Although I haven’t posted about books in awhile, I have still been reading a lot … no surprise to those of you who know what a bookworm I am. This “on my bookshelf” is actually from a couple weeks ago – but without further ado, here we go with my review of the above. It’s a good sampling of what I usually am reading – fiction, a faith book, a cultural/counseling study, and some sort of devotional.
Fiction: Shanghai Girls by Lisa See is a riveting glimpse into a period of history I don’t usually consider – that of pre-WWII China before the Japanese invasion and Mao’s Communism, following the story of two Chinese sisters who escaped to the US through Angel Island, only then to be under the harsh accusation of being Communist decades later. See’s books are well written, both in terms of literary form and story. Two previous ones I’ve read by her are Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Dreams of Joy (this last one is actually a sequel to Shanghai Girls – I read them out of order!).
Faith: Gospel In Life small group study by Tim Keller is an excellent resource for any community of faith small group to study. The format is great – with a thought-provoking individual study to prepare for weekly group meetings; then discussion questions based around a DVD lecture by Keller; and good suggestions for applications to put into practice what we study. I’ve been challenged to examine how well our small group community actually reflects the biblical shape of a faith community (caring for one another; bearing each other’s burdens; encouraging/exhorting one another; etc.). Another theme that challenges and moves me to action is how living out the gospel leads us to engage our cities in real ways. That we need to be involved in our cities and neighborhoods for the sake of our faith as much as for the sake of the city.
Cultural/counseling: Daring Greatly by Brene Brown is one you’ve heard me talk about here before. I just can’t read her enough – after The Gifts of Imperfection, this is a longer more comprehensive look at how the principles she discovered through her shame research are worked out in what she terms as “Wholehearted living.”
Devotional: Help, Thanks, Wow by Anne Lamott is a book recommended to me by a favorite older friend at church. It’s as unconventional as she is (love you, Ann), and also refreshingly thought-provoking. Lamott always does this for me – puts spiritual truths in words that I can hear in a new way (too often I am calloused by familiarity with church-y words and Christian culture). And so Lamott has condensed prayer life into three cries of the heart: “help,” which is obvious; “thanks,” which is also self-explanatory; and “wow,” which was the newest piece to me. I close with a few words on “wow” –
When we are stunned to the place beyond words, when an aspect of life takes us away from being able to chip away at something until it’s down to a manageable size and then to file it nicely away, when all we can say in response is ‘Wow,’ that’s a prayer. … What can we say beyond Wow, in the presence of glorious art, in music so magnificent that it can’t have originated solely on this side of things? Wonder takes our breath away, and makes room for new breath.