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Notable Books

Notable Books | Four nonfiction books

Issue: "The brain trust," June 30, 2012

Father's Day

Twins born 13 weeks prematurely, weighing less than a pound and a half each: That was the introduction to fatherhood for Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights. Zach, the smaller and sicker second-born, fought to breathe. The resulting brain damage left him borderline retarded, but with savant abilities that give him automatic recall of all birthdays, addresses, map details, and dates-as Bissinger hilariously recounts. The dad plans a cross-country road trip to gain greater insights into Zach's closed world. Episodes from that trip become springboards for Bissinger to talk about his own life and struggles to understand and accept his son's disabilities. The book is funny, tender, and honest about Bissinger's faults, including his expletive-laced meltdowns, which Zach manages to soothe.

Date Your Wife

Buzzard aims this book at husbands who assiduously dated their fiancés, but after winning them grew lazy or indifferent. Into this primer on marriage, sin, and the gospel, he weaves his own story and offers concrete suggestions to men for dating their wives. He designs one list for those without children and one for those with them. He writes to men: "As you date your wife in a world full of broken vows and broken dreams, you spread the news about the God who makes, and keeps, everlasting vows with undeserving people." If you know a man in a failing marriage who wants to love his wife and try to save the marriage, this book can help.

The Jane Austen Guide to Life

 Lori Smith knows her Jane Austen. She draws from Austen's fictional characters, as well as from personal letters and prayers, insights into the human condition and practical advice for young women today. In chapters ranging from "Finding a Good Man" to "Saving and Spending," Smith mines Austen and finds gold. She grounds practical advice-"don't let your vanity blind you" or "be the right woman"-in Austen's novels, showing how characters like Elizabeth Bennet and Emma Woodhouse had to grow and change to become women of substance. Readers will enjoy this refresher course through the novels, and the counter-cultural advice this Austen-based "guide to life" offers.

Get Offa My Case! Godly Parenting of an Angry Teen

Rick Horne offers biblically grounded, hopeful advice to parents of rebellious teens. He directs the first part of the book at parents, who often need to deal with their own sin-laced actions and attitudes: "God saves sinful parents, not perfect ones." Using an extended metaphor of deep water, he shows parents how to keep their footing while shifting responsibility for bad choices from parents to teens-even if it means allowing the teenager to sink. Horne concludes the book with his own family's story and lessons learned from it. Ultimately the book is an invitation to see the big picture-that Jesus will be glorified-and to bring the ugliness, anger, and hurt to Him, who can make things right.

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


In Time for the Talk: Leading Your Son into True Manhood (Shepherd Press), Steve Zollos urges fathers to take the lead in talking to their sons about biblical manhood, especially in the area of relationships with God, parents, friends-and girls. This book provides practical advice about laying the groundwork for those conversations, including the one about sex. He also gives concrete advice to dads (and single moms) regarding that potentially uncomfortable conversation.

Todd M. Johnson weaves broken father relationships and complicated family issues into The Deposit Slip (Bethany House), a compelling legal thriller. Erin Larson empties out her father's safe deposit box after his death and finds a deposit slip for $10.3 million. The bank has no record of the big deposit-so she hires a young ambitious attorney, Jared Neaton, to find out what's going on. Battling against a deep-pocketed firm, Neaton discovers how far he's willing to go to further his ambition.

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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