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Karen Costello (© 2010 Photography by Marion)

Self-published standouts

Books | Books about dealing with the effects of disease and with life on the mission field are among WORLD's top picks of subscriber-submitted titles

Issue: "Focus on Mitt Romney," July 16, 2011

Over the past half-year WORLD subscribers submitted close to 100 self-published books for possible review. We eliminated some because they were not well-written or edited, and others because they were too long, too narrow, or not distinctive within a well-saturated area like apologetics.

Hint for budding writers: Find a niche where you have unique expertise. For example, My Journey Into Alzheimer's Disease by Robert Davis (see WORLD, April 9) is a unique work because a pastor with Alzheimer's partially wrote his own story, describing what the disease feels like from the perspective of the sufferer.

Here are nine books that caught my attention and held my interest:

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First, two memoirs on dementia convey important insights from a wife's perspective. (They also made me wonder whether I'd want my husband to write about me if I had dementia.) Though He Slay Me by Anne Hartman (Xulon) describes the difficulties of living with a Lewy Body Dementia sufferer. The book, consisting of journal entries written as her husband's disease progressed, focuses on her spiritual struggles but also records less interesting peripherals.

Darlene Saunders' Life Lessons for Caregivers (Pleasant Word) is a memoir of the years she took care of her pastor/husband as he declined and eventually died of Alzheimer's. Her experience had at least one good outcome: "After years of learning to go to God instantly with the problems and joys of caregiving, it is now nearly automatic to converse with God about everything in my life." She, like Hartman, shares her sometimes sinful reactions to events.

Second, three of the books spotlight missionaries and others who labor in out-of-the-way places. Rose of Calcutta by Dr. Paul Chiles (Xulon) tells of Rose Nawalker, an Indian from a Brahmin/Buddhist background who became a Christian, put up with shunning by her family, and helped found World Vision and later Samaritan's Purse in India. Like the best travel books, it provides a window into a part of the world out of sight to most Westerners.

Also, Open the Sky: The Story of Missionary Pilot Dwayne King by Mark Winheld (Xulon) is a biography of Dwayne King, who planted churches, trained other pilots, and spread the gospel in Alaska and Russia while working as a mechanic, pastor, and bush pilot. In Come Rest with Me by Bryan Coupland (Xulon), the longtime missionary with New Tribes Missions explores Bible teaching about abiding in Christ. He illustrates it with stories from his life and insights from four widows of martyred missionaries.

Third, two of the books-The Third Alternative: Christian Self-Government by Bill Burtness (Xulon), and Created for Work: Practical Insights for Young Men by Bob Schultz (Great Expectations)-are excellent for high-school students and those who teach and work with them. Burtness explains well the biblical philosophy of government and its competitors. His diagrams showing the relationship between internal and external government are simple yet profound.

Schultz's book shows how diligent work both glorifies God and makes life more colorful for the worker. His practical advice even includes how to mow lawns: Either "make boring laps, feel dull and wish you were somewhere else," or "Use your imagination. Instead of going around and around just like every other time you mow, why not try cutting it on an angle? Make two laps around the outside as usual and then cut the rest with diagonal stripes starting from one corner and going to another. Next week try a different design."

Finally, Go Fly a Kite: Ten Surprising Strategies for Success in Your Homeschool by Karen Costello (karencostello.com) focuses on key elements discovered during her more than 20 years of homeschooling and writing about homeschooling. Finding Your Prince in a Sea of Toads: How to Find a Quality Guy Without Getting Your Heart Shredded by Kenneth Ryan (WinePress) is a funny and hard-headed look at relationships from the veterinarian father of four daughters.

Susan Olasky
Susan Olasky

Susan pens book reviews and other articles for WORLD as a senior writer and has authored eight historical novels for children. Susan and her husband Marvin live in Asheville, N.C. Follow Susan on Twitter @susanolasky.

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