05 February, 2015

Day Two - One Thousand Gifts - Book Review

If you've been talking to me in the last few weeks, you'll already know that I've been reading One Thousand Gifts, and enjoying it. But here's the thing: I never meant to like this book. I mean, I read the first few pages of it almost four years ago, and I didn't get it. I found it hard to read, wordy and not riveting in the slightest. So I put it down. But since then, it seems to have popped up everywhere; in book catalogues and shops, and on the internet. It looked good. Every time, however, I dismissed the thought of reading it, because after all, I had tried before. But more and more, I noticed people on the internet saying good things about the book, and creating lists of gifts, and speaking so highly of the whole idea. So I succumbed. I borrowed the book, and read it. And now I see what everybody was talking about.

One Thousand Gifts, in short, is amazing. After reading the first few chapters, I thought I knew what Ann Voskamp was on about; yes, we must give thanks, count our blessings. I had heard of that before. But then, she somehow linked all these things – joy, grace, faith, trust, humility, anxiety – to this central word, eucharisto: the giving of thanks.

It started to make sense when she said, “Satan's sin becomes the first sin of all humanity: the sin of ingratitude.” (OTG p15) He wasn't thankful for all the privileges he had already been given: he wanted more. He wanted to be like the Most High. Then, Adam and Eve came to the same fate. They weren't grateful for all that God had already given them; they wanted knowledge of good and evil. She goes on: “If our fall was the non-eucharisto, the ingratitude, then salvation must be intimately related to eucharisto, the giving of thanks.” (OTG p39) Wow. Not because the work of giving thanks saves us, but because it brings us into a deeper relationship with God. He gives us gifts, we thank him for them, He gives us more – the cycle continues. Ann likens the relationship to that of a bride and bridegroom – which is exactly what we are: the church is the bride of Christ.

There were so many quotable lines in this book, I felt like I was continually writing them down. Yes, if you had asked me before why I hadn't read this book, I would've said, “The writing style: It's modern, and not flowing, full of incomplete thoughts, and one-sentence paragraphs. And it's wordy, and a bit too sort of deeply thought.” Now? Well, yes, the writing style is different - some call it poetic. But after the first couple of chapters, I sort of got used to it, and it was fine. I actually really liked the way Ann used everyday stories from her life to bring out the things God had been teaching her – to find beauty and grace in the little things. It gave me courage, because my stories are little, and everyday and ordinary. Yet, if God could use Ann's mounds of washing, trips to town, and children's arguments to speak to and teach her, I expect He can do the same for us.

One Thousand Gifts has really inspired me. It's inspired me to live a life of eucharisto. It's also made a lot of things simpler too. And questions I've thought about, such as: How do I get more faith? How do I be more be humble? How can I really believe? What about hard times? How can I be truly happy? They are all covered, and so simply and logically linked to being thankful: eucharisto. I couldn't believe it; everything made so plain. And now, of course, I've begun counting gifts. I did actually do that spasmodically in the past, but they were very general: family, friends, good day shopping, etc. That's all still true, but I'm trying to be more specific, and look for the tiny gifts in each moment.

So why didn't I like it before? I think I was too young. I used to read books just to read books, and read as many of them as possible. Now, I still do the same thing (:D), but I try to learn from the books I read, and read them slowly, if necessary, to really take it in. And this one takes thinking about; it's deep. It's the kind of book, that when reading you have to come up for air sometimes. Because it's just that profound; I had a lot of 'Ah!' moments while reading it. I couldn't race through it (yes, that would be why I couldn't read it years ago), I felt like I needed to give each thought time to digest. And I know I've forgotten a lot already. I think it's the kind of book to reread every few months or year. I might have to buy myself a copy now.

Anyway, I know this review has not done this book justice in the slightest; there's so much more in it. I couldn't recommend it enough; I'm sure everybody can get something out of it. You really have to read it for yourself, to experience it, and be inspired to begin your own life of eucharisto. 

But thanks for reading, and I'm really eager to hear if you've read One Thousand Gifts before. Or is it on your to-read list now? ;)

Jessica xxx :)


  1. Your review is glowing.... but I'm still not sure about this book. Maybe I should just give in and read it. :)
    Did you find it a bit watered-down in a way? That's the impression I get from it, I don't know..

    1. Yes, I'm not sure if you'd like this book either, if you don't mind me saying - just because of the writing style. But I think your mum would like it, from what you've told me before. :)
      No actually, I found it the exact opposite of watered-down - like each chapter packed. It was nice to read in that way as well, because so often spiritual books these days are two-hundred pages on the same point, kind of thing.
      Anyway, let me know if you do read it; I'd like to hear what you think of it... :)


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