Book Love: Recent and Current Reads

Thursday, April 7, 2011


I'm reading quite a few books right now. All at the same time. Just finished a couple, and I'm determined to finish the ones that I'm currently reading before starting another. I prefer to read one fiction and one non-fiction book at a time, but I've turned into that strange person who I never understood before now - you know the one who reads fourteen books at a time. Now I am that person. How did I get here? Not important. The important thing is that I want to read at least 50 books this year. (which is quite a few more than last year but is still well below my regular reading standards. I estimate my regular reading average to be right around 150 books a year. I'm ready to get back to that. Maybe someday...when I no longer have four small children) I think I'm well on my way, though.

I do not know how I missed the book when it was new. I'm sorry that I did, since no one is really talking about it anymore. It is so powerful and well-written. I consider myself a feminist, but I recommend it for anyone, even if you don't lean feminist, who is interested in women's rights, social justice, and changing the world we live in.

2) Spiritual Parenting - Michelle Anthony
This is a re-read. I read it super quickly the first time because I had gotten it from the library and recognized a few pages in that I needed to own it. I needed to sit with it, digest it, implement it in ways that I could not accomplish in just three weeks. This book is excellent and a fresh voice on parenting our children spiritually. It's not the typical evangelical parenting how-to, frankly, which makes me feel pretty happy. I found quite a bit of challenge in this book, but even more important to me at this stage in my life, quite a bit of validation. The things that I so worry about 'ruining' my kids are validated in this book as making them stronger, making them more like Jesus, growing them to be the men and women God designed for them to be.

3) The Confession: A Novel- John Grisham
I love John Grisham. This one just got me fired up anew over the justice system. (like I need a reason) Especially the justice system in Texas. I'm not a fan. I'm really ready for the death penalty to be abolished nation-wide. Innocent men are on death row. Innocent men are being put to death. It's embarrassing, frankly. Time to part ways with capital punishment.

This one is on my 'bedside table' so to speak. It's actually on top of the shelf of my tall desk where I keep my other daily reading stuff. I'm just reading one segment a day. Elisabeth Elliot speaks quiet and rest into my soul in a way that few others have or will again, I'm sure. I desperately miss her daily radio broadcast, Gateway to Joy. I grew up listening to her with my mama, and continued while I was married until she stopped broadcasting them in 2001. I can still hear her voice saying, "You are loved with an everlasting love and underneath are the everlasting arms." She is truly one of my heroes of faith.

5) Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals - Shane Claiborne, Jonathon Wilson-Hartgrove, and Enumu Okoro
Another that I use daily. Usually twice daily, and when I'm really on top of things, three times a day. Building the liturgy into my life has put margin and breath into spaces where I previously felt none. My children sense it as much as I. They often ask to 'read the prayers'. They participate more often than I ever expected. It's really a beautiful thing.

Growing up in a non-liturgical church, this was not part of something that I truly understood, but it has found a deep place in my soul. The longer I read and pray through the book, the more I see the ways that my parents built our own daily liturgy into our lives. We did pray at set times. We often used the same words. We prayed individually and communally, and my mama rarely sent us out of the house in the morning without a prayer of blessing over us. Thank you, Mama, for building this appreciation into me in ways that I didn't understand then, but in ways that I so need right now. I'm honored to be continuing this tradition with my own children.

Oh I know. I almost just left this off my reading list. To be fair, I had this on pre-order before the Internet hit the fan. I really had it ordered solely because my Love Wins bumper sticker has been on the back of my van for more than five years now. Now it looks like even more of a statement I guess. Thanks Rob Bell.

Pretty much everything I think about this book is contained within this review. It was convenient for Alan Stucky to write that up for me. As an avid reader and lover of C.S. Lewis, there was really nothing in this book I hadn't heard before. As a follower of Christ, there is nothing in this book that doesn't fall firmly within the bounds of orthodox Christianity. And it's very, very Anabaptist. There's a reason Mars Hill has a Mennonite pastor. *Shout out to Shane Hipps.

One last note: I read this book more as a curiosity than anything, and I felt like it was kind of not worth the hour it will take you to read it (no offense to Rob, it's a fine book - it's just that he's not saying anything new) until I hit one particular part: My dad is quite fond of saying that Jesus is the only way to heaven, but there are many ways to Jesus. I was amused to see Rob Bell say the same thing in this particular book. He's probably been talking to my dad...

Up next on the reading queue: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

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