Book Review: Soundtracks by Jon Acuff

Hello, friend! Welcome back to my blog. Today, I’ve got a book review for you. The only book reviews and lists I’ve done in the past are Christian living books, really, but this book is a bit different. So without further ado, introducing my book review of Soundtracks by Jon Acuff.

Soundtracks: The Surprising Solution to Overthinking, is a nonfiction book about, well, overthinking. Acuff introduces the idea that we have specific sayings and thoughts, or as he calls them, soundtracks, playing in our mind. They can either encourage us (I am the best!) or discourage us (I’m a horrible person, how could I do that?). 

I think all of us can relate with overthinking. Ever gone back to a conversation you had days, months, even years ago and thought — “I could have said something else”? Ever told yourself you’d never succeed at something because of x, y, and z?

Broken soundtracks like to traffic in absolutes. Everything, nothing, none, and forever, are sure signs that you’re overthinking.

Soundtracks by Jon Acuff, p. 122

In the book, Acuff talks about various ways to dial down the bad thoughts (or, as he calls them, broken soundtracks) and maximize the number of good thoughts you have in your brain. For example, writing down encouraging, short sayings and playing them in your mind when you’re feeling discouraged will help you out. 

I actually really liked the book. It was very well written and Acuff had a very conversational and fun voice in his writing. It felt like he was talking to me, and he gave lots of examples from his own life and others. 

One of the strategies Acuff talks about in his book is the New Anthem. Basically, he gives a list of encouraging soundtracks and a script to recite in the mirror every morning when you wake up and every night before you go to bed for thirty days. Apparently, the results he got from a test said it was very beneficial.

I haven’t personally tried it. Partly because saying “I am my biggest fan” in the bathroom mirror is ridiculous (he does address this, though), but also partly because I want to tweak the New Anthem before I try it. 

See, the book isn’t written from a Christian perspective, and I think Acuff’s strategies can be more useful if we use more powerful words than just, “I am my biggest fan.”

Instead of taking Acuff’s playlist of soundtracks, mixing it or completely replacing it with verses or phrases that speak Biblical truth can be much more powerful.

So instead of saying, “I am my biggest fan” say “Jesus is by my side.” Instead of saying, “Everything is always working out for me” say “God has got a plan, even if I don’t know it.”

Pretty easy, right? 

Just because the book isn’t from a Christian perspective doesn’t mean it won’t be helpful. We just have to be careful when reading books like these and make sure we are looking at it with a critical eye and figuring out how the book will work for us, not how we’ll work for the book.

That’s not to say, however, that we should avoid being critical about books labelled “Christian.” People make mistakes and can stray from the truth, and it’s important that we check what people say and write with what God says in His Word. In many New Testament letters, Paul warns those he is writing to about false teachers and twisted messages, and I think that we should still take that seriously today.

But, back to the current review, with some rephrasing and rewriting, the majority of Acuff’s New Anthem can be this:

I am confident in my identity in Christ, and I’m ready to trust Him with what happens next. With His help, discipline, and dedication, I can stick with it. Here are ten things I know:

  1. I don’t have to worry about today or tomorrow. God will provide.
  2. Jesus has given me the greatest gift.
  3. Anything is possible with God.
  4. Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords– He cannot be shaken.
  5. Loving one another is the second greatest commandment, so I should do it.
  6. Jesus is my comfort in times of trouble and worry. I can trust Him.
  7. Jesus never said things would be easy.
  8. God has a plan, even if I don’t know it.
  9. Jesus is by my side.
  10. Jesus gave up everything for me, which was extremely hard. With Him, I can do hard things too.

I simply took the main portion of the New Anthem on p. 153 and rewrote it. If you want to read more and see his overall tips, I’d recommend you get the book!

You can even tweak my list and mix in complete Bible verses. Acuff encourages you to make your own playlists with our own encouraging sayings and quotes, and if we’re Christians, why not just use the Bible?

If you get the book and want to try the New Anthem challenge, shoot me an email at live2thelord@gmail.com or reply to this post with a comment saying so– perhaps I can try it with you!

So essentially what I’m saying is this: The book is good, and will likely be helpful once I try the strategies. However, maybe the surprising solution to overthinking isn’t just listening to different people, but rather listening to the voice of the One who matters most. The One who broke us free from sin and gives us the ability to say, “I am a child of God.”

Thank you for reading today’s article! Have you read Soundtracks? What did you think of my perspective on it? Feel free to comment down below or email me through the contact page with an answer. And, if you’d like to get my weekly emails and notifications when I post, please consider subscribing to my email list in the form just below this.

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Have a blessed day,
~Caroline

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