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The Bookshelf, April 2019 #1

 

This is a Soul: the Mission of Rick Hodes, by Marilyn Berger. Rick works in Ethiopia among kids with serious back, or other health, issues. I loved reading about his work, kind of a Paul Farmer for back issues, or an Annalena Tonelli.

Running Down a Dream: Your Roadmap to Winning Creative Battles, by Tim Grahl. Tim shares personally and practically about his dark night of the soul in pursuing his creative dream, and how he dug his way out of it. $0.99!! Seriously. Ninety-nine cents. Go get it.

The Carrying, by Ada Limon, poems. Ada said in an interview, “I think poetry is a way of carrying grief, but it’s also a way of putting it somewhere so I don’t always have to heave it onto my back or in my body. The more I put grief in a poem, the more I am able to move freely through the world because I have named it, spoken it, and thrown it out into the sky.” Love.

Kindle Deals

Hidden Figures, $2.99. Probably, you’ve seen the movie. But have you read the book? Book before movie!

The Not-So United States of America, by Doug Mack. What do you really know about all of the USA?

What are you reading?

*affiliate links

The Bookshelf, March 2019 and Kindle Deals

Holy Envy: finding God in the faith of others, by Barbara Brown Taylor. Holy envy is right.

The Rock that is Higher, story as truth, by Madeline L’Engle. Could I have spent the past two weeks with any wiser women?

Invited, the power of hospitality in an age of loneliness, by Leslie Verner. I had the privilege of reading an ARC (advanced reader copy) of Leslie’s lovely book. If you don’t follow her at Scraping Raisins, you should.

Inside Al-Shabaab: the secret history of al-Qaeda’s most powerful ally, by Harun Maruf and Dan Joseph This is a must read for anyone interested in the Horn of Africa. Incredibly informative but far from boring in a textbook kind of way.

Mudhouse Sabbath: an invitation to a life of spiritual discipline, by Lauren Winner. Lauren grew up Jewish and converted to Christianity. In this book she writes about spiritual practice and how Judaism informs her Christian faith. It is lovely.

Running Down a Dream, by Tim Grahl. If you’re a writer or a dreamer, this book is for you. How to beat the Resistance and get the work DONE. Also, check out Tim’s website, for writers it is the best site for marketing that I’ve found.

Everything Happens for a Reason and other Lies I’ve Loved, by Kate Bowler. I read this last year, too. But now that I have cancer, I needed to read it again.

 

Kindle Deals (prices may have changed)

The Furious Longing of God, by Brennan Manning

Winter Hours, by Mary Oliver

The Tigress of Forli: Renaissance Italy’s Most Courageous and Notorious Countess, Caterina Riario Sforza de’ Medici, by Elizabeth Lev (a book I read in researching my book)

Among Schoolchildren, by Tracy Kidder

Searching for Sunday, by Rachel Held Evans

*contains affiliate links

The Bookshelf, March 2019

Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres Gripping, horrifying, infuriating. This was a quick read that made my blood boil at the things she experienced – abuse at the hands of “Christian” parents and a “Christian” reform school. Racism that her brothers faced. The ignorance of the impact and struggles adopted kids face. Julia is a lovely writer, this is a haunting and dark book. Fitting in the #metoo era and especially with the New Tribes, Southern Baptist, and Catholic Church scandals.

All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung What a gift. This book is written from the perspective of an adopted child, now an adult. So many stories of adoption are written from the POV of the parents who adopted the child, and are written while that child is just coming home, or still young. But what impact does adoption have on the child? Nicole provided a nuanced, thoughtful look into her own experience and it is an important opener for a really important topic.

A Country Between: making a home where both sides of Jerusalem collide by Stephanie Saldana This book was, quite simply, gorgeous. I went to bed early every night the last week just to spend more time with the gentle prose and the imagery and the wisdom. Stephanie is an American, married to a Frenchman. They met in Syria where he chose love for a woman over love for his life as a monk. In this book, they live in Israel, between two worlds. I loved this book. See also her book Bread of Angels: a journey to faith and love, about reading the Bible and the Quran and finding Jesus and falling in love with a monk.

Walking in Wonder: eternal wisdom for the modern world by John O’Donohue Can I say this book was gorgeous, too? Well, it was. I took my time through this one and reread some chapters several times, through tears. I am a massive John O’Donohue fan, if you haven’t yet noticed. His words remind me of all that is beautiful and good, even in darkness and sorrow.

The 21: a journey into the land of coptic martyrs by Martin Mosebach (published by Plough, my publisher, yay!) Another book of trauma, except it isn’t. It could be. The 21 refers to the 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians who were beheaded by ISIS. Martin explores each of these men’s lives and legacies and what could be a story of horror becomes in his skillful hands, one of hope and life.

 

Kindle Deals – so many great books!

South and West, by Joan Didion $2.99. Um, Joan Didion for under 3$?! Yes, please.

The Color of Water, by James McBride, $1.99. A really important read in the racial relationships conversation.

Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah $2.99

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, by Arundhati Roy, $1.99

The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom, $1.99

Searching for Sunday, by Rachel Held Evans, $0.99 (this is probably my favorite of Rachel’s books, I read it while on the voting panel for Christianity Today’s book awards)

What are you reading lately?

*contains Amazon affiliate links

Human Dignity in a Broken World, Two Book Reviews

Shalom Sistas, by Osheta Moore

I read this book on Saturday evening (if you want to read a lot, have surgery and have friends who bring you books, that really helps). Loved it.

I don’t know that Osheta would use the words human dignity, but that’s what shalom is about – peacemaking, peace building, relationships of healing and hope. And the only way to do that is to offer one another dignity. Her book is an honest and brave siren call to live in our neighborhoods and schools and workplaces with courage. I heard Osheta speak recently and loved her combination of passion for the hard work of pursuing justice with the freedom to enjoy simplicity, like an afternoon at the dog park. She offers 12 ways for women to actively and intentionally be peacemakers in our communities.

I love this quote, especially because I have experienced the truth of it. Peace is not passive and it is not an end goal, it is a way of life. “Peace is fierce—it has to be, because violence and discord won’t go down without a fight. Those who wield peace in the face of the world’s violence do it fiercely.”

 

Perfectly Human, nine months with Cerian, by Sarah C. Williams, PhD in philosophy and a professor at Regent College.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Plough Publishing.

I read this book in one weepy afternoon post-surgery. (Books make great post-surgery gifts, in case you have someone heading in for a procedure). My publisher gave me this one while I was at their offices last week. It is heartbreaking and beautiful, a mother’s love story and ringing testimony to the value of every single human life.

After a devastating diagnosis declared her unborn baby would not survive, Sarah and her husband choose to carry the pregnancy to term anyway. This has a terrifying and painful impact on her body and their family, but it also profoundly changes them for good as they declare with her body and with their baby, the worth of a life. What makes up a human life? How is worth determined?

Not everyone will agree with their choice, but that doesn’t matter. Few of us agree with each other about almost anything (American political situation, anyway?). What matters, is this is one family’s story and testament to beauty and life, and it is stunning.

Here is another review in Christianity Today.

And Sarah also wrote in the Huffington Post about her experience.

The Bookshelf, September 2018

I am in love with libraries. Always have been. My mom used to have to limit me on the number of books I could check out. I still had to use a grocery basket to carry them all.

I recently put about twenty books on hold and then realized that, when they call came through at the same time, I should probably stagger my holds. Ah well.

I’m also in love with the free neighborhood library stands. There are three within a mile walk of where I am staying. The other night I took a walk, talked to a friend on the phone, and scored a pile of excellent books. Tonight, I will take another walk and drop off books for others to enjoy.

Here’s what I got (haven’t read them yet):

Liars Club, by Mary Karr

Under the Banner of Heaven, a story of violent faith, by Jon Krakauer

The Martian, by Andy Weir

Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar (okay, I read this like a hundred times as a kid and want to share it with other kids)

Here’s what else I’m reading this month (some, I’m skimming, because I want to get all the words in that I can, while I have access to the miracle that is a library)

A Moonless, Starless Sky, ordinary men and women fighting extremism in Africa, by Alexis Okeowo. This is a heart-wrenching and fascinating look into the lives of several people across the continent of Africa, including a child soldier and his forced bride, who end up married to each other after they escape the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, and the story of young girls trying to play basketball in Somalia.

You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero (not the money one, the in general you one)

Demon Camp, a Soldier’s Exorcism by Jennifer Percy, which, as my doctor noted when she saw what I was reading before an appointment, sounds incredibly creepy. It is about PTSD and war and, well, demons.

The Gospel of Trees, by April Irving, a memoir of growing up as a missionary kid in Haiti. Here’s a quote I highlighted:

“If only this place wasn’t so beautiful! You want to love it, to make it your own, but it won’t take you. It only looks at you strange, then laughs behind your back. Rather humbling, you know? But it’s good for us tet cho Americans to know we can’t have everything.”

The Very Good Gospel, how everything wrong can be made right, by Lisa Sharon Harper

Practicing Resurrection, a memoir of work, doubt, discernment, and moments of grace, by Nora Gallagher

Finding God in the Waves, by Mike McHargue (aka Science Mike)

What are you reading?