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Culture Notable Books

Notable Books

Notable books

Four noteworthy books reviewed by Susan Olasky

Isaacs' well-written and edgy memoir traces her life from childhood to her 40s as she tries to figure out where God is and why she's miserable. As her actress/comedian career takes her to Hollywood and New York she meets lots of well-meaning (and not so well-meaning) Christians who do nothing to tear down the false images of God she has in her head. The book consists of two parts: a narrative, in which she tells her often-hilarious story, and "transcripts" of therapy sessions, where Susan confronts the "drill sergeant Father" and "wimpy Jesus" of her imagination, and finally discovers the God of the Bible.

Miss Betsey: A Memoir of Marriage

Noted historian Elizabeth Fox-Genovese died of complications from MS in 2007. In this poignant memoir, historian Eugene Genovese recounts a marriage of intellectual and political soul mates-they were both communists who later both converted to Catholicism. Genovese deals with their intellectual and faith journeys but primarily outlines their marriage, which was surprisingly traditional. The book radiates his pride in her scholarship and her facility with languages, as well as her cooking and devotion to him. He writes: "All I can say with certainty is that I loved-and love-Betsey more with every passing year. . . . If love cannot grow stronger over time-if it must recede or go stale-what is life worth?"

Among the Mad

In London at Christmas in 1931, unemployment is high, especially among the former soldiers who bear physical and mental wounds gained in World War I. Some of their countrymen treat them with callous disregard. One of the sufferers, not right in his head, determines to make Britain's leaders pay attention by issuing an escalating series of threats, including the use of poison gas on a dog and some birds. Scotland Yard enlists the help of Maisie Dobbs, private investigator and former wartime nurse, in the belief that her understanding of human psychology will help to solve the case. Winspear writes clean, character-driven mysteries that evoke the gritty period between the wars.

Money Strategies for Tough Times

This slender volume contains a practical plan of action for anyone who is in debt and wants to get out. Bell once had $20,000 in credit card debt. He understands the feelings associated with being in that situation, and he writes empathetically. But his empathy doesn't keep him from urging readers to take the tough steps necessary to turn their money situation around. He also doesn't waste time talking theoretically about debt: He offers concrete steps that will lead, with self-discipline and perseverance, to financial health. Whether the problem is unsecured or secured debt, or even bankruptcy, Bell gives good, spiritually grounded guidance.


I'm the kind of person who sometimes enters a bookstore or library and says, "I'm looking for a book and can't remember the title or the author's name, but it's about . . ." Sometimes a knowledgeable clerk knows exactly what I want, but that's rare. For mystery lovers there is help online. Stop, You're Killing Me (stopyoure calls itself "A website to die for . . . if you love mysteries."

The website lists 2,800 authors and includes a chronological list of their titles (over 32,000). It allows users to search titles by job or location (Now what was the name of that book about the fly fisherman in Vermont?) as well as by time period. When you're really stumped for a title, the website also provides help choosing "read-alikes," suggested lists of authors that might appeal to readers of a particular author or suggested authors for people who like a certain kind of book.