Thanks to everyone who participated in our virtual book club (which I introduced here). June’s selection was Carry on, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton.
Here’s how it works: I’ll throw out some discussion topics, and you can post your comments below—about these topics or other things you want to talk about.
Discussion #1: Authenticity
I really appreciated the author’s authentic voice—sharing the hard, real parts of life that we try to pretty up or hide from other people. Glennon’s honesty is a refreshing reminder that there is freedom in recognizing and admitting our brokenness. It’s obvious that she loves her children and finds joy in the sacred ground of motherhood, but she doesn’t pretend to have a Pinterest-perfect life. Plus, her honesty can be downright hilarious (case in point: when her daughter announced at the dentist’s office: “Mom, you smell like a bar!”).
Glennon’s insights in “Don’t Carpe Diem” are gold—especially for moms with young kids:
This CARPE DIEM message makes me paranoid and panicky. Especially during this phase of my life when I’m raising young kids. Being told, in a million different ways, to CARPE DIEM makes me worry that if I’m not in a constant state of profound gratitude and ecstasy, I’m doing something wrong.
I appreciate the insight she comes to about kairos time vs. chronos time—being able to savor each season without having to pretend that each moment of it is bliss.
Do you think Glennon overshared, or were you inspired by her vulnerability? Can you relate to her feelings about the pressure to “Carpe Diem”?
Discussion #2: Book vs. Blog
The jacket of the book admits up front that some of the content is taken from the author’s blog, momastery.com. But I was surprised to find how much it felt like a loosely compiled string of blogs. I often found myself disoriented in time when the order skipped around, and I kept searching for an overarching narrative arc. I would consider myself a casual reader of Glennon’s blog, and I was surprised how much content overlapped what I’ve already read from her.
Do you have different expectations for books versus blogs? Did you think the book held together with this structure?
Discussion #3: Truth-Telling
Glennon calls herself a “truth-teller,” and I think she achieves that goal. The upside of that is we get front-row seats to the work of redemption God has done and continues to do in her life. But as I read, it struck me that it’s one thing to decide to bare the skeletons in your own closet, but how much liberty does one have to raid the closets of her husband and kids? As much as I enjoyed these personal glimpses, I wondered what her children will think as they get older and the world knows about their business. (And what on earth did her husband think of her sharing that e-mail she sent him at work?!)
When it comes to sharing—whether in a blog, on social media, or in a book—how much do you think is okay to share about your kids/family/friends? Do you have any standards in place for yourself?
Rating: ★ ★ ★
I would give this book 3 stars for the enjoyable content but lazy structure.
How many stars would you give this book?
Once again, there will be a FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY for one lucky commenter!
I’ve read Glennon’s blog before – I think I was probably directed to the Carpe Diem post initially. I don’t read it regularly, but I was familiar with more than one of the stories (like the Circuit City Craigs).
1. I don’t necessarily think she overshares; her transparency is part of her uniqueness as a blogger (an important thing in a world overtaken by blogs). I often find myself connecting with her on some of her confessions, then on the next page find myself turned OFF by other strong opinions she has when it comes to faith or politics.
2. The trend lately is find a popular blogger and get them to publish. If they already have a large fan base, they have guaranteed sales. It’s certainly not a traditional book, and you can’t necessarily read it chronologically. I could see where the book would be confusing in this format, especially if you haven’t read her before. I took it as a blog compilation, so it didn’t bother me as much.
3. Personally, I tend to go the private route on my blog and social media. I’ve been criticized for not having an About Me page or photo – and I only friend people on Facebook that I already know, since I do share pictures of my family there. Everything you do is tracked and can be held against you, so I like to be more selective in what I share – and rarely, if ever, do I share things about my family on my blog. You won’t find my kids’ names there, for example. I prefer to hide behind my computer – but I’m also an introvert at heart. I’ve seen other bloggers use pet-names for their kids online. All the sharing about kids and family feels to me like the modern-day equivalent of sharing nude baby bath pictures from the photo album when guests come to visit.
Overall, it wasn’t a bad book and there were some quotes I really liked. She has a quirky, real life way of writing – and like most humorous bloggers, it’s unstructured (I was reading Jen Hatmaker this morning and her writing style is similar). I agree with a 3.5. There were some sections I skimmed (not a huge fan of calling God a “she,” for example). It’s not a bad book, but you need to expect blog-style. And if you don’t feel like paying for it, you could get the same information on her blog at no cost.
Stephanie Rische says
Ooh, great thoughts, Jolyn! I especially hearing your perspective as a mom who blogs, but with a different angle/perspective than Glennon. Your analogy about sharing about kids online being like the modern-day equivalent of sharing nude baby pics was hilarious! And so true. I agree…I appreciated her quirky style when she talked about motherhood and relationships, but I got turned off when she got on her various soapboxes. Thanks for participating…I loved hearing your insights!
I think it was very apparent that it was a collection of blog entries, rather than a coherent volume. She likes to talk a lot, and she likes to be witty a lot, but oftentimes she does it without actually making a point, or at the sacrifice of developing her point. Which, in a short blog-style format, you can get away with. Long-form, not so much.. It was annoying when the clock she describes in great detail in chapter two vanishes for the rest of the story (for example, having lyme disease and possibly lupus. I still don’t know if she has lupus or not). I was very confused for a great deal of the novel about the time-frames. I never got a good sense of where each story fit into the bigger story, chronologically.
I never felt she was actually being authentic. Mostly, it felt to me like she was trying to establish some sort of “street creds.” Now, I have absolutely zero exposure to her blog before I picked the book off of the shelf, so maybe she goes into more detail there, but from the perspective purely of the book, it seemed to me like she probably exaggerated some of the experiences from her past to make her seem more authentic. For example, she is very keen to remind us often that she spent time in jail, but she is very vague about any of the details, which leads me to believe that she may have spent a night or two in the drunk tank. By leaving it vague, it sounds more authentic or impressive than it actually is. Maybe she has more details in her blog, i wouldn’t know, but since my only frame of reference is her book, I can only work off what I know.
I take that back. There was one time when she felt truly authentic; when she was discussing her marriage trouble. But it also felt very out of place. There is a time and a place to share intimate details about your marriage difficulties, but I don’t feel like a semi-anonymous blog read by millions of strangers is that time and place. And every other chapter gave the illusion that their marriage was very strong, to me at least. Tone doesn’t match.
I’m not sure that this is the right place for a deep theological discussion, so i won’t go into details, but it also seems that her christian theology is super-sketchy. based on what I’ve read, I would not recommend her writings to a young christian, or one who is susceptible to weak teaching. At least, without a strong mentor to go through what she says alongside a Bible.
I don’t think she understands what carpe diem actually means, either. It means “seize the day,” not “enjoy the day.” I agree with what she says on the topic, but carpe diem is not what she’s talking about.
Her writing style was really annoying, to me, after awhile. For the first half of the book it was fine, but by the end I wanted her to stop trying to be so clever and really talk to me. In a blog format, it probably works much better, but in a long-form prose format, that girl needs an editor! I say all of this looking into a giant mirror, because her writing style is very similar to my own blog-writing style. When/if I sit down to blog again regularly, it something i will definitely keep in mind.
Overall, I’d give it 2 stars, for lazy structure and too much trying to be witty. I’d have serious reservations recommending it to someone to read due to sketchy theology.
PS. It also occurs to me that I don’t’ fit into her primary demographic for readership, either. I don’t think they expect many single white thirty-something men with no children to be reading her book or blog…and that’s okay.
Stephanie Rische says
Nate, I give you tons of street cred for taking on this book! I like that you can appreciate everything from suspense to mystery to the occasional mommy blogger. 🙂 I agree with you about this book needing an editor…it was hard to just read it and not obsess over how I would have restructured the whole thing. And you’re right about her sketchy theology–I kept thinking that she was trying to be Ann Lamott. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!
For the most part I felt the author was authentic, though occasionally trying too hard to be funny or edgy. I enjoy reading authors/bloggers who are willing to admit that they’re a little bit of a mess, but I sometimes felt that in her quest to be a truth-teller, she was pushing to be more un-pulled-together than is really the case. As though, in order to free readers to tell the truth, she has to give them an exaggerated model to follow, and I wasn’t always convinced that it was genuine. For all that, though, I liked her voice and enjoyed a lot of things about the book.
I’m not sure I felt she overshared, but I did cringe at times when she was talking about her kids or her marriage. A lot of the details of her past have several years behind them now and, while they certainly affected the people she loved, don’t reflect on them quite as much. I think what makes me uncomfortable about this kind of sharing is that she seems to be talking about things as they’re happening, or not long after. (Because of the book’s structure, it was hard to tell how recent some of the stories were.) While I think it takes a lot of courage to talk about problems as they’re happening, it’s hard to know if your perspective is clear, or how much it will change as things continue to unfold. I just wonder if she or her loved ones might be sorry to have some of the details out there further down the road.
And I shared other readers’ frustration about the lack of chronology—I kept getting distracted trying to sort out what came before what. And it did leave me feeling like there were unanswered questions at times. I think that’s part of what I don’t like about having isolated blog-style entries make up the book—some events or points got repeated several times, while others were never really fleshed out.
There were a few things from the book that will really stick with me, though—the idea of kairos vs. chronos time was powerful. I also loved her repeated line that “We can do hard things” (along with its somewhat tongue-in-cheek afterthought of “but we cannot do easy things.” This feels true to me!). Also, early on she talked about family being a commitment to keep showing up, which I loved.
I’d give the book 3 stars but am very glad I read it—I don’t think I would’ve gotten to it otherwise, so thanks for the pick, Stephanie!
Stephanie Rische says
Great thoughts, Sarah! That’s such a good insight about how it feels like she exaggerates to prove what a mess she is. Exactly! And that’s a really good point about sharing things in “real time” when it’s now in the past. It works in a blog venue, but it feels like granite in book form. I liked the part about “we can do hard things” too–and the idea of encouraging others to carry on. There’s something nice about someone who can see that ordinary life can be hard sometimes. Thanks so much for participating!