By Anne Winckel

Ark House Press, 2015.

Reviewed by Andrew & Camille Bowles

‘What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?’ (Mk 8:36). This question from Jesus is the subject of Anne Winckel’s book Time Poor, Soul Rich, a manual of ’60-second solutions and other lengthier remedies for busy professional women’. There are many books around that deal with setting life goals, fine-tuning priorities, managing your time, and deciding what are the most important things for you to be doing. Winckel is more focussed, however, on those women who are doing basically what they feel is right or necessary, but want to do so without losing the joy and vibrancy of life.The goal is to provide these women with simple and quick strategies for re-engaging with areas of life that bring richness to our souls, without requiring radical changes in lifestyle. In Part A each chapter engages with an aspect of our inner or outer lives (such as our relationships, our engagement with the world, our knowledge and experience of our our emotions and passions), and offers stories and tips to inspire, equip and motivate women to live more richly in that area. Part B addresses obstacles to soul enrichment such as personality traits that sabotage our efforts and negative beliefs and experiences that hold women back.

We read this book together as a couple, because though it is addressed to women, men also struggle from being time-poor and need to understand how to work with this problem in concert with the women in their lives. Our feeling was that men often struggle differently with time-poverty, not having perhaps the same pressure to ‘have it all’ as women do, but also having less ability to put into practices the kind of strategies that Winckel gives us. However, for men who read Time Poor, Soul Rich this is a reminder of many ways that we can support the women in our lives as they seek to enrich their souls, as well as finding ways that we can do the same for ourselves.
This is a very balanced, sane and thoughtful book overall, and very practical. It is the sort of book that would be useful for ‘dipping in’ from time to time as a constant help in staying on track. The stories that Winckel provides are drawn from the experience of a variety of women, wider even than the ‘busy professionals’ who are the key target group of her writing. There are thoughts here for women with a broad mixture of roles and experiences. In terms of spiritual matters, Time Poor, Soul Rich is a bridge between general spirituality and specifically Christian approaches to these issues, and offers something regardless of your personal beliefs while still showcasing the positive benefits of Christian faith and involvement in nurturing church communities. Read it whether or not you have the time.