I’m going to share some of my favorite non-fiction books and give a brief review of them. I’m sure the moment I post this, I’ll remember several others I should have included, so I may just post more another day.
1. Bible – My obvious first choice. It’s the living, breathing, inspired word of God…and it’s my lifeline.
2. Same Kind of Different As Me – Easily the best non-fiction book I’ve ever read. A true story, first person account of two men, Denver, a homeless man and Ron, a rich art dealer, brought together by the art dealer’s wife with a heartbreaking twist at the end of the book. An inspiring account of what starts out as Ron’s efforts to improve the Denver’s life, only to discover in the long run that it is the other way around. Ron receives far more from this man than he gives. It’s a book that will make you laugh and cry and sometimes both at the same time. Warning: When you finish reading this book, you will buy copies for everyone you know.
3. The Hiding Place – A first person account of Corrie Ten Boom and her family who hid Jews in Europe during World War II. Captured and imprisoned in a Nazi prison camp, she watched her sister and father die before she was released due to a technical error. Everyone else in her age group in her cell block was gassed the week she was released. A remarkable tale of forgiveness amidst post-war healing and the eventual face to face meeting with a prison guard who had mistreated her sister.
4. Let My People Go – A riveting first person account of missionaries secretly purchasing slaves’ freedom in the Sudan. Remarkably, these missionaries were an eclectic group of people from other walks of life who chose to travel to Sudan at their own peril. If the government had discovered them, they would have been killed. The book fluctuates between heartwarming and humorous with dangerous situations and tales such as when one overweight missionary pedals on an old bike through miles of sand, up and down hills. Your pulse will race as they cross dangerous rivers, fly in unsafe planes, and through dangerous meetings with militant Arab slave owners from northern Sudan to buy the slaves’ freedom and return them to their homes in the south. This book changed my life and gave me a passion for Sudanese people over a decade ago.
5. A Chance to Die – Biography of Amy Carmichael, missionary to India, written by another great missionary, Elisabeth Elliot. Carmichael spent 54 years, almost all of her adult life, in India without a furlough back home to Ireland. She rescued thousands of Indian orphans from temple prostitution and slavery and built homes and orphanages. A touching story, she recounts as a child she prayed to God to change her eye color from dark brown to blue and was disappointed each time he didn’t answer her prayer in the affirmative. She later saw the wisdom of her dark eyes when she realized she would have never been accepted or blended into the Indian culture with blue eyes. Amy Carmichael was the epitome of the concept “dying to self.”
6. On The Rez – a first-person account of a two-year journey into Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota by Ian Frazier. Although there is much humor in this book, it opened my eyes like no other to the plight of Native Americans, their extreme poverty, and the horrible cultural practices of alcoholism and lack of skills or motivation by some to “climb out” of their situations. They are truly a people who have clung to their ideology at the expense of improving their quality of life, life spans, and opportunity for the next generation. It leaves them vulnerable to outside influences, such as methamphetamine now enveloping some reservations. It amazed me the attitude of the men of just seeing where the day took them instead of actively pursuing life. More than that, it is an inspiring tale of a young girl who dared to dream of more, and in her untimely death, gave the Indians on Pine Ridge hope for the first time in generations. Frazier’s descriptions give a palpable feel and insight into the minds of these people because he managed to do something many outsiders aren’t able to—gain their acceptance. This is a remarkable book.