16. At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe by Tsh Oxenreider (Thomas Nelson, 2017. 288 pages.)
To be honest, I'm always afraid I won't be unbiased enough to give a proper recommendation for a friend's book. Then, I swing too far the other way and don't give it enough kudos. I'm trying to get better at that because I'm lucky to have a surprising number of friends who've written books. Tsh is a friend, AND this is is a great book. She tells the story of the nine months she and her husband took their 3 kids (ages 10 and under) on a trip around the world. If you are a traveller, you'll enjoy learning from the Oxenreider's travel savvy. If not, you'll still enjoy the book for it's winsome reflections on the need for all humans to know a place called home. Reading Tsh's book felt like chatting over a relaxed dinner with friends - both enlightening and comforting. This was a book I didn't want to put down, and I wholeheartedly recommend.
17. The Nine Tailors (A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery) by Dorothy L. Sayers (Mariner Books, 1966. 420 pages)
My first Lord Peter Wimsey mystery, and it was so enjoyable. It's the kind of story I read a couple pages at a time as I was falling asleep each night. Don't think this means the story was boring, just pleasantly paced without requiring me to stay up all night to solve the mystery. I also loved the bit of insight into the history and culture of the church bell.
It's weird that murder mysteries are comfort reading, but there you have it. I think the comfort is trusting the mystery will be solved, right?
18. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (Broadway Books, 2011. 381 pages)
My daughter Natalie read this in an ethics class for school, and promptly put it in the book pile on my night stand. It took me a while to get to it, and then a while to finish reading it. It's a fascinating, sad, and important story about the history of bio ethics, medical research and the way racism permeates our social institutions at deep levels. This is a story with both a personal (Henrietta Lack's tragic life and the struggle her family faces still today) and epic ("One scientist estimates that if you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—an inconceivable number, given that an individual cell weighs almost nothing.") in scale. Anyone who's had a polio vaccine owe Henrietta a debt of gratitude, not to mention the countless other ways her cells (still alive today in research labs around the world) have benefitted human health, but most of us have never heard of her. Rebecca Skloot does a beautiful job of telling a complex story about science through the lens of story. I heartily recommend this book! (You can read an excerpt here at the author's excellent website.)
19. Still Life With Bread Crumbs: A Novel by Anna Quindlen (Random House, 2014. 288 pages)
Rebecca Winter is a photographer well known for work she's done in the past, and wanting to make something new. She moves from her luxe city life to a cabin in the woods and befriends a quirky cast of characters who were easy for me to love, too. Pleasant reading. Well-written characters and interesting plot line. A great vacation book!
20. The Gospel in Gerard Manley Hopkins: Selections from His Poems, Letters, Journals, and Spiritual Writings (The Gospel in Great Writers) by Margaret R. Ellsberg (Plough Publishing, 2017. 268 pages)
I'm grateful for any opportunity I have to learn an artist through his life story. There are drawbacks, of course. Sometimes it's hard to look a hero in the proverbial eye through their letters and journal entries. It's hard to hear the doubt, insecurity, and suffering of the people who've introduced so much beauty into the world. Oh my goodness, Gerard Manley Hopkins' poems are beautiful. And his suffering was real. My favorite part of the book is still the poems, which I guess I could read in his collected works, but I've learned that I often prefer to read and study artists' work within the context of their everyday lives.
21. Plough Quarterly, No. 12 - Courage: Lives of Radical Devotion including authors Yu Jie, Raúl Suárez, Julian Peters, Dorothy Day, Sam Hine, Maureen Swinger, George Bernard Shaw, Meister Eckhart, & Peter Mommsen (Editor) (Plough Publishing, 2017. 80 pages)
This is one of my favorite quarterly journals. Recently a friend asked if I'd recommend a subscription, and I thought I'd share my response: While the publishers represent the Anabaptist perspective on issues of social justice (pacifist, etc.), they are incredibly hospitable to various Christian perspectives across the spectrum of faith and practice. One of my favorite things about the journal is that each issue weave text from Christians who've come before us (e.g, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Søren Kierkegaard, Elizabeth Goudge, Thomas Merton, C.S. Lewis, Dorothy Day, and others ) with modern-day practitioners. You can sign up for a free trial issue here.
Go to my reading lists page to see my reading lists from 2016 and previous years.
Here's my Goodreads page. Let's be friends!
I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!
What are you reading these days?
p.s. there are all kinds of affiliate links in this post because I'm trying to be a good steward, and when you buy something through one of these links you don't pay more money, but in some magical twist of capitalism we get a little pocket change. Thanks!