A Light In The Window – by Jan Karon (1995)

A Light In The Window

The saga of Father Tim in the little town of Mitford continues in “A Light In The Window”. We are introduced almost immediately to Edith Mallory, who is determined to make herself Mrs. Timothy Cavanaugh. Poor Father Tim has no inclination to marry, but she hounds him without mercy.

If you listen to this book on audio (the unabridged version), you can get the full effect. The reader is so good at being Edith! It will have you howling with laughter as you roll about on the floor. Of course, if this was a true story, you’d feel sorry for the rector, but since it’s fiction, you can enjoy the plot without reserve.

The other character that you will both love and hate in this story is dear cousin Meg, who comes from Ireland to pay a visit to Father Tim. She clearly overstays her welcome, but the rector has no idea how to ease her back out the door.

You will find this to be as good a read as the first book, if not better!

 

Excerpt from chapter 11:

Behind the bifocals, her eyes looked like the magnified eyes of a housefly that he’d seen on the cover of Dooley’s natural-science book.

“Cousin…Meg?” He held Barnabas, who was still growling, by the collar.

“You know,” she said, pushing her hair behind her ears, “Cousin Erin’s tea party. You invited me for a visit when I came to America.”

“Aha,” he said, standing awkwardly in the doorway.

“We had a gab by the china dresser. You were drinking sherry.”

He remembered Erin Donovan’s notable family china dresser, but as to gabbing with anyone by it…

“Didn’t you get my post a couple of months ago?” She seemed to loom over him.

“A letter?” A letter! On mauve writing paper. “Of course! Please… come in…”

“Could I borrow a twenty for the driver? Had to be fetched up in a taxi. I’ll repay.”

“Certainly,” he said, digging into his pocket and handing over a twenty.

Selling Sickness – by Ray Moynihan and Alan Cassells (2005)

Selling Sickness

Although this book was written in 2005, the trends described are still the same. As I re-read it, I was amazed at how little had changed, and how many people are still believing what the pharmaceutical industry tells them. The book devotes a chapter to each of following areas that Big Pharma focuses on: high cholesterol, depression, menopause, ADD, high blood pressure, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, social anxiety disorder, osteoporosis, irritable bowel syndrome, and female sexual dysfunction. It’s not a long book – a mere 200 pages – but it will open your eyes to the deception that is constantly being pushed on us as Americans.

 

Excerpt:

The marketing strategies of the world’s biggest drug companies now aggressively target the healthy and the well. The ups and downs of daily life have become mental disorders, common complaints are transformed into frightening conditions, and more and more ordinary people are turned into patients. With promotional campaigns that exploit our deepest fears of death, decay, and disease, the $500 billion pharmaceutical industry is literally changing what it means to be human. Rightly rewarded for saving life and reducing suffering, the global drug giants are no longer content selling medicines only to the ill. Because as Wall Street knows, there’s a lot of money to be made telling healthy people they’re sick.

Hit The Road – by Caroline B. Cooney (2006)

Hit The Road

Brit has just gotten her driving permit, and is itching to get behind the wheel. When her parents go out of town and leave her with her grandmother, she finds the opportunity. Nannie is trying to get to her 65th high school reunion, along with her dearest friends. So Brit ends up being the designated driver for the senior ladies, with mishaps along the way. By the end of the road trip, she and Nannie know each other much better. This is a gem of a little book that you can read in an evening.

 

Excerpt:

“When Brit and her parents got to Nannie’s house that morning, Nannie was standing outside in the rain, holding her handbag and looking around the front yard as if she were shopping at the mall…

Brit’s mother shouted to penetrate Nannie’s deafness. “We’re early, Mother! I’m worried about traffic. Here’s Brit.”

“I told you I cannot keep Brit this week,” said her grandmother.

“Nannie!” said Brit, hurt.

“I reminded you twice,” yelled Brit’s mother. “We’re spending two weeks in Alaska and Brit’s staying with you.”

“And twice,” said Nannie, trembling, “I explained that I cannot take care of Brit. I have plans.”

“You’re eighty-six,” muttered Brit’s mother. “You don’t have plans.”

 

What Difference Does Prayer Make? – by Paul E. Miller (2013)

What Difference Does Prayer Make

Praying – it’s something each believer does. But for a lot of us, it can be a frustrating experience. In the quietness, our minds wander off-course. We suddenly become self-conscious about how un-elegant we sound to the Almighty and those around us. If we’re praying about something that we’ve prayed for many times, we wonder if the prayer borders on nagging. After all, God knows everything, so why would we keep repeating the same requests over and over? After a while, cynicism begins to creep in. Does prayer really make a difference?

What I loved most about this tiny book (a mere 55 pages) is that the author encourages the reader to come to God as a child would – messy, unpolished, laying before God whatever is on the heart. As we stop worrying about how we sound, or if our prayers measure up to others’ prayers, we will experience the difference an authentic prayer makes.

Little House On The Prairie – by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1935)

Little House On The Prairie

I have enjoyed reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books many times over the years. This time I listened to the audiobook version, which is read by Cherry Jones, who has a fine, deep reading voice. (You may remember her as the actress who played the female president on the TV show “24”.) She reads with enthusiasm and joy; obvious she loves the books too.

Growing up, I was under the impression that Laura’s books were totally biographical, and was puzzled when I noticed them in the fiction section of the library. Turns out that although the incidents in the book actually happened, some basic facts were changed to satisfy the publisher. For example, Laura was only 2-3 years old during the time they lived in Indian Territory, not 5-ish as the book portrays. Also, baby Grace didn’t arrive in the Territory with them, but was born just a few weeks before they moved out. Other facts were altered as well.

That being said, don’t let that stop you from reading this book! It’s totally amazing to hear how they built a house from scratch, dealt with fire, lived in wolf territory, and survived malaria. You’ll get a good picture of both the harshness of prairie life, and the joy of a close-knit family living a simple life together. Written in 1935, it’s still enjoy by millions of people.

 

 

The Long Winter – by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1940)

The Long Winter

 

Of all the books in the “LIttle House” series, this has always been my favorite. It focuses on the terrible winter of 1890-91 in De Smet. Although Laura wrote her books as a mixture of fact and fiction, this book was a very accurate picture of that winter in the Dakota Territory. The blizzards did indeed begin in October, the Chicago and North Western Railroad did actually stop running by Christmas because the rails were impassible, people died of starvation, and the train didn’t make it to De Smet until May.

The Ingalls family, like everyone else, depended on supplies coming in regularly on the trains. When they didn’t come, they were forced to ration supplies and think creatively to survive the winter. Two young men, Almanzo Wilder and his friend Cap Garland, risked their lives to save the people in town from starvation.

The story is written so compellingly that you can hear the wind howling, and feel your feet freezing as you read it. Read it in the winter, when you don’t think you can bear any more cold, and it will fill you with gratitude for a warm house and nearby grocery stores.

A Newbery Honor Book

The Hiding Place – by Corrie Ten Boom (1971)

The Hiding Place

corrie-tenboom

The Ten Boom family lived in the heart of Haarlem in the Netherlands during the second world war. Corrie assisted her father in the family watch-making business. She was the first licensed female watchmaker in the country. As living conditions became dangerous for the Jewish residents of Haarlem, the Ten Booms built a secret room in their home, and hid Jews there until they could be smuggled out of the country. Eventually they were caught by the Gestapo, and Corrie, her sister Betsie, her father and other relatives were arrested.

Much of the book deals with Corrie and Betsie’s time in the Ravensbrück concentration camp for women. Life was all but unbearable, but God was with them through it all. It is a hard biography to read, but in the end it re-affirms that there is no trial that we go through alone.

Excerpt:

Father sat down on the edge of the narrow bed. “Corrie,” he began gently, “when you and I go to Amsterdam – when do I give you your ticket?”

I sniffed a few times, considering this.

“Why, just before we get on the train.”

“Exactly. And our wise Father in heaven knows when we’re going to need things, too. Don’t run out ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need – just in time.”