Summer Reading List

Staff summer reading recommendations - some of these books are religious in nature, while some are simply good reads. We hope that summer brings a chance to delve into some good books! Happy reading!

A meaningful read...

(The Rev. Mary Davila) Educated by Tara Westover. Non-fiction. Tara was raised mostly “off the grid” in Idaho by a father who was convinced that the end of the world was coming, and a midwife mother. Tara teaches herself to read and understand math and eventually makes her way to Cambridge and Harvard. This is a hard but beautiful coming of age story about family ties, the role of education, and claiming one’s identity.

(Liz Stroff & The Rev. Daniel Reeves) Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved by Kate Bowler. Non-fiction. Kate is a professor at Duke University and mother to her toddler son when she receives a diagnoses of stage IV colon cancer. Kate’s ability to share a candid picture of her life after the diagnosis is an emotional rollercoaster, but the beauty she shares through her wit, and deep love for family and faith, is nothing short of holy. Even if you do not read the whole book, it’s worth taking time to go through Appendix I & II. Useful things to consider (or not) for conversations with those in the midst of suffering. Using her humor and own experiences, she offers words of wisdom.

(Martha Cox) Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond. Non-fiction. Desmond wrote this Pulitzer Prize winning, NYT bestseller after a lengthy first-hand observation of the inner workings of low-income housing options in Milwaukee, WI. He weaves together firsthand experience with nearly a decade of academic research, following eight family units through close to a year of their housing woes, including both tenants and landlords. As Raleigh continues the affordable housing conversation, I found this work especially interesting, since Desmond uses Milwaukee as a Raleigh-like city (he even mentions it in there) to understand the intersection of poverty, race, socioeconomic status, gender and more and simply tell the story of the experience many people may have.

(The Rev. Meg Hunn) All the Agents and Saints: Dispatches from the US Borderlands by Elizondo Griest. I heard the UNC professor-author interviewed by Frank Statio - and was intrigued. This is part memoir, part documentary about how national borders inhibit and inhabit cultural identities. Griest is respectful to all parties, and at the same time, educates. A fascinating (and sometimes, horrifying) read.

(The Rev. Jim Adams) The Art of Loading Brush by Wendell Berry. This book is an energetic mix of essays and stories through which the Kentucky writer and farmer, Wendell Berry, reflects on this beautiful but broken world and dreams of its renewal. Berry is a tireless critic of violence, environmental exploitation, and wastefulness but his weapons--hope and affection—are as irresistible as his many insights and revelations.

A meaningful book you’d find in the “Religion” section...

(Mary) Accidental Saints by Nadia Bolz-Weber. Weber is an edgy, tattooed Lutheran pastor in Colorado who preaches grace, grace, grace. Her language is unfiltered, but underneath her brashness is beauty and a celebration of God’s love for all people.

(Liz) Where God Happens by Rowan Williams. Former Archbishop of Canterbury Williams unearths the life and practices of the Desert Mothers and Fathers through their monastic communities. He gives an approach and connection to a life I felt I had nothing to consider, and made me rethink spiritual practices and new ways to discover Christ in one another.

(Martha) Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving and Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans. This remains one of my all time favorites from this “category.” Evans’ story is intriguing: raised in a highly conservative, evangelical church, she is now a member of the Episcopal church. But this book in particular captures attention as it is both based around the seven sacraments and walks the reader through the liturgical year, all the while sharing the intersection of faith, doubt, and life, Evans’ personal crisis of faith, and how she got where she is today. More to come, her newest book is the soon to be released (June 2018) Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again!

(Meg) You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit by James K.A. Smith. My husband Michael recommended this book to me. It’s a deep and powerful treatise on how our repeated liturgies (both secular and sacred) shape and form us. I am about halfway through, and I feel like I revisit this book each time I prepare to preach. I’m looking forward to the last chapters: liturgies of the home, teach your children well, and vocational liturgies.

(Jim) Eight Whopping Lies and Other Stories of Bruised Grace by Brian Doyle. "If a life can be said to be a collection of moments, then Brian Doyle’s life is right here, glowing between the covers of this book. Each of these thirty-eight essays presents a little moment that, upon reflection, is everything but little. They are the memories and thoughts of a man who made it his purpose in life to recognize kindness, humor, grace, and beauty whenever he saw it. Bruised Grace will make you a better person." —Anthony Doerr

(David Jernigan) A Survey of the Old Testament by Andrew Hill and John Walton

(David) Art and the Bible by Francis Schaeffer

(David) A Panorama of Christian Hymnody by Erik Routley

(Daniel) The dwelling of the light by Rowan Williams

A book I want to read this summer...

(Mary) Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

(Martha) Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

(Meg) My sister is a 7th grade language arts teacher. She always brings YA novels to the beach. I’m looking forward to her reading list (along with sitting on the beach!) - there is a lot of good YA fiction out there! ...and I think I want to read Stephen Hawkins A Brief History Of Time...

(Jim) The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. In this beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life. Named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, The Economist, and Publishers Weekly.

(David) A Column of Fire, (From the Kingsbridge series) by Ken Follet. Actually, I just finished it and its soooo good!

(David) The Harry Potter Series, J.K. Rowling

(Daniel) A gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles