The Bookshelf September 2021

People often ask for book recommendations and I’ve decided to do a monthly post of what I’m reading.

Please keep in mind that I read widely and read things I don’t agree with and things that I partially agree with. Just because a book is on my list doesn’t mean I heartily recommend it, or I may recommend it to some readers but not others, so do your own research before just taking my word on a book.


Audiobook: I have discovered a new love: listening to mysteries on my runs. I don’t read mysteries and don’t read much fiction at all but I have loved listening to a good mystery. This month I chose The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse and really enjoyed it. A winter storm shutters guests into a sanitorum-turned-hotel and people start being murdered. Clean and creepy.


Textbooks that aren’t too esoteric: Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation by Ruth Haley Barton (do you see what I mean by “read widely” - murder mystery to spiritual transformation). Lovely.

You Are What You Love: the Spiritual Power of Habit by James K. Smith

Engaging in Globalization by Bryant L. Meyers

Global Poverty: a Theological Guide by Justin Thacker


In These Girls Hope is a Muscle: A True Story of Hoop Dreams and One Very Special Team by Madeleine Blais. This book is a master class in capturing the life of a small town, in writing about sport expansively, and in following multiple characters. And for the writers among us, it is excellent for “voice” or authorial presence. As I write about runners in Djibouti, this book had a lot to teach me.

River Town, by Peter Hessler. I absolutely loved this book. It is about his time in China as a Peace Corps volunteer. I highlighted so many sections. His insights into the complexities of being a foreigner rung deeply true. Highly recommended for the expat stories and for the gorgeous writing.

Prayer in the Night by Tish Harrison Warren. Loved it. I loved this book. For those who watch, wait, and weep. It felt like balm to my soul. So, so deeply good.

Wife/Daughter/Self by Beth Kephart. Beautifully written. A bit meandering but also a nice rest for the brain and rich with vivid imagery.

Hooked: Free Will and How the Food Giants Exploit Our Addictions, by Michael Moss. A sciency book about what we eat and why.

Still Christian: Following Jesus out of Evangelicalism, by David P. Gushee. Faith-based memoir. I appreciated his insights into the religious academic and writing life, especially.

How to Fight Racism by Jemar Tisby (actually read in June, but hadn’t included it on a list yet). Excellent book.


What are you reading lately?

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