Sunday, June 23, 2013

“Buy This Land” by Chi-Dooh Li

This book opens up in a most unusual fashion.  The author describes his initial life journeys and briefly hints at his feelings of not quite knowing who exactly he is in the world.  As the son of a diplomat, the stories told about his early life are quite fascinating and will intrigue readers whom have never known that sort of lifestyle and family travel.  Eventually, the book takes a slightly (and I mean slightly) religious turn where Li explains how he converted to Christianity.  He never comes off as pushy in the book, and this book is first and foremost a non-fictional account about the leader of a non-profit organization.  What I also like is how this Christian did not just write a vague book about love and purpose.  No.  He wrote a book about his compelling need to take the Bible literally and go out and help the poor.  This is really admirable.  As the pages turn, readers will understand the immense complexities and hardships that go into such a gargantuan task.  Culture and language blend effortlessly as Li takes you through his ventures into war-torn Central America to help the rural poor.  He helped the poor by giving them land deeds that they eventually pay back.  I love how he didn’t just give the natives a handout.  Li explained how giving people freebies did not give them any sense of dignity—the people must work back their spirit of humanity to earn the independence they so surely covet from their wealthier counterparts.  Some people may think that helping the poor may be too big of a task.  They may think they’re not smart enough, don’t have a large enough network of help, don’t have enough resources, etc.  But what I love about this book is that readers see start to finish one man’s dream of doing something worthwhile to help others.  Readers may never do what Li did, but they will know it is possible.  At, if nothing else, readers will be humbled knowing that there are those in the world doing great things for the poor.  It’s all to easy to think we’ve got everything all figured out and that we’re “good people” because we donate money here and there.  But this book will make you stop and think what one person really can do.  This book also will challenge religious people.  While Li never goes into specific detail about his particular doctrine / creed / denomination, he does stress how he must help the poor.  Regardless of what people believe, all arguments seem to diminish when you realize people are fulfilling one of the key parts of Yah’s desire—to love others and help the poor.  Li may not have everything figured out spiritually (who does?), but he is taking a step in the right direction by pursuing the mitzvah of helping the poor.  As for the book and the author, I say well done.

And Li, if you’re reading this, read Leviticus 25.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

"Perfecting Kate" by Tamara Leigh

When I first cracked this book open, I was expecting it to "get good" at maybe around page 100.  However, I was pleasantly surprised when I was hooked into the story-line in the first chapter alone.  I get lots of books to review, and this is a rarity.  The style with which Leigh writes makes you feel as if you are right inside Kate's shoes.  Kate's a short and--um, er--pleasantly plump thirty-something single woman.  She suffers from infertility and was dumped pre-altar from her fiance when he discovered she could not conceive.  This artist is depressed and lets herself go.  One day, she is stopped on the street for a makeover, which will be featured in an upcoming style / fashion magazine.  She obliges and then starts to go out with the makeup artist who found her.  However, things get complicated when she also becomes interested in a local client she is painting for.  Emotions flare as Kate's boyfriend tries to change her and as Kate struggles to find her faith.  I won't reveal too much, since this is a book you'll want to savor for yourself.  While there is romance in this book, it is not graphic.  There really isn't any swearing.  This are religious undertones but nothing too pushy.  Many women will find themselves connecting to Kate at some point.  She's an average woman who yearns to be herself but isn't quite sure how.  Read this book and find out how she figures it out.  A great read.