Monthly Archives: October 2015

It’s Painful

It's Painful

Before we got into the bookstore business four years ago, I had a vague notion about “strippable” books. I’d seen the blurb inside books that said, “If you received this book without a cover, it was reported unsold.” What that means is, book suppliers will give you credit for unsold paperback books that are classified “strippable” if you cut off the covers and return them. Do you know what it does to a book lover to cut off the covers of a book and destroy the book? It’s painful. But, it gets worse.

What if you order favorite classics from your childhood and they don’t sell? Gut-wrenching. (Wait. Are we still talking about books here? Absolutely.)

I consider the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis to be the pinnacle in Christian literature– for all ages–but especially for kids. Delightful characters, satisfying storylines, spiritual truths– not to mention whimsy and magic. What else could you ask for? Narnia is in a class by itself. Treasured in my childhood, appreciated at a deeper level as an adult.


Naturally, I ordered some for the bookstore and put them on the shelf. And they didn’t sell. Now, second-guessing bookstore customers is a tricky business. But, how could they pass up the Chronicles of Narnia? Somehow they did. Eventually, I had to cut off the covers and send them back for credit. Still, I couldn’t bear to throw them away. They sit in my office, naked and forlorn. (Maybe people who really love books shouldn’t get into the bookstore business.)


Narniaonevolume Narniaboxed RadioTheatre
But, hope springs eternal. And we’re getting more traffic in the store. So, this Christmas season I’m trying again. I ordered Focus on the Family’s Radio Theatre rendition of the Chronicles. And all seven books in one volume and a boxed set. To me, there’s very little that can top Narnia as a gift to a child or a sibling group. I just might buy them myself.

(Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you, a small percentage of your purchase helps to maintain the expenses of this site.)

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DIY MBA: Teach Yourself Business

DIYMBADon’t have the time or money for a business degree?  Teach yourself business by diving into the resources recommended in The 100 Best Business Books of All Time.


Jack Covert reviews business books at 800-CE0-READ.  Wading through scads of business books every year is only part of the story.  800-CEO-READ is a business success story in itself.  The brick and mortar bookstore, Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops, closed it’s doors but reinvented itself as a successful business by selling business books in bulk as well as becoming an online think tank for current business theory.


Covert operated the business section of the bookstore, and then became the lead business book reviewer after the transition.  Out of his expertise comes the book,  100 Best Business Books of All Time, co-written with  Todd Sattersten.


A lot of the classics are included in the selection, including Good to Great and The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team.  But, also included are top books you’ve never heard of.

Book Reviews are organized by category:  You, Leadership, Strategy, Sales and Marketing, Rules and Scorekeeping, Management, Biographies, Entrepreneurship, Narratives, Innovation and Creativity, Big Ideas and Takeaways.

I would love to read them all.  (Maybe a challenge for the future.)  I’d like to read them through some different lenses:  that of a woman, which principles apply to ministry and which shouldn’t, and what applies to small, micro businesses and start-ups.

(Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you, a small percentage of your purchase helps to maintain the expenses of this site.)

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5 Things You Need to Know About Ted Cruz


1. He makes a clear profession of faith.  ” . . .in 1979, I too asked Jesus to be my savior at Clay Road Baptist Church.  When people ask if faith is real, I don’t have to speculate; I’ve seen the fruits of a walk with Christ in my own life and in my family.”– A Time for Truth, p. 32

2. He is pro-life.  “[John] Drogin, who at the time was jobless, didn’t just jump at any any offer to mange a statewide campaign.  Instead he said, “I need to ask you two questions before I can accept.”  The first question was “Are you a Christian?” The second was “Are you pro-life?”   ” . . . thankfully I was able to answer both questions in the affirmative.”

3. His father fled Cuba and so deeply and personally understands the anguish of an oppressive dictatorship.   As a teenager in Cuba in the 50s, his father was involved in underground revolutionary activities aimed at deposing the the oppressive dictator, Batista. “My father was fooled by Castro, but only for a time, and only in his youth.  Few people would go out of their way to atone for such a mistake, but he did, by denouncing his own public statements  and asking for forgiveness.  That must have been difficult and it’s one of the many reasons I’ve always admired my dad’s character.” p. 20

“It is difficult for many of us to fully comprehend what a beacon of hope this country offers the rest of the world.  There is no other place on earth that would have welcomed so freely to its shores a man like Rafael Cruz.  He was eighteen, penniless and spoke no English.  He owned three things: the suit on his back, a slide rule in his pocket and a hundred dollars that my grandmother had sewn into his underwear.”  pp 16-17.

4. He staunchly supports the constitution.  ” [Diane Feinstein] said, ‘Congress is in the business of making law. The Supreme Court interprets the law.  [If] they strike down the law, they strike down the law.’ That answer too was very instructive–and exemplifies one of the biggest problems of the federal government.  For far too long, Congress has passed legislation with no one in the Senate once asking what should be the preliminary question: Do we have the constitutional authority to enact this bill?” p. 249

5. He believes in the Second Amendment for two reasons.  First, “the ability of the people to defend themselves has been a critical precondition to securing liberty from monarchs and tyrants.”  “Second, the right to keep and bear arms protects the fundamental right of each and every one of us to protect ourselves, our family and our children from imminent physical harm.” p. 252

Timefor Truth   Buy now from Amazon

I appreciate Cruz’ commitment to telling the truth, in an arena where deception is a way of life and campaign promises are routinely broken. Only time will tell if he will continue to uphold the principles he espouses.  But, in his short tenure as Senator, he has demonstrated remarkable courage and sacrifice to defend these very principles.

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What do you want to know about Ted Cruz?


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Having trouble finding the right Bible for you?

The myriad of choices in Bibles makes purchasing one a daunting task.  How do you know which one is right for you?  Take one step at a time and build on your decisions.

First of all, which version of the Bible do you want?  The King James Version uses old English, similar to Shakespeare, including “thee” and “thou”. Popular Modern English translations include the New International Version, the New Living Translation and the English Standard Version.  The Message Bible is known for using everyday, colloquial English.

Next, decide if you want a study Bible, a reference Bible or a text only Bible.  A study Bible includes study notes written by a Bible scholar or team of scholars who explain and interpret Bible passages.  One of the most popular is the Life Application Bible, which includes notes designed to help you apply the Bible to your life.  A reference Bible includes scripture references that link related passages together.  A text only Bible includes only the scripture without references or notes.

Another consideration to make is the print size of your Bible.  Standard Bible print is a 9 point font, which is smaller than many other books.  For some people, a larger print size is necessary for ease of reading.

Next, decide which binding you want for your Bible.  Paperback Bibles are the most economical, followed by hardback.  More expensive, but more durable are imitation leather, bonded leather and leather.  A leather binding is made from one piece of cowhide, while a bonded leather binding is made from more than one piece of leather that is bonded together.

Finally, you need to decide if you want any extra features in your Bible, such as the words of Jesus in red, your name imprinted on the Bible or thumb indexing.

Step by step, the right Bible for you.

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What I’m Reading, October 2015


Page turners, all, except for Ted Cruz’s book.  I had to force my self to finish that one, but I’m glad I did.

callmidwife small

Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth

Earthy. Vivid.

I loved the PBS series and the book was helpful to know what was fact and what was on screen embellishment.  Jennifer Worth paints the picture of life in an impoverished London community in the fifties so vividly you can almost smell it. The full range of human emotion and drama from birth to death.  Some descriptions are earthy, but, then, so is the subject matter.


Say Good-Bye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine

Practical.  Endearing.

I’m a big fan of Chrystal Paine.  I find her story fascinating.  Her website, Money Saving Mom, is enormously popular.  Her insights are well articulated and extremely helpful.  Say Good-bye to Survival Mode lives up to that reputation.  It’s easy to get stuck in day to day survival.  What a relief to find someone saying there’s a way out.


Rising Strong by Brené Brown

Best book I’ve read all year.

I love Brené Brown’s TED talks and her books.  This is the best one yet.  The message of the book,  is to embrace your story, even the dark parts.  Those dark chapters form an integral part of who you are. Hiding those chapters hinders your connection with others.  Being courageous and vulnerable with the good, the bad and the ugly is the way to whole-hearted living. [Note: Language Warning]


Calico Joe by John GrishamMoney Saving Mom

Feel good, breezy read.

I’m a huge Grisham fan, and I checked this one out of the library on the recommendation of Anne Bogel at Modern Mrs. Darcy.  It’s not my favorite Grisham, but I liked a few elements:  less language than some of his other books; a predictable but refreshing redemption story; most of all–the baseball theme reminded me of my Dad.  He grew up in the forties and fifties with a passion for the game that I found mirrored in this story.  Who can’t relate to childhood heroes and obsessions?


A Time for Truth by Ted Cruz

First half: fascinating memoir.  Second half: issues, beliefs and an insider’s view on DC (hint: it’s not pretty)

The book starts with the compelling story of Ted Cruz’s family roots in Cuba and then his own formative years.   The second half dealt more with current politics (appalling) and issues that were informative and helpful, but didn’t float my boat as much.  I liked learning what he believes and why. It’s easy to get cynical and disillusioned by deceptive politicians.  I admire Cruz’s stand for honesty and integrity.  It’s helpful to hear Cruz’s words without media editing.

What’s your best reads this month?  Share in comments.




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5 Wholesome Love Stories for Tweens


Our culture has accepted a slide in morality that is rampant in the stories we find in print and on screen.  Pointing our young people to great works of fiction that uphold Judeo-Christian morals can be difficult.

These five books have engaging, compelling characters who display values and integrity. They boast superbly crafted fiction. In addition, they are squeaky clean. What’s not to love?

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you, a small portion of your purchase goes to support this site.)

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery has delighted girls for a century. It’s hard not to fall in love with Anne. And if recent social media is any indication–thousands of women today identify with the romantic lead, Gilbert Blythe.


Little Women by Lousia May Alcott follows the compelling story of four young sisters, based on the author’s own life. All the emotional ups and downs of growing up are covered here, along with more than one good love story.



These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder will delight girls who have loved the Little House books and shows.  Laura uses her indomitable style to tell the story of her courtship with Almanzo. These books, while categorized as fiction, are based on the actual events of the authors life.


Mrs. Mike by Nancy and Benedict Freedman is the best book you’ve never heard of. Also based on a true story, this engaging, compelling, wholesome love story will enrapture. Even my boys loved it.


Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter is completely fiction, but boasts all the best elements, one that can be wholeheartedly endorsed without reservation. The author’s life story is fascinating. Don’t miss the chance to tour her home if you’re in northern Indiana.

Which wholesome love stories can you add to this list?
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Turn That Ship Around!


Turn the Ship Around! by David Marquet tells the engaging story of his own command on naval submarine. He explains why he chose the leadership style he did and what effect it had– on the intangibles as well as the metrics. Using your team’s strengths as well as their free will and initiative was key. He built on Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to define his leadership style.

Retention of personnel was a metric that turned around drastically. Morale is harder to measure, but it, too, was greatly impacted.

Empowerment not only made a huge difference in the way the men saw themselves, but impacted the safety and effectiveness of the whole ship.

“Most empowerment programs fail because they are just that, “programs” or “initiatives” rather than the central principle–the genetic code”, according to Marquet. “We say ‘empowerment’ but do it in a way that is disempowering.”

Top down leadership is so prevalent, so easy to execute initially and so deadly to effective teamwork and outcomes.

“What happens in a top-down culture when the leader is wrong? Everyone goes over the cliff.”

“I intend to” became the watchword on the ship, in place of top down dictatorial commands given out by an all-powerful leader. Leadership style matters.

Marquet’s companion book, Turn Your Ship Around, is a workbook designed to take you step by step to implement the principles in the situation that confronts you.


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Total Money Makeover



Out of all the financial gurus out there, why listen to Dave Ramsey?  What sets Dave apart is his understanding of human nature and the emotional roadblocks that keep people from make good financial decisions.

Part of his signature advice is the “debt snowball”.  Arranging your debts from smallest to largest doesn’t necessarily make sense, except, you need the encouragement of seeing progress, of seeing a debt paid off . . . “sometimes motivation is more important than math”. This encouragement keeps you on track to meet your financial goals.

Another thing that sabotages a good plan is an emergency expense.  Planning for emergencies is a bedrock principle for success financially, according to Dave.

He suggests two ways to do this.  First is a small emergency fund.  Later, a larger fund is created in preparation for a financial tidal wave.

It takes an intensity and focus to succeed financially. Dave calls it “gazelle intensity”.

The book oozes with stories of people who have overcome significant obstacles to achieve financial freedom. These serve as an inspiration and encouragement to those in the trenches.

Dave advocates each step as the way to financial peace.  As a believer, he also testifies that the Prince of Peace is the only way to true peace.


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One Changed Life



In ReBoren, Marc Thomas Eckel novelizes  the life of John Boren, former Kosciusko County Jail Chaplain.

John appeared to be living a good Christian life, but he was harboring secret sins.  His heart hadn’t been transformed.  He successfully deceived those closest to him.  But, after conviction of sin, his transformation was total.  His executed an unparalleled plan for confession and restitution.

His dedication after this transformation was complete. He started a ministry in the jail. He drove a bucket of bolts on wheels.  He humbly served.  He opened his home to homeless men.  He sought God with fervor.  Even as his body weakened and failed, his faith remained strong.

At John’s funeral, former inmates gave testimony that often John would bring them a candy bar.  This small act of kindness was the undoing for many hardened hearts.

Don’t underestimate the hope and inspiration that the story of one changed life can bring.



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