2017 is quickly coming to an end. But not without a round of book recommendations from yours, truly 🙂 I’m making it my goal to read 5-6 books/month, like a physical turn-the-page book, because there is something grounding about touching paper, and turning pages.
When I was a little girl, I loved the sound of a page turning, especially when I was the one who could turn the page.
The sound was anticipation of what resided on the other side, then the revelation of the answer to my curiosity. And the control over when I could satisfy that curiosity.
The only time a page turn was unsatisfying was when the book “How babies are made” asked the question, “But – how does the sperm get to the egg?”
I excitedly flipped the page (an actual answer, at last!!) only to be utterly disappointed by a diagram of a sperm (with a happy face drawn on it) swimming towards the large egg on the right page.
But how Mom? How does the sperm get to the egg??
Her response was equally dissatisfying. But, I digress. Here are the book highlights of this month:
Slow Church – cultivating community in the patient way of Jesus – by C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison
I am in love with this book. You know when a book states in words what your heart has been feeling but has had no words to express? OK, so this is it.
The book is based on the contrast between the Slow Food movement and McDonalds. While McDonalds values efficiency and reproducibility, Slow Food is rooted in terroir, unhurried cultivation and a slow devotion to the process of growing and cooking food.
In the same way, the church has succumbed to the cult of speed. We produce well-manicured and timed services. The 3 takeaway sermon. The 10 minute devotional. And we forget that walking with Jesus is a long, slow process.
So, yes it will be inefficient. It may be uncertain. But the church is made of people. And people are messy, inefficient, uncertain – and by slowing down enough to embrace that means we in fact see more wholly. We are digging deeper, moving towards a reconciled view of the church and its relation to work, and the rest of life.
I don’t do it justice. You just gotta read it.
2. At Home in this World – reflections on belonging while wandering the globe – by Tsh Oxenreider
I really enjoy travel memoirs. After moving back to Canada, I read China Road by Rob Gifford and Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: a Sweet and Sour Memoir of Eating in China by Fuschia Dunlop, which were balm to my soul when I was missing the smell of vinegar and dumplings cooking in the morning.
Tsh is a mom of three with an itch for adventure, so she sets out to explore the world for a year WITH her children in tow (so much respect). A reflection on how we travel in search of something missing, yet when we are on the road, we yearn for home. So what are we really looking for?
I won’t the spoil the ending, but for me, it was both a beautifully written cross-cultural experience as well as an encouragement to stop searching for satisfaction by constant nomadic living but to fully revel in the ordinariness of life.
3. A Woman’s Place by Katelyn Beaty
When I’m home, I often talk to my sister about women in the marketplace. We discuss whether there is equal opportunity in the workplace (during the period my sis was inspired by Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In), and what a woman’s role (especially one who is following the Bible) is in a highly ambitious career-driven world. And if a woman who stays at home with her children is doing equally valuable work.
This book pushes back on Sandberg’s conclusion that women have to fight for their rightful place among men in the marketplace, saying that by doing so, women are succumbing to the definition of work as created by privileged men in the West – that career advancement is the highest goal in work. We need to redefine work and what is good work, she says.
Good work may not be snagging that corner office. Good work is when we cultivate the world God has given us and make it fruitful.
4. The pleasure of finding things out by Richard Feynman
So, this isn’t a Christian book at all, but it is a collection of essays/speeches from the famous Nobel-winning physicist Feynman about the value of learning simply for the sake of discovering new things. He recounts stories of his childhood, and makes witty comments about how nowadays we do science for the end-result (be it an award, or papers, or fame) so we forget the pure joy of childlike discovery.
I saw some interesting parallels between how curiosity/doubt fuels science and my spiritual journey. Perhaps a subject for another time 😉
5. Seeking Allah Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi
Everyone, including my Mom, tells me I’m behind in discovering Nabeel. But, the woman who goes to the mosque with me on Sundays introduced me to his books, and his memoir is so powerful. Tracing his steps from a devout Muslim investigating the claims of Jesus, this memoir is one of the best I’ve read in terms of thoroughness and persuasion, especially for the academically-inclined. The concept of Jesus being God is so hard to grasp, especially from a Muslim perspective, and reading this memoir, I was faced again with the mystery of the Incarnation, but also the beauty of the gospel.
So, yes, that’s what I’ve mostly been up to.
Other than that, celebrated American thanksgiving this past week with Leah in Virginia and had an amazing time at the newly-opened Bible Museum in D.C.!
On Friday, I had a poster presentation where I was grilled by professors who asked me hard questions about my research.
This past weekend was spent preparing our worship set list of Christmas songs, and the longing of the Advent season is filling my heart as I prepare for the coming of our Lord.
A beautiful post by Sarah Bessey on Advent and longing as we wait. Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus!