Sometimes a Book Is Not Just a Book: Lessons Learned by Vicki Hinze

A few weeks ago, I read and reviewed a book I enjoyed very much.  It was THE CHAIR written by James L. Rubart.  A copy of the review follows:



By Vicki Hinze
Corin Roscoe, an antiques store owner, is a man fighting fears relatable to us all: ones with family, with friends, with God. His days are haunted with harsh realities and his nights by dreams of horrific incidents endured. He reaches many crossroads in this book: does he hang onto fear or face it? Hang onto guilt or seek forgiveness? Deny the truth or accept it? And when life offers him a choice between the easy road or the high road–when the easy road will spare him further struggles–which does he choose?

Life is tough, the conflicts are easily imagined as our own, and the choices we make either lead us into deeper trouble or shine a light on a path of redemption and restoration. The choice, as Corin learns, is ours to make. Over and again throughout our lives.

James L. Rubart plays fair with the reader, portrays a realistic view of anti-faith and expresses an intriguing, thought-provoking glimpse at God’s mysterious ways of redemption. Sometimes a chair is not just a chair. Sometimes it’s a path to discovery, forgiveness, healing, and restoration.


That’s the review.  What I didn’t know then and couldn’t have known then is that thoughts of the story would linger with me.  They are still, which is why I’m writing this post on this book today.  I’ve read at least three other books since then, but something in this one resonated.  I’d missed something important.

With that thought in mind, I sat down in a quiet room and got still.  Then I thought about the story not from the prospective of the story, but from a writer’s perspective.  Intent came to mind, and stayed.  More specifically, the writer’s intent, or purpose in writing the book.

I realized then what I’d failed to translate, and it’s significant.  Just as a chair isn’t always “just” a chair in the novel, for those of us who read, sometimes books aren’t just books.  Particularly if it’s one written for purpose.

The intent of sharing something significant is a worthy purpose for a writer, and when that purpose focuses on faith it’s all the more important.  I firmly believe that a reader can’t get out of a book something that a writer doesn’t first put in a book.  And so the logical deduction then becomes a matter of what we write.

For a purpose writer, a book is never just a book.  While it might not hold the mystical aspects of the chair in the novel, if the work is faith-based, faith-centered, then in a very real way, it holds the mystical aspects of a relationship with God.

That doesn’t mean, as Rubart demonstrated aptly, that a book has to be over the top religious.  It doesn’t mean that a book has to be peopled with characters who are all Christians or who lack doubts and never suffer spiritual crises.  We all suffer them.

We might write books that aren’t classified as Christian fiction.  We might write books peppered with language and activity that we don’t consider fitting for believers.  But if those are the only people we touch, then aren’t we attempting to heal those who are not sick?  And if that’s the case, then who’s tending to the ill?

Isn’t that like giving a book to a man who cannot read?  I’m not advocating that we should veer away from Christians in Christian fiction.  I’m saying that there is a purpose and a place for books with Christian characters and also characters who are not Christians–the non-believers, the doubters, the people in spiritual crisis who need help but who are so lost they don’t even know what they need.  There is purpose in those books, and let’s be honest, those who might benefit from them aren’t apt to be ones cruising through the inspirational section in a bookstore.

A book can be more than a book.  It can be a beacon that lights a dark path and shows another the way out of the darkness.  As well as adventures and all the typical reasons we read, aren’t we at times trying to make sense of something in our own corner of the world?  And if we write with purpose, frankly and honestly, then aren’t we giving our best to infuse that book with the purpose for which we’re writing it?  And by doing so, aren’t we giving our best to put some specific purpose in it that a reader can get out?

Years ago, I was asked why I invested so much time in new writers?  Teaching, mentoring, encouraging.  The answer was because I didn’t have that when I started and I know how much it would have meant to me.  Instead, I learned hard knocks, until finally a mentor came along and others followed.  I realized later that I get more from teaching and mentoring than I ever give.  And now–continuing to think aloud here–I see the same is true in the books.

As in James L. Rubart’s novel where a chair is not just a chair, a book written for spiritual purpose is not just a book.  When writing it, we feel it takes all–everything we have and then some.  But after it’s done, often a good while after, we see that it gave more than it took.  To the author who wrote it, and to the readers who connect with it.

Not all readers will connect to any one book.  We’d all have to be on the same spiritual journey and at the same juncture at the same time for that to happen.  But those who need what the book has to offer will get it.  To them, the book will not be just a book, but a doorway to spiritual exploration or resolution.

Grasping this, I feel both intimidated and blessed.  Well, almost intimidated.  Okay, I don’t feel intimidated, but I would be if I didn’t know for fact that what God wants in a book, He’ll put in it.  Writing with purpose assures it.  So I guess I’m actually feeling grateful and blessed.

Jim, I’m glad your book wasn’t just a book.  It made me think, as you can see, and while I wouldn’t swear this post reads coherent to anyone else, it makes perfect sense to me.





About Vicki Hinze

USA Today Bestselling and Award-Winning Author of 40+ books, short stories/novellas and hundreds of articles. Published in as many as 63 countries. Featured Columnist for Social-IN Worldwide Network and Book Fun Magazine. Sponsor/Founder of & FMI visit
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9 Responses to Sometimes a Book Is Not Just a Book: Lessons Learned by Vicki Hinze

  1. Caron Tweet says:

    I’m in awe right now! So many times I’ve wondered if the author has any idea how they impact our lives. I’ve read so many books, that aren’t just a book, including several of yours. What amazes me is that I’ll be facing some sort of doubt or crisis, a roadblock maybe….and then I pick up a book that I have (I have tons I haven’t read yet-I’m working on them) and the author or God or both speak directly to my heart. And there is teaching there, I learn and sometimes I heal. Sometimes, I lay the book down & pray/cry and think, “why didn’t I see that, why didn’t I GET it”. Your job is so important Vicki, I adore your writing and your articles. We’ve never met, but I feel like I know you thru your work. My bff (my husband) always laughs & says, “no more books, there is no more room”! Then he’ll listen to me as I excitedly tell him what I’ve discovered with your help or another author’s help & he smiles….and I keep buying more books. He loves the kindle, he doesn’t have to put up another bookcase. Your post on your review and how books aren’t just a book is spot on!!! Keep writing Vicki, because I’ll keep right on reading, learning, laughing and crying.


    • Vicki Hinze says:

      Bless you, Caron, and thank you so much for sharing that! You know, so often authors hope that their books will touch lives but they don’t know it–not unless the reader tells them. So this is a precious gift you’ve given me, sharing this, and I’m grateful for it.

      Thank you, Caron. It means the world to me.



  2. Sherree says:

    I can relate with you on having read a book and then days later or even books later, you are still being drawn back to what you read. There have been times when I have read a book and found myself there. I am so glad that I had a great teacher in the 7th grade and he taught his students to place themselves in the stories. I am a lover of books and have so many in my home that people are starting to ask to come to my house instead of the Library. The only problem is that I really don’t like when people borrow and then turn the pages down. I know, give them a bookmarker. I love your style of writing and have all your books. If I don’t get the book first, my Mandy (daughter and best friend) will buy it. We share our books with each other over the miles.


    • Vicki Hinze says:

      Sherree, I love that–that you and Mandy share my books. It’s a special thing to be one of the connections between you two. I’m so glad you like them, and I’m right there with you on creasing the pages.

      When I was a child, my mother insisted I never do that. It’s not respectful, she’d say. Books should be respected. I guess it stuck. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing!




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  4. Maureen Lang says:

    Love your post, Vicki! My favorite books are ones that make me think, just as Jim’s obviously did for you. I can’t wait to read it!

    And that phrase – writing with purpose – is so perfect. I truly do pray that more Christians can and will write in the secular world to be a light and an example that God blesses excellence, too, and the effort behind it. I’m firmly in the Christian market, and for my books to reach beyond that I suppose I’d have to look for a publisher whose books won’t be placed off with the other “religious fiction.” In a way I understand the reason to separate it – I’ve had enough titles on Amazon’s free downloads to know there are people out there who really want a warning if a book contains anything remotely Christian – even mine which aren’t so much preaching salvation as having people facing a problem with a Christian worldview. There are certainly ways to reach a wide audience and touch their hearts without preaching, and are probably more effective for having done so. If anything, we need Christians in the entertainment field just to balance out all of the anti-Christian messages that seem so rampant these days!


    • Vicki Hinze says:

      Agree, Maureen. I received a letter from one of my general market readers who said that she loved my books and that she’d noted I’d moved into Christian fiction. That when I “got through this phase” to let her know and she’d come back.

      No disrespect intended, but I had to chuckle. There are some differences in the books I wrote for the general readers and the Christian readers, of course, but the core of the books are the same. They’re all healing books (that’s my author theme and in every book I’ve ever written or will ever write), they all have suspense, mystery and romance. The difference is the primary focus. In the Christian books, I am less subtle and more overt, but the healing messages are still there. The purpose is still there.

      I believe. I’ve always believed. It’s not a phase or something you get through. Maybe you have to experience it to get that. I don’t know. I write what I feel driven to write and if there isn’t purpose in it I won’t love it. I’d never invest a part of my life in writing a book I don’t love. Just not happening.

      I am a Bridge Walker. I’m doing a book on that. One foot in the Christian world, one foot in the secular world. We go where we’re driven to go–where God wants us. While I’m not happy about getting letters like the one I did, I’m very comfortable with doing what God wants me to do–wherever it is. Others might take exception or have issues with it. I don’t. 🙂

      I agree with you on the anti-Christian messages and I fight that all the time. You know, for others to fight Christian messages so hard, they have to really fear those messages. Why else would they bother? It’s spiritual warfare, I think. And we have to face it head on.




  5. That reminds me a lot of The Shack. People are still criticizing and debating it, but even after all this time, people are still talking about it. That’s quite an impact, and I know I still think about how much that book meant to me, and all that was within those pages, intentional or not.


    • Vicki Hinze says:

      Same here, Julie. But the book wasn’t controversial for the sake of being controversial, and that, I think, is what makes it a blessing. Regardless of what side of the fence you’re on with it, you’re talking about spiritual matters and that’s a good thing.

      For too long now, far too many of us have denied our spiritual selves. We’ve focused on the emotional, the physical, but sorely neglected the spiritual–and that’s just not wise considering we’re spiritual beings. So I’m all for what gets us talking and gets people interested and invested in their spiritual lives. It’s a good thing!


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