While I didn’t read as much as I would have liked this summer (lots of family time, travel, movies & writing), I definitely found some gems. Here are four favorites:
Favorite Fiction: The Great Alone, Kristin Hannah
This book is great for page-turning leisure and characters you care about.
After reading Hannah’s New York Times best-selling Nightingale, I thought I would try another one of her novels. I finished this 400-page novel in four days. The story follows a family’s move to Alaska in search of a new beginning. As I read the compelling descriptions of Alaska’s raw beauty, I found myself longing to see it firsthand. This beauty, however, is sharply contrasted by the challenges of rugged, remote living and a dark, inner struggle within the family. It is a story of love and loss, hope and redemption, justice and compassion. It moved me to the brink of tears several times.
Most Fascinating: How to Change Your Mind, Michael Pollan
This book is a trip, perhaps a sign of things to come, and evidence that rational-materialists can be converted by the hope of paradigms of greater explanatory power.
Pollan is most well-known for his Omnivore’s Dilemma, but in this book he takes a deep dive into the scientific, historical, existential, and spiritual merits (and concerns) in using psychedelic drugs. As a rational-materialist, Pollan experiences a kind of conversion to the usefulness and spiritually eye-opening power of psychedelics. It was remarkable to watch a credible intellectual long for more than his scientific worldview would allow, while also learning more than I wanted to about drugs. I
Most Timely: The Death of Truth, Michiko Kakutani
This book is excellent for preachers who want to commend truth to a secular audience.
Although left-leaning, the Pulitzer prize-winning Kakutani tries to show how conservatives and liberals have contributed to the death of truth in our modern age. While Trump is a constant heuristic of moral and truth decay, the book develops its call for truth and fact by appealing to literature, philosophy, and common sense. It is admirable to see a journalist champion truth in this way, even if it’s not always even-handed.
Favorite Christian: Disruptive Witness, Alan Noble
Everyone in your church needs to read this.
Alan’s thesis is apropos: in an age of thin beliefs, and pantheon-like approach to truth statements, Christianity and Christians must be more disruptive in their witness for the exclusive and unique claims of Jesus to be heard. He takes up major insights of the philosopher Charles Taylor, explains and applies them to various aspects of discipleship. I think just about everyone in our church would benefit from reading this book.