Tuesday, February 17, 2015

#showusyourlist on Fat Tuesday

This is supposed to be Book Club day ("Meeting" #3 of Grace-filled Tuesdays).  But we're going to do something different for Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday, as my husband and I like to call it).  This post will be all about books, though, rest assured my dear fellow bookworms.  About how important it is to immerse yourself in books (and movies) that are "good, beautiful & true"--that are good for your immortal soul.

Erin McCole Cupp, the brilliant and witty author responsible for a top-notch novel you really ought to read if you haven't already, titled Don't You Forget About Me, recently blogged about how fed up she is with everyone and his brother warning readers and movie-goers about the dangers of the whole 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon, but seldom offering their recommendations for better, more spiritually uplifting entertainment choices.  She has challenged her fellow Catholic writers to "hashtag show us your list" on this celebratory day before the start of Lent--that is, to give a list of novels and/or movies they would recommend instead, and to use Twitter, Facebook, and every form of social media to spread the word that there is a wealth of wholesome and entertaining fiction out there just waiting to be discovered.  Erin has invited a whole bunch of peeps to participate in a Mardi Gras  #showusyourlist media blitz.
I agree with Erin: she says we hear all too often about entertainment choices that we should avoid because they are harmful to our souls; but it would be nice if more time and energy could be spent promoting books and movies that edify and inspire us and ultimately bring us closer to God.  In Erin's post, she quotes JPII, who so eloquently reminds us that "art remains a kind of bridge to religious experience... Even when they explore the darkest depths of the soul or the most unsettling aspects of evil, artists give voice in a way to the universal desire for redemption.”

Like most of the writers who will be participating in this hashtag movement, I haven't even read 50 Shades of Grey (a trilogy which I've heard that, on top of every obvious reason to avoid it, isn't even particularly well-written and features a cast of one-dimensional, unlikeable characters).  But I don't think I need to do so to understand just how dangerous a dark and twisted book (and now movie) that glorifies kinky and abusive sex is--and how scary it is that "mainstream" readers ("soccer moms," even) have devoured these books and are now flocking to the theater for more.  I'm trying to wrap my brain around this; and no matter how hard I try, I can't understand this phenomenon.  I can't understand the appeal.  The woman who created 50 Shades is a millionaire many times over...but at what price, I wonder?

Some say it's just harmless escapism; but who would want to escape a world where good and evil can still be seen clearly in black and white, and therefore true goodness and beauty are still alive, and live instead in a world where all is just some murky shade of grey?  Once you start down that path of moral relativism, it's a slippery slope; if no one can distinguish good from evil anymore, all will be chaos.

So when I heard what Erin was doing today, I decided, "I'm in!"

My list includes some wonderful contemporary Catholic authors whom I've gotten to know in the past few years, since I've shyly joined their ranks--some just on-line (so far) and others in person.  They are using their talents as evangelization tools, but making sure that readers are entertained in the process--without having to endure any of those cringe-worthy romantic scenes so prevalent in modern literature!  (Some are writers of YA fiction; but keep in mind that among even adult readers, YA is the fastest-growing market!)
My recommendations (in no particular order):

By Erin McCole Cupp:
Don't You Forget About Me

By Kaye Park Hinckley:
A Hunger in the Heart

By Cheryl Dickow:
Elizabeth, a Holy Land Pilgrimage
Miriam, Repentance and Redemption in Rome

By Nancy Carabio Belanger:
Olivia and the Little Way
Olivia's Gift
The Gate

By Rosemary McDunn:
The Green Coat: a Tale from the Dust Bowl Years

By Amy M. Bennett:
End of the Road
No Lifeguard on Duty
No Vacancy

By Kari Burke:
The Life I Dreamed

By AnnMarie Creedon:
Angela's Song

By Ellen Gable:
Stealing Jenny
In Name Only
A Subtle Grace

By Michelle Buckman:
Rachel's Contrition

By Therese Heckenkamp:
Frozen Footprints

By Kia Heavey:

By Katherine Grubb (not Catholic, but Christian):
Falling for Your Madness

By Laura H. Pearl (because my husband convinced me that I should add his favorite author):
Finding Grace
Erin's Ring

I am so thrilled to be part of the "New Evangelization," using fiction as a tool for helping to spread the Good News.  I came to the writing profession rather late in my life, beginning Finding Grace in 2007 at age 49 and seeing it published by Bezalel Books in 2012, when I was 54.  I was a SAHM for decades, and then shortly after I became a grandmother, I became a published author, too.  (Still pinching myself here.) I seriously thought Finding Grace would be my one foray into the world of fiction; but then in 2014, Bezalel published my second YA Catholic novel, Erin's Ring.  One of my biggest motivators for writing these novels was the urge to provide wholesome and edifying fiction choices for young readers (hoping that they would be enjoyed by the parents of those readers as well).  After watching the way things had progressed over the years during which my five sons were growing up, I felt it was vitally important to do whatever small part I could to fight the forces working against the purity and innocence of the young--especially because they have become increasingly vulnerable to those forces, now that there are so many pervasive forms of social media at their disposal.  It's already such a different world than it was in the 80's and 90's, when I was a young mother.  And I think parents who are wondering what the world is coming to nowadays need to know that there are better choices out there than 50 Shades and its ilk.

I have one more title to add to my list, for a movie I have yet to see but just know I will LOVE.  It's called Old Fashioned.  I've heard such good things!  Check out the trailer.
Now you can head on over to Erin McCole Cupp's blog, to find recommendations for more books and movies that will leave you feeling anything but grey and gloomy.


  1. I read a frightening amount of fiction--and there are some new-to-me ones on your list! Now they're on my list of things to read SOONEST. Thanks!

    1. I think a "frightening amount of fiction" sounds delightful! It is my goal to read a frightening amount in my lifetime!

  2. Thank you so much for this, Laura! I'm like you, I just can't wrap my head around it, either. I really don't get it. And it's culturally acceptable, for heaven's sake!!

    That's a movie I'd like to check out, too. :)

    1. We tried to find the movie, but it wasn't playing near us. I think it's had a limited release. I think it looks so good! My husband has agreed to be my date for it. (I watch his action movies, and he pays me back by watching chick flicks!)

  3. Ohh thank you some new books to read:) (and buy;-) Lots I haven't heard from either.

    I totally don't understand why this movie/book is considered acceptable!!!
    I was thinking recently all the changes I've seen in parenting/culture in just the 20 years between our oldest and youngest

    Oh and adding to your list, Past Suspicion, wrote details here

    1. I should have had Past Suspicion on this list--thanks for pointing out the oversight! It should be up there with Therese Heckenkamp's second novel, Frozen Footprints. I read Past Suspicion a few years ago and really enjoyed it.

  4. 'Old Fashioned' looks like a wonderful movie - I'll have to keep an eye out for it.

    1. Hi Karen! I just popped over to your blog, and it's so delightful! Your quilts are to die for. And I really enjoyed the post about your new sewing machine. I have an "Old Faithful" as well, not quite as old as yours was, but it's got a lot of miles on it. The last project I completed with my machine was t-shirt quilts for my five sons for Christmas (not technically quilts, but patchwork blankets), and it held out long enough to finish them--but then shortly afterward died completely. I am currently trying to decided if it's worth it to try to have it repaired, or if I should just get a new one.

      Just a quick note: we did get to see "Old Fashioned" recently, with our second oldest son and his wife...and I'm sorry to say that we didn't give it high marks. The idea behind it was good, but the acting and overall moviemaking weren't top notch. And the main male character could grate on you after a while. He was a guy who had made a big change in his life, from living a life of sin to being a man of character, and this is of course completely admirable and a good message for young people; but as our son said, no young guy would look at that character and think, "I want to be like him." They'd be thinking, "He's so boring! If being good means you have to be no fun and make all your friends mad at you, then I don't want to be like that!" And my husband noted that the actor never did a full smile, just this hesitant half-smile that was endearing the first few times he did it, but became kind of annoying.

      We're being a little nit-picky, perhaps, but we all agreed that although we admire the filmmaker's intention with this movie, we didn't really enjoy it. It wasn't as well done as the trailer made it seem.

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