Schindler’s List

Some books are difficult to read.

I won’t deny that. There are some stories in history that people would rather forget. Evil is a definite part of our past, and I think it is easier for us to swallow in fantasy, TV, and fiction than it is in stories that ring true. We’d rather have magnificently evil villains safely trapped between the pages of a book than remember that there were—and are—men and women that were equally as vicious and terrifying. Men who really were set on destroying the world.

And yet, if we cover those stories up, if we forget them, then we will also forget the men and women who stepped up to oppose that evil. The true-to-life heroes who risked their homes, their lives, and their families, to stand in the gap and protect those who couldn’t protect themselves.

Those stories—those men—should never be forgotten.

Schindler’s List is one of those stories. A true-to-life account of a man living in the midst of Hitler’s reign of terror, the story of Oscar Schindler, an unremarkable—and somewhat unscrupulous—businessman who found himself trapped within the horrors of Nazi Germany. His industrial factories saved him from military service and made him a valuable member of the Nazi party—a man who could have survived in perfect comfort and profited from the hatred around him.

And yet, amid a sea of people choosing the easier road, Oscar Schindler saw worth in the men Der Füher had deemed worthless. He began to collect them in his factories, Jewish men and women who he insisted were vital to keeping his machines in order, his production moving.

Men and women who knew next to nothing about the work he swore could not be done without them.

They survived on his ingenuity. As the war progressed and hatred ran deeper, it became more and more difficult to convince the Nazi regime that his Jewish employees were vital to the war effort. Bribery triumphed where reason couldn’t, and by the end of the war, Schindler’s entire fortune had withered to almost nothing. In the last few months, his ‘factories’ ceased even pretending to work, instead hunkering down in an effort to survive a nightmare that was quickly coming to an end.

1,200 Jewish men and women were saved from concentration camps by Oscar Schindler, and his story lives on, not as the story of a virtuous hero, but as the tale of an unremarkable man who, when faced with the worst that humanity could produce, chose instead to demonstrate it at its best.

Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

As I have gotten older, I’ve gotten more picky about the books I read.

It’s actually kind of a sad reality for me. Not every book that I pick up is as fantastic and amazing as I want it to be. Sometimes—horribly—I don’t finish the books I pick up. It is my firm belief that a book you don’t like is a book that is not worth finishing. There are just too many amazing, incredible books out there to waste your time on a book you don’t love.

When I was younger, I finished everything. I loved everything. I reread almost everything. But now, as an adult and a writer with higher standards, it is difficult to find books that meet my expectations the way they did when I was younger.

And yet, it does happen.


Every once in a while—in a very long while—I will stumble across a book that stuns me. The way it’s written, the brilliance of its characters, its plot, its world, will carry me away, and for a while, I can be a kid again.

I spend a great deal of my life searching for those books.

Not too long ago, I found one. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. As so often happens, I saw it in bookstores and libraries, and thought, nah. It looked—weird. A little creepy. A little dull. Definitely not the kind of book that would sweep me off right off my feet.

Boy, was I wrong.

The story begins when Jacob Portman witnesses the death—or murder—of his aging grandfather, long believed by the rest of his family to be senile. Jacob isn’t so sure, however, and his grandfather’s last words—and the stories he has been telling Jacob since he was a small boy—lead him to a small island off the coast of Wales. Somewhere on the island is the ruins of the children’s home that his grandfather grew up in, a place that Jacob has heard about many times, but never seen. He is convinced that the answer to his many questions—and his increasing nightmares—lie buried somewhere in the ruins, so he goes looking.

When he gets there, he finds a girl claiming to be his grandfather’s best friend—but she is the wrong age. In fact, she’s only a few months younger than Jacob himself. Soon, the stories that his grandfather was telling him begin to make sense as he is taken from the aging ruins into a time loop, a place built specially for Peculiars—children with more to them than they let on. Against his own better judgment, he finds himself caught up in the world of the Peculiars, finding traces of his grandfather’s extraordinary past at every twist and turn and, at the same time, discovering that there is far more to himself than he at first realized.


But even a time loop has its dangers, and too soon he and the other children find themselves on the run from creatures bent on their destruction.

Unused to hostility of this kind, Jacob must choose between the dull safety of the life he had and the whirlwind he has stumbled into by accident. His decision tips the balance between living and dying for a myriad of people, including himself.

Ransom Rigg’s fabulous book is scattered throughout with black and white photos of the Peculiars that fill its pages. The vintage, eerily realistic photos bring a sense of authenticity that is—quite frankly—chilling. If you’ve got a taste for high adventure and ghostly tales, I would highly recommend this book to you!

We cling to our fairy tales until the price for believing in them becomes too high.




The Hiding Place

I believe that history is important.

George Santayana, a Spanish-born American author, said, “Those who cannot remember the past condemned to repeat it.”

I fully believe that this is true, and yet, at the same time, I struggle to read the history books that were handed to me in school. Dates, times, statistics, and names always pass straight through my head, and I never remember them.

What I do remember are stories.


If you hand me a well-written biography (or better yet, an autobiography) I will almost certainly remember in great detail exactly what happened to them, what they did, when they lived, what they cared about, and what they believed. Books like the Diary of a Young Girl or The River of Doubt teach me much more about WWII or Theodore Roosevelt than I will ever pick up from any history book or lecture. The story sticks with me, and I remember the facts of the story because of how powerful it was.

One such book that has deeply impacted me is The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom.

Corrie was a Dutch woman living during the horrors of WWII. Her story, written in her own words, tells of her life before the invasion of Holland by the Germans, and her struggle through the war to hide and protect the Jewish people in and around her community. Her resistance against the regime that caused so much terror throughout the known world begins with very small things. Simple kindness, a ration card, a message delivered. Before too long, she, her sister, and her aging father are asked to shelter a Jewish man in their home, an offense that could get them shot.

They don’t hesitate, and Eusie is added to their household.


More and more Jews join them, until there are seven who live every day in the Beje, their tiny little home. Others come and go, on their way to safe houses, but those seven have become a part of their family. Seven people that no one else can ever know about. A secret room, built into the twisting, cramped little house, gives them a place to hide in case the Gestapo ever come.

And they do come.

The secret room saves the seven Jews, but Corrie, her sister, and her father are all arrested. A succession of prisons and concentration camps follows, leading them into the darkest corners of Germany. Corrie’s account of the horror of the concentration camps is softened by her faith in God and her love for her sister. Even in the midst of the tragedy around them, they are able to cling to the promise that no pit is so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.

This book is one that has influenced me over and over again through the years. The story of faith, perseverance, and forgiveness locked within its pages is truly life-changing.

“Corrie, if people can be taught to hate, they can be taught to love!”