Thursday, August 7, 2014

Authors Pick Five: Heather Young

Even though Heather Young is not officially a Utah Author, I'd like to take time to feature her today because she sort of has ties here. Sort of! She is the author of  Ezra and Hadassah, which I read and reviewed awhile back. In the process of doing that review and setting up this feature, we've had a few back and forth emails and I've enjoyed getting to know her just even that little bit. See for yourself as she takes the time.. a lot of time actually... to answer my one author question:

What five books are most
important or influential to you?

1. Always start at the beginning – That is the lesson I learned from one of my writing teachers. The beginning for me was the first book I could read on my own. It is my beloved favorite, a book that still makes me laugh today. How can anyone read “Too frilly, too bumpy, too leafy, too lumpy and not laugh? And can we please discuss the ‘silly’ hat? Oh. My. Goodness. Comedy gold.  “Old Hat, New Hat” by Stan and Jan Berenstain. A classic that should make even adults smile.

2. When you know better, you do better – Oprah credits Maya Angelou with that saying, but I heard it years ago on Oprah’s afternoon talk show as I was simultaneously trying to be a more enlightened adult and ignoring my screaming children at the same time.

I picked up the book “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom” by Don Miguel Ruiz after I heard “Ellen” on her afternoon talk show mention it as a book that helped her put the ups and downs of her career in perspective. I love to reread it when my tender feelings are hurt and I need to remind myself that people are stupid and to not take stuff personally. I have a harder time with the part about Speaking Impeccably because I love good celebrity gossip. And the whole Always Do Your Best part? I’m a work in progress on that one.

3. “My wife and I were but a few years out of college when we found ourselves surrounded by children of our own making- a simple, inexpensive hobby that somehow got out of hand.”- There is nothing better than a good humor writer and Patrick McManus has my vote as the all time, all around, best humor writer ever. I read his book “Never Sniff a Gift Fish” two weeks before my wedding and it made me laugh when I desperately needed a break from the drama of getting married.

He started writing humor columns for Boy’s Life and sporting magazines and that morphed into writing books. McManus writes most of his books from the perspective of a bumbling boy trying to enjoy the great outdoors. Even though I don’t fish, hunt or camp with any degree of skill, Patrick’s books make it fun to tag along on his adventures in the wilderness. His books are perfect for reading aloud around the campfire or in the dead of winter when the power goes out.  All of his books are family friendly humor, a rarity nowadays. (I’ve used the opening quote in numerous talks in church while introducing our family and it never fails to get a laugh from the congregation.)

4. “To thine own self be true”- Shakespeare wrote it, but the book “My Name is Asher Levy” lives it. Written by Chaim Potok, this book has my heart because it explores the tension between a strict religious community and a young man who has an inborn talent that he is forbidden to express in his Jewish sect. I was fully immersed in Asher Levy’s struggle to be the artist he was destined to be, against the excruciating pain of disappointing his father, his community and most importantly, God. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is thinking about their place in the world.

5. “And now, THE rest of the story…”-  Radio star Paul Harvey made his career by telling “the rest of the story,” the part of the dramatic story that no one knows. It never takes away from the importance of the core story to hear the full rounding out of the event, it just adds another layer of seasoning to the dish. And that is what “The Gift of Asher Levy” is. This book is the continuation of the previous book, “My name is Asher Levy.” It is so rare to adore one book and then be given the gift of the rest of the story with the same level of heart, introspection and truth. I couldn’t possibly express in words how much the combination of both these books has meant to me in my search for finding the balance between my religious life and the realities of the real world, something that seems so simple and yet has at times, been a very heavy burden to my soul. I consider “The Gift of Asher Levy” a book of personal scripture for me.

Now... don't you feel like you totally know her too? Awesome. 

Thanks so much Heather for participating and hanging out on my blog today!

To learn more about Heather, you can check out her blog here


  1. Thank you for featuring Heather! After having read her book Ezra and Hadassah, I felt compelled to meet this brilliant, strong, humorous woman. We visited in her town of Iowa City and since my return to Utah, have kept in touch through Facebook. How she overcame her circumstances to become the delightful person she is, continues to inspire me every day. I love reading anything she writes, including her book picks. Thank you for letting us get to know her even a little bit better!

    1. Retiring: Hey! I'm glad you enjoyed this! That is awesome that you sought her out and became friends.



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