Review: ‘Simplifying the Soul’

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My copy of Paula Huston’s “Simplifying the Soul” arrived only a week before the deadline for review, so I must base my review of her Lenten Practices to Renew the Soul (that’s the subtitle) on reading alone and not following each day’s practice. This is a little like reviewing a cookbook on the pictures without making the recipes or a home remodeling book on the grammar without following the advice. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and I am sadly puddingless. I am, however, … [Read more...]

The Litigators by John Grisham

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David Zinc is a Harvard Law grad who has a nervous breakdown on his way to work.  And you wouldn’t blame him for feeling a little claustrophobic in his downtown Chicago law firm, a place where he makes big bucks but is so busy he can’t spend the money. He ends up at a bar, and then at a dump of a law firm called Finley & Figg.  Because David was drunk from his nervous breakdown and consequent time at the bar, he sees opportunity at this law firm, even if they do advertise on bingo … [Read more...]

Bossypants by Tina Fey

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When you tell a joke, you take a risk, according to storyteller Bill Harley. “The joke teller is making an estimation of what the group is, and then telling a joke that helps to define that group,” he explains. “A joke says, ‘You’re like me — you’ll think this is funny.’” That’s why women tells jokes to each other they’d never tell in front of men, why Republicans tell jokes to each other they wouldn’t tell to Democrats, and why atheists avoid certain topics they … [Read more...]

Maggie Goes on a Diet

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Maggie Goes on a Diet written by Paul M. Kramer and illustrated by Mari Kuwayama is a self-published picture book written in rhyme for elementary aged children, but don’t let it anywhere near your kids. Maggie is fourteen years old and obese and is consequently bullied by her peers.  She’s also terrible at sports, but decides one day to lose weight. Author Paul Kramer says “he began writing children’s books that deal with important issues that kids face today.”  Though I … [Read more...]

What Should I Do With My Life?

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This is one of my all-time favorite non-fiction books, and I'm not even wondering what to do with my life.  Bronson does such a captivating job weaving together the stories of people he met while thinking about how to answer the "What do you do?" question.  And he pulls it all together with wise observations about what he learned during this research and how it applies to his own life. I quote something from this book in at least half the talks I give. Here's one of my favorites: "When I … [Read more...]

Joey Pigza

I think a lot about Joey Pigza. If you don't know who is, you are missing out on perhaps the most endearing character in all of modern children's literature. Joey's desire to do the right thing despite his inability to do so is all too familiar to this homeschooling mother of two "spirited" boys.  And his sympathetic understanding of his parents’ alcoholism and grandmother’s cruelty can break your heart. It's hard to read Joey.  His life is hard, his little ADD body won't get … [Read more...]

Last Night at Chateau Marmont: A Novel

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If you had all the money you could spend and every opportunity to cheat on your spouse, would you be able to withstand the pressure? Do you ever look at a celebrity magazine detailing the latest escapades of your favorite star, who just can’t seem to stay married or out of the Betty Ford clinic? Lauren Weisberger, the author of The Devil Wears Prada, spins another compelling tale, this time set in the music and celebrity gossip industry. Brooke is happily married to the soulful, … [Read more...]

Debt Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching Off My Parents

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  Last week, David French discussed how college -- with its sky-rocketing costs -- may not be the right answer for everyone.  This week, we talk to those high school students (and their parents) who want to pursue higher education about how to do college right...  without debt! Zac Bissonnette, author of the new book Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching Off My Parents is starting a new trend that Adam Daniels of the … [Read more...]


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