Perspective Challenging Books

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I love to read, and usually alternate between business books and what I call “Nancy” books. Nancy books are fun—authors like Baldacci and Grisham—but rarely enlightening.   About 3 months into 2015, I realized a theme was emerging in the books I chose. The vast majority of the books gave me a glimpse into a world I knew almost nothing about. They challenged my perspective and increased my understanding of others. So, here are my favorite reads of 2015. I hope you find they challenge your perspective and deepen your respect for others.

Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny, by Zainab Salbi

Zainab Salbi is the daughter of the man chosen to be Saddam Hussein’s personal pilot. Her story of growing up under Saddam’s tyranny and her attempt to escape that tyranny in America—only to find another form here—is heart wrenching and eye opening. Her courage in speaking out through this book is deeply moving and inspiring.

Slave Hunter: Freeing Victims of Human Trafficking, by Aaron Cohen and Christine Buckley

Aaron Cohen goes to some of the darkest places on our planet to expose traffickers and to free men and women who have been sold into sex slavery. How he went from rock star to slave hunter is an enthralling and painful story of perseverance and commitment.

Crossing the Tracks for Love: What to Do When You and Your Partner Grew Up in Different Worlds, by Ruby K. Payne

This is one of the most practical books that I read. Payne’s insights into the mindsets of economic class differences in the United States (poverty, middle class, wealthy) were fascinating—and ones I was able to apply. While written for someone who is contemplating marrying into another class, the principles and perspectives are applicable for teachers, coaches, business people, and others whose daily interactions cross economic classes.

The Nazi Officer’s Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust, by Edith H. Beer and Susan Dworkin

Edith Beer’s peaceful early years were smashed to pieces when she was shipped to a slave labor camp as the Nazi’s rolled into her beloved Austria. From a hated Jewess, this story of her engagement and marriage to a Nazi officer in Munich is one of paralyzing fear, submission, and determination. You will be both repelled by the evil she was subjected to and drawn to this strong woman of courage.

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity, by Nabeel Quereshi

This beautifully written book is a powerful glimpse into a devout, loving Muslim home and the foundations of the Muslim faith. Quereshi grew up challenging the faith of Christians and finding no one who could answer his challenges. When he joined the debate team at Georgetown University, he met a fellow debate team student who could answer his challenges and engage in lively, deep theological discussions. This book will challenge your perspectives of both Islam and Christianity.

The Devil in Pew Number Seven, by Rebecca Nichols Alonzo, with Bob DeMoss

This is an amazing story of hatred, terror, love, and forgiveness. Rebecca Nichols’ father accepted a position as pastor of a small church in North Carolina, only to encounter a man who wanted complete control of the church. When the man couldn’t get the power and control he desired, he terrorized the Nichols family in unimaginable ways. Despite the violence and hatred they endured, as well as the fear and dread they were constantly under, her parents chose to stay and love the community. And, although Rebecca’s life was shattered by the devil in Pew No. 7, her story of healing, forgiveness, and courage will bring tears to your eyes.

Eye for an Eye – Revenge

Can you remember a time you wanted revenge?

We all can and ABC is now capitalizing on that idea in a new series called Revenge.   It’s built around a new woman living in the wealthy Hamptons.  What her neighbors don’t know is that she’s back for revenge – having lived in the neighborhood growing up.   Revenge is  anger, drenched in bitterness, resentment, and hostility.    Science has shown that people seeking vengeance bring bitterness and anger into every relationship and interaction.  Revenge can also lead to depression, anxiety, and increase alcohol and substance abuse. Mayo Clinic research.    So in steps ABC to celebrate something our culture and we as people need to experience less.

I have a suggestion for  the producers.  Instead of seeing episodes where people’s lives are ruined by anger, bitterness, and revenge,  I’d like to see a show where the people who may appear to deserve revenge, actually experience forgiveness.   The stunned looks on their faces when they realize that someone they harmed had actually done something good for them would be powerful, and might inspire others to do the same.  The benefits of healthier relationships, less stress and hostility, lower blood pressure, less depression and lower risk of substance abuse would be celebrated.   Ghandi said, “An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.”   What the world needs now is  not more blindness. We need to forgive – it’s priceless.