“The Book Thief” Reminds Us of the Value of Reading

Clapboard & cinema reelThey nominate ten movies for Best Picture at the Academy Awards now, where it used to be only five. I, movie lover though I am, albeit a picky one, have wondered how they can find ten movies that are good enough to be considered for that prize. I’ve looked over this year’s list, and why, oh why, is The Book Thief not on there? This adaptation of the bestselling YA book is high-class in every way, from its moving story and portrayal of history, to its acting and cinematic look.

Sophia Nelisse, who plays the main character Liesel, a Russian girl whose destitute mother had to give her up to foster parents in Germany, is a find. Word is, she gave up her ten-year-old dream of Olympics gymnastics to take this role. She’s definitely multi-talented. She carries a big movie on her small shoulders, with ample help from Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson.

The story pulls in the viewer with its voyeuristic look inside Nazi Germany and what it was like for locals, i.e., it was a scary experience. But the story is made personal with a slice-of-life look at a young girl whose life difficulties are made a little better when she learns to read and commences to “borrow” books without permission. She doesn’t care what the books say, she just wants to read. She serves as a good reminder of the power of reading, alerting us to the oft-forgotten ideas of humility and gratitude for this basic necessity which transcends so many other needs. Oscar missed out with this one.

A Wayback Film Recommendation for Valentine’s Day

The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo

1996’s The English Patient has several attributes that earned it the Academy Award for Best Picture. Based on Michael Ondaatje’s Booker prize-winning novel, it uses elements of Greek tragedy, with fateful characters fighting moral battles and being mercilessly enveloped by their own environment.

The dual storyline is set amid the lush terrain of Tuscany in Italy and warmed by the deserts of Tunisia. It is 1940 and a biplane is shot out of the skies over the Sahara. Desert nomads rescue a man from the wreckage, a man burned beyond recognition but clinging to life by a thread. This torn and broken form winds up in an Allied army hospital where his nationality is guessed to be English. Five years later, horribly scarred and still waiting to die, the nameless patient is being transported through the mine-riddled Tuscan region when his French-Canadian nurse Hana (played by Juliette Binoche) asks to be left behind with the patient at an abandoned monastery so that she can make his last days comfortable. From here the movie travels back and forth across the five-year time span. The patient, who is Count Laszlo de Almasy (the talented Ralph Fiennes—no, put Voldemort out of your head) remembers more than he has let on, and over the course of the two-hour, forty-minute film, his secrets are unfolded. While working with a British map-making crew in Tunisia, Almasy falls in love with the wife of another member of the expedition. She is Katharine Clifton (Kristin Scott Thomas), but the same desert that brought them together threatens to tear them apart. As was the case with the classic Dr. Zhivago, some of the most memorable love stories emerge from the most harsh of settings, and that holds true here. Beneath the heated passion of the lovers lie the early deep rumblings of World War II, and that, added to the unrelenting conditions of the Sahara and Almasy’s own obsession with his beloved, leads every character in this story to their final destinies.

Among those whose lives are forever affected by the secret lovers are David Caravaggio (Willem Dafoe), a Canadian spy with hatred ruthlessly instilled in him by the Nazis and who is bent on revenge, the nurse Hana who has lost everyone she has loved but risks her heart once more for a Muslim minesweeper who faces danger every day.

These well-written characters are accompanied, if not overwhelmed, by stunning photography intended for a big screen—views of the gleaming white spires of an ancient Saharan city seen through the scrollwork of a window shutter, countered by the peeling-paint walls of the Tuscan monastery overgrown with foliage. One standout scene is when Hana, sizzling flare in hand, is hoisted by ropes to the ceiling of the cavernous monastery to view the fading and chipped Medieval frescoes painted by the hands of a long-forgotten artist. It’s just one magical moment in a beautiful cinematic portrait.

Books and Movies I’ve Loved

My son who is currently a student at Brigham Young University is in the process of applying to film school. One of his requirements is to list ten books/music/movies/TV shows that have had some effect on his life. Naturally, I began to come up with my own list of such that has had a major effect on me. In fact, it became an obsession—that’s just how my brain works.

You can really get to know a person by learning about the factors that have influenced them most. It’s an icebreaker, a little window into their personality, and with authors, it can give you a clue as to what informs their own creative expression.

Without further ado, here are ten things I came up with that have been the most significant creative influencers for me, not in any particular order. I bet I could easily come up with ten or twenty more.

The Little House book series by Laura Ingalls Wilder – I already loved reading when I hit fourth grade, but it was my teacher’s practice that year of reading aloud a chapter a day from novels that really set me on fire for reading, and eventually, writing. Her reading of Little House on the Prairie was my first introduction to Laura and her stories of mid-19th century pioneer life. I devoured the rest of the series, several times, and many of her descriptions of things like small prairie towns, textiles used for women’s clothing, and commonly eaten foods have informed my own western stories.

Native American potteryBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown – I’ve been through this tome twice, and for me it remains the single most knowledgeable and powerful description of the tragedy of the American Indian.

The Jackrabbit Factor by Leslie Householder – This quick read was my first introduction to the Law of Attraction and the power of positive thinking. I’ve read many things since which have completely changed my perspective on our own potential, and goals and how to achieve them, but this was what started me on the path.

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis – Been through this one twice too. (I’d rather read a good book twice than a mediocre one once.) I loved Lewis’ humorous and thought-provoking take on human nature, temptation, and how to recognize and guard against evil.

The 5000 Year Leap and The Making of America: The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution both by W. Cleon Brass bookendsSkousen – I include these together because I studied them simultaneously as part of a course. These gave me a real in-depth understanding of the U.S. Founding Fathers and the principles they studied which shaped their ideas on freedom and government, and I gained new appreciation and awe for the Constitution.

Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? by Richard J. Maybury – A good, simple-to-understand explanation of the principles of sound economics, a subject I feel is very important to learn about currently, but which I always had trouble understanding before.

The music of Johann Strauss Jr. – When I was a girl, my father bought a collection (of LPs, remember those?) of all Johann Strauss music…and I was in heaven! It was my first real introduction to classical music, and to this day my heart thrills to hear “The Beautiful Blue Danube,” “Tales of the Vienna Woods,” “The Emperor Waltz,” and so many other majestic and beautiful pieces.

Dances With Wolves – In my humble opinion, the greatest movie ever made. No other film since 1990 has ever captured my imagination like this one. As a lifelong fan of the Old West, this film made me feel, for the first time, that I was truly there and could feel the spirit of it.

Antique store picture & bottlesLonesome Dove – Where Dances With Wolves gave me the Native American view of the Old West as it was, this 1988 miniseries did the same for the cowboys’ view. Its characters are so memorable, our family has quoted them for years.

The Harry Potter movie series – How did that get in here, right? Okay, it’s true I’ve never been a big fan of fantasy, but my reason for including this is quite different than my other entries. For two summers in a row, my two sons and I have watched all eight movies. We call it a marathon, even though we only watched one movie a week. It’s the memories of that activity with my boys that I so treasure, and will my whole life as they grow up and move on in life. What fun that was, and you know what? I loved the movies too, and J.K. Rowlings’ brilliant concept.

Well, there it is, 10 things, and I didn’t even get to Who Moved My Cheese? or Mark Twain’s Huck Finn, or the movie Glory or…

But I’ve got more reading, listening, and watching to do. Bye for now.

 

Note to Self About Reading

Book and candle

I don’t have a lot of time currently for pleasure reading, and I was thinking that during that rare time I get, I’d like to stick with classics, because I’ve never read most of them and want to become familiar with them firsthand and have them guide my own style a little bit. But it’s also important for a writer to keep up with new and well-written things on the market, especially in their genre. I wondered how I could balance that and decided that I could alternate reading a classic with a newer book. Bingo, I’ll keep up with the market, plus feed my mind from the classic writing of the ages…or something like that.

Our Family’s Required Reading List

Old library chair

In the last few months I regaled you with recommended read-aloud lists categorized by age. I said that those titles were only a few of the many excellent ones out there. I’d like to add to them now by posting our “required reading” list. These are all books either required by the language arts curriculum that we used, or were required by me because I felt they were important to read.

Because there are so many worthy books and not enough time, we only studied excerpts from some of the high school books and read some others straight through. But here they are, labeled by the grade in which they were read.

3rd Grade:

The White Stallion by Elizabeth Shub

Madeleine by Ludwig Bemelmans

Meet George Washington by Joan Heilbroner

The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh

4th Grade:

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Wilbur and Orville Wright:  Young Fliers by Augusta Stevenson

Benjamin Franklin:  Young Printer by Augusta Stevenson

The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare

Favorite Poems Old and New by Helen Ferris

5th Grade:

Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White

Meet Addy by Connie Porter

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

6th Grade:

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham

The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare

Big Red by Jim Kjelgaard

The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis

7th Grade:

The Star of Light by Patricia St. John

Adam and His Kin by Ruth Beechick

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

8th Grade:

Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt

A Lantern in Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich

Eric Liddell by Catherine Swift

God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew

When the Banks Closed, We Opened Our Hearts by Mike Beno

We Pulled Together…And Won by Deb Mulvey

Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers by Patrick Kavanaugh

9th Grade:

Holt Anthology of Science Fiction

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White

Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne

10th Grade:

The Epic of Gilgamesh

11th Grade:

The Train-of-Thought Writing Method:  Practical, User-Friendly Help for Beginning

Writers by Kathi Macias

Of Plymouth Plantation:  Bradford’s History of the Plymouth Settlement 1608-1650 by

William Bradford

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Stephen Crane

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

12th Grade:

Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Emma by Jane Austen

Silas Marner by George Eliot

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The 5,000-Year Leap by W. Cleon Skousen

The Making of America by W. Cleon Skousen

Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? by Richard J. Maybury

The Jackrabbit Factor by Leslie Householder

New Release: Possession by J. Elizabeth Hill

Possession

We have a treat on the Eagle’s Quill today, the announcement of the release of Possession by J. Elizabeth Hill, second in her Mirrors of Bershan series. Have a sneak peek.

“I never meant any of this, least of all for you to pay the price of my pride.”

After binding themselves to each other through their magic, Faylanna Derrion and Tavis journey back to her ancestral home, Iondis, intent on restoring the estate to its former beauty. From the moment they arrive, they find the secret horrors of the place aren’t exhausted yet.

Faylanna finds an old journal of her father’s, one that shakes her understanding of her own past. Worse, Faylanna and Tavis are both nearly killed when attacked by one of the men set to guard the Ninth Mirror of Bershan, still residing at Iondis. In the aftermath, he disappears with the newly found journal. Sure there is more to this event than they know, Faylanna and Tavis return to the capital, Rianza, for help.

More secrets await them there, ones kept for years by people Tavis never suspected. When the truth is revealed, it alters his present and future completely. Can he rise to the challenges this new fate presents him with or will the change be more than he can handle?

The truths each learn about themselves and those they thought they knew will test Faylanna and Tavis’ love for each other. Will they be able to endure the pain and chaos they face, or will it tear them apart?

Amazon: http://amzn.to/16gGjW3

Smashwords: http://bit.ly/16NODuG

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/j.-elizabeth-hill

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/possession-30

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17191116-possession

Chapter 1 of Possession: http://jelizabethhill.wordpress.com/possession-sample/

The first book in this popular series was Bound. If you’re not familiar, or need refreshing, check it out here:

Bound

“Doesn’t she know you can’t do real magic alone?”

Faylanna Derrion’s graduation from the Voleno Academy is marred by her father’s demand that she return to the family estate, Iondis. He refuses to accept her decision not to bind herself to another Magicia in an unbreakable partnership, insisting she must do so with his help. No one understands her need to prove she can succeed on her own.

Then her mentor and his partner are taken before her eyes by a terrible darkness, forcing her to flee, even as her father’s soldiers try to force her to go home. On her journey to find help, she meets Tavis, a farmer in search of his mother, who she can’t manage to refuse. The revelation that he’s a novice Magicia causes Faylanna to question everything she’s believed.

At the same time, a dream that’s haunted her since childhood begins to change and the unknown man in it calls to her. His words are sweet but she’s not quite willing to believe he’s anything more than a dream, until she can’t deny it.

As secrets are revealed and events unfold, will Faylanna hold to her solitary path or will she choose the one that now beckons her with new possibilities?

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bound-j-elizabeth-hill/1114076686?ean=2940045093873

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/256011

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Bound-Mirrors-Bershan-ebook/dp/B00A92CWOQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1377826552&sr=1-1

Chapter 1 of Bound: http://jelizabethhill.wordpress.com/the-mirrors-of-bershan/bound-sample/

Julie Pic

About J. Elizabeth Hill:

Born in Toronto, Ontario, Julie Elizabeth Hill exported herself to Vancouver, British Columbia after many years of staring longingly at the map following every snowfall. For as long as she can remember, she’s been making up stories, but it wasn’t until high school that someone suggested writing them down. Since then, she’s been hopelessly in love with story crafting, often forgetting about everything else in the process.

Connect with the author here:

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6566039.J_Elizabeth_Hill

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jlizhill

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/J-Elizabeth-Hill/345946002103430

Website: http://jelizabethhill.wordpress.com/

There is a giveaway currently going on through 9/13 to win signed copies of both Bound and Possession. Here is the link to the rafflecopter: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/OTNhYTMzNDQzYjc0NmU5ZjcyNjY5ZWJjOGVlOTFlOjI0/

Thanks, J. Elizabeth Hill, for visiting the Eagle’s Quill today. We’re so excited to see more of Possession.

 

New Release: Feudlings in Flames by Wendy Knight

InFlames_200x300

Today on the Eagle’s Quill I’m excited to announce the release of bestselling author Wendy Knight’s newest book, Feudlings in Flames, part of her Fate on Fire series. Check it out:

Ari thought being in love with her prophesied nemesis sucked. But being responsible for her best friend’s kidnapping? It sucks worse.

Ari and Shane thought they’d beaten Fate and ended the three-hundred-year war plaguing their people. They thought love had won. But they were so, so wrong.

Instead of graduating high school like the normals, they’re in a battle to save Charity – Shane’s cousin, Ari’s best friend, and the seer who might hold the key to ending the war for good. To do that, they’re forced to accept help from a boy they aren’t even sure they can trust. He’s powerful and knows spells even Ari’s never heard of, but he’s also secretive and has a past he’s determined to keep hidden. Add to that the fact that he has his sights set on Ari, and Shane would rather do without his help.

Ari has bigger problems than mysterious boys and their strange powers. The powerful Edren Family is hunting her brother, and she can’t very well save him or Charity while they’re constantly being attacked by her own people. To stop the raids, she has to take the fight to them. But if she starts hunting the family that raised her, what kind of monster will she be?

Fate still waits for the death of one by the hand of the other.

And here’s a taste of the real thing:

“No no, Hunter, it curves this way.” Ari stood back, watching with a frown, and then jumped back in. “Imagine in your mind what you want the spell to do. Tie your emotions to your spells.”

Shane watched her guide Hunter and tried again on his own. “Close, Shane, but like this,” Ari reached out, holding his hand as she led him through the motion. He felt the flames racing through his blood react to her touch and sparks flew from his fingers, igniting the spell. It hung, burning, in the air, a bright blue curlicue thing. “Perfect,” she whispered, still holding on to his hand.

“Maybe, but does it work?” Tristan’s voice was flat and uninterested, but Shane could hear the animosity running under the words.

“We don’t have any targets set out. He can’t test it.” Ari shook her head, and still holding Shane’s hand, made a quick swiping motion through the spell, dissipating it. “Try again.” She let go of his hand and stepped back, watching expectantly.

Shane tried, once, twice, and three times. He couldn’t get it quite right, but neither could Hunter, which made him feel better, and Tristan wasn’t even trying.

“It’s okay if you can’t do it, Shane. There are a lot of other powerful spells she uses that will be much easier for you to master,” Will said.

Ari vehemently shook her head. “No. He can do it. Just give him a minute!”

Shane kept his attention focused on the spell in front of him, but he couldn’t stop his grin.

Ari believed in him.

He burned the spell into the air again, trying to replicate the one Ari had drawn, but it fizzled into a mass of smoke. The spell had to ignite to actually do anything. He groaned in frustration, tipping his head sideways to look at Ari. “What am I doing wrong?”

She bit her lip, studying him for several seconds. “When you did it the first time, what were you thinking?”

Shane paused, dropping his hand that was still poised in the air. “Umm… I was thinking we were gonna die and I had seen you throw that spell so I knew it was possible. It just happened.”

 

Wendy Knight PhotoWendy Knight was born and raised in Utah by a wonderful family who spoiled her rotten because she was the baby. Now she spends her time driving her husband crazy with her many eccentricities (no water after five, terror when faced with a live phone call, et cetera, et cetera). She also enjoys chasing her three adorable kids, playing tennis, watching football, reading, and hiking. Camping is also big: her family is slowly working toward a goal of seeing all the National Parks in the U.S.

You can usually find her with at least one Pepsi nearby, wearing ridiculously high heels for whatever the occasion may be. And if everything works out just right, she will also be writing.

Be sure to connect with Wendy and buy her book at these links, and thanks, Wendy, for letting the Eagle’s Quill feature you and your amazing work!

Links:

Twitter: @wjk8099

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorWendyKnight

Blog: www.writethroughthenoise.blogspot.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7009940.Wendy_Knight

Buy Links:

Astraea Press: http://astraeapress.com/#!/~/product/category=662245&id=27682185

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Feudlings-in-Flames-ebook/dp/B00EY5DALS/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1378194244&sr=8-4&keywords=Feudlings+in+Flames

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/feudlings-in-flames-wendy-knight/1116814623?ean=2940148467472

 

Read-aloud Recommendations for 15-17-year-olds

And now, to conclude my read-aloud recommendation series, we get to 15-17-year-olds. Yes, reading aloud can still be fun at that age. We’re disconnecting from technology for a few minutes, connecting as a family, enjoying time as our ancestors did. Get with the program!

Whatever you choose to read will be great if your family enjoys it. Personally, I like to stick with what I consider the classics for read-aloud, simply because they, and we for that matter, may miss out on some good stuff otherwise. Classics are largely being pushed out of the schools these days in favor of newer, sometimes unwholesome, sometimes dumbed-down books. I think that’s terribly sad. Said Robert M. Hutchins: “To destroy the Western tradition of independent thought it is not necessary to burn the books. All we have to do is leave them unread for a couple of generations.” I want my children to be familiar with literary masterpieces from all time periods. I want them to hear and be familiar with how good language sounds. I want them to be acquainted with wise and uplifting thought, as well as just enjoy a timeless story. They can and do read whatever they want to on their own time, so read-aloud time is when I try to make sure we feed our minds more healthy things.

We have not read all of these. This list includes ones I’d like to get to eventually. Please feel free to comment with recommendations of your own.

Mathematicians Are People, Too:  Stories of the Lives of Great

Mathematicians, (2 volumes) by Luetta and Wilbert Reimer

Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff

Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian

Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

He Walked the Americas by L. Taylor Hansen

The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Frankenstein:  Or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley

The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper

Emma by Jane Austen

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Abigail Adams:  Witness to a Revolution by Natalie S. Bober

Ordeal by Hunger by George Stewart

Anne Frank:  The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw

Galileo’s Daughter:  A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith

and Love by Dava Sobel

Marie Curie: A Biography by Eve Curie

The Spirit of St. Louis by Charles A. Lindbergh

Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Gilbreth

Animal Farm by George Orwell

A Passage to India by E.M. Forster

Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl

The Travels of Marco Polo by Marco Polo

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

Contact by Carl Sagan

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

Who Moved My Cheese? by Dr. Spencer Johnson

 

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid” Shameless Fun

Yes, I love my classics. I enjoy trying to lift my mind to a higher plane than where much of the world around me resides. I love to learn and gain insight from the great writers of yesteryear. But sometimes, ya just gotta lighten up and have some silly fun. I think everybody has their favorite stupid books and movies. Nothing wrong with that.

Thanks to my kids, I have been introduced to Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and movies, which follow the hilarious daily life of tween Greg Hefley, his brother Rodrick, his friend Rowley, and several other of his family and friends. The books, written as Greg’s diary, are a super fast read, and the movies, let me tell you, I only watched the first one because my son just wanted me to watch it with him. I was doing a favor, you know. But I honestly haven’t laughed that hard and continuously at a movie since, I can’t remember when. The subsequent two movies were equally entertaining. I can watch them over and over.

Kinney has a way of taking experiences like we all had in junior high school and showing us how insanely funny they are, with maybe a little exaggeration thrown in. So go ahead, read, watch, nod your head, or shake it. It’s okay.

 

Forgotten Children’s Classics Make for Great Summer Reads Pt. 2

The second book I have recently enjoyed is also a work of classic historical fiction but so different in its scope.  A Lantern in Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich was first published in 1928.  The age of the book is evident in its rambling, amateur style, with nearly every sentence, it seems, beginning with the words “And then…”.  I was well into the book before I saw the point of it, but when I did, I found it to be insightful and brilliant.

It is the story of fictional pioneer mother Abbie Deal, who as Will Deal’s new wife, moves with him to the Nebraska frontier of the 1850s.  Where the wonderful Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder tell of frontier life through the eyes of a little girl, A Lantern in Her Hand shows the point of view of a mother whose adult struggles and concerns go largely unnoticed by her children.  When she was young, Abbie dreamed of excelling in the arts.  She has the voice of a songbird, a passion for painting and capturing her landscape observations on canvas.  But life gets in the way; goals are put off and later forgotten as she and Will work side by side to carve out a farm on the prairie and build a community that may someday provide the opportunities that so eluded her as a girl.

When her children grow up to know the good life and to develop the talents their mother never had the chance to use, they never really realize how much she gave up for them.  We, as reader, are in the enviable position of viewing an entire life from beginning to end, a perspective we would rarely observe in real life.  Adults and children may be gently reminded that inside every elderly woman or man, a young, idealistic person used to be.  And in reading about Abbie, we know that a young heart still exists that wants to sing on the top of a windy knoll.  I can highly recommend this book for its wonderful perspective.