13 February 2014

Book Review: Notes from a Blue Bike

I wish I could easily say what drew me to choose Notes From a Blue Bike (2014) by Tsh Oxenreider as my next read. Perhaps it was the comforting hues of blue on the cover. Perhaps it was her intriguing name; I confess I spent too much time trying to figure out how she pronounces it. I suspect, though, that it was the hope of learning "the art of living intentionally in a chaotic world."

The author, whom I confess I had never previously heard of, is the founder of TheArtofSimple.net.  She is a prolific writer and blogger who has focused much of her work on learning to slow down and live with greater awe and presence in the world we occupy.

In four dozen chapters, each just a few pages, she discusses the notion of intentional living in several areas of life such as education, travel, and food. In each case, she honestly explores not only their family's struggles to accomplish some of her hopes. It seems she is very much describing a life in process, which is a strength of her book. 

I typically do not read books like Notes from a Blue Bike. I am much more prone to read Christian theology, what I might call "meatier" stuff, though in its own way, this book was very earthy and organic as well.  I requested this book through a Christian book reviewers program, yet I would not characterize this as a "Christian" book per se. A Christian worldview permeates her thinking, but this book is anything but "churchy," if you know what I mean. Additional influences seem to be represented by a culture that follows after people like Michael Pollan, Ann Voskamp, or Lisa Leake.

The briefness of her chapters was refreshing. A bit longer than a blog post, she was able to speak to a variety of subjects grouped under several different headings, yet many were fairly complete thoughts. My favorite chapter was entitled "Desert Irrigation", which unsurprisingly dealt with books. Oxenreider establishes the importance of access to books as essential to a children's educational success and not just for them, but to see their parents reading. May it be so!

I had few concerns about this book. I could see how some might read it and come away with the conclusion that Oxenreider is anti-American, but I don't think she is at all.  In fact, near the end of the book, she comes right out and says so.  Rather, I think that her argument is compelling that it is harder to live the lifestyle she is describing, or perhaps prescribing, in our typical fast paced American culture.

Whenever I read books, I think of people to whom I would like to pass them along. This book is no different. Her way of communicating the art of intentional living would be good for many of us. 

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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