Happy end of the year to you! It is time for my annual book reviews posts. This year they’ll come to you in three sets of seven, wrapping around the corner of 2016-2017. On the last post, I’ll let you know my “I insist!” Book List recommendation, the book(s) I read in 2016 that I think everyone ought to read. (If there is one.) 🙂 Since we’re on the topic of books, feel free to comment on any of these posts (or respond by email if you’re a subscriber) and let me know the best book you read in 2016! I’d love to hear what you’re reading and how it’s impacting you.
By the way, here’s my 5* scale:
***** Fantastic! and/or Brilliant.
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, Laura Hillenbrand. 2010. 406 pages.****
Nonfiction. The true, unbelievable life story of Louis Zamperini. Zamperini was, if nothing else, one who saw life as a fight and welcomed each opportunity. I admired his tenacity, I coveted his self-confidence, and I obtained a greater helping of grace for the people around me who are – for better and for worse – just like him.
The Great Emergence, Phyllis Tickle. 2008. 165 pages.***
Religious anthropology. A fascinating reflection on church history, especially when over-layed with the current reformations going on within the church. My favorite thing to read in Tickle’s book was that eventually, after lots and lots and lots of deconstruction of ideas (in which I sometimes feel buried at this moment in history), reconstruction of ideas comes! As a reformer and a person whose top two strengths (StrengthsFinder) are Restorative and Responsibility, that is very good news. Yes, the church has messed up. Now, let’s build something good.
Prisoners of Childhood, Alice Miller. **
Clinical psychology. A bit of a dry read, but teeming with very insightful observations about childhood emotions and helpful parental responses to them. It is worth the read if you were a child with strong emotions or if you are the parent of a child with strong emotions.
Devotional Classics, Richard J. Foster & James Bryan Smith. 1990. 344 pages. *****
Excerpts of spiritual writings. Compiled by the Renovaré group, this book used the idea of six different “streams” (sometimes I think of them as strains, like a virus – ha!) of Christianity and borrowed 8-10 excerpts from writings of different authors whose lives and teachings expressed the different themes. (I’ve mentioned the six streams before, but just in case you missed it: Word-Centered Life (Evangelical Tradition), Prayer-Filled Life (Contemplative Tradition), Spirit-Empowered Life (Charismatic Tradition), Compassionate Life (Social Justice Tradition), Virtuous Life (Holiness Tradition), Sacramental Life (Incarnational Tradition).) I loved this; I used it as a great way to begin my work day. Each excerpt took only about 10-15 minutes to read and then was followed by a few reflective questions if I had the time. It was an excellent introduction to the different streams (some of which I used to mostly just disdain) and it was a fantastic introduction to many different spiritual writers, many whom I had not yet met.
The Robe, Lloyd C. Douglas. 1942. 695 pages. ****
Historical fiction. A brilliant and heart-moving read worth reading every or every other Lenten / Resurrection season, if you can make the time. The story follows a young, idealistic Roman soldier living in first century BC when a certain Nazarene carpenter-turned-mystic causes a stir when his “goodwill” way of living comes into opposition with the power-and-money-hungry ways of the Roman Empire.
Gift from the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh. 1978. 128 pages. ****
Memoir. I read this in one sitting on my birthday getaway with my husband while I sat on a folding chair on the sand at Manzanita, Oregon. Lindbergh lived reflectively, introspectively, principally, and as a writer; part of me really wants to be her when I grow up. In each chapter, she chose one shell she’d found on the beach as inspiration, merging the shape and utility of the shell with her thoughts about her life: past, present, and future. Her idea to use a visual and tangible item as inspiration for self-reflection was fantastic, an inspiration to me.
Slow Church, C. Christopher Smith & John Pattison. 2014. 247 pages. ***
Philosophical and practical help for church communities. I found that I agreed with Smith & Pattison about a lot of what communities of Jesus-followers could be and ought to be, and I found that Smith & Pattison are very broad thinkers who gave me a lot to consider which I hadn’t considered before. Humble in their tone and style, the authors came across as just sharing what they’ve learned in case it might help the rest of us.