Thursday, April 12, 2012

Reviewing: Style, Sex and Substance edited by Hallie Lord

I haven't had this much fun reading a "Catholic Woman's Book" in a long time! Actually I can't remember if I've read one so beautifully written about so many great topics that are usually ignored by "Catholic" writers.

This book brings to the fore 10 great topics that face Catholic women on a daily basis. From faith, our personal style, friendship, marriage, vocation, sex, motherhood, and functioning in our culture at large, each short chapter drives to the heart of such important matters. And most significantly this book treats these topics as just that; important.

Hallie Lord of the wonderful blog Betty Beguiles, has created an ingenious way of getting across these excellent Catholic values and insights. Having 10 different authors, most great bloggers in their own right such as Jennifer Fulwiler, Simcha Fisher, and Danielle Bean, bring their own experience and attitude to the different topics makes this read so relatable and a pleasure to read.

The quality and beauty that these writers bring to the subject matter is so refreshing. They present great wisdom in a straightforward, often humorous, and very easy to read manner that makes embracing the Catholic ideals of womanhood approachable. I found myself so happy reading that these women have discovered and lived their lives according to the faith. They all write about living a life of balance and beauty with our Catholic faith, and incorporating our faith into all areas of our lives; not avoiding, ignoring, or condemning. I know this idea of balance is something which can be hard to find in specifically "Catholic" books at times, but really, all Catholic women have the challenge of finding balance in our lives today. We're all trying to live not of the world but in the world, we're trying to be stylish yet modest, good wives and good friends, good mothers as well as happy people.

This book brings the ideals of Catholic womanhood which have been written about by theologians, saints and popes into an easy and uplifting read. I couldn't help thinking as I read this book that this is really a groundbreaking book for Catholic culture. As a cradle Catholic myself I was raised by parents who re-verted and converted to the Church later in life. I know when my mom began to take her faith more seriously and live out her faith, most other faithful Catholic women probably weren't talking about these subjects with each other. And if they were it was probably much more guarded, maybe coming from a belief that to be truly holy you weren't supposed to talk about the importance of dressing stylishly, or having a good sex life, or watching tv shows then discussing their spiritual significance. But its now clear that our generation of Catholics is proving that we can live out our faith and deal with real world issues in a thoughtful and positive way. Of course the great innovation of blogging has helped create a more powerful form of conversation among practicing Catholic women and I believe its impacting the Church little by little as seen with the publication of this book.

I honestly loved this book and believe that every Catholic woman should give it a read! You don't have to have a saintly opinion about yourself (not that any of us do!), or feel as if you aren't Catholic enough to give it a chance. This book is written for any woman who wants to live her Catholic faith but still enjoys shopping, talking to her girlfriend on the phone, loving her husband or living the single life, and reading magazines and watching tv, in other words any normal woman! It offers great insight into the most important issues of everyday life as a woman from a variety of voices with a vast wealth of real life experience. I think I'll be giving this book to my friends and sisters so that we can talk about what made us laugh, cry and relate to!


  1. Sounds like a great book! I definitely want to read it!

  2. Oh, Christy! What a sweet review! It means a lot to me that you enjoyed it. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! Hugs!


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