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Books | The best of a big stack of self-published books

Issue: "The one and the many," Sept. 20, 2014

Every day WORLD receives copies of new self-published or print-on-demand (POD) books. We collect the books and when we have a big stack, we start reading. This year students helped in going through more than 100 books to find the most interesting and well written. As in year’s past, the best books grew out of personal expertise and experience.

Jan Martinez runs a ministry in Spokane, Wash., where women in poverty find work and healing producing a line of gourmet food mixes for sale. In Christ Kitchen: Loving Women Out of Poverty (Deep River, 2013), she describes her own journey from sexual abuse into Christian service, using imagined vignettes about the Samaritan woman (John 4) to frame the kitchen’s work. Martinez tells how to create similar ministries that reveal Jesus to captive women.

British missionary Rob Baker traveled throughout Togo and Benin as an ethnomusicologist seeking to create worship music using African rhythms. In Adventures in Music and Culture (Ambassador International, 2012), he gives vivid descriptions of cultural hiccups and linguistic lingos. Jeffery Deal’s The Mark (Rivendeal House, 2013) is a coming-of-age novel drawn from Deal’s experiences as a medical doctor and anthropologist among the Dinka in war-wracked South Sudan.

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Two of our books deal with aspects of adoption. In Are We There Yet? The Ultimate Road Trip: Adopting and Raising 22 Kids!, Hector and Sue Badeau (Carpenter’s Son, 2013) offer an intriguing look at a task that few would take on. Their funny and heartbreakingly honest account describes daily life and details rough patches. Rick Morton’s KnowOrphans: Mobilizing the Church for Global Orphanology (New Hope, 2014) combines his experience in adopting three Ukrainian children with practical advice for adoptive parents and churches. His book is a useful tool for churches wanting to support worldwide orphans in a variety of ways.

Marriage and family life inspire many books. In Good Grief (Himes, 2012), retired missionary and theology professor David A. Dean gives a moving account of the year following the death of his wife Dottie. The book includes memories of their marriage and Dean’s honest exploration of his grief—and the comfort he finds in Christ. In Not Just a Mom: The Extraordinary Worth of Motherhood and Homemaking (Carpenter’s Son, 2013), mother-of-eight Lisa Anderson draws from the Bible and personal experience to describe the richness and responsibility of motherhood and offer ways to remain fulfilled while preventing burnout. The book includes discussion questions at the end of each chapter.

Flora and fauna inspire other books. After tending her flower garden for many years, Dena Baker wrote What’s in a Name? What I Learned About God From Flowers (Tate, 2013). She encourages readers to slow down, take a deep breath, and look with new eyes at God’s grace in creation. Donna Smith raises sheep and, in Like Sheep (Kindle e-book), describes the drama of being a shepherd. Her delightful and profound anecdotes suggest how Jesus, our Shepherd, cares for us.

Steven Garofalo’s Right for You, But Not for Me (TriedStone, 2013) is an easy-to-read book on moral relativism with many examples drawn from American culture. Professor and apologist Norm Geisler wrote the forward. 

—Intern Rachel Aldrich and World Journalism Institute students contributed to these reviews 

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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