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Notable Books

Notable Books | Valentine's Day books

Issue: "Tour d'America road rage," Feb. 11, 2012

The Journal of Best Practices

David Finch married his best friend from high school. After five years and two children, their marriage was floundering and their friendship a memory. That's when Finch received an Asperger's diagnosis and began trying to repair his broken marriage. The book is a hilarious and sweet account of how he went about it. Because many of the required actions did not come naturally to him, he took to writing them down on scraps of paper that became this journal. The table of contents suggests the challenges: "Use your words" or "Be present in moments with the kids." He ends with a word to the miserably married: "I can now say with absolute certainty: There is hope. You can turn things around." Warning: some obscenities.

As Good as It Gets

The Song of Songs can seem strange. Does it even belong in the Bible? Pastor Stephen Clark confronts those misgivings directly in this excellent study. He begins as though we are at a performance of the Song. Its opening lines are startling, especially if we expect a religious production. He shows how the Song celebrates love and the delights of sexuality but also deals realistically with difficulties. Divided into 50 readings meant to be read over 50 days, the book takes a poem at a time-or sometimes over several days-and teases out the meaning of obscure words and metaphors. As Clark opens up its treasures, he also shows how its themes relate to the rest of Scripture.

Bringing Sex into Focus: The Quest for Sexual Integrity

What's the connection between virginity and chastity? What's the purpose of marital sex? In this thought-provoking book, philosopher and college teacher Caroline Simon seeks to bring clarity to our culture's sexual confusion. She uses a helpful metaphor, optics, as a way to talk about six different lenses through which people view sex-covenantal, procreative, romantic, plain sex, power, and expressive. When lenses other than the covenantal one become primary, distortions result. The book, written with the non-philosopher in mind, will be particularly useful for young adults searching for a way to think through sexual issues and discern the perspectives that shape media and culture.

The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

Simon's book focuses on how to think about sex, but Gregoire's answers questions about nuts and bolts. She also writes from a covenantal view: Sex is created by God for our good and His glory. She conveys a basic message that marriage is a lifelong endeavor, that husbands and wives have time to experiment, and that communication and trust facilitate good sex. Like a funny big sister, she takes on intimate topics in a frank and reassuring way. She writes for those who are engaged, for newly-weds, and for those who are sexually experienced and want to gain a biblical understanding. She cautions against laziness and also against the temptations that porn has made popular.

Spotlight

Book Trends: Publishers are eager to capitalize on the popularity of Downton Abbey, the British drama now showing on PBS that dramatizes life in an aristocratic household during the 1910s. The New York Times notes that publishers are promoting books written by butlers and lady's maids, along with volumes about the British aristocracy, the Titanic, and World War I.

The Telegraph (London) notes that McDonald's in the UK is handing out Mudpuddle Farm books (plus a finger puppet) in its British Happy Meals. The fast-food giant plans to give out 9 million of the books during a four-week promotion. Last year, an average of 1.16 million children's books sold in the UK per week.

Graphic novels aren't just about superheroes anymore. SmarterComics is turning popular business books like Think and Grow Rich and Sun Tzu's The Art of War and Machiavelli's The Prince into graphic books aimed at those who "want to succeed at life."

Listen to Susan Olasky discuss these Valentine's Day books on WORLD's radio news magazine The World and Everything in It.

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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