Tuesday, December 30, 2014

my 5 favorite reads in 2014

My top 5 favorite books from 2014.  

-- 1 --

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell(Ballantine Books, 1997. 408 pages) 
This novel just about wrecked me -- in mostly good ways. Since it falls in the category of Sci-Fi, I'd probably not have picked it up on my own.  But some dear friends shared how much they'd loved the story of -- well, a Jesuit priest in outer space. With only a little bit of experience reading science fiction, I've quickly learned that the power of the genre -- for me -- is the way a well-told story of an imaginary land and its inhabitants can help me reframe the powerful drama of my own land and species in the most surprising, touching ways.  This was the case for me reading about the brave team of space explorers hoping to give and receive love on the planet Rakhat -- for some, even the love of the Gospel of Christ.  The devastating results of offering pure, but misunderstood, love mirrors all the great tragedies we know since the beginning of man.  And the beginning of my very own life on Earth.  

-- 2 --

Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life 
by Henri Nouwen:
 (165 pages) 

I have never read a book by this man that did not touch me deeply at the spiritual, emotional and intellectual level.  Reaching Out is no exception.  So much so that we're using the book at a ministry retreat this fall.  Also, Nouwen -- whom I'm pretty sure never had children of his own -- gave me the wisest words I've ever needed for parenting.  You can read about that here:  My top 4 parenting epiphanies, or My Child Is Not My Property But My  Guest

-- 3 --

My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer by Christian Wiman (New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013. 182 pages.)

Amazing, amazing, amazing.

-- 4 --

Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton (316 pages)

This important novel of South Africa's history has been on my reading list for years.  When our church book club chose it for August's selection I read along even though I couldn't join them for their discussion night.  The story is exquisite, rich, sad and joyous and Zulu priest Stephen Kumalo has become one of my all-time favorite novel characters. This is a book I will re-read often.

-- 5 --

Booked: literature in the soul of me 
by Karen Swallow Prior (T.S. Poetry Press, New York, 2012. 199 pages + discussion guide)

I really, really enjoyed this book.  My sister received it for Christmas from her in-laws and recommended it to me.  For one thing I love reading books that are about books.  For another, it's a memoir woven within the framework of a book about books.  My favorite sort of thing.  And Karen Swallow Prior did not disappoint.  There was nothing soporific or too matchy-matchy about the way she wove together her story of growing up formed by good parents, good community, good church and, yes, good books.  

A tiny excerpt:
"I know that spiritual formation is of God, but I also know -- mainly because I learned it from books -- that there are other kinds of formation, too, everyday gifts, and that God uses the things of this earth to teach us and shape us, and to help us find truth."

*Go to my Book Pile page to see my reading lists from 2014 and previous years.*

What are you reading right now?

*Linking up with Jenna today

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