Category Archives: Memoir


Today’s literary birthday: Shelby Foote, American novelist and Civil War historian, born November 17, 1916.

FINDING JOY: ONE WOMAN’S JOURNEY BACK TO FAITH is an insightful and inspiring memoir that gives a personal glimpse into the life of Joy Wooderson, the daughter and granddaughter of Christian missionaries who lived and preached in South Africa.

In FINDING JOY, Wooderson gives a unique perspective into her faith, her family, her African homeland, and her journey to the United States, where she became a U.S. citizen.

The front cover, with the photo of white daisy seeking sunlight as it pokes through the parched brown earth, gives a hint of what awaits the reader inside. Chapter 1 opens with a quote from St. Augustine and begins with the author perched on top of Mount Sinai, marveling at the view and grandeur of the vista before her.

Divided into nine parts and thirty chapters, Wooderson’s memoir reads like a novel, with the end of each chapter leaving me wanting to read more.

The chapters and sections are peppered with Biblical passages from the Old and New Testaments, as well as other meaningful and contemplative quotes. The end of each chapter also contains what Wooderson calls “Pointers,” which are questions and statements that challenge readers to examine their own beliefs. The last page of each chapter also includes space for readers to record their reflections.

Wooderson’s memoir is filled with candor and clarity. She openly discusses her crisis of faith, her doubts about organized religion, and the path she took to navigate through dark days into the light.

Anyone who has struggled with their faith or questioned their belief system will find comfort, compassion and wisdom in FINDING JOY.



Filed under Inspirational, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Spiritual, Women's

Bill O’Reilly, the Man Behind the Mouth

Today, July 3, is the birthday of Franz Kafka, author of  The Metamorphosis

oreillyThe book I’ve chosen to discuss this week is A BOLD, FRESH PIECE OF HUMANITY by Fox News Commentator and Uberanchor, Bill O’Reilly. 

My husband Walt bought the book for me a couple months ago  as a Mother’s Day gift.  Walt, a Vietnam Veteran,  is very thoughtful like that, and he wanted to support the Wounded Warrior Project, which is one of the charities the generous O’Reilly supports through his book sales.  

In addition to the book, I received a Wounded Warrior tote bag. After Walt opened the package and gave me the book, right away, I began to read. First thing Walt did was to check the label inside the the tote bag.

Walt shook his head. “Made in Pakistan.” 

Despite Walt’s disappointment over where the Wounded Warrior bag was made, he is a fan of O’Reilly’s. Weekdays at 7 p.m., our two grandchildren (whom we are raising) know to keep their voices down while their Opa watches O’Reilly on TV. Walt especially likes Wednesdays, when Dennis Miller is a featured guest.

Back to the book:  A BOLD FRESH PIECE OF HUMANITY, published by Random House, is a delight. From the angelic-looking cover to the childhood and other stories, and the photos inside, it’s a very personal look at the “bold, fresh guy.”  O’Reilly explains how, while a third grade student at St. Brigid’s School in Westbury, New York, Sister Mary Lurana “was on him like a panther,” and called him “a bold fresh piece of humanity” after he made one of his “dumb remarks.”

Bold, Fresh transported me back to my own experiences in parochial grade school (Holy Name in North, St. Louis, MO) and Catholic high school (St. Alphonsus “Rock” an all girls’ school also in St. Louis). Anyone who grew up in the 50s and 60s can relate to O’Reilly’s book, especially if they attended Catholic schools and were taught by no-nonsense nuns with huge classes. Even if they did not, the conversational and candid style of O’Reilly’s writing should connect with them.

In his book, O’Reilly shares his memories of the people, places, events, and experiences that have molded his personality.  The book is a personal,  candid, and at times self-deprecating  look at the “bold fresh guy”–an insightful glimpse at Bill O’Reilly, the man behind the mouth.  Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt

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Filed under Catholic, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Politics