Best Review - Top 8 books I read when I need a new dose of compassion

I

read the Joshua books when I find I am in need of a new dose of compassion. They were written by Joseph Girzone, a retired Catholic priest. The books are non-denominational.

He wrote them all as parables. In short, imagine that Jesus came back to this world today. Many people would have no easier time accepting him than they did back about 2000 years ago. Joshua is kind of the incarnation of Jesus – with all his memories and incredible connection to God.

I own most of these books and have read each of them dozens of times through the years. They are not only very enjoyable to read, they have enhanced my faith.

Joshua (1983)
Joshua and the Children (1989)
Joshua and the Shepherd (1990)
Joshua In The Holy Land (1993)
Joshua and the City (1995)
Joshua : The Homecoming (1999)
Joshua in a Troubled World : A Story for Our Time (2005)
Joshua's Family (2007)

Some of my favorite books
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Top 1

Joshua: A Parable for Today


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Book description from Amazon: “When Joshua moves to a small cabin on the edge of town, the local people are mystified by his presence. A quiet and simple man, Joshua appears to seek nothing for himself. He supports himself by working as a carpenter. He charges very little for his services, yet his craftsmanship is exquisite. The statue of Moses that he carves for the local synagogue prompts amazement as well as consternation.
What are the townsfolk to make of this enigmatic stranger? Some people report having seen him carry a huge cherry log on his shoulders effortlessly. Still others talk about the child in a poor part of town who was dreadfully ill but, after Joshua's visit, recovered completely.
Despite his benevolence and selfless work in the community, some remain suspicious. Finally, in an effort to address the community's doubts, the local religious leaders confront Joshua.”
# Paperback: 288 pages
# Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Scribner (January 1, 1995)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0684813467
# ISBN-13: 978-0684813462


Top 2

Joshua and the Children


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Book description from Amazon: “In this sequel to Father Joseph Girzone's best-selling first novel, Joshua , a gentle wanderer comes to a village in (presumably) Northern Ireland and attempts to bring peace to the anxious and unhappy children of the town by spending time with them and by teaching them to be friends with one another. Joshua does not so much preach as live the Christian life, and he feels the children are the key to future peace "because adults resist change, and once adults learn to hate, it is hard for them to forgive and lay aside their hatred." A simple, moving, and inspirational parable presented in an uncomplicated fashion. Recommended.”

# Paperback: 240 pages
# Publisher: Touchstone (April 1, 1995)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0684813459
# ISBN-13: 978-0684813455


Top 3

Joshua and the Shepherd

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Book description from Amazon: “On the eve of David Campbell's consecration as a Catholic bishop, he has an all-night vision that changes him from a strict observer of church law to a radical reformer. Advised by the mysterious Joshua (featured in the author's Joshua , Richelieu, 1983, and Joshua and the Children , Macmillan, 1989), David challenges the traditions of the church in parochial education, social services, ordination, celibacy, and other areas. Because the novel's primary intent is to convey the author's views on the Catholic Church, its characters never come to life, the dialog is stilted and repetitious, and many plot devices are left hanging without resolution. Still, fans of Joshua will ensure this book an audience.”

• Paperback: 256 pages
• Publisher: Touchstone; 1st Scribner Paperback Fiction ed edition (May 20, 1996)
• ISBN-10: 068482504X
• ASIN: B001PO67BG


Top 4

Joshua In The Holy Land


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Book description from Amazon: “Girzone's enormously popular Joshua series (The Shepherd, 1990, etc.) continues, now taking its charismatic, Christlike protagonist to present-day Israel, where his updated parables and common-sense approach to peace spread oil on historically troubled waters. Just exactly who is this fellow? Girzone never quite says he's Jesus of Nazareth back for another round with a screwed-up world, but he hints heavily. The young man always knows the names of people he meets for the first time; he never gets worried; he knows Israel like the back of his hand; and he never talks in contractions. On foot (sandaled), the friendly, well-tanned young man wanders into an Arab camp bearing a lost lamb belonging to the granddaughter of the local sheik. Hitting it off with the aged sheik (but not with the sheik's son), he stays to supper and later that night cures the granddaughter of snakebite. It's the first of a string of miracles for which Joshua takes no credit, pointing out that that sort of thing is God's work. The grateful chieftain provides the friendly Jew an entree into the Arab community, the first step of a nonpolitical peace process that actually works. Strolling around Israel, Joshua chats up Christians, Moslems, and Jews, making friends and followers wherever he goes, pointing out quite sensibly that things aren't going to be better until everybody stops indulging in vengeance and gets down to the work of getting along. There are numerous parallels to events of two thousand years ago, but the actors are new, and the results more upbeat. Affecting at times, and never smarmy. Still, not for the cynical.”

• Paperback: 224 pages
• ISBN-10: 0684813440
• ASIN: B000C4SQQE


Top 5

Joshua and the City

Book description from Amazon: “ The fourth installment in the Joshua series, Joshua and the City reaches some encouraging and very important conclusions. In an urban community where poverty, senseless violence, racism, and AIDS seem like insurmountable problems, Joshua manages to sow seeds of renewal with his words of love. He reaches out to every person with transforming openness, showing how to regenerate the city and bring about undreamed-of economic revitalization.

Yet many other problems remain that money cannot help. And it is, most importantly, to these that Joshua addresses his healing message. In a world of despairing doubt, Joshua and the City gives the reader hopeful answers that lead toward peace and understanding.”

• Paperback: 256 pages
• Publisher: Image (September 1, 1996)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 0385485697
• ISBN-13: 978-0385485692


Top 6

Joshua : The Homecoming

Book description from Amazon: “Joshua: The Homecoming is Joseph F. Girzone's sequel to the immensely popular Joshua. The title character, a kind and solitary carpenter, returns to the small town of Auburn after a 20-year absence. Joshua finds that many of his old friends have died, and he sees in the new generation a pervasive fear and spiritual insecurity. Many of the anxieties that plague the citizens of Auburn stem from millennial hysteria; and when signs of the Apocalypse begin to appear (such as a great earthquake just before the turn of the new year), Joshua soothes their fears by reminding them that God is love. "My father does not follow people's calendar," Joshua says. "If he decides to bring the world to an end, it will be when the work of His creation is perfected." Eventually, it becomes clear to Joshua that he must leave Auburn to preach his powerful message to the rest of the world. Like all of Girzone's books (including Never Alone and A Portrait of Jesus), this novel exudes empathy for its characters' loneliness and fears, and gives readers a strong sense of what it means to live in an intimate relationship with God.”

• Paperback: 272 pages
• Publisher: Image; Image Books ed edition (October 17, 2000)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 0385495102
• ISBN-13: 978-0385495103


Top 7

Joshua in a Troubled World : A Story for Our Time

Book description from Amazon: “Girzone's Joshua (i.e., Jesus) makes his first appearance since The Parables of Joshua (2001) and this time deals with a real-world problem, peace in Israel. Chameleon-like, Joshua appears at various locations in Washington, D.C., and because he lacks ID and looks Middle Eastern, secret service goons trail him, and lose him, every step of the way. Girzone makes much of the political climate, where "scribes and Pharisees" abound and where "it takes only a few sick people to destroy a democracy and strip us of our rights." Case in point: when Joshua, simply by asking them, rallies Arab, Jewish, and Christian leaders to sue for peace in Israel, thugs round them up and detain them. This is, however, all part of God's plan. Even those old combatants, Arafat and Sharon, are made at last to see reason in the presence of Joshua, and soon peace is on its way in a reprise of the Oslo accords. Girzone's topical approach seems likely to date his new book almost upon publication, but the urgency and anger of his words are arresting. His many fans will be gratified and a bit taken aback.”

• Paperback: 208 pages
• Publisher: Image (June 20, 2006)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 0385511833
• ISBN-13: 978-0385511834


Top 8

Joshua's Family

Please note: This is the one book that I have not yet read. As you see, the description below does not encourage me to read it. I love all his other books – especially the first five books mentioned above.

Book description from Amazon: “This disappointing prequel to Girzone's bestseller Joshua imagines Christ's childhood in a contemporary setting. In the town of Sharon, a poor family moves into a ramshackle house. Joseph, the father, is a master carpenter; Miriam is the mother whose "whole life centered around her two men"; and Joshua is the kind, obedient 11-year-old son, wise beyond his years. Joshua realizes he is different from other boys when he turns water into wine, walks on water, heals an injured friend and mysteriously knows the best fishing spots. Girzone's characters ponder the sadness of war, the folly of taking God out of schools and rampant drug use among adolescents. These plot elements never catch fire, however. Repetitive phrases and contradictions vie with platitudes ("For people who have little, the simplest surprise fills their hearts with gladness") and ponderous observations ("That afternoon and evening was a time in their lives they would not soon forget"). Even readers who loved Joshua will be hard pressed to find this bland story worthwhile.”

• Paperback: 224 pages
• Publisher: Image; Reprint edition (August 19, 2008)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 0385517157
• ISBN-13: 978-0385517157


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This Top 8 Books I Read When I Need A New Dose Of Compassion has been created by our member Debbie Dunn whose website you can visit here: Professional Storyteller and Freelance Writer Debbie Dunn.
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