Style, Sex and Substance: a review

I almost didn’t read Style, Sex and Substance because the title seemed flippant. On the other hand, I won’t readily forget the title!  Hallie Lord selected chapters (submitted by women bloggers, editors and writers) which were edifyingly about women struggling to live their vocations.  I found this to be a very effective book.

All 10 ladies who wrote chapters for this book touched my heart deeply. I laughed, cried, and found myself making new commitments to aspects of my vocation that I had neglected.  I found this spirituality applied to everyday lives an effective way to communicate the importance of personal growth in virtue.  These ladies were all quite orthodox in their theology and shared from their hearts.

The very first chapter by Jennifer Fulwiler, a delightful blogger, former atheist and someone whose sense of humor shines through her writing, drew me into the book and I could hardly put it down.  Her chapter, How I Fell Out Of My Minivan and Found Myself, set the tone for the entire book.  She tackles the theme of what a good holy Catholic woman ought to look like.  Practical and funny this chapter brought a unique approach to understanding what sort of role model we should be seeking.

Another chapter that hit me particularly hard was titled, God and Godiva.  Karen Edmisten tackles the practicalities of living as a Catholic women. She wrote, “The challenge to holding on to our Faith in the post-modern society is figuiring out how to be in the world–a light, we hope, by the grace of God–but not of it. “I even believe,” said Edith Stein, now known as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, “that the deeper one is drawn into God, the more one must ‘go out of oneself’; that is, one must go to the world in order to carry the divine life into it.”” then she goes on to discuss practical things, like feeding people and prayer, scheduling, and figuring out how to meet the shifting obligations of our lives and still keep to a schedule of prayer.

Rachel Balducci wrote her chapter on friendship and probably caused the largest shift in my attitudes of any portion of this book.  Her advice on making friends is so good that I’m just going to say it changed my life and you ought to go read it too.

Simcha Fisher’s chapter on motherhood delighted and touched me, another well done, worth reading, chapter in this book.  There were NO bad chapters, just different, and each one worth the time it took to read and digest it. I hope lots of people buy this book and read it– it is simply that good.

The questions for reflection at the end of every chapter provide a wealth of opportunity to apply the ideas to life.  I usually skip questions but these were not the usual lame questions found in books.  These questions were interesting enough to be worth doing by myself.  I think it would have been fantastic to use this book with a group and discuss the questions with others as well.

I highly recommend STYLE, SEX AND SUBSTANCE edited by Hallie Lord.

Dear Lord, thank You for people who are able to write from their personal experiences and make it real and funny and inspiring.  Please bless these women in their vocations and help us each to embrace the effort of living with humor and humility. Amen.

I wrote this review of Style, Sex and Substance for the free Catholic Book review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.  I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.

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