Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living

By: Pema Chodron
Nonfiction
1994
Subject Matter: Spiritual life; Buddhism; China; Tibet; Doctrines
Rating: 2.5/5

Start Where You Are book cover

I’ll start by admitting that I have NO IDEA how Start Where You Are got on my “To Read” list. None.

I am not a Buddhist; I know nothing about meditation; and I’ve never so much as heard of Pema Chodron. I’ve learned a few words from the like four yoga classes I’ve taken in my life, but that’s it. Continue reading “Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living”

Out Came the Sun: Overcoming the Legacy of Mental Illness, Addiction, and Suicide in My Family

By: Mariel Hemingway
Nonfiction
2015
Rating: 3/5

Out Came the Sun

Out Came the Sun is a pretty average book. Continue reading “Out Came the Sun: Overcoming the Legacy of Mental Illness, Addiction, and Suicide in My Family”

Growing Up

By: Russell Baker
Followed by The Good Times
Nonfiction
1982
Rating: 4.5/5

Growing Up

I greatly enjoyed Growing Up, the memoirs of Russell Baker, who grew up in the Depression-WWII era.

Of course, I love me some biography. But autobiographies can be tricky. Sometimes people aren’t the best person to tell their own story (see: The Nazi Connection). Continue reading “Growing Up”

The Vow: The True Events That Inspired the Movie

By: Kim & Krickitt Carpenter
Nonfiction
2012
Subject Matter: Biography
Rating: 3/5

The Vow

The Vow was pretty much exactly what I expected it to be.

If you’ve been living under a rock and didn’t already know, The Vow the movie, starring Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum, is about a young married couple who face a tragic accident in which the wife forgets she ever married her husband.  Continue reading “The Vow: The True Events That Inspired the Movie”

90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Life & Death

By: Don Piper with Cecil Murphey
Nonfiction
2004
Subject Matter: Heaven; Christianity; Future life; Near-death experiences; Death
Rating: 2.5/5

90 Minutes in Heaven

If you follow this blog, you’ll notice that I gave 90 Minutes in Heaven a 1-point higher rating than I gave Heaven Is for Real.

90 Minutes in Heaven is definitely more of a memoir and less of an argument than Heaven Is for Real. And I appreciate that.

It’s not super well written, which bothers me inherently. And it’s a little bit self-martyring. But I think it would be almost impossible to write a book like this without being a little egotistic.

In this book, Don Piper recounts the day he was involved in a horrific car accident and declared dead at the scene, his subsequent return to life, and his long recovery.

Like I was with Heaven Is for Real, I’m a bit skeptical about what may or may not have happened to Don. If a person dies, experiences heaven, and wants to talk about it, that’s his prerogative. Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not. The Bible has some very specific things to say about heaven, and that’s more than enough for me.

But Don doesn’t spend the whole book trying to convince me he went to heaven or that his version of heaven is THE heaven. Instead, he talks about how it has changed his life, the wrestling he has done with God over why he was allowed to endure terrible injuries, and how he has turned to optimism and love in the face of pain.

Which is a story I can get behind.

There’s a lot of repetition in this book; I think this book could’ve been about half the length. There are several paragraphs that are almost word-for-word repeated at different points. It’s definitely more about the sensationalism of Don’s story than the literary merit.

So, I mean, take it with a grain of salt. I feel like the people who are going to read this book are going to read it regardless, and the people who aren’t, aren’t.

So, if you want to read it, I didn’t hate it. But I’m not going to force this one down your throat at all.

It is what it is.

 

*****

 

If you are a fan of 90 Minutes in Heaven, try these:

(for more books about heaven)

Heaven Is for Real by Todd Burpo

Glimpses of Heaven by Trudy Harris

The Inferno by Dante

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

(for more by Piper)

Daily Devotions by Don Piper

Getting to Heaven by Don Piper

(for autobiographies about pain and recovery)

Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy

A Walk Through the Dark by Eva Piper

 

Coming up:

Dylan Thomas by Paul Ferris

Great Irish Humor by Peter Haining