Text by Diane Slocum

In this season, can we make it a point to look for faith, hope, joy, kindness and generosity? One place to look is in books.

Young readers of 8 to 12 years of age might want to read “My Name is Tani … And I Believe in Miracles” by Tanitoluwa Adelwumi and Craig Borlase. Tani’s family was targeted by Boko Haram in Nigeria so they fled to the U.S. They were living in a homeless shelter in New York City when Tani began attending public school, where he joined the chess club. One year later, at 8 years old, he became a chess champion. His story demonstrates the power of faith and the human spirit to overcome adversities.

“Anger and Forgiveness: Resentment, Generosity, Justice” (Oxford University Press) by Martha C. Nussbaum claims that anger is a disease that is not necessarily a precursor to justice, forgiveness is the best way to transcend anger, and generosity is the most effective response to injury. Nussbaum is a professor of law and ethics at the University of Chicago. She is the author of about 30 books on philosophy, ethics, political science and more.

Other books on these themes include: “Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption” by Katie Davis Majors and Beth Clark, which tells of a teenager who adopted 13 girls in Uganda; “Little Mole’s Christmas Gift,” written by Glenys Nellist and illustrated by Sally Garland, reminds that it is always good to be kind, and “Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen”by Bob Greene tells of the devotion of a small town to soldiers on the way to war.



With a title that fits right in with the above topics, William Lyles III’s memoir, “The Joy of Building,” ghostwritten by Betsy Lumbye from Lyle’s recordings, tells the story of his family’s business successes and their relationship with Fresno and the valley’s booms and busts in oil, water, real estate, technology and farming. Lyles built his family’s pipeline business into a force far beyond its humble beginnings and became a major local philanthropist. The Lyles College of Engineering and Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Fresno State are named after him.

Betsy Lumbye was executive editor of the Fresno Bee and is the author of “Beyond Luck: The Improbable Rise of the Berry Fortune Across a Western Century.” Clarence Berry was a bankrupt valley fruit grower when he struck Klondike gold on his honeymoon. He sinks his fortune into barren California land and finds oil. So goes the luck of the Berry family as it built an empire over a century and a half, through booms and busts, from mining camps to Beverly Hills mansions. Both books are published by Mark Arax’s West of the West Books in Fresno.



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Skillshare.com also has writing classes taught by authors such as Roxanne Gay, Jesse Forrest and Simon Van Booy. Topics such as Character, Conflict, Context & Craft, a and Going Viral: Write, Film & Make Content People Share are taught.



Registration is open for the Conference in the Cloud, the 2021 off-site version of the 35th annual Southern California Writers’ Conference to be held Feb. 12-14. The staff has determined that it can offer the best of the usual schedule with minor tweaks and by limiting attendance at workshops. Details at: writersconference.com/sd.



The Southern California Writers Association “Will Write for Food” Contest is held monthly. Entries may be on any subject. Cash prize is $25. Maximum 1,000 words. Due by the third Wednesday of each month. Details: southerncalwriters.org/writing-contest.



“When you are kind to others, it not only changes you, it changes the world.” — Harold Kushner, 1935