Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Book Review: Love Does by Bob Goff

The subtitle, “Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World,” pretty much sums up what Goff appears to be doing here.  He wants readers to stop spending so much time thinking or planning what we may or may not do and actually get to doing it.  He’s clear about that.  However, the mercurial nature of this book left me scratching my head at times as to why or for whom we should be “doing”.

Love Does is a collection of essays drawn from both Goff’s life and his philosophy of life.  Unfortunately, book publicity emphasizes the incredible things that Goff has done, making it seem like he’s campaigning to be Dos Equis beer's next “most interesting man in the world”. 

The essays begin with a touching story about Bob’s teenage encounter with friendship and his discovery that some Christians just don’t fit “the mold”. However, some of the essays delved dangerously into self-promotion:  see how much time I spend at Disneyland, see how I got into law school,  see how I play expensive practical jokes,  see how I got picked to be consul for Uganda, see how I can afford to take my kids on trips.  I thought I’d been lured into a riff on the prosperity gospel.  Live a carefree, laid-back life and God will reward you with goodies.

I almost put the book down. 

But I kept reading and discovered some wonderful, touching, inspiring essays where Goff tells stories about taking time to connect with people and about following Jesus’ example to serve others. The essays “Jeepology” (do you leak Jesus?), “Friends, Welcome Home”, “Jailbreak”, and “Two Bunk John” will stay with me.

Love Does is an uneven book: Goff scoffs at “religious people” but is just as rigid that his way of doing things is the only good way.  Some of the writing is magnificent, some just show-offy.  I desperately wished that Goff had spoken more about his work in Uganda (and earlier in the book) or given a tip of the hat to people who Do Love without so much whimsy (or money).  I think the book would have been stronger if there had been less emphasis on how interesting Goff's life is and more about people who are Doing Love to achieve justice or care for others--hence my 3-star review on Amazon.

All in all, this is a book worth reading, but read it all the way to the end.

I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson in return for an honest review.