Read My Mind

One of the novels I am looking forward to most this fall is young adult fiction author Sara Zarr’s latest, “How to Save a Life.” Ever since her first book, the acclaimed “Story of a Girl,” she has been on my short list of y/a fiction authors who I believe tackles issues with humor, heart, smarts, but without a lot of pretention. She doesn’t try to adopt an adult-perceived “teen” voice. She doesn’t try to be too clever or hip or overly topical. She does, however, weave together authentic questions with realistic characters facing all-too-relatable problems.

While I am waiting for “How to Save a Life” to show up in my mailbox, I thought I would give away three copies of Zarr’s last book, “Once Was Lost.” It is the raw but tender story of a pastor’s daughter whose life is turned upside down by a variety of difficult circumstances in her life and in her community. Bonds of faith and family are severely tested in this story with no easy answers ,but always with the slightest thread of hope.

So if you would like the opportunity to give your teen some summer reading he or she might actually enjoy, send me an email at by July11th at 5 p.m. EST and I will choose three readers at random to receive a copy. Be sure to include your mailing address in your email and good luck!

Certainly one of the best movies of last year was the foreign film “Of Gods and Men”  about the murders of a group of monks in Algeria.Yes, the movie has subtitles, but it is a haunting story  that is both a warning about religious extremism and a celebration of community and faith.  So while I highly recommend you watch the movie now that it is on DVD, this is a book-ish blog after all. Therefore, I went looking for some supplemental reading that would update the story or give some new insights that aren’t perhaps fully covered in the movie. There is a book by John Kiser entitled “The Monks of Tibhirine” that looks like  it was probably the main source piece for the movie and then there is a deeply moving article about a monk who survived the massacre and prays for the conversion of those who killed his fellow monks.

Brother Schumacher said he prays that the world may “progress towards universal brotherhood, that despite the differences between religions, nationalities and cultures, we may learn to know each other and mutually help each other.”

 It’s a poweful sentiment to focus  on at any time , but it seems especially appropriate in light of  current events as well as in response to any leftover July 4th  euphoria.

Holidays are always a good time to look for internet deals and this July 4th weekend is a good time to scour the internet for some free book downloads. The biggest deal of the weekend is through Barnes  & Noble. They are offering multiple downloads – many of them literary classics – on any electronic device this weekend only.If you are looking for  some July 4th crafts  or recipes, Fave Crafts is offering a free e-book download. Favor Affair is offering a 4th of July free craft book as well. Finally, Plough Publishing has several free downloads available –  some Independence Day themed – some not.

Some atheists really know to be a buzz-kill. In fact they want to ruin my cook-out and sunbathing time at the beach by preaching their non-religion to me.In  Mitch Albom’s  latest column, he describes how a group called American Atheists will be spending what I assume to be a considerable  amount of money to tell the rest of us that we should be celebrating a God-less Fourth of July. Actually, the group is only flying banners on small planes in 26 states – including my home state of Michigan . The banners are reportedly to read  “God-LESS America” or “Atheism is Patriotic.”

Though Albom disagrees with the group , his response is pretty moderate saying, “My sense is that most Americans are pretty tolerant of other faiths or even those who celebrate no faith — they just don’t want things shoved in their faces.”

I agree. So maybe I’ll one-up their banner flying by stopping by their houses with a tract on the Four Spiritual Laws.