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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Few Books I've Read this Year

As I mentioned in a previous post, I routinely escape into English.  Thanks to the Cloud Library, I have a small selection of recent books to chose from and read without a charge.  The only catch is that when the book is due, it disappears from my ipod and goes to the next person who has reserved it.  So, a few of the following titles disappeared before I got to the end.  Thankfully, I had plenty of time to finish the fiction titles.  These are a few of the good ones that I can recommend.

Beyond Belief by Jenna Miscavige Hill
The author's experience growing up within the Scientology organization.  Although she has good reason to be vindictive after years of forced labor, she focused on sharing her story as factually as possible without sounding bitter or angry.  I enjoyed contrasting my own experiences of growing up in a Christian family and church with her experiences of growing up in a cult.  It's black and white.

The Extortionist by John Grisham
I was frustrated with both the protagonist and the author who created him after reading 7/8ths of the book.  But Grisham was simply leading up to a very satisfying conclusion.

Monday's Child by Linda Chaikin
Sabrina and I read and discussed this spy story for chicks.  The main character is a Christian who stays true to what she believes. I recommend this author for moms and teen girls!

The Expats by Chris Pavone
Not explicitly Christian and could be rated PG13 for some mature scenes. I am keeping it on my list because I shared so many similarities with the main character who moves overseas with her husband and children.  I appreciated the author's respect for marriage, but also his realistic characterization of a couple that start to become strangers to one another in the unrelenting stress of cross cultural living and mounting distrust.

Going Clear by Lawrence Wright
Non fiction on Scientology.  It had more "dirt" in it than the autobiography by Miscavige.  I skipped over some of the tedious descriptions of Hubbard's womanizing and the financial accounting of the cult's cruel business dealings.  The author proves his point that the organization should not enjoy the IRS status of "church." Scientology has sadly made its way to Uruguay, but thankfully I don't think many people here have noticed.

Strange Virtues. Ethics in a Multicultural World by Bernard T. Adeney-Risakotta  I'm in the middle of this one on my Kindle, but it's a great resource.  I know it won't disappear so I'm taking my time!

Cross Cultural Servanthood by Duane Elmer. A good summary of what Mark and I are doing right now.

I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had by Tony Danza
Tony Danza agrees to teach High School English for a year in a center city Phili school!  As a former English teacher, I was sure this would be as fun to read as the title.  I was wrong.  It was melodramatic. To be fair, it was humorous at times but no lol.  I may have been reading it during a particularly strenuous week, but it put me to sleep pretty fast every night, and it disappeared from my Cloud before I reached the end.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
A non fiction that kept me awake for hours!  If you're a teacher, parent, homeschooler, pastor, counselor.... you'll benefit from some of her insights.  She says a lot that you probably already know.  And she attributes too much to "nurture/nature" instead of the Creator. But she has a way of drawing out new questions and connections that are fresh and relate to the personal experiences of the reader.  I found myself thinking about my own childhood, my kids, my friends, my husband.  It was an amazing read.  At one point I drew my own connection to the way that the Church has been influenced by an extroverted culture.  And since I was reading it on my small ipod without headings, I was pleasantly surprised when I scrolled to the next page and found that the next chapter addressed the topic.  I read one of the vignettes to the kids at breakfast, and Julia said, "Mom, I'm like that, too...."  It's an amazing feeling to identify one's God given personality and realize it's a blessing to be unique.


  1. Jeni -
    greetings from Calvin OPC in Phoenix! Your photos and blog posts are plastered on our missions board for the next month, encouraging our congregation to devote extra time to praying for your family. Thank you for making time to "talk" with us back home so that we can watch and pray with you. May God bless, equip, protect, make strong, and unite your family daily!
    In Him, Mary

  2. Hi Mary, We stopped in Flagstaff on our way to missionary training 2 yrs. ago, but it was because the car's transmission failed and left us stranded! I wish we could have visited with you then. Thanks for praying for our family. If you ever want more specific prayer requests or recent updates on the ministry, feel free to email us directly. Jeni