One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp is a spiritual journey book about finding joy in your every day life. A mother and wife, Voskamp wanted to live her life intentionally and well, and found that a simple challenge to write down things she was thankful for transformed the way she lived. “‘How do we find joy in the midst of deadlines, debt, drama, and daily duties? What does a life of gratitude look like when your days are gritty, long, and sometimes dark? What is God providing here and now?’” (Amazon). This book is a guide to discovering God’s blessings and learning to be present in Him.
My mentor recommended to me this last summer when I expressed a similar hunger for what Voskamp talks about. The description of the book sounded like a guarantee – a fool-proof way to have joy in your life. Maybe it would have been if I had kept up the gratitude journaling, a concept that launched Voskamp’s spiritual journey and shaped the entire book. The first chapter intrigued me so much, and I was sold! I started my journal right then and there. But as I read on, I was so turned off by her confusing and wordy writing style that the joy simply petered out.
I really want to love this book. The concept is wonderful of course, and I appreciate her fascination with small things, making our “mundane,” every-day lives full of joy. She is a breath of fresh air, and I am thankful for my mentor recommending this to me.
However, her way-over-the-top lyrical style, love of poetry, and bad metaphors started annoying me to no end. I found my inner (and outer) editor cringing and wanting to “fix” this book. It had so much potential!
I can relate to her because I love lyrical essays. But during my undergrad, I got failing grades for writing stuff like this, so I am a little frustrated that this mess was publishable. Certainly wanting to be an editor myself isn’t helping things. And maybe I am being too harsh. Maybe it did undergo a transformation before being published. But if so, it wasn’t enough to pull writers in.
I did take things away from it and I tried to read each page with an open mind and less criticism. However, it was slow-going and my own thankfulness journal didn’t kick off because of it. I didn’t study the craft of writing to ignore execution. I did a lot of underlining in my copy though, and one day I’ll go back and craft some quotes and thoughts from those great pages.
Conclusion: This book may change your life. It certainly taught me things I will carry long beyond the writing style (I hope). Some people truly adore this book, otherwise it wouldn’t be a New York Times best seller! My recommendation is that if you are writer, take this book with a grain of salt (if you attempt to read it at all).
If you are a twenty-something seeking joy, give it a try. And if you are not a writer with an inner editor, definitely go for it! Put it in the church library, gift it to friends wanting to find joy (after reading it of course), and find its gems.