Counterfeit Gods – The empty promises of money, sex, and power, and the only hope that matters By Timothy Keller

Where do we place our faith? What do we spend our time and money on? That is what we value – good and bad. We pursue things for happiness right? But how many of us are happy? Counterfeit Gods is another way of saying idols – and not the ones maybe you are thinking of. We don’t like to use that kind of language so Keller puts it into verbiage we can relate to very easily. I agree with my pastor that Keller is one of the best writers to not only identify but describe idolatry without us feeling either moronic or bored.

I love how Keller describes and explains how anything morally neutral can also become an idol along with the more obvious examples. This is a great follow up to The Reason for God and The Prodigal God which also pushed people to think long and hard about themselves, and to engage with others on the subject. I little introspection can be a good thing.

The Hundred Dresses By Eleanor Estes

This was a Newbery Honour Book in 1945 so many of you will have not only heard of it but read it as well. It is an interesting little social commentary about our fear of different people as well as how cruel children can be. A little Polish girl in a small town is made fun of because she always wears the same dress to school and her name is not like the other girls. Of the two main culprits one realizes her error but is she too late to make amends? My wish is that every parent would read this to their kids and instill in them a caring nature, especially those kids who are the bullies either physically or emotionally. Maybe that’s too utopian and too much to hope for but stranger things have happened. I just read this with my 14 year old and she and I talked about the whole dynamic of her school and the cliques and ‘popular kids’ and although I knew most of what was going on there it was a great talk. I recommend this book for all ages.

A Rule Against Murder By Louise Penny

Another Penny mystery that I loved – I should get royalties. This story is set at a romantic getaway where the inspector and his wife spend their anniversaries hidden away from work, telephones and the world. Every year they have done this without any interruption – this year is different. A mostly obnoxious family has commandeered nearly the entire hotel, taking liberties seemingly only the very wealthy take. There are many different characters here ranging from the cold matriarch down to her extremely strange grandchild who no one even seems to know the sex of. Then one of them is killed. Their behaviour toward each other is cruel and nasty and slowly one begins to understand why this is so, whilst the crime is figured out. Interesting how one can feel absolutely no compassion for so many individuals and yet never questioning the author. Like I said I loved it.

The Last Lecture By Randy Pausch

This book is an emotional tribute to his wife and children – not schleppy but quite sad given the reason. The author is honest and writes of some great teaching moments even though his black and white attitude to everything, for me, was annoying and prideful. He does acknowledge that his parents were the reason he was so focused and successful and writes about what he is trying to do to leave a legacy for his three kids who are so very young and maybe won’t remember him. He has a diagnosis of cancer which is incurable. It is an interesting thing to think about in all our lives though. What if we only had six months to live? What would we do? Financially they can do a lot and he takes full advantage of this, which, in my opinion, he should. The old adage of a dying man never wishing he had spent more time at the office comes to mind but Pausch takes this a lot further to leave his last lecture and way more for his family.

Even Money By Dick and Felix Francis

I am a huge Francis fan and this one did not disappoint. His books are set around the horse racing world which is where he spent a good many years as one of the Queen’s jockeys. This time our hero is a bookmaker following in his family’s footsteps. If you know nothing about this vocation the book is also quite informative. Events tumble when his father shows up at a meet; what is odd is that he had been told from childhood that his parents were dead. As you can imagine his dad brings a whole lot of trouble to his life added to a mentally ill wife and business associate who wants a bigger part of his company. Bring it on…