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Book Review: The Intellectual Devotional

There have been recent studies that have indicated that “exercising” the mind is very beneficial to the elderly in retaining memories and in promoting mental clarity. Programs such as 20/20 Brain Power and Evelyn Woods Memory Dynamics are experiencing great success as we realize that we do not have to “grow old gracefully”, but can instead take an active stance in retaining our mental youth.

“Exercises for the mind”, however, are not just for the elderly. Many of us need a little boost to keep our minds fresh when they are bombarded with the daily stresses of being single parents – and most of us working parents as well. For these reasons, I found myself very excited over the opportunity to review a new type of daily devotional book.

Daily devotionals have been popular for some time, with the majority of them leaning towards religious and/or spiritual topics. In fact, the term “devotional” has widely come to mean a time of religious reflection. However, the term “devotional” actually means any task to which you devote your time to on a regular basis.

The Intellectual Devotional by Davis S. Kidder and Noah D. Oppenheim is a wonderful text that claims to assist you in your ability to “revive your mind, complete your education, and roam confidently with the cultured class.” While you many not intend to every roam with the cultured class, we all would like to revive our minds from time to time. In the same format as most devotionals, The Intellectual Devotional is divided into short daily segments that cover a year’s time. Seven intellectual topics are covered, each assigned their own day of the week, in the following format: Monday – history, Tuesday – literature, Wednesday – visual arts, Thursday – science, Friday – music, Saturday – philosophy and Sunday – religion.

I opened the book to a sample week to illustrate the topics that can be found by readers and discovered a variety of subjects. For the week chosen, Monday’s reading was on Peter the Great. Tuesday the topic was the book, Brave New World. Not only was the book itself discussed, but a brief history of this genre was explained. Wednesday explored the Taj Mahal and Thursday looked at the life and achievements of Marie Curry. Mozart’s opera, Don Giovanni was the topic for Friday. Saturday and Sunday took a look at epistemology and the Resurrection, respectively. The true test, however, in the success of a daily devotional is whether the text is interesting enough to hold the reader’s attention on a daily basis.

So, I began to read the book.

I have found the text, thus far, to be both interesting and thought-provoking. As a regular format, the first paragraph under each topic gives basic information about the subject. The following three to four paragraphs are more detailed and cover the topic and related subjects. At the end is a section entitled “Additional Facts” which includes two to four number items of unusual or little known knowledge about the subject. Half-way through the first week, I was hooked. The wide range of topics insures that there is something of interest to everyone; the format of information appeals to even those who think that the topic might not be interesting or relevant to them; and the additional facts are ideal for trivia buffs. And, yes, it does stimulate the mind; which was the point to begin with! A real selling point with this book for single parents is the fact that reading, learning and stimulating your mind can happen in less than fifteen minutes a day! Time is precious to the single parent and fifteen minutes or less is ideal to work into a busy, hectic single parent schedule. Most of us can find fifteen minutes to devote to ourselves at some time during the day. The Intellectual Devotional, as I view it, is an excellent idea and should become an instant success in today’s busy world!

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