Early Fall 2020 Book Previews

So many interesting books have arrived in my mailbox in recent months. I won’t have any trouble finding something good to read this fall. You’ll be seeing reviews of these in coming months, but I thought you might like to know about them now. Some are timely, some look just plain interesting. So here are the books in that stack.

The Message of Wisdom, Daniel J. Estes. Estes writes on the theme of Wisdom in Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job. Dan is a friend and I’ve had the joy of hearing him teach some of this material.

Rebels and Exiles, Matthew S. Harmon. A study of sin that leads to exile and the hope of restoration that runs through scripture.

Splendour in the Dark, Jerry Root. A book for Inklings lovers. This is a study of Dymer, a narrative poem C.S. Lewis wrote before coming to Christian faith.

Dreaming Dreams for Christian Higher Education, David S. Guthrie. A senior faculty member describes his vision and journey in the Christian higher education setting.

Healing Racial Trauma, Sheila Wise Rowe. People of color live a life of trauma. Recent events have opened old wounds. Rowe as a counselor explores the healing of these traumas.

The Fantasy Literature of England, Colin Manlove. A study of English fantasy literature as a reflection of English culture.

Reimagining Apologetics, Justin Ariel Bailey. An alternative approach to traditional apologetics focusing on imagination, aesthetics, and the affective.

McGowan’s Call, Rob Smith. A collection of short stories on the rise and fall of a young pastor set in southwest Ohio.

Misreading Scripture with Individualist Eyes, E. Randolph Richards and Richard James. In the West we read a Bible written in a collectivist culture with individualist eyes. The authors help us recalibrate our vision to understand the biblical world.

Christ and the Kingdoms of Men, David C. Innes. A political theology that argues for the nobility of engagement in political life.

Wisdom From Babylon, Gordon T. Smith. The author explores what it means to provide leadership to the church in a secular age.

Sinless Flesh, Rafael Nogueira Bello. An argument that in Christ’s incarnation, he not only assumed human nature but fallen human nature.

Resurrecting Justice, Douglas Harink. Argues that justice is overlooked as a theme in the book of Romans.

Angry Weather, Frederike Otto. Using an approach called attribution science, shows how human-induced climate change is resulting in a variety of extreme weather events.

Reading While Black, Esau McCaulley. Presents the rich tradition of biblical interpretation in the Black church addressing the struggle for justice and offering hope.

Sustaining Grace, Edited by Scott J. Hagley, Karen Rohrer, Michael Gehrling. Explores the dynamic between church planting efforts and mainline denominational structures.

The Liturgy of Politics, Kaitlyn Schiess. Recognizes both how the church’s politics are shaped by our habits and practices, and how we need to recover historic Christian practices that shape us around gospel truths.

The Enneagram for Spiritual Formation, A.J. Sherrill. How the Enneagram can contribute to spiritual transformation.

Spiritual Practices of Jesus, Catherine J. Wright. Looks at the ways Luke portrays simplicity, humility, and prayer in the life of Jesus and how this portrayal shaped practices in the ancient church.

Bavinck, James Eglinton. Explores the life that helped shape the theology of this formidable Reformed theologian.

Twenty books that you’ll see on Bob on Books. But there may be something you’d like to see sooner. The links in the titles will take you to the publishers website for each book. Enjoy!

Summer 2020 Book Preview–Faith and Life Edition

wp-1592436005457913129448171043576.jpgI look forward to some extra time for reading during the summer as schedules slow down, and I get to dip into an interesting book while I sip a cool beverage. I’ve received a number of books from Christian publishers in recent weeks, and here are some that really look interesting. If you are looking for a book to deepen your faith and enlarge your sense of how believing shapes all of life, the books here might be worth a look.

good man

Good ManNathan Clarkson. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2020. In a time when we wonder what it means to be a good man, Clarkson explores the qualities of character that define a man who finds his identity in Christ.

A week in the life of ephesus

A Week in the Life of EphesusDavid A. DeSilva. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2020. Ephesus played an important role in early Christianity, and this imaginative historical fiction rendering from a fine New Testament scholar promises an understanding of the context Christians facing the challenges of empire.

why science and faith

Why Science and Faith Need Each OtherElaine Howard Ecklund. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2020. Ecklund explores the virtues arising from the pursuit of science and the practice of faith and how they mutually enhance each other in the pursuit of truth.

daniel

How to Read Daniel, Tremper Longman III. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2020. The book of Daniel can be confusing. The book helps us understand the context and the genres, especially apocalyptic, of the book.

unto us a child is borh

Unto Us a Child is BornTyler D. Mayfield (Foreword by Walter Brueggemann). Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans, 2020. Christians often read and hear passages in Isaiah through the lens of Advent. Mayfield considers those readings alongside how our contemporary Jewish neighbors read and hear the same passages.

the lost art of dying

The Lost Art of DyingL.S. Dugdale, MD. New York: Harper One, 2020. A Columbia physician who treats older patients who she has seen end their lives in over-medicalized procedures that prolong dying and strips them of their dignity. She draws on experience, faith, and a reading of Ars Moriendi (The Art of Dying) written at the height of the plague in the late Middle Ages to help us live and die well.

wait with me

Wait With MeJason Gaboury. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2020. Without offering easy answers, Gaboury explores the common human experience of loneliness, and the possibility that this may be an invitation into a deeper relationship with God.

uncommon ground

Uncommon GroundTimothy Keller and John Inazu. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2020. In the midst of our highly divided culture, these two authors explore with ten others how we might find ground to engage others in the culture while remaining faithful to the gospel.

Working in the presence of God

Working in the Presence of GodDenise Daniels & Shannon Vandewarker. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2020. Spiritual practices are not just for monastics but also for Christians in the workplace. This book offers a number of such practices that help people experience God’s presence in their work.

leading lives that matter

Leading Lives That Matter, 2nd edition, Edited by Mark R. Schwehn and Dorothy C. Bass. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2020. A collection of texts from a wide array of writers on the theme of what is a life well-lived.

the Holy Spirit

The Holy SpiritGregg R. Allison & Andreas J. Kostenberger. Nashville: B & H Academic, 2020. An in-depth study of the biblical theology of the Holy Spirit.

The Jesus of the Gospels

The Jesus of the Gospels, An Introduction, Andreas J. Köstenberger. Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic, 2020. An introductory survey of the four gospels by a top flight New Testament Scholar.

Several of these are long, thought-provoking works. I’ve heard the author of The Lost Art of Dying speak on this subject on several occasions. In July I get to interview the author of Wait With Me, and in August, one of the authors of Uncommon Ground, John Inazu. David A. DeSilva is an old friend, a great teacher, and I look forward to see what he does in writing historical fiction. I’ve been impressed with other works from the Theology of Work project, and Working in the Presence of God promises to be yet another one of these. Elaine Howard Ecklund’s approach to science and faith issues as a sociologist looks like an unique approach, based on shared virtues.  I’m set with good reading for the summer!

Early Spring 2020 Book Preview

wp-15845727474905349126795391162499.jpgIt’s been a while since my last book preview post, and a number of new books have arrived for review. I don’t know if I’ll be able to settle into a routine during the present crisis, which is uncharted territory. But if I do, I have plenty to read. I thought I would give you a preview because it will take some time to get to them all. The link in the title is to the publisher’s website. Most of the time, you can order the book there, or at your favorite local bookseller, who especially needs your help right now. So, from the top of the pile…

becoming sage

Becoming SageMichelle Van Loon. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2020. Loon explores how we navigate through mid-life to grow in wisdom and purpose.

myth american dream

The Myth of the American DreamD. L. Mayfield. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2020. Is the American dream compatible with the teaching of Jesus? I’m guessing, no.

good white racist

Good* White RacistKerry Connelly. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2020. If you are white, you don’t want to think of yourself as a racist, yet may be complicit in things that perpetuate racism.

#metoo reckoning

The #MeToo ReckoningRuth Everhart. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2020. Everhart calls attention to the ways the church has participated in the epidemic of abuse and sexual misconduct that the #MeToo movement has exposed.

goshen road

Goshen RoadBonnie Proudfoot. Athens, Ohio: Swallow Press, 2020. A novel centered around a working class family in rural West Virginia. Sounds like a fictional Hillbilly Elegy.

when narcissism

When Narcissism Comes to ChurchChuck DeGroat. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2020. Narcissist pastors and church systems are deadly to a church. The book offers hope for healing for churches and narcissist pastors and leaders alike.

experiencing God

Experiencing GodEberhard Arnold. Walden, NY: Plough Publishing, 2020. What happens when a Christian truly invites God to rule in one’s life?

Approaching the Atonement

Approaching the AtonementOliver D. Crisp. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2020. Is there more to our understanding of the atonement than the cross? And how shall we understand this doctrine?

Paul and the Language of faith

Paul and the Language of Faith, Nijay Gupta. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2020. Paul studies the language of faith in Paul’s writings, proposing an active, rather than passive understanding of faith.

God in Himself

God in HimselfStephen J. Duby. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2019. The author explores how we may know God and can we know God as God is in himself?

a republic in the ranks

A Republic in the Ranks, Zachery A. Fry. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2020. In an army shaped by George McClellan, a Democrat, Fry shows how officers in the Union Army shaped a Republican awakening, leading to Lincoln’s 1864 re-election.

basic bible atlas

The Basic Bible AtlasJohn A. Beck. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2020. An atlas of the lands of the Bible that integrates Israel’s history and geography.

Blood Letters

Blood Letters: The Untold Story of Lin Zhao, A Martyr in Mao’s ChinaLian Xi. New York: Basic Books, 2018. A meticulously researched account of Lin Zhao, a political dissident and Christian who was tortured and died for her faith.

Kent State

Kent State: Four Dead in OhioDerf Blackderf. New York: Abrams Comic Arts, 2020. A graphic non-fiction account of the shootings at Kent State on May 4, 1970, leaving four dead and nine wounded, being released for the 50th anniversary of this event.

Philippians

Philippians (Kerux Commentaries), Thomas Moore and Timothy D. Sprankle. Grand Rapids, Kregel Ministry, 2019. Part of commentary series co-written by an exegete and a homiletician (one who teaches the art of preaching).

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A Worldview Approach to Science and ScriptureCarol Hill. Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic, 2019. The author argues that understanding the worldview of the biblical authors and the modern scientific worldview helps resolve points of apparent conflict between scripture and science.

As you can see, I won’t lack for books if I must shelter in place for a good while. I suspect that will be the case for most readers of this blog. Desiderius Erasmus once said, “When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.” Hopefully none of you will lack for any of these things. More importantly, my prayer is that you and yours may be spared illness or harm during these months. Remember kindness both to others and to yourself!

The Month in Reviews: November 2019

Frederick Douglass

I finished and reviewed fewer books this month than usual due to work-related responsibilities. But there were some incredible books that more than made up in quality for any lack in quantity. A new edition of Philip Brand’s Fearfully and Wonderfully left me in awe with the wonder and intricacies of both the human body and the body of Christ. The Gospel According to Eve and Participating in Christ were original and insightful theological works. I read Grace Will Lead Us Home to prepare for a panel discussion of the movie Emanuel and was both moved by the wonder and power of forgiveness, and saddened and challenged with the long road that remains to eradicate white supremacism and racism in American society. Starship Troopers was a fun throwback to my late teen years when I was reading a lot of Robert A. Heinlein. Somehow I missed this one. I finished the month with a historical fiction work by an African author on the attendants who carried David Livingstone’s body over 1500 miles, a heroic journey against the backdrop of encroaching western colonialism.

bookmarked

Bookmarked: Reading My Way from Hollywood to BrooklynWendy W. Fairey. New York: Arcade Publishing, 2015. A literature professor who is the daughter of a famous Hollywood columnist writes a memoir interweaving her life with significant books and characters. Review

Make Way for the Spirit

Make Way for the SpiritChristoph Friedrich Blumhardt (edited by Wolfgang J. Bittner, translated by Ruth Rhenius, Simeon Zahl, Miriam Mathis, and Christian T. Collins Winn. Walden, NY: Plough Publishing, 2019. A reflection on the ministry of Johann Christoph Blumhardt by his son, identifying both the continuity, and divergence of their convictions. Review

Yancey

Fearfully and Wonderfully: The Marvel of Bearing God’s Image (Updated and combined edition), Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2019. A new edition combining two classic works exploring both the wonders of the human anatomy, the value and dignity of every human being, and parallels with the functioning of the body of Christ. Review

the gospel according to eve

The Gospel According to EveAmanda W. Benckhuysen. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2019. A history of women who have written on Genesis 1-3 since the fourth century, treating their worth, education, their roles as wives and mothers, whether they may teach and preach, and as advocates of social reforms. Review

Notre Dame

Faith and Science at Notre DameJohn P. Slattery. Notre Dame, IN: Notre Dame Press, 2019. A study of the life of Catholic priest and science professor at Notre Dame, and his clash with the Vatican over his writing on evolution. Review

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of FreedomDavid W. Blight. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2018. Perhaps the definitive biography of this escaped slave who became one of the most distinguished orators and writers in nineteenth century America as he for abolition and Reconstruction and civil rights for Blacks. Review

grace will lead us home

Grace Will Lead Us HomeJennifer Berry Hawes. New York: St. Martins Press, 2019. An account of the massacre of nine people at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston by Dylann Roof, and the responses of survivors and surviving families, notably the forgiveness offered, and the impact on the families, the church, and the Charleston community. Review

Participating in Christ

Participating in ChristMichael J. Gorman. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2019. A discussion of what it means to be “in” Christ, or to participate in Christ, drawing from the Pauline letters, and particularly what this means for living a cross-shaped and resurrection-infused life by which one becomes increasingly like Christ and God. Review

forgiving my father

Forgiving My Father, Forgiving MyselfRuth Graham with Cindy Lambert. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2019. Through both personal narrative and biblical teaching, explores the power of forgiveness to bring freedom from bitterness, transforming our lives, and in at least some cases, our relationships. Review

Starship Troopers

Starship TroopersRobert A. Heinlein. New York: Ace, 2006 (originally published in 1959). Juan “Johnny” Rico’s narrative of training and fighting in the Mobile Infantry during the Terran Wars with the Pseudo-Arachnids (“Bugs”) set 700 years in the future. Review

mayflower pilgrims

The Mayflower Pilgrims: Sifting Fact from Fable, Derek Wilson. London: SPCK Publishing, 2019. A historical account of the movements and political developments that shaped the composition of the 102 who made the voyage on the Mayflower. Review

out of darkness

Out of Darkness, Shining LightPetina Gappah. New York: Scribners, 2019. A historical fiction narrative, told in two voices, of the attendants of Dr. David Livingstone, who with a large company carried the body of Livingstone from Chitambo, where he died, to Zanzibar, a journey of over 1500 miles and 285 days. Review

Best of the Month: The best of many good books this month was David W. Blight’s Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom. Blight both helps us hear Douglass’s voice, and takes the measure of his indomitable character–a man who fought for the freedom and rights of blacks until he collapsed on the way out of his home to give a speech.

Quote of the Month: Wendy W. Fairey in Bookmarked: Reading My Way From Hollywood to Brooklyn, takes a novel approach to reflecting on her reading life, exploring the narrative of her life through the narratives of the books she read along the way:

“I want to write of the private stories that lie behind our reading of books, taking my own trajectory through English literature as the history I know best but proposing a way of thinking about literature that I believe is every reader’s process. We bring ourselves with all our aspirations and wounds, affinities and aversions, insights and confusions to the books we read, and our experience shapes our response.”

Current Reads and Upcoming Reviews: I first heard Leighton Ford speak as an evangelist in Youngstown, Ohio in the mid-1970’s. In later years, I saw a shift in focus in his life, particularly after the death of his son, Sandy, to a focus on mentoring young leadets, and writing increasingly on the disciplines of attending to God. In A Life of Listening he offers a memoir that traces the inner journey that was reflected in the changes I had observed–a wonderful book! The Rise and Fall of the Religious Left traces the fascinating career of Norman Lear and his attempts to establish substantive conversations reflecting a progressive religious position, both in his shows like All in the Family and in People for the American Way, and his failure to engage his ideological opposition, the religious right. Divine Impassibility explores four views on the passibility or impassibility of God, that is whether human actions can affect God or whether God is unchanging. My initial impression is that I find myself wondering whether some long-established paradigms constrain all these views from coming to a satisfying explanation of the biblical data. I don’t have a better one, which disposes me to be even more intrigued with the discussion between proponents of each view.

I’ve just begun George Santayana’s classic The Sense of Beauty, an exploration of aesthetics that begins with our perceptions of beauty rather than a grand theory of “why beauty.” I’m also reading a fascinating galley by W. Joshua Swamidass on The Genealogical Adam and Eve, which proposes a way to affirm a scientific understanding of evolution, the creation of Adam and Eve de novo as historic figures, and the mathematical probability of all of us being genealogical, if not genetic, descendants of this Adam and Eve. The book releases this month and has been endorsed by Nathan Lents, a popular biology professor, writer, and atheist

I soon hope to pick up Fleming Rutledge’s Advent. Reading The Crucifixion during Lent was a wonderful experience of writing that was theologically profound and devotionally rich. I look forward to seeing if Advent will have the same effect as I prepare to celebrate the coming of Jesus. I hope amid your holiday preparations, whether religious or not, that you are able to curl up with a book that is enriching for you. If you do, I’d love to hear about it!

Late Fall Book Preview 2019

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We’ve had our first snowfall already. The leaves are down, it is dark around 5 p.m., and the winds are chill. Christmas is only 37 days away and the formal beginning of winter a few days before that. It’s a good time to curl up with a good book in your favorite chair, perhaps by a warm fire if you have a fireplace. It’s not a bad time to think about books for gifts (or maybe your own wishlist!). Here’s some books that have arrived for review. I won’t get to some of them before Christmas so I thought I’d let you know early if you want to take a look. So, from the top of the pile…

Bowery Mission

Bowery MissionJason Storbakken. Walden, NY: Plough, 2019. The Bowery is notorious as the underside of New York. The Bowery Mission has provide food and shelter for 140 years, and this little book tells the story. Inspiring for anyone considering homeless ministry.

A week in the life of a greco roman woman

A Week in the Life of a Greco-Roman WomanHolly Beers. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2019. I’ve loved this series. This volume creates a story around a fictional young wife and mother in Ephesus. All of the books I’ve read so far have shed helpful light on cultural backgrounds of the Bible in an enjoyable read.

conscienceen

The ConscienceEberhard Arnold. Walden, NY: Plough Publishing, 2019. Arnold, a founder of the Bruderhof, a network of Christian communities, explores how in Christ the conscience may become a valued friend rather than a troublesome voice that we try to placate or suppress.

tending soul, mind, and body

Tending Soul, Mind, and Bodyedited by Gerald Hiestand and Todd Wilson. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2019. The book is a collection of papers from the 2018 Center for Pastor Theologians conference and “explores the relationship between three fields–theological anthropology, spiritual formation, and modern psychology” (back matter). I’ve been impressed with the high quality of papers from previous conferences.

40 Questions

40 Questions about Heaven and HellAlan W. Gomes. Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic, 2019. In a format where each chapter focuses on one question, the book explores questions related to the afterlife about which many wonder.

unsettling truths

Unsettling TruthsMark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2019. These two authors dig into the pernicious effects the “Doctrine of Discovery” embodied in fifteenth century edicts had upon settlement of the Americas and the treatment of Native Peoples.

out of darkness

Out of Darkness, Shining LightPetina Gappah. New York: Scribners, 2019. A novel on the exploration of Africa, told by two attendants of Dr. David Livingtone, as they transport his remains 1500 miles for burial.

choosing community

Choosing CommunityChristine Colón. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2019. Dorothy Sayers both participated in and commented upon many communities and this is a study of her writing on this theme.

gospel allegiance

Gospel AllegianceMatthew W. Bates. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2019. This is the second book by Bates developing the idea of faith as allegiance to Christ. I liked his Salvation by Allegiance Alone and look forward to seeing how he has developed his ideas.

revelation

The Heart of RevelationJ. Scott Duvall. Nashville: B & H Academic, 2019. A study of Revelation identifying ten themes outlining what we can know for certain in this often puzzling book.

warfield

Evolution, Scripture, and Science, B.B. Warfield, edited by Mark A. Noll and David N. Livingstone. Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 2019. This is a reprint of a work first published in 2000 showing nineteenth century Princeton theologian Benjamin Warfield’s approach to science and faith, one that did not see these as inherently in conflict.

spiritual warfare

Spiritual Warfare in the Storyline of ScriptureWilliam F. Cook III and Chuck Lawless. Nashville: B & H Academic, 2019. The authors outline a theology of spiritual warfare with practical applications.

last leonardo

The Last LeonardoBen Lewis. New York: Ballantine Books, 2019. The story of the last painting by da Vinci, a painting of Christ, searched for in vain, until Christie’s announced they had it, and sold it at auction for $450 million, the highest price ever paid for a painting.

seeking church

Seeking ChurchDarren T. Duerksen and William Dyrness. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2019. A study of global Christian movements using emergent theory that posits that “the gospel is read and interpreted through existing cultural and religious norms” (from back matter).

narrative theology

Narrative ApologeticsAlister E. McGrath. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2019. McGrath takes an approach to giving a reason for faith from story rather than arguments and talking points.

opening the red door

Opening the Red DoorJohn A. Bernbaum. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2019. The story of the first Christian liberal arts university, the Russian-American Christian University, from its beginnings with the eclipse of communism in 1989, its rise and partnership with Russia, and the increasing pressures it has faced in the Putin era

I have my stack of books for a cold winter night. Have you stocked up yet, or perhaps gotten an idea for a stocking stuffer? Happy reading!

The Month in Reviews: September 2019

Working

Working in collegiate ministry, it seemed a good idea to read some books related to higher education, one on Christian colleges, and one on free speech and speech codes in the academic world. Also apropos were a couple of books on science and faith, one a review on theology after Darwin, contributed by guest reviewer Paul Bruggink. Two books outlined approaches to counseling and personal transformation. A pair of books were set in the Roman world, one from the point of view of slaves, and one from emperors. One was a memoir on the writing methods of biographer Robert Caro and one considers “place” and the arts. Place is always a theme of Wendell Berry’s books and a recent collection of his essays was part of this month’s readings as well as one considering how we lost an opportunity to address greenhouse gases that affect the place for all of us, the earth. Finally, a lifelong Inkling lover can’t go too wrong without reading something about one of them–in this case Tolkien, his methods, and his works. Here are the reviews!

fundamentalist u

Fundamentalist U: Keeping Faith in American Higher EducationAdam Laats. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018. Traces the ways eight institutions that developed with the rise of fundamentalism in the 1920’s responded to the changing fundamentalist/evangelical movement and wider trends in higher education and American society up to the present time. Review

science and faith

Science & Faith: Student Questions ExploredHannah Eagleson, editor. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Academic, 2019. A collection of essays addressing various questions on the relationship of science and Christian faith, incorporating groups discussion questions for use with small discussion groups. Review

a liberated mind

A Liberated Mind: How to Pivot Toward What MattersSteven C. Hayes, Ph.D. New York: Avery Books, 2019. An introduction to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a psychological counseling approach that develops psychological flexibility through learning acceptance rather than resistance or flight from painful thoughts and reality, and how we may pivot toward commitments rooted in what we value most deeply. Review

Findng Ourselves After Darwin

Finding Ourselves After DarwinStanley P. Rosenberg ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2018. This book presents and discusses multiple approaches to thinking about the image of God, original sin, and the problem of evil in light of biological evolution. Review

Working

Working: Researching, Interviewing, WritingRobert A. Caro. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2019. Less a full biographical memoir than a description of the author’s methods of researching material for his books, writing them, and the question that has driven his work. Review

placemaking

Placemaking and the ArtsJennifer Allen Craft. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2018. Considers the “place” of the arts in placemaking, particularly in the settings of the home, the church, and the wider society. Review

a week in the life of a slave

A Week in the Life of a Slave (A Week in the Life Series), John Byron. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2019. A creative re-telling of the story of runaway slave Onesimus that casts light on the institution of slavery in Greco-Roman society and the church’s response. Review

The Soul of an American President

The Soul of an American President, Alan Sears and Craig Osten with Ryan Cole. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2019. Traces the spiritual heritage and growing religious faith of Dwight D. Eisenhower, especially through the years of his presidency and later life. Review

Losing Earth

Losing Earth: A Recent HistoryNathaniel Rich. MCD/Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2019. An account of the lost opportunity of the 1980’s to address climate change and the birth of the polarized dialogue that exists to this day. Review

The Road to Middle Earth

The Road to Middle-EarthTom Shippey. New York: Houghton Mifflin, rev. ed. 2003. A study of Tolkien’s methods in creating the narratives of Middle-Earth, including words, names, maps, poetry, and mythology. Review

The Winding Path of Transformation

The Winding Path of TransformationJeffrey Tacklind, Foreword by Cathleen Falsani. Downers Grove: IVP/Formatio, 2019. The author proposes that spiritual growth means walking in paradoxical tensions of glory and humility lived out in a winding journey toward the transformation of our character and spiritual freedom. Review

I Claudius

I, ClaudiusRobert Graves. New York: Vintage International, 1989 (first published 1934). A fictional autobiography of Claudius, of how a physical handicap and speech impairment enabled him to escape death by intrigue until he rose to emperor. Review

boundaries

Boundaries for Your SoulAlison Cook and Kimberly Miller. Nashville: Nelson Books, 2019. A therapeutic approach to dealing with overwhelming emotions through a process of understanding them as parts of oneself, allowing one’s Spirit-led self to befriend and care for these parts, and integrating the parts as a “team of rivals” within one’s life. Review

What you take with you

What You Take With YouTherese Greenwood. Edmonton, University of Alberta Press, 2019. Therese Greenwood had minutes to evacuate her home as the Fort McMurray fire approached. The book recounts both her escape, and reflects on what she took, and what this revealed about her life.Review

Tyranny of Virtue

The Tyranny of VirtueRobert Boyers. New York: Scribners, 2019. A distinguished liberal scholar critiques the new academic orthodoxy, one that defines virtue through the excoriating of privilege, identity, safety, microaggression, ableism, and appropriation, creating an academic tyranny in which people fear to speak their minds under threat of denunciation. Review

Our Only World

Our Only World, Wendell Berry. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2015. Eleven essays on various subjects related to our care for our world and its people emphasizing the local and the sustainable. Review

Best Book of the Month: Perhaps it is because I am working on a book, but I especially enjoyed Robert Caro’s Working. I could never see myself spending the time in archives or re-writing as Caro does, but neither will I write the definitive five-volume biography of Lyndon Johnson. His doggedness in tracking down the facts, his passion for understanding the ways of power, and commitment to excellence was inspiring. Most of all, there is the diligence of showing up and writing every day.

Quote(s) of the Month: One of the more sobering books I read this month was Losing Earth. Nathaniel Rich spoke to why the discussion of climate change is so loaded. The truth is that none of us likes to think of a catastrophic die-off of many of the species on earth, including possibly our own. He writes:

We do not like to think about loss, or death; Americans in particular, do not like to think about death. No matter how obsessively one follows the politics of climate change, it is difficult to contemplate soberly an existential threat to the species. Our queasiness even infects the language we use to describe it: the banalities of “global warming” and “climate change” perform the linguistic equivalent of rolling on sanitary gloves to palpate a hemorrhaging wound.

Even his language of “existential threat” feels a bit sanitary to me, but he puts his finger on the problem: no one wants to admit that we may have signed the death warrant of our children or grand-children’s generation. It is almost too terrible to contemplate or even to admit for most of us. Hence we mock or cast aspersions upon a young, autistic woman who has the temerity to ask the world’s leaders, “How dare you?” Yet I do not wish to end here, because we still must consider how we will live the days given us. Wendell Berry helped me in writing:

In this essay and elsewhere, I have advocated for the 50-Year Farm Bill, another big solution I am doing my best to promote, but not because it will be good in or for the future. I am for it because it is good now, according to present understanding of present needs. I know that it is good now because its principles are now satisfactorily practiced by many (though not nearly enough) farmers. Only the present good is good. It is the presence of good–good work, good thoughts, good acts, good places–by which we know that the present does not have to be a nightmare of the future.

Current reads and upcoming reviews. I’ve just completed Tim L. Anderson’s Into His Presence which explores a theology of intimacy with God. Many of us start with experience or a romanticized idea of relating to God (“Jesus is my boyfriend”). Anderson starts with scripture and the wealth and wonder of intimacy with God on God’s terms. Shundrawn Thomas, a CEO of a financial services company, reflects on what makes work joyful, which has as much to do with our approach to work as the work itself. His book, appropriately is named Discover Joy in Work. I am thoroughly enjoying The Reformation and the Irrepressible Word of God. The importance of scripture has come under attack for bibliolotry and other shortcomings, but these authors explore the Reformers belief in scripture as the Word of God, and the power of preaching and use of scripture faithful with this conviction to transform lives. The Storm on Our Shores describes a forgotten battle on Attu, an island at the end of the Aleutians briefly occupied by the Japanese during World War II, centered around a Japanese surgeon who had trained in America, and the American soldier who killed him. Finally, I’ve flown to or through O’Hare Airport countless times. With A History of Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, I’m learning about this place where I’ve spent so much time, including who O’Hare was.

The Month in Reviews: June 2019

the hearts necessities

Christians are sometimes thought of as “answer people,” answers that may be simple or even simplistic. Three of the books in this month’s reviews focus on questions, and the paradoxical or upside-down character of Christian belief and practice. C. Christopher Smith’s new book on how the body of Christ talks explores how we get beyond the superficial “chat” that characterizes many of our churches. Another book, co-authored by Jean Vanier and Stanley Hauerwas exemplified that rich sort of conversation, and the inclusive hospitality that welcomes the mentally disabled. Alister McGrath’s book also contends that better conversations between theology and science result in a richer view of reality. Henry Reichman contends for “conversational” freedom in higher education in his defense of academic freedom. This month’s reviews also include my much-belated memoir of Malala Yousafzai, a study of one chapter in Ezekiel, biblical theology of death and the afterlife, Tommy Orange’s blockbuster novel, a classic Agatha Christie, and a wonderful collection of poetry.

The future of academic Freedom

The Future of Academic FreedomHenry Reichman (foreword Joan Wallach Scott). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019. A defense of academic freedom in a contemporary setting where it is under attack by political leaders, and facing curtailments with the rise of the corporatized university. Review

Death and the Afterlife

Death and the Afterlife (New Studies in Biblical Theology), Paul R. Williamson. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2018. A discussion of the biblical texts concerning death and what follows: the state of the dead post-mortem, the resurrection, judgement, hell, and heaven. Review

i am mulala

I Am MalalaMalala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013. A memoir describing a Swat Valley family committed to education, including the education of girls, Malala’s shooting by a Taliban fighter, and her recovery from near death. Review

How the Body of Christ Talks

How the Body of Christ TalksC. Christopher Smith. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2019. A discussion of how substantive conversation can be central to the growth and transformation of our churches and the people who are part of them, the ground rules and spiritual practices that enable such conversation, and how conversation might be sustained as conflict arises. Review

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Saved By Grace Alone: Sermons on Ezekiel 36:16-36D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2018. Fourteen sermons on Ezekiel 36:16-36, demonstrating from this text that salvation is by grace alone, due to our inability because of sin, and God’s loving initiative for his glory and our salvation. Review

Cards on the Table

Cards on the Table (Hercule Poirot #15), Agatha Christie. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2011 (originally published 1936). Mr. Shaitana, who throws great parties, but seems to be feared by many, throws a party for the entertainment of Poirot, with four guests who he claims have gotten away with murder, and ends up murdered himself, but with no clue as to who the murderer was. Review

Live the Questions

Live the Questions, Jeffrey F. Keuss. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2019. Proposes that a deep and satisfying life is closely related to the questions we ask, how we pursue them, and to whom they lead us. Review

there there

There ThereTommy Orange. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2018. The narratives of twelve “Urban Indians” making their way with various motivations to a powwow in Oakland. Review

Living Gently

Living Gently in a Violent WorldStanley Hauerwas and Jean Vanier. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2018. Essays by the two authors reflecting on the practice of gentleness in the L’Arche communities where assistants and the disabled live in community, and the theological and political significance of this witness in a violent world. Review

the power of Christian contentment

The Power of Christian ContentmentAndrew M. Davis. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2019.  A biblical study of Christian contentment, exploring in what it consists, how it may be found and learned, the great value of contentment, and how contentment is sustained in one’s life. Review

Don't knock the hustle

Don’t Knock the HustleS. Craig Watkins. Boston: Beacon Press, 2019. An investigation of the ways young entrepreneurs are combining tech savvy, hard work, and social capital to create the careers, with a special focus on the inclusion of under-represented populations in tech fields including women and people of color. Review

surprised by paradox

Surprised by ParadoxJen Pollock Michel. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2019. In a world where things are often defined in either-or terms and a quest for certainty, Michel proposes there are many things, beginning with basic biblical realities that are both-and, inviting our continuing curiosity. Review

the hearts necessities

The Heart’s Necessities: Life in PoetryJane Tyson Clement with Becca Stevens. Walden, NY: Plough Publishing, 2019. A collection of the poetry of Jane Tyson Clement, a member of the Bruderhof Community, interleaved with biography and comments by musician Becca Stevens, who has set several of Clement’s works to music. Review

Enriching Our Vision

Enriching our Vision of RealityAlister McGrath. West Conshohocken, PA: Templeton Press, 2017 The natural sciences and Christian theology can enrich each other’s understanding of reality and help us better understand this strange world in which we find ourselves. Guest Review

upside down spirituality

Upside-Down SpiritualityChad Bird. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2019. Highlights nine areas in which Christian faith turns cultural conventions on their head, turning the world “upside-down.” Review

Best of the Month: The Heart’s Necessities: A Life in Poetry traces the life of Jane Tyson Clement through her exquisite poetry which explores the matters and longings of the heart, from her growing love for the man who would be her husband to her love of nature offering glimpses of the transcendent. I’m trying to read more poetry and this was a wonderful book, enriched by the reflections of musician Becca Stevens, and gorgeous photography.

Quote of the Month. A rival for my best of the month was Vanier and Hauerwas’s Living Gently in a Violent World. I thought this quote by Vanier summarized with simplicity and beauty the profound work of the L’Arche Communities:

“The heart of L’Arche is to say to people, ‘I am glad you exist.’ And the proof that we are glad that they exist is that we stay with them for a long time. We are together, we can have fun together. ‘I am glad you exist’ is translated into physical presence” (p. 69).

Current reads and upcoming reviews. I just finished David Lyle Jeffrey’s Scripture and The English Poetic Imagination, a collection of Jeffrey’s essays showing the profound influence of the poetry of scripture on poetry in English from the 8th century to the present. It is coincidence that I picked up Presidents at War by Michael Beschloss as our current president has engaged in brinkmanship that could lead to war with Iran. One theme is that Americans have granted extraordinary powers, both foreign and domestic, to presidents during war, something that gives me great pause. Priscilla by Ben Witherington III is an imaginative rendering of the story of this significant woman in the New Testament, casting light on the persecution of Christians, the ministry of Paul, and everyday life in the Roman world. Balm in Gilead is indeed balm for any lover (including yours truly) of the work of Marilynne Robinson. It reflects papers given at the Wheaton Theology Conference in 2018, and includes an interview and a discussion with Robinson. Finally, I’ve seen a lot of acclaim for the debut effort of fantasy author R. F. Kuang in The Poppy War. I’ll let you know if it lives up to its press for me.

To cold drinks, a shady spot with a good breeze, and a good summer read!

Books I’ll Be Reviewing This Summer

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Recent weeks have brought a pile of new books for review that hold the promise for many hours of rich reading. That’s in addition to other books I am reading “just because.” I thought I’d give you a preview, just in case you see something you are interested in and don’t want to wait for the review. Let me take you on a quick tour down the pile.

religion in the university

Religion in the University, Nicholas Wolterstorff. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019. Wolterstorff, whose wonderful memoir I recently reviewed, argues that religion indeed does have a place in the modern university.

the reluctant witness

The Reluctant Witness, Don Everts. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2019. The promotional copy for this book proposes: “As society has changed, it seems we have become more uncomfortable talking with people about our faith. We are reluctant conversationalists. The reality is that many of our churches and communities are shrinking instead of growing. What can we do about this?” The book draws on research from Barna and The Lutheran Hour.

priscilla

Priscilla, Ben Witherington III. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2019. This is a study of a fascinating minor but significant character in the book of Acts, Priscilla, often named before her husband, an instructor of Apollos, and a co-worker with Paul. What can we learn from this important New Testament woman?

boundaries for your soul

Boundaries for Your Soul, Allison Cook and Kimberly Miller. Nashville: Nelson Books, 2018. Often emotions of shame, guilt, anger, sadness, and fear end up overwhelming us. These two counselors share ways we can gain control and turn these emotions to good ends.

stones and stories

Stones and Stories, Judith E. Anderson. Eugene, OR: Resource Publications, 2019. This slim volume explores the inescapable reality that we are interpreters of stories, whether in literature or scripture. The book, written for use in high schools, explores basic principles of how we exercise interpretive judgment.

jean vanier

Jean Vanier: Portrait of a Free Man, Anne-Sophie Constant. Walden, NY: Plough Publishing, 2019. Constant describes the story of Vanier, recently deceased, and his life of living with the intellectually disabled, that not only changed how we look at the disabled but that changed Vanier, making him a “free man.”

A Liberated Mind

A Liberated Mind, Steven C. Hayes. New York: Avery, 2019. The promotional copy for this book states: “Life is not a problem to be solved. ACT [Acceptance and Commitment Therapy] shows how we can live full and meaningful lives by embracing our vulnerability and turning toward what hurts.”

the reformation and the irrepressible word of god

The Reformation and the Irrepressible Word of God, edited by Scott Manetsch. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2019. The Reformers believed in the “living and active” Word of God, powerful to transform lives, and able to provide norms of belief and behavior for the life of the church. This collection of essays explores that belief and how this is no less true 500 years later.

campus life

Campus Life: In Search of Community, edited by Drew Moser and Todd C. Ream. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2019. This is an expanded and updated edition of a 1990 study by Ernest Boyer for the Carnegie Foundation, particularly exploring the contribution of Christian higher education to the practice of community and offering recommendations for higher education leaders.

Pursuing an Earthy Spirituality

Pursuing an Earthy Spirituality, Gary S. Selby. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2019. A work that explores the earthy spirituality of C.S. Lewis–that our spiritual life is found not in withdrawal from the physicality of life but a transforming engagement with it.

the dearly beloved

The Dearly Beloved, Cara Wall, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2019. A story tracing the love and friendship and challenges of two couples over several decades, brought together by their care for a church in Greenwich Village.

balm in gilead

Balm in Gilead: A Theological Dialogue with Marilynne Robinson, edited by Timothy Robinson and Keith L. Johnson. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2019. In 2018, a group of theologians convened to dialogue about the work of novelist and essayist, Marilynne Robinson, known for the rich theological content of her work. Robinson was present and is a contributor of one of the chapters in this book.

the soul of an american president

The Soul of an American President, Alan Sears and Craig Osten with Ryan Cole. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2019. A study of the faith of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the only president actually baptized in office.

the church of us vs them

The Church of Us vs. Them, David E. Fitch. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2019. An investigation of why so many of our churches have become embroiled in the vitriol of our culture and the patterns and practices needed to be the presence of Christ in the world.

Well, that’s the pile top to bottom. Just skimming the descriptions and summarizing them whets my appetite to read them all. How about you? Anything here that you might want to pick up this summer? If you do, let’s compare notes.

The Month in Reviews: March 2019

for the life of the world

Leadership was a theme of many of the books I read this month. Several considered factors making leaders effective, ranging from their grit, whether they are givers or takers, their originality, and their relationships. One book offered an unvarnished overview of the earliest leaders in the church. Two others considered key figures in the early history of the United States. Several, as usual, were on theological themes: the church, the work of the Holy Spirit in both Christ and us, and one (a guest review from Paul Bruggink) making the case that creation did not fall when the first couple did. One argued more generally that the theological enterprise, in its quest to be a respectable academic discipline, has lost a critical focus on theology for the church and the world. A devotional book used the analogy of pruning to explore why God wants to “cut back” the false self that we might grow “true.” There are a couple fun reads in here, some classic and contemporary crime fiction, and a unique book on travel. So here are summaries along with links to the full reviews.

sinners and saints

Sinners and Saints, Derek Cooper. Grand Rapids, Kregel Academic, 2018. An unvarnished summary of the first five hundred years of church history, looking unflinchingly at the flaws, as well as the favorable qualities of early Christians. Review

Grit

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth. Scribner: New York, 2016. Contends that those who achieve outstanding success combine purposeful passion with perseverance–in other words, they have grit. Review

Basil

Basil (Oxford World Classics), Wilkie Collins. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000 (originally published in 1852). The account of a secret marriage between an aristocrat’s son and the daughter of a shopkeeper and all the ways things went terribly wrong. Review

reciprocal church

Reciprocal Church, Sharon Galgay Ketcham. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2018. Addressing the loss of young people from the church, makes an argument for a theology of the church as vital in our Christian life, and for mutuality and reciprocal engagement between youth and other generations in a flourishing community where all contribute. Review

Give and take

Give and Take, Adam Grant. New York: Viking, 2013. Proposes that many of the most successful people are givers who have learned how to give without being doormats and without expectation of return and explores why such giving is so powerful. Review

true you

True You, Michelle DeRusha. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2019. Using the analogy of pruning, explores how our true selves, our true callings can emerge when we remove the clutter of business, of false selves, and idolatries that obscure the true shape of our lives. Review

for the life of the world

For the Life of the World, Miroslav Volf and Matthew Croasmun. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2019. Contends that for theology to make a difference it must address what it means for human beings to flourish in the world “in light of God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ.” Review

originals

Originals: How Non-conformists Move the World, Adam Grant (foreword by Sheryl Sandberg). New York: Viking, 2016. A study of the characteristics and practices of those who make original contributions in personal and professional life. Review

God's Good Earth

God’s Good Earth: The Case for an Unfallen Creation, Jon Garvey. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2019. A biblical, theological, and scientific case for no fall of nature. Review

rush

Rush: Revolution, Madness, and the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father. Stephen Fried. New York: Crown, 2018. A full-length biography of this doctor-founder of the American republic covering his personal life and beliefs, advocacy, war service, and friendships with the Founders, and estrangement from Washington. Review

Madison's gift

Madison’s Gift, David O. Stewart. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015. A biography of our fourth president, through the lens of five key partnerships he formed that helped establish a new nation. Review

Travel

Travel: In Tandem with God’s Heart, Peter Grier. London: Inter-Varsity Press (UK), 2018. A travelogue with a difference, exploring travel from a Christian perspective and how God may work in and through our lives as we travel. Review

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Sculptor Spirit, Leopoldo A. Sanchez M. (Foreword by Oscar Garcia-Johnson). Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2019. Starting from a “Spirit Christology,” explores five models by which the Spirit shapes our lives in the likeness of Christ. Review

electric mist

In the Electric Mist With Confederate Dead, James Lee Burke. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011 (my Avon edition, 1994). Investigation of multiple rapes and murders, and a murder from 1957 confront Robicheaux with dark figures from his past, and pose a threat to all he holds dear. Review

relationomics

Relationomics, Randy Ross. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2019. The health of relationships within organizations and with customers is directly connected to productive and profitable economic activity. Review

Best of the Month. I think Volf and Croasmun’s For the Life of the World is a ringing challenge to the theological establishment to consider their calling, who their audience ought be, and what might be the focus of their work: on questions of human flourishing in relationship to Christ. I would hope it might provoke a vigorous conversation among theologians, pastors, and other thoughtful Christians who are concerned for a renewal of public theology that engages the church and the world.

Quote of the Month. Derek Cooper’s Sinners and Saints does a great job of rescuing the early leaders of the church from the musty and reverential mists of time. This quote offers a sense of his approach:

“Unlike countless other church history books that dance around the distasteful details of our Christian past, let’s humanize our history. Counterintuitively, perhaps, let’s emphasize as much grit as glory, let’s feature as much flesh as faith, and let’s showcase as many sinners as saints. It’s important for you to know at the onset, however, that we are not going to do this because we think mudslinging is a spiritual discipline, but only because we believe truth-telling is. I, personally, have no desire to sully the reputation of saints, nor do I find any pleasure in wallowing in the faults of our most faithful. When I air the dirty laundry of our most hallowed heroes and heroines, I am fully aware of all the clean clothes they have neatly pressed and attractively arrayed in their dresser drawers. Because of the nature of this book, I will not usually refer to that clean laundry; but make no mistake: I know it is there” (p. 11).

Current reads and Upcoming Reviews. I just finished a chronicle of a year or so on Tangier Island, in the Chesapeake Bay. Subsidence, rising water levels and erosion endanger the way of life of this small community, the character of which is captured well in Tangier Requiem. I also just finished a collection of Marilynne Robinson essays that include an interview between her and former president Barack Obama. I have been reveling in the rich theological writing of Fleming Rutledge in The Crucifixion, a big book that accounts for a few less reviews than normal in the latter part of March. It is worth it! Justin Whitmel Early’s The Common Rule offers eight practices for a rule of life in our tech-oriented, device driven age. David Wallace-Wells new book, The Uninhabitable Earth, is a bleak account of the drastic changes that could come with a warming planet. Finally, I just moved Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls onto my reading pile. The title squares with reports I’ve been hearing in recent years from those working in university counselling services so I’m interested in what this will say about causes and possible remedies for this trend.

I hope you will follow Bob on Books to catch all these reviews, and others that will appear later next month. And thanks to all of you who do follow, read, and comment!

On the TBR Pile: March 2019

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Yesterday, I featured the books I’ve received recently for review. The books I feature today came from bookstores, sometimes at very good prices from a variety of genres: essays, mysteries, science, history and autobiography. They are not the only books waiting to be read around my house, but some of the next ones. But don’t hold me to this! Something more interesting may come up along the way. Like yesterday’s post, I’ve included a link in the title to the publisher’s webpage for the book. I’ll let you decide if and where you will buy them!

The givenness of things

The Givenness of Things, Marilynne Robinson. I love Robinson’s fiction and have appreciated the wide-ranging character of her essays. This is a collection from 2016 and includes a two-part conversation with President Barack Obama. The book was listed on Time’s Top 10 of 2016.

the bookshop on the corner

The Bookshop on the Corner, Jenny Colgan. I enjoy books with plots that center around bookshops. This one is about a former librarian who moves to a small town, buys a van and turns it into a mobile bookshop, and changes life after life as a literary matchmaker.

robicheaux-9781501176869_lg

Robicheaux, James Lee Burke. A bookseller put me on to James Lee Burke and his detective character, Robicheaux. This is one of his more recent works, in which Robicheaux becomes a suspect in a murder he is investigating.

the-second-kind-of-impossible-9781476729923_lg

The Second Kind of Impossible, Paul J. Steinhardt. This is a kind of scientific quest for a new form of matter by a theoretical physicist. I’m curious to see if he succeeded!

indianapolis-9781501135941_lg

Indianapolis, Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic. This book has received a lot of attention, making the New York Times bestseller list. It recounts the sinking of the USS Indianapolis in the last month of World War II, the struggle for those who did not immediately die to survive (only 316 out of 1200 do), and the fight to exonerate Captain Charles McVay, who was wrongly court-martialed after the sinking.

i am mulala

I Am Malala, Malala Yousafzai. This has been out a while, but I came by it recently. Violence against women is an issue I care deeply about, and I’m also interested in learning more about Pakistan. And I’m drawn by the story of this courageous woman.

presidents-of-war-cover

Presidents of War, Michael Beschloss. The author traces the leadership of American presidents throughout the nation’s history, in leading the nation into war and in coping with the pressures of war, successfully or not. The power entrusted to the American presidency to lead a nation into war is significant, particular in a nuclear era as we face choices about who will fill this office.

No doubt, there may be some here you’ve heard about, or even read. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these books and look forward to sharing mine over the next month or so. There are so many good things out there to read, aren’t there?