Here's an idea for Lent that will do more good than giving up desserts: Read a book about contemporary sub-Saharan Africa. It's not a penance, though it can hurt. And seeing how much of the rest of the world lives sure does put a lot of my minor irritations and even major problems in perspective.
Consider a novel or memoir by an African, such as
Or read a journalist's first-person account, like
Dave Eggers, What Is the What (Sudan)
Tracy Kidder, Strength in What Remains (Burundi)
Ryszard Kapu?ci?ski, The Shadow of the Sun (post-colonial Africa)
Philip Gourevitch, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families (Rwanda)
If you'd rather watch a movie, try one of these:
LaVonne Neff is an amateur theologian and cook; lover of language and travel; wife, mother, grandmother, godmother, dogmother; perpetual student, constant reader, and Christian contrarian. She blogs at Lively Dust.