May 2, 2012

Book Review: Love Does by Bob Goff

  As part of Thomas Nelson's Book Sneeze program, I've had the chance to read and review the book Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World by Bob Goff. If you are familiar with Donald Miller's book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years (affiliate links), you might recognize Bob and parts of his story - Don talks about Bob as the guy who is engaged in writing down all his memories (chapter 1) and who he meets while kayaking in British Columbia (chapter 24).

 Without a doubt Bob Goff has lived a remarkable life - he's a successful lawyer, the founder of Restore International, which is a ministry focused on restoring justice to children in India and Uganda, and serves as Honorary Consul for the Republic of Uganda. This book, in part tells some of Bob's story, highlighting memorable moments in his life, connects it with his faith, and builds the argument that faith and love isn't about intellectual conviction as much as it is about revealed action.

 Overall, it's a great book. The stories Bob shares are inspirational, engaging, and memorable. The way he speaks of faith, likewise, is in a very straight-forward, accessible way; it feels like you are having a conversation with a friend, instead of someone trying to convert you with a theological worldview. Likewise, the chapters are relatively short and clear to the point - making this both a fairly quick, but also an addictive read. This is one of those books, where you start reading, and the next thing you know it's 2 hours later and you are almost at the end of the book. (For any preachers who might be reading this review, this book is also a great source for some solid illustrations, if you, like me, are always in search of a good story that help show a Biblical truth in a practical way).

 My only criticisms of the book are that towards the middle of the book, the structure of each chapter starts to feel a little formulaic - Bob shares a personal story, relates it to a passage from the Bible, offers some brief concluding words tying it all together, and then moves on to the next chapter. Towards the end of the book, he breaks this routine and more naturally integrates his life story into his theological understanding. My only other complaint would be that I wish Bob would tell more of his life story in a more chronological fashion - I felt like the moments he used were a little too random, and too safe; he never really delves into serious struggles he has faced along the way or how he had ever honestly wrestled with faith. I would guess that's because he wants to keep this book optimistic, focused on the grace in our midst, but I think grace becomes more real when we confess to our brokenness as well - as Donald Miller says in A Million Miles - there needs to be conflict for a story to really work, and I feel Bob shielded us from some of the conflict. Alongside that, at several different points in the book, Bob tries to admit that he is just an "ordinary guy." I know he's making an effort to relate to the average reader, and help us to know we all have the opportunity to do extraordinary things, which I would agree with, but the fact is most "ordinary guys" I know don't have the ability to take our daughters to London for their birthdays, or are asked to be the consul for Uganda. Through, what I'm sure, is a combination of hard work, dedication, and opportunity, Bob has built a life that is anything but ordinary, and I just wish he could acknowledge that and share the story, more fully, of how that happened. Guess I'll just have to wait for "Part 2" of the story to be told.

 As I said before though, I really do feel that overall this is a great book; one that you'll want to read and pass on to your friends. If you are looking for some inspiration in your life, please go and grab a copy. There's the added bonus that all the proceeds from the book go to support The Mentoring Project and Restore International's Leadership Academy.

 (Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book for the purposes of review. The free book didn't influence my review in any way).