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A Good Time to Read

December 26, 2020

Another Way for week of December 13, 2020

A Good Time to Read

[With apologies to my blog readers; I got ahead of myself and posted the wrong newspaper column last week: this is the one that should have appeared last week.]

Time for my almost annual encouragement to read more books. I will not be the first columnist to point out that with the pandemic making most of us staying home more than normal, is a great time to read more books than normal. At least if you’re not ill. This year I have enjoyed reading each afternoon and evening—although I can never read for hours on end. Finish a book in one day? Not me. I would feel guilty and lazy and like I wasn’t “getting things done.” Instead, reading quiets me down for naps or bedtime.

My most recent long read was The Reckoning by lawyer/crime writer John Grisham (Random House, 2018). Grisham lives not far from here in Charlottesville, and has a home also in Mississippi. Occasionally he comes to our local university to conduct seminars called “Writers Hour.” I hope to go sometime.

In general, I found this book hard to read mainly because of a long middle throwback section where we follow main character Pete’s service in the Philippines in World War II. He ends up on the Bataan Death March which was known for terrible cruelty and random killings. Soldiers who fell while marching (because they were weak from illness or starving) were shot which was accompanied by laughter from enemy bystanders. I found the characters hard to identify with.

But I love novels set in the deep south (apparently so does Grisham) where I lived for a short portion of my life. One reviewer, Gregory Hunter, says “This book is a TRAGEDY, staged in small-town Mississippi immediately following WW II … Grisham is an expert at depicting the conflicting ways of the South’s ethics, politics, ethnic differences … I found it so much more than just another well-written legal thriller, and told by one of the best of America’s authors.” In the end, the novel makes the valuable point that forgiveness and love is crucial in family life.

The World War II setting brings me to another book I helped manage through the publishing process called Love in a Time of Hate: The Story of Magda and André Trocomé and the Village that Said No to the Nazis by Hanna Schott (Herald Press, 2017). The story of the Trocomés, who led efforts in one community in France to hide more than 3000 Jewish children and adults fleeing the Nazis, has been told in other books. But journalist Schott, from Germany, (who is also fluent in French and English) wrote this book for new audiences. Andre was a Christian pastor and both he and Magda offer shining examples of how some have been able to respond to injustice, hate, and horrible treatment with love and humanity. Basically, I love true stories over fiction, and powerful testimonies of those who’ve chosen a way other than hate and horror.

Speaking of true stories, I have another completely different book on my shelf I love to recommend. Simple Pleasures: Stories from My Life as an Amish Mother was written by Marianne Jantzi as one of the books in the Plainspoken series from Herald Press. Published in 2016, the book winsomely shares the ups and downs of true family life in her very conservative Amish home in a community in eastern Canada. Marianne is an accomplished writer and their adventures are endearing but not always easy. A great gift for those interested in true Amish stories—not a romantic book about the Amish. 

Finally, allow me to mention a book of seven fictional Christmas stories by a prolific author and blogger friend which I’m looking forward to reading: 100 Years of Christmas by Trisha Faye. Trisha is from Texas and her stories revolve around women and the ups and downs we all experience. You should be able to find it on Amazon.

Books are a great gift. Anytime!

[Again, I apologize that this is late for Christmas. But the long month of January is ahead and books are a great way to spend that gift card or Christmas cash you perhaps received.]

Comments? Post here or send to anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

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