The only New Year's Resolution I've faithfully kept this year (and any year) is my commitment to read one additional book per month outside of course requirements at my university.
The problem? My reading list keeps increasing...exponentially.
My solution? Start as many books as I can. I'm currently reading eight.
Your solution may be better than my FOMO toward good books. So I decided to share my list with the hope that maybe one or two titles would jump out to you as something worth reading. I've added a few brief comments by a few books regarding their influence and why I chose to read them now.
Nun on a Bus by Sister Simone Campbell
Sister Simone Campbell leads a Catholic advocacy group which gained popularity several years back during one of Paul Ryan's proposed healthcare reforms. Campbell decided that Ryan's reforms simply wouldn't cut it; they overlooked the destitute, those suffering from disabilities and other folks, temporarily or permanently disenfranchised. Spunky, strong and resilient, Campbell and a group of nuns embark on a bus tour to see the faces behind the reform–those crafting it and those influenced by it. In a current state of incivility, Campbell promotes strong yet civil advocacy.
Night by Elie Wiesel
“Those who kept silent yesterday will remain silent tomorrow.”
- Elie Wiesel
Dangerous Territory by Amy Peterson
Peterson is a professor at Taylor University who previously spent significant time in cross-cultural service. She recounts and critiques her experience vis a vis the effect it had on those she served. For any who have served or plan to serve cross-culturally, this is a must read and one of the few books I just couldn't put down until I got to the end.
The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning
“I have been seized by the power of a great affection.”
- Brennan Manning
READ THIS! If you don't read anything else on this list, READ THIS! I will get on the Enneagram soapbox any day and vouch for its value in promoting self-awareness and personal and interpersonal growth. Everyone lives in a community and knows that community lives are, well, messy. Cron's book explores the ancient idea of the Enneagram from a Christian perspective, explaining areas of struggle and growth and spiritual practices to help you in your self-actualizing journey.
Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
“It is better to be loved than admired. It is better to be truly known and seen and taken care of by a small tribe than adored by strangers who think they know you in a meaningful way.”
- Shauna Niequist
“Love isn't a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”
- Fred Rogers
Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World by Henri Nouwen
“When love chooses, it chooses with a perfect sensitivity for the unique beauty of the chosen one, and it chooses without making anyone else feel excluded.”
- Henri Nouwen
Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist
“I've spent most of my life and most of my friendships holding my breath and hoping that when people get close enough they won't leave, and fearing that it's a matter of time before they figure me out and go.”
- Shauna Niequist
My friend, Hannah, shared her deep appreciation with Fred Rogers with me earlier this year. Fred, she believes, understood the idea of loving one's neighbor well. What many didn't know about the TV host of Mister Roger's neighborhood was his deep faith. Hollingsworth's book explores the faith that guided Roger's journey, on and off screen. In an era of incivility, this is a thoughtful and heartwarming read.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
“Life is worth living as long as there's a laugh in it.” - L.M. Montgomery
I first read Stott's primer in a high school hermeneutics class. Short and helpful, it provides a strong argument for the presence of the human mind in one's faith.
The Hiding Place: The Triumphant True Story of Corrie ten Boom by Corrie ten Boom
In January, I visited Auschwitz and Birkenau during my brief time living in Poland. The chilling reality of inhumanity sunk deep and led to a season of questions and grief over the past, present and future reality of human cruelty and brokenness. ten Boom's book gives a powerful testament of forgiveness. (Her family hid Jews during the Holocaust. They were discovered, arrested and most sent to concentration camps). The power of ten Boom and her family's forgiveness is rooted in their realization of the heart of God.
Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist
“What God does in the tiny corners of our day-to-day lives is stunning and gorgeous and headline-making, but we have a bad habit of saving the headlines for the grotesque and scary.”
- Shauna Niequist
Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott
“Grief, as I read somewhere once, is a lazy Susan. One day it is heavy and underwater, and the next day it spins and stops at loud and rageful, and the next day at wounded keening, and the next day numbness, silence.”
- Anne Lamott
Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott
“I have a lot of faith. But I am also afraid a lot, and have no real certainty about anything. I remembered something Father Tom had told me--that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns.”
- Anne Lamott
Homeless at Harvard by John Christopher Frame
Frame's short narrative provides a glimpse into the homeless community surrounding Harvard University. Frame, a Harvard Divinity student at the time, chose to spend his final portion of seminary living on the streets of Harvard Square to understand the community that resides there. He encountered questions of race and place, socioeconomic status, illness and humanity, which informed and guided his definition of community in profound ways.
This Side of Brightness by Colum McCann
This is one of the best fiction books I've read in a while. McCann writes about the complexity of race in the 20th century, following three generations: early 20th century sandhogs digging together beneath the city, mid-20th-century bi-racial relationships and late 20th-century poverty and struggle with generational narratives.
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
This book gained popularity several years back with its movie version. Hillenbrand is a master wordsmith with an excellent understanding of American WWII era history. A great historical read anytime.
A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards
When I asked someone I worked with this summer if there was a book he consistently gives as a gift to those he encounters, he handed me this book. Edwards's short narrative provides a biblical definition of leadership vis a vis several Old Testament narratives.
September (Currently Reading):
The Sacredness of Questioning Everything by David Dark
“Show me a transcript of the words you’ve spoken, typed, or texted in the course of a day, an account of your doings, and a record of your transactions, and I’ll show you your religion.”
- David Dark
Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
“It takes courage to die for a cause, but also to live for one.”
- Azar Nafisi
Home: A Memoir of My Early Years by Julie Andrews
Julie Andrews wrote a biography. JULIE ANDREWS wrote a biography. Need I say more?
The Book of Aron by Jim Shepard
After living for a month in Poland, I began reading literature examining Polish Judaism pre-Holocaust. This book–which I'm still working my way through–provides a glimpse from a child–Aron's–eyes.
Option B by Sheryl Sandberg
Just Mercy by Bryan Stephenson
At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Do you have any book recommendations? Comment below!