I have always loved books – the way a book feels in my hands, the way a book smells, the anticipation of starting a new book, not knowing what I will learn, what characters I will meet, what comfort, or challenge, I will receive.
As many of you know, I was a retail bookseller for fifteen years before I was ordained. It’s no wonder that a few years into my ordination, I started leading women’s Bible study classes: The Bible is a library: books of history, poetry, inspiration; incredible stories and family sagas, four different accounts of Jesus’ life and death.
Spending more time at home this year, I did not clean out my closets or drawers. I read more than ever before. Here’s a wide-ranging list of some favorites. Some are new, some were published years ago; all are still in print. While I understand the temptation to order online, please try to check with your local independent bookstore first!
This list is not in preferential order:
Peace is Every Step, The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life (1991) by Thich Nhat Hanh, who died on January 22 in Hue, Vietnam, leaving our world far richer for his presence in it. The book is incredibly helpful to anyone seeking to be more mindful.
Listening to Your Life, Daily Meditations with Frederick Buechner (1992). My copy of these daily readings literally fell apart in my hands last summer due to constant use. I quickly replaced it; it’s a treasure.
The Shaping of a Life, A Spiritual Landscape, (2009) by Phyllis Tickle, the late beloved writer, theologian, and dear friend of Calvary. I loved this book and not just because I loved its author.
The Luminous Web, Essays on Science and Religion, by Barbara Brown Taylor. (2000). A brilliant exploration of the ‘web of creation’ by a preacher we have come to know and love through her Lenten Preaching Series sermons. Highly recommended for anyone intrigued by the connection between science and faith.
Wholehearted Faith by Rachel Held Evans with Jeff Chu (2021). At the time of her tragic death in 2019, the author was working on a new book. Her close friend and author Jeff Chu wove together the unfinished manuscript with her other unpublished pieces. The result is this moving, intimate book. Katherine Bush teaches a Wednesday night class at Calvary on Evans’s earlier book, Searching for Sunday.
Caste, The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson, Pulitzer-Prize winning author of The Warmth of Other Suns (2020). Timely, beautifully written, powerful. Author and historian Jill Lepore strongly endorses this book: “What Wilkerson urges isn’t argument at all; it’s compassion. Hush, and listen.”
His Truth is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope (2020) by author and Canon Historian of the Washington National Cathedral Jon Meacham. It is dedicated to “All who toil and fight and live and die to realize the true meaning of America’s creed.” Meacham bridges the gap between the church and the world with clarity and power.
A Confederacy of Dunces, a novel by John Kennedy Toole. (1980.) Friends, if you have never read this, or even if you have, treat yourself to a hilarious, poignant, unforgettable rendering of life in New Orleans and beyond. A treasure.
The Lincoln Highway, (2021), a novel by Amor Towles, author of A Gentleman in Moscow. A very long book that I wanted to be even longer. I read it slowly, savoring the journey; along the way, I lost my heart to its four unforgettable characters.
Happy Reading; send your favorites!