Grit Blogs > The Open Book

From the Library

By Jean Teller, Sr. Assoc. Editor

Tags: books, Cecile Andrews, Wanda Urbanska, Less is More, Deborah Vogts, Snow Melts in Spring, Don Coldsmith, Raven Mocker, Child of the Dead,

Jean TellerIt’s no secret that books are a passion of mine, and I’ve been occupied reading in recent weeks. All books that have resided on my desk for a while.

Less is More is a new offering from editors Cecile Andrews and Wanda Urbanska. The book’s subtitle just about says it all, “Embracing simplicity for a healthy plant, a caring economy and lasting happiness.”

Within its 280 pages, the book contains a number of essays from various writers – including Ogden Publications’ Publisher and Editorial Director Bryan Welch and our sister publication NATURAL HOME's Editor Robyn Griggs Lawrence – focusing on the Simplicity movement. While it sounds simple, Simplicity is a complex philosophy that argues the only way our planet, our society and each individual will survive the world changes facing us all is for us to focus on less materialistic goals and more inner peace.

Less is More by Cecile Andrews and Wanda UrbanskaAs the editors write in the preface, “What do people involved in the Simplicity movement do? Usually, people have focused on individual actions: reducing spending so they can work less and have more time for the things that are important to them. Thus, a life with less – less work, less stuff, less clutter – becomes more: more time for friends, family, community, creativity, civic involvement. Less stress brings more fulfillment and joy. Less rushing brings more satisfaction and balance. Less debt brings more serenity. Less is more.”

The editors, as well as the passionate authors spotlighted in the book, say the movement, though, cannot be limited to individuals. They believe Simplicity works great for each person, and that it would work – and is needed – at every governmental, corporate and societal level.

Again, the editors: “We must create a movement that leads to policy changes. We need policies regulating corporate behavior, work hours, the wealth gap and sustainability.”

Much of what is contained in Less is More makes sense in this age of climate changes, economic recessions and general unhappiness/discontent. Do we really need more things/stuff/acquisitions/junk, or do we as human beings simply require more connectedness, more outlets for creativity, more interaction with our natural world?

It’s a lot to ponder. And I have been, since starting this book. I can see ways to make changes in my own life. I’m not sure, however, that the movement can force the masses change for our own good. The movement, to me, seems to be more of a personal choice, and not one of government and corporations. Although, if we make the individual changes in our own lives, those changes will of necessity affect and reflect on our work lives and the lives of those in the upper echelons of corporations and governments.

So perhaps if we each accept the Simplicity movement into our lives, the world will change. My only reservation is if this book will find a mass audience; Less is More may end up preaching to the choir.

Published by New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, British Columbia, Less is More will be available by the middle of September; check the GRIT Bookstore for more details.


Snow Melts in Spring by Deborah VogtsAnother book to cross my desk is Deborah Vogts’ debut novel Snow Melts in Spring. It was the setting of this book that captured my attention; as a native of the state, I am enthralled by the Flint Hills of Kansas. And Vogts knows of what she writes – while going to college she lived in Emporia, a community found about midway down the eastern side of the Flint Hills. She now lives in Erie, in the southeast corner of the state.

The author has drawn on her love of the area to create a series of books – In the Seasons of the Tallgrass – focusing on ordinary people living and loving in one of the last tallgrass prairies.

Snow Melts features Mattie Evans, a dedicated veterinarian who can’t imagine living anywhere but the Flint Hills. Her life is disrupted not only by a string of bad luck but by the return of Gil McCray, a disillusioned former pro quarterback. One of Mattie’s strongest supporters is rancher John McCray who hasn’t spoken to his son in years. Mattie and John share a love of the land, but Gil’s not exactly on the same page.

An excellent addition to both the genre of contemporary romance and the genre of Christian fiction, Snow Melts in Spring delves into the burgeoning relationship between Mattie and Gil, the secrets hidden within both their families, and how both become the people they are meant to be. And although the problems might be resolved more quickly and more easily if people would simply talk to each other, the novel provides a few nice twists and turns as well as a satisfying ending.

Personally, I’m looking forward to reading the next title in this series and discovering the next person to find her heart’s desire in the Flint Hills of Kansas.

Published by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Snow Melts in Spring is available in a trade paperback; check your local bookstore.


It wasn’t my intention to spotlight two authors from Kansas, but here it is.

Child of the Dead by Don ColdsmithProlific author Don Coldsmith wrote more than 40 books, most of them part of his Spanish Bit Saga, and there are now more than 6 million copies of his books in print. While continuing his medical practice in Emporia, Coldsmith began writing in the 1960s. He also taught at Emporia State University and wrote for the Emporia Gazette.

The author suffered a stroke this summer and passed away at the age of 83.

My dad, Gale, read many of Coldsmith’s books and enjoyed each and every one of them. So I was thrilled to pick up two titles, Raven Mocker and Child of the Dead, both part of the Spanish Bit Saga.

Coldsmith described the series in a comment at the back of Raven Mocker: “Readers who have discovered other books of the Spanish Bit Saga will recognize the Elk-dog People as the major culture included in the series. This tribe is a composite, created because in the early books it was impossible to identify the tribes and nations with whom Coronado might have been in contact. In the interests of historical accuracy the People became a theoretical nation of buffalo hunters. They have cultural traits of Kiowa, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and a bit of Comanche.

“In Raven Mocker the major figure is Cherokee, and I have attempted to depict Cherokee history, customs, and legends to the best of my ability. I have tried to keep my story line within the realm of possibility in depicting the ‘Real People,’ the Cherokees, for whom I have great respect and admiration. I apologize in advance for any errors of offense committed by this humble yoneg.”

Raven Mocker by Don ColdsmithRaven Mocker relates the tale of Snakewater, a medicine woman respected and feared by those in her village. An unfounded accusation forces the old woman to make a painful decision, and she soon learns that life can be much more than the narrow confines of a village. With just a hint of otherworldly intrigue, Raven Mocker draws in readers as we cheer for Snakewater and her new life.

Child of the Dead begins with a tragedy – an entire band of people found dead, struck down by the dreaded poch (smallpox), with one small girl, Gray Mouse, struggling to survive. Running Deer, a bitter old woman of the Southern band, makes a startling choice – she will stay and care for the dying young girl as her family continues on their path.

Life, though, as we all know, doesn’t always go according to plan, and Running Deer and Gray Mouse find themselves on a quest, as do Running Deer’s family. What will the future hold for this nomadic band? It’s also Gray Mouse’s story, as she struggles to learn of her own people.

Coldsmith’s style, similar to Louis L’Amour and Tony Hillerman, gently brings his characters to full-bodied life, and it soon becomes clear that this author has an understanding, a respect and an admiration for his subjects.

To order Raven Mocker, Child of the Dead or other titles by Don Coldsmith, visit our GRIT Bookstore.