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Leisure reading

'Playing for Pizza'

By John Grisham

Doubleday, $21.95

An ex-lawyer known for his legal thrillers, Grisham occasionally diverts from his expected path — as in this eccentric novel about football.

Rick Dockery, a third-string quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, gets off the bench and into the game only rarely, and only when the Browns have a healthy lead.

With a 17-point lead over Denver, the coach sends Dockery in — a decision he immediately regrets. Dockery has possibly the worst-single performance in the history of the NFL. And he is then cut by the Browns.

Dockery is aghast because all he knows is football. With supreme effort, his agent gets him a starting-quarterback position with the Panthers of Parma, Italy.

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'Bagels and Grits:

A Jew on the Bayou'

By Jennifer Anne Moses

Terrace Books, $26.95

The author of this slim but interesting and witty volume lives in Baton Rouge, La., where she is known for essays, critical reviews and opinion pieces that appear in multiple newspapers. But she is a Northeasterner by birth and recently moved to the South from Washington, D.C.

The result was a deepening of her Jewish faith emanating from her experiences living in the Bible Belt of the Deep South. This book is about self-discovery from a woman who thought God was "merely a fairy tale" but experienced a crisis of faith at 40.

Much of her learning comes from the people she meets at St. Anthony's, the AIDS hospice where she volunteers. Religion mixes nicely here with humor.

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'On the Road to Heaven'

By Coke Newell

Zarahemla, $16.95 (softcover)

This year literary scholars are commemorating 50 years since Jack Kerouac wrote his strange anti-establishment book "On the Road." Although Kerouac is not considered in literary circles to be a great writer, his book has become a cult classic.

Now Coke Newell, an LDS writer who previously wrote "Cow Chips Aren't for Dippin"' and "Latter Days: A Guided Tour Through Six Billion Years of Mormonism," has jumped on the anniversary bandwagon with his own Mormon version — an autobiographical account of his LDS mission. It is written in a candid, down-to-earth, colloquial style that will probably give other former LDS missionaries pause.