So, I normally read really good writers. John Piper, Russell Moore, C.S. Lewis. As such, I’m always a little wary about reading new authors, and sometimes even different genres. Mainly because these authors captivate me. Whether it be Piper’s solid Theology, Lewis’s brilliant prose, or Moore’s seeming merging of the two. When I read these guys, I don’t want to put the book down.
I began incorporating different styles of writing when I started following A Deeper Story a couple years ago. Somehow, through a variety of social media twists and turns, I came across Handlebar Publishing. After having my mind and heart primed to really soak in the message behind stories, when Handlebar had review copies of Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist, I jumped at the chance.
I hadn’t read Niequist’s work before, but some of my friends from over at Deeper Story read her, so I decided to take the chance, and I’m glad I did. I started reading the book Friday night and three hours later I realized I’d been reading a book for three hours on a Friday night. (Ok, fine. I need a life).
Now, those who know me know that I’m not one given to cooking more than I have to cook, and even then it’s rare that I’ll cook more than eggs or chicken. By chicken, I mean cut off the fat and throw it in the oven and then serve with barbecue sauce. So, why would a book with cooking as its central focus draw me in? Well, this book pulled me in for a couple of reasons.
First, it’s real. Even though she tells stories in this book, they aren’t fiction. It’s about her life, the joys and sadness, the ups and downs. She talks about cooking, and there are even recipes in the book, but she talks about her life as she tells these stories about her cooking experiences. She’s open, authentic, and to a degree, vulnerable. The book may talk about cooking, but it’s more than that. It’s about bread and wine being a communal experience among Christians, even when we don’t read 1 Corinthians 11:24-25 before we eat. There’s something about sharing conversation over a meal that brings people together.
Second, the stories are broken up. I think the only other book I’ve read for three hours straight was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Usually because I can only stay with the same thread for so long before my brain just checks out and I start glossing over words without even realizing it. These stories are long enough to be substantial, but short enough to read in a devotional style format. So, there were enough different threads to keep my mind engaged, and she writes in a way that makes me WANT to keep reading to see the deeper truth behind the next story.
This book is definitely outside of my normal Theological box of books. There’s no explicit Theology, like in one of Piper or Moore’s books. It doesn’t challenge the mind like Lewis. I don’t think it was written with that intent though, and that’s ok. It was written to pull the reader into the story, letting the words resonate in the heart until the diamond is discovered. Sometimes it’s printed on the page, and for others it takes some meditating to recognize the general principles. In either case, it’s well worth the read.