A wonderful little book for your summer reading pleasure is The Noticer by Andy Andrews. Published in 2009, it followed Andrews' best-selling The Traveler's Gift.
The book opens when a stranger arrives to an Alabama beach town carrying a mysterious brief case loaded with books that he gives as required reading for searching souls. Beaches and books grabbed my attention from the very start.
Jones, the mysterious Noticer, gives advice to a homeless man, a struggling married couple, and a lonely widow among others. His main message is the book's subtitle: sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective. "I am a noticer," Jones explains. "It is my gift. While others may be able to sing well or run fast, I notice things that other people overlook. And you know, most of them are in plain sight. I notice things about situations and people that produce perspective. That's what most folks lack - perspective - a broader view. So I give 'em that broader view...and it allows them to regroup, take a breath, and begin their lives again."
To a defeated and alone young man who lacks the motivation and direction to begin his life again, the Noticer points out that encouragement, opportunity and wisdom often comes from the people around us. "Ask yourself this question every day: 'What is it about me that other people would change if they could?'...A successful life has a great deal to do with perspective. And another person's perspective about you can sometimes be as important as your perspective is about yourself."
It was interesting for me to consider what my wife, daughters, and friends would change about me if they could. It provides a different angle than asking 'what would I change about myself.'
There's a hint of a heavenly dimension to Jones, but I would not shelve this book in the faith section of the bookstore.
Nevertheless, the theme of this book is the transformation of hurting people. I love that because it points us to a biblical truth: the God who created each of us wants to make us a new creation. He has already provided salvation from our dark circumstances; we may just need a little perspective to find our way.