reading a book writtenin a foreign language.I apologise, but I very frustrated withthis book. I wish she would just get to the point.

  8. I have not read the book, but I feel the same when I read the blog posts I get daily. I love the idea of listing thanks, but sometimes I really don't understand what she is saying. I just want her to say it.. Thanks, I do not feel alone now.
    God Bless,

  9. I also have read other statements similar to yours about Ann Voskamp's book, so I wasn't planning on buying it although I enjoy her blog occasionally. I just found out someone bought me the book and wants to send it, so I'm curious about what I'll think.

  10. I've been on chapter three now for several weeks. I bought the book based on everyone I know recommendation. However I have struggled with it. Thank you friend for showing me I'm not the only one. As a writer myself I hope my writing never gets to the point of being tough to read.

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