Four Great Books and Three Good Ones I Read This Past Year

I recently posted a blog about my various travels in 2015. If I had been able to plan last year ahead of time I doubt it would have been as interesting – everything just rolled, like a ball going downhill....sometimes slowly, sometimes faster.

After making a list of some of the books I read over the last year, I realized I'd also been traveling in books, too! Quite an education I obtained, on several levels of culture and faith, too!

I love autobiography and biography because they encourage me to live well, endure suffering, and to esteem others more highly than myself. I tend to see myself as a survivor – my life has been really painful at times - and I enjoy reading about other people who survived hardships, too. And truth is often stranger than fiction!

Each of these books, with the exception of Kim (a novel based on real facts of India), contain real life experiences. They describe people who lived with great perseverance under life adversity, persecution and trials of many kinds. They took stands to do and say what they saw was right - and they suffered for it. I'm not sure many people get through life without suffering, but when you overcome by responding rightly, then you have a story to tell.

I highly recommend the books I marked GREAT 
(my designation of "great" is more for a writing style than subject matter):

I Married An Arab – by Mary Bushakra - GREAT

Through this book, printed in 1951, I traveled to Lebanon, to learn a lot about small details inside one Middle Eastern family. Their life and cuisine were fascinating. The book also speaks of the Druse people, during the late 1930's on through the WWII era. I didn't realize before that the British were fighting the French, in Lebanon, during the WWII time period. A very well-written and well-told life story!

Son of Hamas – by Mosab Hassan Yousef - GREAT

Thanks to my aunt Helen, I first watched the excellent documentary The Green Prince, which is based on this book. Son of Hamas arrived from the local library before I left Maine in May, but I didn't have time to read it. I left Maine thinking I'd probably never see this book again. But strangely, a couple weeks later in Maryland, the family I stayed with had a copy! So I stayed up late reading and finished it. This account really clarifies a lot of confusion over different political groups named in the news in the Middle East. Mosab gives the reader fifteen years of his amazing life story. He made many sacrifices to save lives and shares very interesting insights into the Palestinian and Isreali conflict. He tells how he became a believer in Jesus Christ and how, for peace to exist in the Middle East, we must practice loving our enemies.

The Last Jews of Berlin – by Leonard Gross - GOOD

Excellent picture of what went on back in the 1940's in Berlin, Germany, even if the top review on Amazon has some merit on the organization of the people's stories. And I learned how to properly spell “Wannsee” - a place with much meaning to me and my partially-German family, who emigrated to America before WWI.

Wild Swans, Three Daughters of China - by Jung Chang - GREAT

This weighty book took me months to read, for I have been traveling around and the book was too heavy to take with me. I was amazed by the minute detail and the incredibly vast vocabulary, for someone speaking a second language! It contains so much suffering, so many reasons to stand for justice and righteousness in our time here in America! I appreciated learning, through Jung Chang's brilliant account, of Mao Tse Tung's reign of terror. Very good lessons in this book. It takes you all over China! Jung Chang has several You Tube videos which reveal her as a very special, articulate and intelligent, bright-eyed little lady!

God Knows My Size - by Harvey Yoder - GOOD

A book whose title reminds me of George M├╝ller's fine biography. This biography is of a Romanian woman, Silvia T─ârniceriu, who was persucuted for her faith in Christ during the time of the Communist rule. I always like being reminded of how our Father provides for other's specific needs through prayer. A little choppy in the writing style, but a good message.
Kim – by Rudyard Kipling - GREAT

For a book printed in 1901, I was shocked to learn I was reading an early spy novel! I had no idea when I began reading what I was getting into but I loved traveling via these pages through India, over a century ago. I'd heard Kim mentioned for years, but had no knowledge about what mysteries it contained. I LOVED the way the book pages came alive with feeling, sounds and smells. I can really relate to not wanting to gain too many attachments – to be free to travel the open road in life...even though Kim was a teenager all the way through the book =]. I guess I was tied down with responsibilities for many, many years...and the freedom to just BE these last few years has been very special to me. A really neat book! It speaks about a Tibetan Lama's search for a River of Life, begging for food everywhere he went, and not interested in "The Wheel of Things" in the midst of Hindu, Jain and Muslim beliefs. I can see why Rudyard Kipling won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907!! And, according to his bio, Kipling lived in beautiful Vermont for four years and I read he got a lot of work done while here, writing The Jungle Book, among other things.

Under a Red Sky – by Haya Leah Molnar - GOOD

This is another Jewish Survivor Story from Romania, behind the Iron Curtain in the late 1950's to early 1960's. If you question if Jews were really hated and killed, and did not just die from typhoid, read this book. It's gruesome in parts but most Jewish Survivor stories are. A good message of how one family stuck it out together, during hard times. 
Still painting and reading in secluded, wintery Vermont!
Your friend in good thought,
 “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” ~ C.S. Lewis
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." ~ Philippians 4:8

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