Friday, November 21, 2008

Real Women, Real Saints

NO, it's not a "list of people I know" and "how much I am JUST LIKE THEM"'s a book review!!!

I normally don't read those "compilation of little stories" books. You know the ones...Chicken Soup for the Color Blind..., 101 Things To Do While You Are Waiting For The Dryer To Stop, coffee table books, "good to read on the toilet" books? This one is that sort of book, but I'm willing to suspend my "normal" book reading genre for a little variety, as long as I think it's worth it!

Since I'm a reviewer for The Catholic Company, I had a choice of several books to review and since Weazy is a HUGE saint junkie, I chose the book Real Women, Real Saints-Friends For Your Spiritual Journey and read it as if it were a book book. Front to back. I think it should NOT be read that way. I enjoyed the little tidbits about each of the saints (and even learned some things I did not know before about some saints) but I should have read it little by little or maybe even "a saint a day" style. I found myself wishing I knew more about fewer saints rather than less about MANY (102 or so) saints.

At the beginning of each little tidbit (and when I say "little", I MEAN "little. On average, I'd say each story is only about 4 paragraphs long), there is a sort of annoying little, kind of "preachy" paragraph that prepares you for the story of that particular saint. I would rather just hear the facts, ma'am than have someones opinion about how this saint or that exemplified a particular virtue that makes her oh-so-understanding of my particular problems. I do understand where the author was going with that format but it just isn't my cup of tea. Here's an example from the book:

(Re: Saint Mary Magdalene De Pazzi 1566-1607 p.20)
"Faith flourishes in the dark. Trials, temptations, spiritual dryness and suffering are all opportunities for our faith to grow stronger. We can, of course, neglect these opportunities to allow our faith to wither and die. But those who praise God in life's difficulties will experience the opposite effect."

See? See what I mean? Maybe you don't and that's okay. It's just that when I read those preachy statements (even when they are true) my eyes kind of glaze over and I get very bored. When the author tries to "spice up" the story with modern references or language (it doesn't happen often, just once in a while), that kind of bugs me too. I'm a horrible writer so I know it would be hard to compile a bunch of historical info, put my own twist on it, and actually make it interesting to read. I'd probably be inconsistent and scattered in my writing but that's why I DON'T write things like this book! I hope I don't turn off someone who might actually LIKE books like this but I have to be honest about how I felt about it (even if that means the author gets all mad at me or that the people who solicited the review say "bye bye" to their new, crabby reviewer!).

I would recommend this book for a lukewarm Catholic woman friend who may not have time for heavy, theological reading, or maybe a new convert that isn't convinced that the saints actually were human persons who had sinful thoughts, feelings, and/or actions. I would not recommend this book to the Catholic woman who has a lot of books about saints flowing over on her bookshelves and who knows her saintstuff pretty well already (no, I'm not bragging about my saint IQ, I'm just saying that someone who has a lot of saint reference books might be... underwhelmed by this one. That, and it doesn't even have any pretty pictures!).

I'd give it a two star rating out of five.

The Catholic Company has a lot of great books and neato gift items so go check them out asap!