Whether sending the kids back to school means you have more time to read, or less, you can be sure these recommendations will be worth your while. I trust you'll find just what you're in the mood for in this widely varied list of 13 (what??) books.
Gaze Upon Jesus by Kelly M. Wahlquiest
An excellent Advent read for your book club or Bible study, but I wouldn't limit it to that. What I like about this particular format is the variety of ways they approach each part of the Christmas story. Devotional, imaginative telling, theological insights, prayer, application, Visio Divina and questions. This book was written by a Catholic group of women.
God Needed A Puppy by John J. Gray
Helping a child understand death is challenging. This book tells a lovely story, is beautifully illustrated, and aids in the conversation of how to cope with missing a love one or a beloved pet. Good book.
In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls Us To Reflect His Character by Jen Wilkins
This is my first exposure to Jen Wilkins, although I've heard a lot about her. She is a solid Bible teacher. Some real life examples, but a lot of exegeting from Scripture. I'd especially recommend this book to a new believer who was wanting to make sure her doctrinal understanding was sound.
From the first time I heard about this book, I knew I wanted to read it. So joining the launch team was a no-brainer. Aaron writes about his experience starting The Practice at Willow Creek. He goes into depth about his exploration of liturgy. Also what worked and didn't work in this church project. It was a solid work covered in grace. I really liked it, and already shared it with our youth pastor.
Learning to Speak God From Scratch by Jonathan Merritt
Using real life examples from his experience moving to New York City, Jonathan talks about a variety of words people have long associated with the church or Christianity. What surprised me about this book, as it's the first one of Merritt's I've read, is the amount of research included as well. He goes pretty deep into the study of language, and how by its very nature it evolves within a society. I liked his word choices too, because they weren't totally "churchy" words, but definitely carry a certain connotation in that arena.
Months ago, when Anne revealed this book cover, I swooned right there on my couch. If you follow her blog or podcast at all, you know this is the exact book she was meant to write. I enjoyed it thoroughly. 21 essays about reading. She mentions some of my favorite, beloved books, but I was glad I had a notebook nearby (always do) because she mentioned several that were new to me as well. If you are a book lover or if you know one, this book is a real gift.
Born to Wander: Recovering the Value of Our Pilgrim Identity by Michelle Van Loon
I always appreciate this author’s lens, writing about Christianity out of her Jewish roots. She has a well-developed understanding of the Old Testament. This, and her life experiences, make her the ideal person to write this book. The Jewish people have always been wanderers. As Christians, wandering leaves us wanting more faith, more church experience, more of God. It also leads to a deep trust in the one who is guiding our steps. A wonderful, useful read.
I didn't know about this Dallas Willard. Halfway through the book, I bought his book, The Spirit of the Disciplines and put a few others on my Amazon wish list. He was a philosopher who became convinced one could live in the presence of God all the time. He explored a variety of ancient spiritual practices to understand how this might be possible.
The Wonder Years: 40 Women Over 40 edited by Leslie Leyland Fields
First of all, the list of writers this book includes will blow your mind. You've heard of most of these ladies, and you'll be introduced to a few new ones as well. That's always the beauty of anthology. These women share about everything from beauty to motherhood to grief to old age. No topic goes uncovered really. Tip: my absolute favorite way to read collections like this is one at a time right before bed.
The Very Worst Missionary: A Memoir or Whatever by Jamie Wright
Since it's my blog and I'm the reviewer I can be honest, right? I followed Jamie's blog for a while, but then stopped because it was pretty snarky and she curses a lot. For me, it blocked the heart of her message. Not everyone agrees with me though. This girl is popular. I did like her book. She insists we take an honest look at the way we do Kingdom work, and make it about Jesus, rather than tradition or convenience. I admire the work she's done.
Jamie is in several writing communities I'm in online. It's been such a treat to see this friend gain recognition through her book. She and her son have been recognized in Target marketing materials, she's been on several TV shows, interviews. Because her story is that hard, and good. She fights long and hard to become a mother, struggling with infertility, and when she does have her first child, he develops a unique condition that changes their lives forever. You know what I love most - so much so I messaged Jamie halfway through the book to tell her so? She glorifies God through the hard, the messy, the tears, the anger, the unfairness. It's a pretty special book.
Thief of Corinth by Tessa Afshar
Tessa Afshar has written several Christian historical novels and I think I've read every one. Often, she tells a story that isn't necessarily in the Bible, but it sheds light on an obscure Bible character or a biblical city. Here, she tells about a family who has been torn apart by divorce and deception, and how meeting a traveling preacher named Paul changes everything for them. If you like this genre, I'd highly recommend this book, and any by Tessa Afshar.
Auschwitz Lullaby by Mario Escobar
It's sad, OK, because Auschwitz was reprehensible. But Escobar heard about a true story that rose out of that hellish place, and he wanted the world to know about it. A German woman, Helene Hannemann, is taken away with her husband and children one morning. Her husband is Romani (a traditionally itinerant ethnic group living mostly in Europe and the Americas and originating from northern India, regions of modern-day India and Pakistan). Now you won't have to look it up like I did. Although she would never have been taken to a concentration camp as a German woman, she couldn't leave her family. While there, they lived through horrors unimaginable. She emerged as a leader and was asked to start a school for the children. A marketing ploy of sorts, but she took on the task. In the midst of this terrible place, she offered what hope she could. Hauntingly beautiful.
I received a copy of "Gaze Upon Jesus," "In His Image," "Becoming Dallas Willard," "The Wonder Years," "The Very Worst Missionary," "Unbound," "Thief at Corinth" and "Auschwitz Lullaby" from NetGalley for the purpose of generating a review. I received a copy of "God Needed A Puppy" from the publisher, Paraclete Press, for the purpose of generating a review. I received a copy of "The Eternal Current," "Learning To Speak God From Scratch," and "I'd Rather Be Reading" from the authors for being on their launch teams. I received a copy of "Born to Wander" from the author in exchange for a review. The opinions expressed here are my own.