I realized recently that although reading comprises a large part of my personal entertainment, I hardly ever talk about the books I’m reading here on the blog (although I often do in The Back Patio, my monthly newsletter). I’m figuring since you’re reading this blog, you’re probably a reader, so why not share some of my recent good reads, right? Here goes…
Out of the House of Bread: Satisfying Your Hunger for God with the Spiritual Disciplines
I love how Preston breathes new life into ancient spiritual practices like the Examen, Lectio Divina, and intercessory prayer by weaving aspects of each along with a step in the process of making a loaf of bread from scratch. The metaphor works beautifully, yet Preston also writes in such a way that the content and ideas are accessible and relatable. And that cover! Delectable.
Night Driving: A Story of Faith in the Dark
This book simply knocked my socks off. First of all, Addie Zierman is a phenomenal writer and a masterful storyteller. And second, she asks hard questions and isn’t afraid to be vulnerable on the page, a quality I deeply appreciate in memoir writing. From the back cover: “Against the backdrop of rushing interstates, strangers’ hospitality, gas station coffee, and screaming children, Addie stumbles toward a faith that makes room for doubt, disappointment, and darkness…and learns that sometimes you have to run away to find your way home.”
For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards
Do you know Jen Hatmaker? She is side-splittingly funny – I mean, laugh-out-loud while you are reading…how rare is that? I have to admit, I expected this book to have more of a continuous narrative, but in actuality, it’s really a compilation of essays that read a lot like blog posts. That’s okay. For the Love is well-worth the read, not just for the laughs, but also for Hatmaker’s refreshingly inclusive approach to Christianity.
When Breath Becomes Air
I read this memoir in a single sitting and turned the last page after 1 a.m., which, for this in-bed-at-9:30pm girl, is highly unusual. Prepare yourself; this is a tough but beautiful read, published posthumously after the author, who had just completed his residency in neurosurgery, died from lung cancer in his mid-30s. From the book jacket: “What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.”
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
This book has helped me think about my career as a writer and my life in general from the perspective of this one critical question: What is my essential intent? (in other words, what’s my sweet spot, my mission – what am I trying to achieve? And what can I eliminate to become more focused on that?). From the back cover: “The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done. It is not a time management strategy, or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.”
The Light of the World
This memoir is really an ode to marriage and an elegy, a poem of sorts (though it’s not poetry, it’s so beautifully written and lyrical, it reads like it) by Alexander to her late husband Ficre, an artist who died unexpectedly just a few days after his 50th birthday. I listened to this one via Audible during my morning jogs; Alexander herself is the narrator, which made this memoir all the more personal. Powerful and fierce, yet tender, eloquent, and at times heart wrenching, The Light of the World was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.
Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism
Drew G.I. Hart
I didn’t find this book quite as gripping as Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me (which isn’t quite fair, since they are different genres – Coates’ book is memoir, while Hart’s is straight-up non-fiction), but Trouble I’ve Seen still gave me a lot to think about. Hart walks the reader through issues including mass incarceration, police brutality, antiblack stereotypes, and poverty, explaining each within the larger framework of white surpremacy and white privilege. I really appreciated the fact that he offered concrete practices and strategies to consider as we think about the role of the church in confronting racism today.
What about you? What are you reading these days? Tell me! And hey, if you’re looking for what to read next, check out Anne Bogel’s podcast by that name. I guarantee your list will grow by leaps and bounds.
*Note: This post includes Amazon affiliate links, which means I earn gift card credits if you click over through these links and buy one of these books. I kind of love that.