Monthly Archives: March 2014

Lent Without Latte

I’ve known Doris MacDonald since junior high, when we competed against each other in Bible quizzing out in California. Doris Au and her sister Margo (their formidable captain) attended the Glendale United Brethren Church in the LA area. I attended the UB church in Lake Havasu City, Ariz. I think Doris will acknowledge that we usually won.

Doris (left) and Sharon.

Doris (left) and Sharon.

Doris, and her husband, Alan, went on to spend several decades with Wycliffe Bible Translators. For many years now, Doris has been half of The Braeded Cord, a superb musical twosome in the DC area. Doris plays keyboard and violin, and sings.

Her compatriot, Sharon Dennis, once gave up lattes for lent, and she wrote a song about it, “Latte Blues.” It’s very good. You can watch it on Youtube. Then go to to order their albums.

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A Book You MUST Have

A study identifies Lee Child has having the strongest reader loyalty of any bestselling author. For instance, 41% of John Grisham fans say they plan to buy his next novel, but 70% of Child fans want the next Jack Reacher novel.

I’m one of those Lee Child fans. However, were Robert Parker still alive, I’m guessing he would top the list, at least with the Spenser books. A Jack Reacher book is a Must Have. A Spenser book was a Must Have NOW.

There are two important elements: the author, and the subject. You need to like the author’s writing style. But also, you need to like the subject. For that reason, a continuing series helps. If you like the character, you want to keep reading about him/her. Lee Child writes ONLY about Jack Reacher. A Cross novel from James Patterson may be a Must Have (it is with me), but not necessarily the novels from his many other series.

Who are your Must Have Next Book authors? Or is there a particular character you follow (like Spenser, but not Jesse Stone or Sunny Randall)?

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The World of Readers


This list shows the countries with the most avid readers. Sadly, the US ranks #22. I thought we would be higher, since books are everywhere. If you take my wife, Pam, out of it, we wouldn’t even be in the top 25.

A few of these surprised me, at least in terms of ranking higher than the US: the Philippines, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Turkey.

I had read elsewhere that the Chinese are very avid readers. US book publishers have become more aggressive in translating American book into Chinese to reach that huge audience.

It would be interesting to know the dynamics within these countries which contribute to high readership. Offhand, I don’t see any patterns, except that none of these are Third world countries (and thus have higher literacy rates).

1. India — 10 hours, 42 minutes
2. Thailand — 9:24
3. China — 8:00
4. Philippines — 7:36
5. Egypt — 7:30
6. Czech Republic — 7:24
7. Russia — 7:06
8. Sweden — 6:54
8. France — 6:54
10. Hungary — 6:48
10. Saudi Arabia — 6:48
12. Hong Kong — 6:42
13. Poland — 6:30
14. Venezuela — 6:24
15. South Africa — 6:18
15. Australia — 6:18
17. Indonesia — 6:00
18. Argentina — 5:54
18. Turkey — 5:54
20. Spain — 5:48
20. Canada — 5:48
22. Germany — 5:42
22. USA — 5:42
24. Italy — 5:36
25. Mexico — 5:30
26. U.K. — 5:18
27. Brazil — 5:12
28. Taiwan — 5:00
29. Japan — 4:06
30. Korea — 3:06

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Ann Kiemel Anderson Wins Her Race


Ann Kiemel Anderson succumbed to cancer on Saturday, March 1, 2014.

In the early 1980s, just after college, I devoured a number of Ann Kiemel’s books. They were basically just free-verse tales of interactions with people. Ann greatly inspired me. She didn’t give readers admonitions to go change our world, but glimpses of a person actually doing it.

I’m an ordinary girl in a big world,
but I’m going to change it–
God and I
and love.

Back in 2006, I wrote a blog post titled “Ann Kiemel, Wherefore Hast Thou Been?” It became by far the most-commented blog post I’ve ever written–85 comments. Turns out many lives, like mine, were impacted by her simple stories. People shared their testimonies of Ann’s influence on their lives.

Ann found the post through a niece, and she twice added her own comments. She mentioned her desire to return to writing, and she soon started a blog in which she continued sharing her free verse stories. A couple years later, two of Ann’s early books that meant so much to me were republished: “I Love the Word Impossible” and “I’m Out to Change My World.” They now inhabit my Nook. Both are timeless.

Ann experienced some real difficulties later in life, with lots of discouragement. I hope that my blog post, and the overwhelming outpouring of support in the comments, perhaps spurred her on.

In one of her comments on my blog, Ann wrote, “today, i still believe utterly in sharing Jesus with my neighborhood. i speak the name of Jesus every day to someone.”

Another of Ann’s early books was titled, “I’m Running to Win.” You did, Ann, you did.

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