Monday, April 11, 2011

Review of Creative Journal Writing, by Stephanie Dowrick

Creative Journal Writing: The Art and Heart of ReflectionCreative Journal Writing: The Art and Heart of Reflection by Stephanie Dowrick

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Overall, I liked this book. Flip to any page, and you'll find yourself inspired to pick up a pen and open to a new page. Stephanie Dowrick encourages you to write with freedom (I think 'instinctively' is her most frequently-used word), ignoring any of the voices in your head that say you 'have' to do something.

The one main problem in this book is that, for those of use who picked it off the shelf expecting a treasure-trove of unique techniques and intriguing exercises, it is a bit of a disappointment. I will quote what the author says about her exercises (which appears toward the end, unfortunately, but would have been lovely to know up-front):

"Many of the exercises in this book are are therapeutic, in the best and most natural meaning of that word. They bring insight, release, relief, wisdom, clarity, and with these, greater choice. They let you step into the middle of your life rather than have you wait around at the edges. They make it clearer to you how you treat other people and want to be treated. They light up your desires and let you meet situations freshly."

Now, if that sounds like what you want from this book, then by all means, go ahead. I think it is a wonderful book for introducing people to journal writing. However, if, like me, you have been journaling for some time already, feel creativity bubbling up inside you, and are looking for new ways to express it in your journal, then this book is not the right fit.

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Friday, April 8, 2011

Review of Orthodoxy, by G.K. Chesterton

OrthodoxyOrthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was most certainly within the top 5 best books I have ever read. Possibly within the top 3. It was absolutely amazing. My new sub-goal in life is to get people to read Chesterton. If Christendom would remember him and listen to his advice, it would find itself better-equipped to understand and handle our times.

As Dale Ahlquist said in Lecture XII at the American Chesterton Society (, "The first problem is that every sentence in the book makes you stop and think, which makes you lose the thread of the main argument." Chesterton says profound and brain-stopping things habitually. After about Chapter 2 you think he can't possibly it up, and yet he keeps going and going and going and going...

This book is challenging in some ways, yes. For one, you have to stop and think every other sentence. For two, perhaps his language is a little more difficult to process than what we hear every day. But please, please make the effort to read and understand this book. Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "A mind that is stretched to a new idea never returns to its original dimension." If that is the case, then Chesterton will take you to new heights of thought, if you let him. His insight is worth the work.

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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Review of Worlds of Wonder, by David Gerrold

Worlds of Wonder: How to Write Science Fiction & FantasyWorlds of Wonder: How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy by David Gerrold

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found this book to be quite helpful. The advice it included went beyond the details and got to the heart of things. Gerrold doesn't just talk about the general advice that everyone eventually finds out and repeats. He includes interesting techniques that other writers have used that have been successful, and he sometimes poses questions that he leaves open to thought. Probably the most wonderful thing about this book is that it's obvious that Gerrold loves his craft. His passion is infectious, and you can tell that the central reason of why he does what he does is never far from his mind. I definitely recommend this book for anyone who wants to write science fiction or fantasy.

(If you don't have an interest in regulating what goes into your mind, you can stop reading this review here. I am a Christian teenager and I care about these things, so no review of mine is complete without warnings.)


I can't believe how hard it is to find a book of good writing advice that is appropriate for a 14-year-old to read. Following the trend, the book started out good but about a third of the way through sexual references appeared and steadily increased. There was a whole chapter on writing sex scenes that I skipped. (Mostly it was, "Here, let me show you what I did.") Gerrold did get some good points on my scale, though, because while there was some cussing, it wasn't bad cussing.

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