13 November 2015

Friday Fifteen: Dan Buri

I'd like to welcome debut author Dan Buri to Iola's Christian Reads. Dan has recently released Pieces Like Pottery, a collection of short stories:
The first collection of short fiction from Dan Buri, Pieces Like Pottery is an exploration of heartbreak and redemption that announces the arrival of a new American author. In this distinct selection of stories marked by struggle and compassion, Pieces Like Pottery is a powerful examination of the sorrows of life, the strength of character, the steadfast of courage, and the resiliency of love requisite to find redemption.

Filled with graceful insight into the human condition, each linked story presents a tale of loss and love. A collection of nine stories, each exquisitely written and charged with merciful insight into the trials of life, Pieces Like Pottery reminds us of the sorrows we all encounter in life and the kindness we receive, oftentimes from the unlikeliest of places.
Welcome, Dan!

I want to thank Iola for this wonderful opportunity. I told her directly, but she has a fantastic blog doesn’t she? What a great avenue for us to indulge in our shared love of reading. Thank you, Iola!

My pleasure, Dan!

Growing up in Minnesota, my parents mandated “reading time” from noon-1pm everyday in the summer. Growing up with four rambunctious brothers and a lovely sister who all enjoyed sports, I’m sure you can imagine how difficult it was for us to come inside from our follies in the summer weather. While some of “reading time” was simply to give my mother a little peace and quiet for an hour, it instilled in all of us a lifelong love of reading. I recall some amazing summer afternoons with a book.

I won’t bore you with the caveat that my Friday Fifteen was difficult and could be a hundred books. I know as readers and writers we’re inclined to judge people’s selections regardless of how long the list is. (“Oh no, I don’t agree with that at all. A John Grisham book? This guy clearly isn’t serious about his writing. I don’t like that at all. I’m definitely not going to read his book.”—I’m smiling if that’s not showing through your computer screen. And while Grisham isn’t on this list, I do enjoy his books.) I will say, however, that I have tilted the list to include more of my Christian favorites.

I think this is the test of a real reader: that something which sounds easy actually turns out to be rather difficult. As you say, who to leave out?

1. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis.

Reading some of the previous Friday Fifteens from this year, I realize this is an entirely unoriginal answer, especially for Christian readers/writers, but it needs to be number one on my list. I have read it a half dozen times or so, but the first time I read it was with my mother. I think I fell in love with storytelling hearing my mother read this book to me. It’s a beautiful fable. I can recall lying up at night before bed as she made the world of C.S. Lewis a reality for me.

2. The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevski

A quote: “Above all, don't lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”

3. Uniformity With God’s Will, St. Alphonsus Ligouri

I don’t know if I have read a shorter, more difficult and impactful book in my life. 32 pages in total, it is more a booklet than a book, but the simplicity with which it guides us on how to become closer to God is tremendous.

4. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

I love Christmas time. I absolutely love it. There's just something about the kind heartedness everyone seems to display around the holiday season. People are willing to talk to complete strangers and give just a little bit more. Some of my favorite books and movies are about the holidays, and this one may be the best of them all.

5. Bridge to Terebithia, Katherine Paterson

I can’t quite place what it always was about this book, but I’ve loved it ever since I was a little boy. This book transports the reader simultaneously into the world of the loneliness children can experience and at the same time into a magical world they create in their imagination. Young kids handle far more difficult situations than we often times give them credit for, and this book certainly broaches some difficult questions for kids.

This was the first book I remember crying over.

6. In My Own Words, Mother Teresa

This book contains some of the most beautiful collection of quotes and stories. It is a simple, yet profound book of hope and faith.

7. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

I must give my wise and lovely wife a nod for turning me on to the true beauty of this book. I read it and enjoyed it in my youth, but being my better half’s favorite book, she convinced me to look deeper and longer into this novel. I am grateful. It is a tremendous work of literature. (It also helps that Fitzgerald hailed from St. Paul, Minnesota, the place where I was born and will always call home.)

8. Intentional Dating, Dr. John R. Buri

This is a book written by my father. He is a professor and a marriage and family psychologist. Yes, I am clearly biased, but I truly believe it is a must-read for anyone in a relationship. Even people with years spent in a relationship have lauded the accessible advice in this book. My father has shared many things with me, but most important of them all may be his faith. He has taught me how to hope and love. I am grateful.

9. The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen

I have a term that I like to use about books—sticky. I use this term for books that stick with me well after I’ve completed them and put them down. The characters and themes in the books just keep turning over in my mind. They may not be on a list of “You Have To Read This,” but they’ve just stuck with me. This is one of those books.

10. The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkein

I realize there are some of you that may find it absurd that I would choose The Hobbit over The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but a family friend didn’t read the entire trilogy to me when I was little boy. She did , however, read The Hobbit. Just as I fell in love with story telling when my mother read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, I fell in love with it all the same when a family friend read us The Hobbit.

11. A Vacation With the Lord, Thomas H. Green

If you find yourself struggling to make a very difficult decision in your life—it could be a job change or a family move or choice of school for you or your children—whatever it may be, I recommend this book. It will help greatly throughout your decision making process.

12. The Chosen, Chaim Potok

This is a striking book that explores a number of themes through the eyes of a young Hasidic Jewish boy. I found poignant three themes in particular: (1) the father-son relationship, (2) the strength of friendship, and (3) the search for truth.

13. A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson

This books never ceases to blow my mind, despite having read it three times. Exploring everything from the Big Bang to the discovery of quantum mechanics, Bryson takes some of the most instrumental discoveries in science and makes them accessible and awe-inspiring. With an engineering background, the scientist in me loves this book.

14. The Road, Cormac McCarthy

This is another one of those “sticky” books for me. McCarthy creates a beautiful depiction of a father and son struggling in a post-apocalyptic word. It captivates me to this day.

15. Peace Is Every Step, Thich Nhat Hanh

I think we are all communicative beings and life is intended to be shared with those around us, but a deep interior life is paramount to finding personal peace and satisfaction. I try to foster a deep interior life as much as I can, which, I hope, allows me to offer more to those I encounter in my life and into my writing. Balance in life is incredibly important. I find balance both in prayer and in meditation. Mindfulness is important to me—focusing on staying present. This book is a powerful introduction to mindfulness.

About Dan Buri

Dan Buri's first collection of short fiction, Pieces Like Pottery, is an exploration of heartbreak and redemption that announces the arrival of a new American author. His writing is uniquely heartfelt and explores the depths of the human struggle and the human search for meaning in life.

Mr. Buri's non-fiction works have been distributed online and in print, including publications in Pundit Press, Tree, Summit Avenue Review, American Discovery, and TC Huddle. The defunct and very well regarded Buris On The Couch, was a He-Says/She-Says blog musing on the ups and downs of marriage with his wife.

Mr. Buri is an active attorney in the Pacific Northwest and has been recognized by Intellectual Asset Magazine as one of the World's Top 300 Intellectual Property Strategists every year since 2010. He lives in Oregon with his wife and two-year-old daughter.

Pieces Like Pottery currently at promotional pricing!

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  1. I am very intrigued. Debating whether I should buy the book. Did you read the book? His interview leaves me interested, but I'm curious if you liked it, Iola.

    1. I haven't read it - I've currently got a HUGE backlog of books to read and review, and I mostly read novels with a few novellas, not short stories.

  2. So you're telling me I have to make the decision on my own?! :)

    I actually got it. It's in my book list. Thanks for pointing me to the book!