Favorite Books 2009…so far

bibliophileBorrowing from an idea from my friend Amy, I thought it would be fun to do occasional posts about the books I am reading. Most of my friends are unapologetic bibliophiles and are always on the lookout for good books as am I. Much of my reading that is not posted here is made up of parts of books or articles– say, for studying about the Trinity or church and culture and stuff. Seeing this list helps me feel like I have some completion in my life! So here’s some of my list for the first half of 2009. I would love to hear what you have been reading and what you recommend.

A heads up though – I have enjoyed all of the books on my list and have learned from them. However, if you read them, some of you may find that they may take you far, far, far from your comfort zone. Please enjoy that, for there is no place you can go where Christ is not, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Amy divides hers into months. I am not that organized. And I am sure I have forgotten some, but oh well.

The Great Emergence by Phyllis Tickle
This book really helps put the emerging of the church within a far larger context of church history. She is a funny, bright lady and I want to be her when I grow up.

Leaving Church
The Preaching Life
An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor
I devoured all of these books. I have vowed to read everything she writes and I am making my way towards that goal. She has a rich, warm, deeply nourishing spirituality.

The Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight
From Stone to Living Word by Debbie Blue
These two very readable books deal with issues of hermeneutics, not so much in the technical sense but in the broader sense of what affects how we see and how we read.

How (Not) To Speak of God
The Orthodox Heretic by Peter Rollins
He is my new favoritest writer. (For this week anyway!) Rollins, who has advanced degrees in postmodern theory, is amazing. He opens our eyes to how we think (and how that effects us), as well as to the startling but life-changing strangeness of the gospel of Jesus. Prepare to be challenged.

Things Seen and Unseen by Nora Gallagher
Take This Bread by Sara Miles
This year I have begun to really delve into the “memoir” genre and have been so enjoying it. Take This Bread is one book that I will read again and again. A new friend of mine is quite close to the author, and several other friends have visited her church in San Francisco. It is the real thing.

Christianity for the Rest of Us
A People’s History of Christianity by Diana Butler Bass.
Another new (not so new) favoritest author. She shows us that there’s far more going on than what the big name players are doing!

Eat, Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
A total pleasure.  Part of my personal journey includes recovering how to make space for true pleasure in my life. I work too hard and find myself slowly burning out. This book, written by a woman with more eastern religious leanings, has given me much wisdom and joyful anticipation for that pursuit. Maybe I have to get outside myself to “get it”.

Fat Jesus: Christianity and Body Image by Lisa Isherwood
A brilliant discourse on Christianity, culture and women’s bodies.

Rapture Ready by Daniel Radosh
A young Jewish man enters the world of fundamentalist and evangelical Christianity and reports his observations. He does so with humor and respect but I do not recommend this for those without a sense of humor or the willingness to see our imperfections.

Finishing up
I can never read one book at a time – I always have some in progress. Piles of books everywhere.
The Fidelity of Betrayal: The Church Beyond Belief by Peter Rollins
Eve’s Bible by Dr. Sarah Forth
Surprised by Hope by NT Wright
Acedia by Kathleen Norris (another all time favorite writer)
There’s A Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns

On deck to read next:
These are sitting on my bookshelves but I reserve the right to change the line up.
Justification by NT Wright
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Sensual Orthodoxy by Debbie Blue
Signs of Emergence by Kester Brewin
ReJesus by Frost and Hirsch
The Great Awakening by Jim Wallis
Fasting by Scot McKnight
Sabbath by Dan Allender

To be re-read every year (but I haven’t yet):
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
…and few things by Irvin Yalom

Fiction (I never devote enough time to simply enjoy fiction!)
A Mercy by Toni Morrison
Changing Light by Nora Gallagher
The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb

What do you recommend? Obviously I need help on the fiction end of things. And what are your favorite spiritual memoirs?

I don't know who's tattoo this is but I like it.

I don't know to whom this tattoo belongs, but I like it.

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Showing 8 comments
  • Skip Newby

    Exclusion and Embrace is on my read list, looks good.

    Waiting for delivery of Orthodox Heretic per your recommendation. Although, I must say, after having read his other two, Rollins is now one of my favs. What a wise young man.

    Have you read The Go Between God, by John Taylor? Best I’ve ever read on the Spirit.

    And, a very interesting fiction/memoir type is Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. She understands men in a way that amazes me. Course hey, I’m a guy! Easily amazed.

    Just re-read Brother To A Dragonfly by Will Campbell.

    The Inescapable Love of God – Thomas Talbott

    Suffering – McGill

    Christ On Trial – Rowan Williams, I always want to say Rowan and Martin. 😉

    Unspoken Sermons – George MacDonald, favorite all time resource for lifting my heart to the Master.

    Aaaand, I have about nineteen in my pile waiting, not to mention re-reads.

    Oh, I dare you to get that tattoo in the pic, Nadia might think it was cool, Aram might not. But he’s not the boss of you, right? If I had enough space left on my arms, I might get it.

    Peace sister.

  • ellenharoutunian

    Wow, thanks for all the book ideas – this will definitely lengthen my reading list. I am not sure I know how to exist without a big pile of books, LOL, maybe that’s a requirement for this journey – as long as we don’t begin comparing ourselves to the size of other’s piles. Post pictures of your tats on FB!

  • amy

    You’ve given me more to add to MY pile! Have you read Practicing Resurrection by Nora Gallagher yet? I enjoyed it even more than Things Seen and Unseen. And I’ll be curious to hear how Changing Light is.

  • ellenharoutunian

    How could I forget that one????? It’s on my shelf! You had told me about it a few months ago. I will move it to the top if the pile 🙂

  • Eugene Scott

    Great list. I need to add many off them to my pile. In your fiction list have you read “Peace like River” or “So Brave, Young, and Handsome” by Leif Enger? “Peace like River” is one of the best pieces of fiction to come along in a while. Enjoy.

  • ellenharoutunian

    Wonderful Eugene, thank you!

  • veneda Gabourel

    Whew – you make me dizzy with all you’ve read- especially the Non-fiction and spiritual ones.
    Right now i’m devouring fiction – getting lost somewhere else. If you like scifi, I just finished a great “space-opera” called Pandora’s Star by Peter F. Hamilton, just pure great scifi.
    I’m going to keep your list handy though. Soon as my list get’s done . I’ll start on yours.
    Love you.
    PS. go to http://www.Librarything.com I find that it’s a great way to keep all the books in order

  • Paul

    Ellen, fun to see your list. I came across it via Facebook (gotta love/hate it)
    I love getting book recommendations. Here are some to add to the “ever-growing pile” that I am reading:
    “How We Decide” by Jonah Lehrer
    “The Year of Living Biblically” by A.J. Jacobs
    Blessings, Paul

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