Category Archives: Religion

Books from the New York Times Best Seller’s List January 2014

  How Lucky You Can Be by Buster Olney

Where can you find a good book when you are looking for one?  The library has hundreds of books, but which one should you choose?  One option is to read reviews (like this one) or to wander through book lists, like the New York Times.  This will give you a good idea of what books are being read and enjoyed by others.  Our club decided to pick books from some of these lists.

​The book How Lucky You Can Be was written by Buster Olney, an ESPN announcer.  It is subtitled “The Story of Coach Don Meyer.”  Coach Meyer is the most famous coach that you never heard of… but other basketball coaches around the country know about him.  He devoted himself not only to his teams but also to teaching the art of coaching to anyone interested in the game he loved.  This is much more than a sports story.  It is the story of a dedicated man who at times neglected his family to achieve greatness in his field, passing the legendary Bobby Knight in career wins with over 903 victories, the most by any coach in history at that time.  It took a tragedy for him to express the love he had for his family — wife, children, and his players.

​ Don Meyer had been a college player at Northern Colorado and a head coach for years at David Lipscomb College and Northern State University.  His success was tremendous, but this story really begins on a lonely stretch of two-land road in South Dakota.  While leading a caravan of cars, taking his players on a team-building retreat, Meyer fell asleep at the wheel.  His car veered into an oncoming tractor-trailer truck.  The Coach was crushed, and it was feared that he would die from his injuries.  At the hospital, doctors prepared his wife because they were certain he would not make it through the surgery.  After five hours, Meyer survived but lost part of a leg, his spleen, and had numerous other injuries.  Meyer said that the accident was the best thing that could have happened to him.  He equated it with an angel providing him with a message.  The doctors found that Meyer had terminal cancer.

​ The story describes how this driven coach, who did not want to give up coaching basketball, rose to face the greatest challenge of his life.  He reassessed his life and his relationships.  His three adult children describe the changes that he under went.  Meyer now expressed himself, particularly his emotional self.  He did not hold back telling his children, his wife, or his players how much he loved them.  This tragedy actually has made their family even closer.  This is the story of a man who’s belief in God, his religion, his family, and his team— both coaches and players– gave him the strength to come back to coaching and to fight the lose of a leg and the cancer.  This would be the toughest battle of his life.

I recommend this book wholeheartedly, not only for basketball fans, as an inspirational story of a man fighting to overcome tremendous odds.  (5 of 5)

Other books from book lists rated by different club members:

Mr. Ives’ Christmas by Oscar Hijuelos

Part love story, part meditation on finding spiritual peace in the midst of crisis.  It is a beautifully written, tender and passionate story of a man trying to put his life in perspective.  (4 of 5)

  Eats, Shoots, and Leaves by Lynne Truss

A funny, informative nonfiction book with excellent examples of misused punctuation. (5 of 5)

  The Hundred Year-Old Man by Jonas Jonasson

The story spans the 20th century with a character similar to Forest Gump.  (4 of 5)

 The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

Multiple story lines and strong women tell the story of World War II.  (5 of 5)

    Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross

Thought provoking historic novel about women being held back by authoritive men.  (4 of 5)

     Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Published in 1932, a thought  provoking novel anticipates developments that have profoundly changed society.  (4.5 of 5)

 The Christmas Train by David Baldacci

This tale shows how we do get second chances to fulfill our deepest hopes and dreams, especially during the season of miracles.  (5 of 5)

 God is not Mad at You by Joyce Meyer

A book that explains the relationship between God and man.  (5 of 5)

     Duck the Halls by Donna Andrews

‘Tis the season to be jolly – a funny novel with a heroine who rounds up stray animals of all sorts as well as a killer.  Duck the Halls! (5 of 5)

    Nighttime is My Time by Mary Higgins Clark

A riveting novel of psychological suspense that depicts the mind of a killer. (4 of 5)

The Club Members rating these books:

Pat Gombita, Mona Herrell, Pat Kuna, Lee Ann Schrock, Julie Shultz, Bill Simmons, Deb Stewart, Barb Swanson, Linda Troll, Patti Tullis and Rae Ann Weaver

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Filed under Adult Fiction, Adult Non-Fiction, Biography, Crime, Fourth Tuesday Book Club Books, Historical, History, Humor, Inspirational, Inspirational, Murder, Mystery, Personal Insights, Religion, Sports, Sports/Entertainment

Amish Grace

The Fourth Tuesday and Mystery Book Club

Amish Grace by Donald B. Kraybill, Steven M. Nolt, and David L. Weaver-Zercher

We initially thought that this book was going to center around the tragic schoolhouse killings of Amish girls near Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  After reading the book, we realized that the authors wrote a book about the concept of forgiveness, using the murders as an illustration of Amish beliefs.  Amish Grace examines the idea of forgiveness from a theological, sociological, psychological and even an historical perspective.  They rely on experts to explain why the Amish quickly forgave both the man who gunned down 10 young girls in a country schoolhouse and the killer’s family.   Shortly after the crime was committed, the families of the slain girls visited the murderer’s wife and children.  They consoled them and treated them as victims.  This became the main news story.

The authors delve into the nature of forgiveness and pardon.  Although many of the Amish feel that it is their duty to forgive offenders, they may not be as quick to pardon them.  To pardon someone means to release that person from punishment for the wrongdoing.  The book examines the church’s use of excommunication and shunning, along with the Amish view of technology and why it is not appropriate in their society.  It was interesting to hear that it is easier for the Amish to forgive someone, especially an outsider, for a transgression than to forgive a member of their own group for a much more minor offense.

In some ways the book’s discussion of forgiveness and grace seemed somewhat redundant, repeating key points again and again.  Nevertheless, the authors explained these concepts by using this sad story to illustrate that the Amish are people who really try to live their faith.  We recommend the book to people who want to learn more about forgiveness and the Amish, including the history of the people and their religion.

Key Ideas from different club members:

Very thought provoking; repetitive; too much on forgiveness; fine for a theology class or church group; it provokes discussion.

The Club Members rating this book:

Linda Bowman, Pat Kuna, Bill Simmons, Lynn Simmons, Helen Skalski, Linda Troll, and Mona Herrell

Club’s Average Rating:   3.4 of 5       

Rating Range: 2 to 5

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Filed under Adult Non-Fiction, Culture, Fourth Tuesday Book Club Books, Inspirational, Religion, Tragic Events