Books are pretty much life to me. I realize that may be slightly overstating it but, yeah. They're life. I escape in them, I think through them, I find myself and friends and people light years away from my own experience in them. I learn empathy, imagination, prejudice, and grace. I can get lost in the turn of a sentence, the thrill of plot, and the pondering of memory. In fact, I have a tottering pile of books on my nightstand currently. Exhibit A:
I'm usually reading at least half a dozen books at a time, depending on my mood and writing deadlines. Books, like good food, are meant to be shared
. I'm realizing that most of the books I'm returning to, or reading for the first time, are about desire. It's fitting as I've been thinking much about the ache of home
and longing for glory
, while working on my book.
But, without further ado:
Here are a few non-fiction favorites I've picked up lately:
Jen Pollock Michel, Teach Us To Want
: I'm revisiting my friend Jen's book because 1) it's awesome and 2) we're going to use it for a mom's group study in the fall. Here's why you want it -- Do you ever get caught up in what you want and what you think you're supposed to want? How does being a Christian change our desires? Where does desire fit into a holy life if God really isn't a kill-joy? Jen is smart as a whip, thoughtful, funny and a terrific writer. Give it a go.
C. Christopher Smith, Reading for The Common Good
-- You'll have to wait until later this summer for a proper book review from me. Chris Smith is editor for the Englewood Review of Books. I met him in person at the Festival of Faith & Writing and we had a terrific conversation on writing, space and place and of course, books. I loved his book he co-authored called Slow Church, and Reading for the Common Good does not disappoint (even in the first few pages). This is why you want this book: reading can be thought of as an escape from doing good and loving your neighbor, but in Reading for the Common Good, Smith gives us a book that integrates both and sees reading as a practical spiritual discipline. Plus, there's a reading list at the back, yippee!
James K. A. Smith, You Are What You Love
-- I'm a total lightweight since I've bypassed Jamie Smith's first large book, Desiring the Kingdom
, for his more popular version. I'm planning on reading the tome later but have been reading the popular version with folks from our church. It's a simple message really and it like a chorus sung at the back of your mind, when you finally hear the words articulated, it all makes sense. Smith argues that "you are what you love" -- that we are not brains-on-a-stick, but longing and desiring creatures. We are shaped not by what we think, but by what we love and that as we form our habits and liturgies we prepare the soil for proper loves. Definitely an invigorating read.
Fiction and poetry that I pepper throughout lately includes:
Death Comes for the Deconstructionist
by Daniel Taylor -- funny, quirky, learned and a great read, especially for literature folks. Also there's a lovely review of it in Books & Culture
by Emily Bronte -- Somehow I missed reading this in its entirety, which is horribly embarrassing. How does that happen when one has a PhD in literature? I shall hide my head in shame.
by Wendell Berry -- What I pick up usually on Sundays when I need some refreshment.
I've also recently watched Michael Pollan's Netflix docu-series called "Cooked
." Worth a watch. It even gave us the idea to go and buy supplies to make bread as a family, which was enormously fun and yummy. Plus you'll get really hungry and you'll start thinking carefully how creating meals in your home is actually a subversive and countercultural act.
What are you reading?
Have a book you love? Comment below
so I can add it to my teetering pile!
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