The packing box was weighty when the UPS man handed it to me. I saw the HarperCollins label, and my eyes grew wide. Could this be it, the book I had been waiting a month for? I quickly cut the tape and pulled the flaps open. There, among the crunched paper, was Shauna Niequist's "Savor."
In the words of my Dad, "That book's got one heck of a cover." Indeed. This devotional is linen bound, and the page edges are dyed indigo.
This looks like the kind of book that would make a superb birthday present- the recipient would be oohing and aahing as soon as they saw it.
And the subtitle? "Living abundantly where you are, as you are." That conjures up images of freedom, acceptance, grace, and peace.
OK. So we've established that this book looks and feels beautiful, but I don't use my books as decorations.
What's inside the cover? That's what I wanna know.
I was new to Shauna Niequist, so I did a wee bit of Googling. She's written three other books: Bittersweet, Cold Tangerines, and Bread and Wine.
A Starred Publishers Weekly review used the adjectives "humorous," "contemplative," "brave," "poetic," and "profound."
And now I can see why.
You see, Savor is 365 devotions, with a portion of them coming from her earlier works. This was perfect for me, because now I know that I want the full-length editions of her books on my shelf. Similarly, a long-time Shauna fan may want to add Savor to the collection because the devotional format presents the familiar material differently.
And what is the material? A whole bunch of lovely meditations on what it means to be human. As I read, I found myself thinking about so many things, asking myself little questions, and wanting to grab my favorite people and ask them questions too.
"What takes your breath away? What makes your heart beat faster? What private anniversaries do you grieve on dates you'll never forget? What memories do you cherish? Whose arms do want around you? What wrenches you to the core? Whose smile helps you face the world? And.... what tastes so good to you that you close your eyes to eat it?"
Shauna strikes an excellent note in her writing. It's urgent- live now, open your eyes, be present, stir the soup, kiss that beloved one- and it's reflective too. It's personal- after all, her inspiration is her life!- but by paying attention to her particulars, she somehow reaches the rest of us.
I was lamenting to my mother as I read that this will probably be sold as a "Woman's Book." It turns out Shauna already addresses this. I found an interview where she said she doesn't write for women, she writes for people. Like Timothy Willard's beautiful devotional was not only for men, Shauna's is not only for women. If you're a man and I catch you reading this, I'll smile, because you'll be absorbing good thoughts from your sister Shauna.
Let me close with a few quotes from the lady herself.
"I want to make God glad that He gave life to someone who loves the gift."
"Sacred and surprising things happen when we gather around a table and share food made with love and by our own hands."
"In many cases, change is not a function of life's cruelty but instead a function of God's graciousness."
"This is it, in the best possible way. Normal, daily life ticking by on our streets and sidewalks, in our houses and apartments, in our beds and at our dinner tables, in our dreams and prayers and fights and secrets. This pedestrian life is the most precious thing any of us will experience."
Thank you Shauna and Book Look Bloggers for providing me with a review copy.