This Is Me--2024 A to Z Theme

My A to Z Themes in the past have covered a range of topics and for 2024 the theme is a personal retrospective that I call "I Coulda Been" which is in reference to my job and career arc over my lifetime. I'll be looking at all sorts of occupations that I have done or could have done. Maybe you've done some of these too!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck: A Review

          Over the holidays I brought a number of books with me which I will be reviewing over the next few weeks.  Glenn Beck's The Christmas Sweater is a book that I did not bring with me, but my mother and her significant other insisted that I read this book while I was there.  In this post I will present some of my impressions of this book.

           The Christmas Sweater is a fiction that is based on certain elements of Glenn Beck's childhood.  Beck has taken inspiration from his boyhood to create a story that some might consider heart-warming while others might call downright maudlin. 

           Eddy is a boy who is growing up in a typical American household.  His father works hard to maintain a modest lifestyle for the family and his mother diligently creates a loving environment for her family.   When Eddy's father dies, his mother struggles to keep things together.  Money is tight, but Eddy still dreams of receiving a new bicycle for Christmas.  Instead, he is disappointed to find that his Christmas present from his mother is a sweater that she has spent hours of her spare time knitting for her son.   His bitterness becomes an overwhelming force in his world causing him to reject his family.   Eddy eventually learns a big lesson about love, sacrifice, and forgiveness that changes his outlook on life.   

          This was an excellent book for me to read while visiting family.  The simple style made it a very fast read and did not require much in the way of thought.   It's the kind of book that you might want to read when you just want to pass time.  There is a nice message, but the presentation is not particularly profound.  The book is light reading fabricated for the commercial mass audience.

          There is a repetitiveness in the story as certain ideas are hammered into the reader which helps to emphasize the moral lesson that is presented in the end.  I felt like the repeated themes served more as filler to make what could have been a short story into novel length.

           Some readers may find The Christmas Sweater to be sentimental pap.  I would compare it to something one might read in one of those inspirational magazines that have nice little stories.  There's not that much wrong with the book as entertainment--I enjoyed reading it.    However, I would not have wanted to pay for this book.   I'm glad that it was just there for me to read, but I don't need it on my bookshelf.

          I won't give away the ending, but I will say that this book uses a plot device that I've always felt was gimmicky and a no-no for most credible works of fiction.   The writerly advice I've always heard is to avoid this device, but it's blatantly used here.  It's probably what makes the story work, but it's also what makes the story shallower than it could have been.

          I recommend this book to anyone who likes a wholesome story with a message and wants something light to read.   If you're looking for something challenging then The Christmas Sweater will be unlikely to impress.    

          Glen Beck fans will probably love this book.   Now I have nothing against Glen Beck, but I'm not a big fan either.  I enjoy watching him on television, but I normally don't watch his show.  This book is probably a best seller because Beck's name is on it.

             If you or I had written this book, we probably would still be trying to find a publisher.  This is another example of name branding helping to sell something that might otherwise never would have found a very big audience. 

               Have you read The Christmas Sweater?  If so, what do you think about the book?   Can you think of any other books written by celebrities that gained far more popularity than they deserved?



  1. Hello Lee I'm still on line and just noticed your last post so here are my thoughts on this book. I have never read or even heard of this book but being a single parent I too had a real struggle financially while raising my children and on many occasions had to make presents for them since money was just not available. Yesterday was my son's birthday (32)and I spent the day with him painting his bedroom and doing small things around his flat like fitting shelves etc. We had a great time and even though many of his friends thought he was crazy to be doing domestic things on his birthday, for him it was the time spent with me that was the real gift. We didn't see eye to eye for many years but things have changed now and he see's value in his father now. I think it is what happens to us when we grow up. Maybe that is what Mr Beck was trying to get across. Who knows? The gifts that I have made for my children over the years they still have, whereas gifts that were bought for them have since landed up in the trash, interesting isn't it. Do you ever make gifts for your children?

  2. This looks like a most wonderful book to read though I don't read as much as I ought.

    I think I know what your special announcement may be I pray it won't involve February as on the 10th I am Nashville bound for a week.

  3. Well. . . I guess I'll pass on this unless I find it on a bookshelf when I'm visiting family.

  4. I have never read the book. Thanks for mentioning it so I don't have to wonder about it. Site is looking good!

  5. I think every book written by a celebrity or semi-celebrity gets more attention than it deserves :)
    But this one looks lovely, I love anything festive ... and the book cover is very inviting.

  6. My friend read it and loved it, I don't think I will read it myself......:-) Hugs

  7. I share your attitude towards Beck, but then again I try my best to listen to all views with an open ear.

    Breakfast Every Hour

  8. I've read stories with filler material that should have probably been a short story. I have not read this book. I generally do not read books by celebrities as they are usually written by a ghost writer. Some of these celebs can't spell their own name let alone write an interesting book.

  9. I've not read it, but it sounds superior to most celebrity book trash.

  10. Geoff -- I've never made anything for my children that I can recall, but I'm not really very handy. I do think the message of the book is very nice and something that we should all think about.

    Yvonne -- Now I guess I'd like to know what you think the announcement will be. But February won't be involved.

    Liza -- Well it is a book that is all about family and if you happen to see it on a shelf and have a few hours, by all means read it.

    Gregg -- The page will be changing more soon. You would probably appreciate the message in this book.

    Dezmond -- I'm not sure that I'd call this story "festive", but it is about Christmas and good personal values.

    Bernie -- I know a lot of people have read this and loved it. I enjoyed it as well, but I wouldn't classify it as any great literature. I didn't see it as a waste of my time either.

    AlexNYC -- Since I don't watch much TV, I don't make time for Glenn Beck. However if I did watch a good bit more, his show is one that I might be apt to watch. I do like the way he presents things and I like his subject matter.

    Stephen Tremp -- I don't know how much of this book Beck wrote himself, but there is a video that shows him with a panel who are helping to put together the show for The Christmas Sweater. Maybe that was also how he polished this book. I think Beck is probably capable of writing a book though.

    Alex C. -- This book does have some value and it is readable--not celebrity trash by any means.

  11. I did read it and thought it very good, not the best I've ever read but enjoyable none the less! I don't even watch Glenn Beck or listen to him so I had no particular expectations about it.
    It was a gift to me, signed by Glenn Beck and I liked it! Love Di ♥

  12. Diana -- For what it was the book was very good and an enjoyable read--I didn't feel like I wasted my time by reading it. A signed copy would be nice to own. Actually the book would make a wonderful Christmas gift to someone who enjoys reading.

  13. I can't think of a book by a celeb that got credit and didn't get more credit than deserved.

  14. >>.....this book uses a plot device that I've always felt was gimmicky and a no-no for most credible works of fiction.

    PLEASE don't tell me that everything was revealed at the end to have been a dream! Please don't tell me THAT!

    Gee, I wonder what this big upcoming announcement might be. I'll bet every penny I have that it has to do with April more than it has to do with February.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  15. I've never read The Christmas Sweater. It doesn't really sound like my cup of tea--if a book has a moral message, I like it when it's subtle instead of being hammered with it. Thank you for the review, though!

  16. Chris -- I'm sure there are celebs who have written something good, but offhand none come to mind.

    StMc -- Okay, I won't be the one to tell you that. I wouldn't want to spoil it for when you read it which I know you will since you are such a huge Glenn Beck fan. And you won't be losing any pennies with that bet.

    Golden Eagle -- I don't mind moral messages either if they are subtle. I want to think for myself.

    Raquel -- Thank you for that assessment of this review.

  17. Oh Yes, Martina the tennis player. Not only was it written bad, it jumped in time so often you just stayed lost.

    All we can hope for is that the money they make from that book will allow one of us to be published :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  18. Don't think I'll be reading this unless it;s in a waiting room somewhere.
    At least he isn't saving the world with a he?

  19. Can't say I blame celebrities for capitalizing on their fame; especially the ones that lasts only 15 minutes. :)

    Good review. It gives us a good feel for whether we'd like it or not.

  20. I haven't read it but it does sound interesting.

  21. It is highly unlikely that I would read anything by the popular but polarizing Mr. Beck but I enjoyed reading your review. It was nicely unbiased. I think it sounds a bit didactic but he would hardly be the first to use an anvil with his moral lesson.

  22. Jules--- I like your outlook on the possibilities success for another might open doors for others. It does happen.

    Mary -- He might like to save the world with a sweater, but I don't think that's the point of this book.

    Anita -- I would shamelessyly do it. It's just another way to advertise.

    Shannon -- A lot of people really have liked it.

    lora96 -- Thank you for your comment.

  23. Hi Lee .. this was very interesting to see how you managed to write a review, which was ok, yet wasn't desperately complementary .. and I'm sure your comment about the book never seeing the light of day but for a celebrity is right.

    Love to know the device though! If I see the book .. I'll have to look at the end! Cheers Hilary

  24. Hmmm, won't be picking this book up anytime soon. I can say for sure that there are plenty of books that celebritys have written that don't deserve the attention they get. However, I do know a few celebrities that have written really good children's books (and I don't even have kids!). Check out Jamie Lee Curtis and her series of children's books if you have any little people who need a good read!

  25. I haven't heard of it and I probably won't read it. Things like this depress me!

  26. Thanks for the review! I don't generally read Christmas stories, just because I tend to find them too schmaltzy. But I love the lesson kernel wrapped up in this one's premise: A gift's worth isn't dependent on the receiver, but rather the giver.

  27. There are plenty of books penned by celebrities that otherwise never would have seen the light of day. Steve Martin is a pretty good writer though.

  28. Thanks for the visit and kind comforting words,
    It made me feel a whole lot better, Now if you see in the American headlines about a lady going down a slide waving a tambourine you'll know who it is.

    Could the announcement be another A to Z?????????

  29. Hilary -- I like to find some good in most everything, especially if someone made an effort to create it. If you want to know the device see Stephen T McCarthy's comment above.

    Ginny -- Don't really look at children's books much anymore, but now with 2 grandchildren I might need to start again.

    Talli -- It was not really a depressing book in the end, but kind of inspiring I guess.

    K.M. -- This book is schmaltz with a good message kind of like Dicken's Christmas Carol.

    M Pax -- I read Martin's autobiography and it was very good. He's a smart guy.

    Yvonne -- There will definitely be another A to Z, but be sure to see the announcement because there's more.

  30. I don't think I'd spend money on any book written by a celebrity. I'd be more apt to read this one than Snooki's... lol But no, I don't buy books based on how famous the author is. It's sad that so many become best-sellers just based upon that.

  31. Lily -- I agree that I wouldn't buy a book just because it was by a celebrity, but I might if I had a real interest in what they were writing about. For example, the last celebrity book that I purchased was Steve Martin's autobiography because I appreciate his work as an artist, I am interested in his rise to stardom, and I felt a connection to his life story to my own life--it was a very enjoyable book. I've been curious about the "tell-all" books but it's been years since I actually purchased or even read one.

  32. Great to read a review like this of a book by Beck. Generally, I steer clear of celebrity books since it seems as though it is the name that got the work published, not the quality. I'm thinking I'll stay away from it since it unfortunately sounds like that's what happened with this one. Thanks for the review, Lee!


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