Wow. For such a short book, I have a lot to say about A Beggars Purse by Toni Nelson. I won the book through a giveaway hosted by the author on Goodreads. It has been at least two months since I received the book, and I’m sure she has given up on me by now. Never fear–the book just got pushed back on the to-read list, with book club books taking priority. 🙂 A Beggars Purse is a short memoir about a woman and her attitude for the homeless, or what she calls “hobos” when she is a child. The book probably only took me a total of two to three hours to read once I got started.
Let me be honest with you. I am probably the farthest thing from religious you will ever find. I dislike Christian-themed works because I usually feel like they are preaching to me. While I don’t like to argue with people about religion, I would rather not discuss it at all. You can imagine my surprise when I turned my newly received book over and read the synopsis, which made it clear how religious Nelson is. The first page of the book (before the Acknowledgements) displays a Bible verse. Ever the cataloger, I flipped to see the Library of Congress subject headings on the back of the title page, and those were “Religion / Christian Life / Social Issues” and “Religion / Christian Life / Stewardship and Giving.” I let forth the largest internal groan you could imagine. What did I get myself into? I requested to be entered to win this book, so clearly I did not read the description very well.
Let me tell you something else. The religious aspect of this book was not that bad! Nelson portrays religion in a “this is how I see it and how it fits into my life” manner, not a “this is how it should be done, and you should do it too” manner. I did not feel like Nelson was preaching at me, though there was one part that started talking about God that I just had to skim through to get back to the storyline. While the religious nature didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would, it still wasn’t really my thing.
A Beggars Purse has an interesting “plot.” Toni Nelson seems to have led an interesting life, and she presents it in a manner-of-fact way. Do you remember sitting with your grandparents or older relatives on a hot summer day and listen to them relay stories about what it was like when they were younger? This book has that feeling to it. I would not call it particularly eloquent, but the stories had a decent flow to them. The book was definitely more about Nelson’s life than the homeless population, but the sections tied together nicely. Nelson held ambivalent views toward the homeless population throughout her life, but she eventually came to the point as an adult where she felt passionately about giving food to the homeless. She acknowledged her own faults, as there was a time when she did think of the homeless as responsible for their own situation.
Toni Nelson herself is a really nice person. When I was one of the people to win her giveaway, she added me as a “friend” on Goodreads and sent me a personal message. The copy of the book she sent to me was personally signed to me by name. One of the neatest things about the giveaway is that she included a brown paper sack with a piece of paper attached to it. The sheet of paper encourages us to do a variety of things with it, like pack a lunch and give it to a homeless person, pack it with food to drop off at a local food bank, or just us it as a “visual reference . . . that you have a roof over your head and a satisfied stomach.” I am somewhat of a bleeding heart myself, and I like the idea of giving food to people who need it. Overall, Nelson’s book is worth the read, particularly because it is such a fast read. I would actually have liked it to be a little longer than it was. I plan to loan this to a coworker I think will most likely appreciate it more than I could. 🙂
Where did I get this book? Won in a giveaway on Goodreads.
2010. Mustang, OK (whoa, my home state): Tate Publishing & Enterprises. 105 pages.