Rachel Pieh Jones

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So far Rachel Pieh Jones has created 786 blog entries.

June Bookshelf

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Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, in the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation, by Eboo Patel I loved this book. I appreciate Eboo’s perspective on interfaith relationships. He doesn’t pretend all faiths are the same, he doesn’t try to smooth over differences or force a stilted and dulling pretense of agreement. He challenges us to live with the spacious of faith that loves and believes what we love and believe, while fully respecting another to love and believe what they do. Even, he exhorts us, we can learn from one another. Much like I have learned about the power of posture in prayer from my Muslim friends, while not insisting we pray alike. This is lovely memoir by a man who practices what he preaches.

Homing Instincts, by Sarah Menkedick I loved this book, too! So beautiful. I heard a podcast interview with Sarah in which she talked about the lack of serious writing about motherhood and I totally agreed. This is a deep exploration of the body, identity, and home, through the nine months of her pregnancy. She had previously spent a lot of time abroad so I particularly resonated with that aspect of her transition to motherhood.

Paris, I Love You, but You’re Getting Me Down, by Rosecrans Baldwin. Liked it, didn’t love it. It’s a bit crass, so you’ve been warned. Super funny, especially as a person who has studied French and spent some time in Paris. I will always love reading how other people navigate cross cultural work and relationships.

A Sinner in Mecca: a Gay Muslim’s Hajj of Defiance, by Parvez Sharma. Gay. Muslim. Pilgrimage. This is a loaded book and it includes an extensive exploration of the violent aspects of jihad as the author goes deep into Saudi Wahhabi teachings. Like Paris, I Love You, this book is a bit crass. I didn’t need to read about all the author’s sexual exploits in the underground gay bars of Beirut or Cairo. But I was fascinated by his writing about the hajj. Okay, I’m fascinated by almost all writing about the hajj, as it is the most mysterious of the Islamic Pillars, to an outsider. I watch people pray, hear them say the Shahadah, join in fasting, and we all give to the poor. But the hajj is behind a shroud, so reading this was like peeking behind the curtain. I’m sure more conservative Muslims take deep offense at some of what he writes, but I’m trying to read widely as I learn. I have to admit that I love his sort of ‘inside jokes’ as a Muslim. I’ve been a Christian all my life and there are things other Christians just get that are funny, jokes about Chubby Bunny or when on road trips and someone says, “Matthew 4:19a” and everyone gets in their cars because they know the reference (“Come, follow me.”). For example, Parvez’s friend texts him, “Come on over, the beer is flowing like the water of Zamzam.” I enjoy when people can make light of their faith, even while they love it and hold to it fiercely. Its human.

In the Land of Invisible Women: a Female Doctor’s Journey in the Saudi Kingdom, by Qanta Ahmed. I have loved lately reading spiritual memoirs by Muslims. They’ve been harder to dig up, but its been a pleasure to find some in my Kindle library or on sale. This is by an Indian Muslim doctor, trained in the US, who takes a job at a hospital in Saudi Arabia. While there, she goes on the pilgrimage, hajj, to Mecca. What I appreciated most about this book is that she is not a religious outsider, looking in, aghast, at Saudis. As a Muslim, she has a unique perspective.

Newsletter Ninja: How to Become an Author Mailing List Expert, by Tammi Labrecque. Hopefully this book will help me serve you guys all better. And if you’re a writer or creative who also has a newsletter, get this book! Super practical and helpful. And inexpensive.

New Seeds of Contemplation, by Thomas Merton. I’ll share a quote, to let you know what this book is about. “It should be accepted as a most elementary and moral truth that no man can live a fully sane and decent life unless he is able to say “no” on occasion to his natural bodily appetites.” Not an easy lesson for so many of us in this age. He also suggests we avoid radios and advertisements. If Merton only knew…

The Bookshelf, May 2019

Here’s what I’ve been reading and some Kindle Deals (prices valid as of the day this is posted). The links take you to my Amazon Storefront and when you click through to purchase a book, I earn a small percentage (at no increased cost to you). This is a great way to support the hosting blog costs of Djibouti Jones.

My favorite book of this month, of even the past few months, is No More Faking Fine, by Esther Fleece. (also on sale for $2.99!) I could post so many quotes here. I loved how she pieced together verses that cut straight to our pain and that demonstrate how the people the Bible did not run from their pain, but took it straight to God and expected to be met in their sorrow. No More Faking Fine demonstrates how it is not only ok to grieve, but that doing so and inviting God into our pain, allows God to minister, heal, and love.

“Even as we cry, “How long, Lord?” we can trust the process that in the waiting, we are being strengthened, sanctified, and transformed. Even in the waiting, God is powerfully present, and that can be our source of deep, unshakeable joy.”

(audiobook) Deep Work: Rules for Focused Work in a Distracted World, by Cal Newport. So good, and challenging. I’ve been pushed to limit my digital use. I already didn’t have social media notifications on my phone and don’t watch much TV. But I do love me a good podcast and there are so many good ones out there. But, as a writer and simply to be a healthy person in today’s world, I need to limit that input and get some quiet time in order to do deep, focused work. I highly recommend this book.

Jean Vanier: Portrait of a Free Man, by Anne-Sophie Constant (published by my publishing house, Plough, yay!) Jean Vanier passed away this month and he left a legacy of mercy, love, and tenderness. This is a lovely biography of the man who founded L’Arche and changed the way people view disability. It releases in August, 2019 but is available now for pre-order. Here is from the back cover copy:

“The story of Jean Vanier is the story of a free man – a man who knew how to become himself, who knew how to free himself from restraints, opinions, and prejudices; from intellectual, religious or moral habits; from his epoch; from popular opinion. … Jean Vanier has transformed the lives of thousands and thousands of mentally disabled people. And he has transformed the understanding of thousands of people regarding the disabilities of their own children and of people with disabilities. Where we see only failure, disgrace, impossibility, limit, weakness, ugliness, and suffering, Jean Vanier sees beauty. And he knows how to open the eyes of others to see it.”

 

I’ve been reading a lot of spiritual memoir lately and these are ones I’ve returned to over and over:

Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans

Girl Meets God, by Lauren F. Winner Lauren is smart and funny, a Jewish convert to Christianity (and if you read her later books, a person who continues to wrestle deeply with faith). She writes with refreshing vulnerability combined with surprising heft and depth, something often lacking in current books, especially spiritual memoir. I love this book.

A Muslim and a Christian in Dialogue, by Badru D. Kateregga and David W. Shenk This book is unique in that it is balanced from both sides. Often I read books like these and one side wants to dominate, even as the book gives off the idea that it is a dialogue – it comes down to an argument. But this truly is two men who love their religion, and present it.

Leaving Church, by Barbara Brown Taylor I mean, BBT. So good. She is another woman who loves God, loves the church, loves wrestling with matters of faith and who is so, so smart and such a pleasure to read.

And a new one, Finding Jesus Among Muslims: How Islam Makes Me a Better Catholic, by Jordan Duffner. My publisher suggested this one to me, and I’m so glad they did. Jordan writes respectfully and beautifully about how specific aspects of Islam have encouraged her faith. An example is of how the Quran repeatedly urges people to pay attention, look for ayat, or signs, of how God is at work in the world.

 

Kindle Deals

No More Faking Fine, by Esther Fleece, $2.99

Searching for Sunday, by Rachel Held Evans, $4.99

Hallelujah Anyway, by Anne Lamott, $1.99

Inside Al-Shabaab, $2.99

Streams in the Desert, 365 days of devotional readings, $2.99

Faith Unraveled, by Rachel Held Evans, $2.99

The Seven Storey Mountain, by Thomas Merton, $2.99

Fierce Faith: A Woman’s Guide to Fighting Fear, Wrestling Worry, and Overcoming Anxiety, by Alli Worthington, $2.99

The Road from Corrain, by Jill Ker Conway, $4.99

 

What are you reading lately?

 

By |May 23rd, 2019|Categories: the bookshelf|Tags: |0 Comments

One Word and Taking Risks

Here are two things that came out this week:

One Word: An Interview with My Teenager Daughter

This was super fun to do – interview my own kid? Yes, please. She’s so great. Check out our conversation about the word she chose for 2019, why she chose it, and how she is leaning into it.

And Part Two of my conversation with Jen Howat, at the Giving Up Normal podcast. This part includes my encouragement to those who might be struggling to take the leap into the unknown of something hard, or risky.

Enjoy!

 

Hope Writers: Join Me!

This week Hope Writers is opening their doors for new members. If you’re interested, just click here for more information.

Straight talk here, guys. At first, I really hesitated and even after I joined, I wasn’t sure for a while whether or not I had made the right decision. Sometimes, it can be a little corny. But then, corny can also be fun.

Why I joined: I need community in my writing work and dreams. That is really hard for me to find here. I needed accountability in specific areas Hope Writers hits on. They focus more on the marketing and publishing and community building than on the craft of writing. Not that I don’t need to learn craft! I totally do, but at this point in my writing work, I need to focus on those other areas, the more “businessy” side of a writer’s work.

In those two areas: community and accountability for growth in my weaknesses, Hope Writers has totally come through.

It doesn’t meet all my writing needs and it doens’t hit all my interest buttons, but it has been the right thing for me, for now.

I’ve gotten on podcasts, which means I’ve been able to meet incredible women. I’ve joined a few small groups where we encourage each other and hold each other accountable. And just having put down the money means that I’m taking all of it, including my own work, more seriously.

It isn’t for every writer and it isn’t for all times, but for me, for this year of a lot of other stressors, I decided to jump in and join a community of writers. I’m glad I did (even when it does get corny. Or cheesy. Why do we use food for that feeling?)

Anyway, if you’re interested and would like to join me over there, here’s a link for more information:

Join Me at Hope Writers!

Let me know if you join, so we can find each other in the Facebook group.