Review: “Max on Life” by Max Lucado

I’ve read a few books by Max Lucado in the past, and I can see why his writing is so appealing to readers, and why his books and material is in high demand. He’s incredibly insightful, and has an ability to take a difficult theological subject, and describe it in simple layman’s terms, accessible to anybody.

This is likely the reason Lucado has received so many one-off questions throughout his career as a minister and author. People seek out that simplified answer to their problems. And Lucado handles the questions listed one-by-one on each page of this book with minimal ease. Yes, he could likely write a book on each subject that this book and the questions are subdivided into, making the answers short and shallow. But I don’t think the people asking the questions were looking for a 400-page textbook.

All that being said, I was quite disappointed with this book. Lucado’s books are generally on one subject and he draws out the answer through multiple pages. As I said, this book has one bolded question at the top of each page, and Lucado’s response written underneath, some answers longer than others.

While the publisher has obviously attempted to make each question less segmented by offering 7 different “categories” that the questions lightly fall into, each page is a completely different question, a completely different theological subject. While the category may tell you the questions are tied together by “Hurt”, that isn’t enough to allow you to read the book cover to cover.

Plain and simple, Max on Life is a reference book. It should sit on a preacher’s shelf right next to his lexicon and biblical commentaries. It is NOT a book I recommend to the typical Lucado book reader.

I can see myself using this for structuring a sermon, using some of Lucado’s quick answers as subject matter. And I could see myself pulling it out and reading one page to a person seeking counsel on a particular subject. But this isn’t a curl-up-in-front-of-a-fire, feel-good-about-my-doubts kind of book. It’s a reference book.

The best part of this book, and its own saving grace, is the topical and scripture index in the back pages of the book. I found myself “tagging” each question with the topic it deals with at the top of each page with my pen. So I was pleasantly surprised, the publisher had done this for me also.

Max on Life has a lot of great content, but it’s marketed like all of his other books and I think this will disappoint his typical readers greatly.

One last point I wanted to suggest: I think Thomas Nelson and Lucado missed out on a great opportunity to create an online following for Lucado. While he likely has a Facebook and Twitter following already, if this book was first posted as individual blog posts on a website, divided by the subjects the book divides them up as, he could have created a buzz on the website, as he promoted his other books and products, and then put the content into a book. Make the most of the opportunity, and show the content for what it honestly is: short and segmented.

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  1. That’s what I thought as well: Good for a reference book. Maybe a “coffee table book” to look at when you want quick thoughts, but nowhere near as deep as his past writings.

    1. Exactly. I think it’s a valuable writing. But I find it to be false advertising for many. I hope readers open the book before purchasing, or else they will get a surprise. I enjoy many books from Thomas Nelson, but since joining the Booksneeze review group, I’ve quickly learned that the books they publish are very opportunistic. But perhaps we should expect nothing else when shareholders are involved. Thanks for your comments Jonathon.

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