As you can imagine I love to read. I strongly believe being a strong reader makes you a better writer. All those chapter books I devoured for endless hours on the school bus taught me what works and what doesn't when it comes to the written word.
I have a bookcase full of my favorite books. My technique for stocking my bookcase involves checking out piles of books from the library and only purchasing those I absolutely adore. I have to admit that sometimes I can just stand by my bookcase, glancing at the titles, and get a warm feeling, just remembering the stories that lie within their covers. I no longer have to crack the book open to absorb it's healing powers.
I never intended to put book reviews up on this site but I just found a new gem and I have to share. I have no idea how many people even see this blog anyway so I figured it can't hurt.
I have a full length memoir manuscript written and edited, waiting to find a publishing home someday. In the past few years I have read many of the memoirs that graced our library shelves, to get an idea as to what is currently being published. I loved some, hated some and was indifferent to all the rest. But this week I found a real gem. It's called "In the Sanctuary of Outcasts" by Neil White.
I think what I love about this book is the lack of abusive childhoods, alcoholic parents who ruined dreams, and drug abuse that almost seem commonplace now. Instead it is an honest account of one man's experience living in the middle of a leper colony against his will.
Neil White was a big time magazine publisher with (by his own admission) a head too big to survive. His life changed dramatically on the day he got caught 'kiting checks' to keep his business afloat and he ended up serving a year long sentence in a federal prison that happened to also house quarantined leper patients.
He writes so beautifully and so down to earth, about his transformation from fearful executive who couldn't afford to be touched by these outcasts to a broken soul who realizes what being an outcast really feels like.
It took him 15 years to get his story to book form. I appreciate that. He is not a fly by night storyteller. He is a man who walked around with a story in his head and finally gave it some breath and life. I loved every chapter.
So if you are looking for a great story, a great reminder about what is truly important in life, go track down Neil's book. I promise you won't regret it. And I promise you won't forget it, once his story is in your heart.