The Screwtape Letters, by C. S. Lewis

There is a book that has always intimidated me, but that I have always wanted to read. It is not a very big book. But, I knew that when I read it there would be so many insights given that I would never catch them all. And I was right! Luckily, the Mt. Pleasant Public Library chose it for their book club book for the month of February (You can still read it and join!! Monday, February 12, 10 -11 am at the library.) The book is: The Screwtape Letters, by C. S. Lewis.

Screwtape is a devil who writes letters to his nephew, Wormwood, giving advice on how to get his “patient” to not follow God (“the enemy”). Of course, this gives a good blueprint on how to follow God. Have fun reading and learning!!

Sister Becky Zundel



Christmas Clasics

Book Highlight

I am sure that you are bored of hearing suggestions and experiences from Becky and I. So this month’s Highlight comes from our beloved Prophet Thomas S. Monson. In his address “Because He Came” at the 2011 Christmas Devotional he said “For almost as long as I can remember, I have had a particular tradition at Christmastime. My family knows that just before Christmas I will read again my Christmas treasury of books and ponder the wondrous words of the authors. First will be the Gospel of Luke—even the Christmas story. This will be followed by a reading of A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens and, lastly, rereading The Mansion, by Henry Van Dyke.”

This is what GoodReads says about A Christmas Carol

“In October 1843, Charles Dickens ― heavily in debt and obligated to his publisher ― began work on a book to help supplement his family’s meagre income. That volume, A Christmas Carol, has long since become one of the most beloved stories in the English language. As much a part of the holiday season as holly, mistletoe, and evergreen wreaths, this perennial favorite continues to delight new readers and rekindle thoughts of charity and goodwill.

With its characters exhibiting many qualities ― as well as failures ― often ascribed to Dickens himself, the imaginative and entertaining tale relates Ebenezer Scrooge’s eerie encounters with a series of spectral visitors. Journeying with them through Christmases past, present, and future, he is ultimately transformed from an arrogant, obstinate, and insensitive miser to a generous, warm-hearted, and caring human being. Written by one of England’s greatest and most popular novelists, A Christmas Carol has come to epitomize the true meaning of Christmas.”

And The Mansion

“There was an air of calm and reserved opulence about the Weightman mansion that spoke not of money squandered, but of wealth prudently applied. Standing on a comer of the Avenue no longer fashionable for residence, it looked upon the swelling tide of business with an expression of complacency and half-disdain.

Van Dyke’s Christmas story about a mansion that speaks “not of money squandered but of wealth prudently applied” – the companion story to The Other Wise Man.”

Both are beloved holiday classics and are now in the public domain. You can get free copies of both from Project Gutenberg here for A Christmas Carol and The Mansion.

Calvin Zundel

Frontier Grit: The Unlikely True Stories of Daring Pioneer Women

Frontier Grit: The Unlikely True Stories of Daring Pioneer Women by Marianne Monson is a compilation of true women pioneer stories. With candor and cleverness the author weaves these magical tales that inspire the grit and perseverance that can be found in each of us. Though there are around a dozen stories only a couple are of LDS women. They are all interesting. You can read about a woman who dressed as a man and became a well-known stage coach driver. A woman from Hawaii who joined the LDS church, but saw separation and tragedy in her life due to leprosy. A woman who rescued Chinese slave girls in California. An LDS woman who became a famous Physician, Senator, and a polygamous wife. A woman who traveled in the wilds of Canada to rescue a group of men who had become stuck by winter weather. From the gold rush to women’s suffrage, you are sure to find a story and a person who inspires you to become more.

It is available to borrow online on OverDrive from the Utah Public Library in audio book format. The reader did a wonderful job bringing the stories to life. Many critical reviews on Amazon and GoodReads make listening to the audio book the best choice, in my opinion.

Becky Zundel

Anne of Green Gables

This month has been a busy one for me and my family. One thing that we enjoy doing to help long car trips is to listen to audio books. As we have traveled around this month we have been listening to the LibriVox dramatized versions of L.M. Montgomery’s classic Anne of Green Gables series. It is such a wonderful tale of a girl and how she effects so many lives, and how they affect her.

All of these books, except number 4, have expired copyrights and are in the public domain. You can obtain legal free copies here from Project Gutenberg.

Happy Reading 🙂

Brother Zundel




Book Highlight – Janette Oke: Canadian West

Janette Oke is a prolific Christian fiction author. I have read many of her works, but recently reread a 4 book series that uplifted and enlightened me more than I expected. Set in Canada in the early 1900’s, Beth commences her journey as a somewhat spoiled, wealthy, and cultured young school teacher from the East. She has a vast journey in which she marries and goes with her husband, who is a North West Mounted Policeman (Mountie), to the frontier west.  Because a Mountie is lawman, doctor, dentist, midwife, etc. to the people he serves, Beth has an adjustment as she supports her husband and finds ways to serve her community. Through good times and bad, from the very beginning of the book, Beth illustrates her trust in God and his plan for her life. Sometimes God’s plan is not what she expected or does not make sense to her, but as she continues to have faith and follow that plan, she sees miracles unfold and the purposes God has for her life realized. The 4 books in the series are: When Calls The Heart, When Comes The Spring, When Breaks The Dawn, and When Hope Springs New.

Becky Zundel

Book Highlight – The Secret Garden

This month I have been listening/reading to several classics while traveling around with my family. The one I’ve liked best, so far, has been “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It is a wonderful story of children making unlikely friends, and discovering “Magic”. It let me see that the blessings of God can seem like magic, and it is all around us.

This book can be checked out from the Mt. Pleasant Public library, or can be downloaded legally from Project Gutenberg. You can check out reviews from Amazon and GoodReads as well.

Brother Zundel


Book Highlight – Jessica Day George

Jessica Day George is an LDS author who writes for the national market. Although her books are not overtly religious, they are clean, retellings of fairy tales that illustrate values of kindness, courage, sacrifice, and love.

My favorite book by her is: Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow. It is a retelling of the Polar Bear King fairy tale. It delves into Norwegian culture and history, and ancient Norse Mythology which is very interesting, especially for those of Scandinavian descent. Her books are light reading for adults, and can be enjoyed by those of all ages.

Becky Zundel


Book Highlight – Freckles

This month I have chosen a classic, Freckles by Gene Stratton Porter. This is part of it’s synopsis from the Focus on the Family edition taken from

“Into a majestic forest wanders an orphaned young man known only as “Freckles.” Arriving at the logging camp of Mr. McLean, he persuades the man to give him a job guarding the prized lumber, though Freckles has only one hand. Despite harsh conditions, Freckles soon falls in love with the forest, as well as a beautiful young girl. But he wonders if she could ever love someone like him–crippled, with no family or identity. A surprising turn of events leads Freckles to discover his courage, as well as answers to his mysterious past. Freckles … remains an unforgettable story of love, courage, and adventure.”

This book can be checked out from the Mt. Pleasant Public library, or can be downloaded legally from Project Gutenberg. You can check out more reviews from Amazon and GoodReads as well.

Brother Zundel

Book Highlight – Shirley Bahlmann

Shirley Bahlmann, a local author who lives in Manti has written a delightful series of “ODD” books. These are historical non-fiction short stories about pioneers and settlers in the early 1900’s – many right here in our own Sanpete Valley!

EVEN LOVE IS ODD is the first one I read and I loved the true romantic love stories – whether they turned out well or not! The one I am currently reading is called, ISN’T THAT ODD – a book about miracles. These books are fun and easy to read. They are uplifting and inspiring. Shirley Bahlmann does a wonderful job of taking real events and enveloping them in a creative narrative that is sure to delight readers of all ages!!

Many books in the series are available at the Mt. Pleasant Public Library, and the rest can be borrowed from Ephraim’s Library.

Becky Zundel


Amazon Link


The Inquisitor’s Tale

This month’s selection is a work of fiction called “The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog” by Adam Gidwitz. It is a story of 4 unlikely companions and how they learn to be tools in God’s hands as they overcome social, political, and religious barriers. I like how it shows no matter who we are, where we come from, or anything else – God can use us to bless others’ lives.  It is somewhat a light read, since it is meant for young adults, but it addresses ideas that we all deal with like why do bad things happen to good people, the reason for life, and the death of loved ones. I really enjoyed how the author was able to treat these deep thoughts with respect, but humor as well. The Mt Pleasant Public Library has a copy in its children’s section and I suggest everyone read it and make their own judgments.

    Calvin Zundel

Book Highlight – Mister Rodgers

As you saw last month this section is dedicated to good clean books, preferably by Christian Authors, but not necessarily Church History like last months selection. If you do read one of these Highlighted Books please post a comment with your feelings and reactions. If you have a book that you would like to highlight, so that others can enjoy it as much as you do, please contact me by phone or email 🙂

This month I would like to highlight the author of “The World According to Mister Rodgers: Important Things to Remember”, “You Are Special: Neighborly Wit and Wisdom From Mister Rodgers”, “The Mister Rodgers’ Parenting Book: Helping to Understand Your Young Child”, “Mister Rodgers Talks with Parents”, “Mister Rodgers Playbook”, and many many more – Fred Rogers. I recently watched a 3 hour documentary about him entitled “Fred Rogers, America’s Favorite Neighbor”, which is available at the Mt. Pleasant Public Library. It is amazing how he dedicated his life to helping people communicate and express their feelings. He was a minister and shared his simple faith with millions over the 50 years in television, 35 of them on PBS. He believed that what children watch on TV helps shape who they are which he expressed in his acceptance speech when he was inducted into the TV Hall of Fame entitled “Fame is a 4 Letter Word”. In a world where family values are becoming increasingly hard to find we need more people like Fred Rogers.



Upon Destiny’s Song

I will be adding a new section, starting this month, informing you about good clean books. This month’s selection is Upon Destiny’s Song by Mike Ericksen. It is available from the material center at the church and can be checked out for one week and may be renewed, if there is no waiting list. It has a companion disk with pictures and music that accompany the story that is available at the Mt. Pleasant Public Library.

Synopsis – In 1856 the Ole Madsen Family set sail from their native Denmark seeking an American Zion, answering the call of early leaders of their newfound religion, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Once docked in New York City, they still stood two thirds of a continent from their dreams. They traversed 1,300 miles of that land pulling a handcart packed with their meager belongings. They were assigned to the Willie Company, one of 10 such pioneer companies that made the trek from the Midwest to Utah Territory on foot. An already difficult task took a harrowing turn for the worse when food rations ran out and harsh winter storms descended while they were still hundreds of miles from their objective. As the family lay huddled together on the crest of Wyoming’s Rocky Ridge, freezing to death, they learned the true meaning of faith.

Their story echoes across the expanse of time as descendent Mike Ericksen & his family search for these ancestors. As Ericksen flips through pages of aged documents & pores over family trees online, he discovers truths that leave him in awe. He learns of his great-grandmother Marie’s struggles & finds a consoling connection to her by telling her powerful story through music. Through it all he comes to understand the powerful ripple effect of everyday decisions & the significance of being true heroes.

Authors – Mike Ericksen &  Sage Steadman

Reviews – Amazon   &   Good Reads