Creating Calm in the Center of Crazy [book review]

To be perfectly honest, the best thing I can say about this book is that it was a quick read. I started it on a Sunday afternoon and was finished by Monday afternoon. And I suppose it did something to renew my commitment to a regular quiet time. But I think it fell far short of its promise.

The author, Nicole Johnson, claims that her reform from the crazy busy pace of life was instigated by an email sent by a friend--she refers to the day she read it as The Day The World Fell Apart. But she never lets on what the email was about or what really happened between her and her friend. I tried to figure out if that annoyed me because I'm the type of person who wants to know everything or if it was some other reason. After a while I came to the conclusion that it was a little bit of both. Yes, I was curious. But the mystery with which she referred to the situation also made it feel like she was trying to hide something or make it seem like a bigger deal than it really was to lend some credibility to the book. I was unable to relate to her issues, and her whole message rang a little false. I mean, if this argument was such an important part of her story, why wasn't it shared?

Johnson goes on to talk about some of the factors that contribute to "crazy" in her life (which she never fully defines, though the reader can guess) and how she worked at "getting still" to counter it. This discussion takes up about two thirds of the book, but it's not particularly well done. The content feels rambling and unfocused. My biggest issue, however, is the awkward lukewarmness of the "Christian" element of the book. Johnson is a Christian, and she's writing from a Christian perspective--sortof. If you took out a few key passages, even an atheist could pick up the book and run with it. The book nearly completely leaves Christ out of the picture, and it certainly lacks the depth and beauty that it could have had. Perhaps Johnson was trying to appeal to a wider audience, but in the process I think she failed her primary readers.

The last third of the book includes a more practical discussion of how to "create calm" in your life. It's OK, but nothing we haven't heard a hundred times before--in fact, it could easily be condensed into a single infographic on Pinterest. It's probably the most focused section of the book, but unfortunately it's so unremarkable that it doesn't matter.

In short, I think you could skip this book and not be missing much of anything. Spend your time on something more worthy of your attention.

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