The Bookshelf

1. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Extremely well-written novel. The narrator is an autistic 15-year old and the way Haddon captures his thoughts and reactions is absolutely incredible. It was a very quick and fun read. 5 Stars.
2. Custer Died for your Sins: An Indian Manifesto by Vine Deloria Jr.
In this non-fiction book Deloria covers the past offenses committed against Native American. He makes some very harsh points (and sharp sarcasm) against the U.S. government and missionaries in particular, which made it almost painful for me as an American Christian to read. However, his grievances were very appropriate and he had a lot of good ideas for improving Native American life. This book is rather old (around 1970) so I’m not sure of the current relevance, but it is a must-read for anybody wanting to know more about Native Americans. 3.5 Stars.
3. Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
This is a best-seller covering the whole of human history from the beginning until modern day…sort of. Basically Diamond is sharing his theories on how some nations/cultures became word powers and others seemed to be stuck in the stone age. I was particularly fascinated by the way food production and animal domestication impacted these cultures. It was also interesting to hear more about Asian, African, and Native American history than you typically would in a normal history book. It did get a bit repetitive and long in the last third of the book. 4 Stars.
4. The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
I thought I would enjoy this book because I love children’s fantasy and I really loved the movie, but the main character was a whiny brat. I just couldn’t get into it. 2 Stars.
5. Everything Must Change by Brian McLaren
This book covers the changes that must take place among Christians for Christianity to be relevant to our current times. I would have loved this book if the information hadn’t been a repeat of everything I feel like I learned last year. Those new to the Christian social justice movement will enjoy it. I agree with McLaren’s ideas on promoting justice but I find his ideas about “the framing story” to be a bit behind the times. I don’t think anyone believes we should still be responding to postmodernism. Postmodernism doesn’t really exist anymore. 3 Stars.
6. Jim and Casper Go to Church: Frank Conversation about Faith, Churches, and Well-Meaning Christians by Jim Henderson and Matt Casper
This was a nice quick read. Basically, a Christian hires an athiest to visit churches with him and talk about the experiences. What I loved the most was that Jim and Casper visit Lawndale Community Church and loved it! That is the church I may end up at in the next year. 🙂 3.5 Stars.
7. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
This is the fictional story of a family whose father forces them to serve as missionaries in a Congo village for a year. What follows is a cultural nightmare and the upheaval of the whole family as they come right at the time when Congo is trying to gain its independence from Belgium. The history is true. The characters are easy to relate to and the format of the book is very unique. I loved it! 5 Stars.
8. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
A beautiful story of one family’s attempt to eat only local food for one year. Barbara Kingsolver is an incredible writer and I was completely sucked in by her family’s lifestyle. This book will challenge any reader to think twice about where their food comes from. I’m planting a vegetable garden soon! 5 Stars.
9. Hope for Children in Poverty: Profiles and Possibilities edited by Ronald J. Sider and Heidi Unruh
This is a good overview of the issues that those living in poverty face every day, things like: finding a job, getting good health care, and getting a good education. It would be a good book for someone wanting a introduction to poverty, very readable and helpful. But it didn’t really provide me with any information that I wasn’t already aware of. 3 Stars.
10. The Great Awakening by Jim Wallis
Currently Reading
11. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Absolutely fabulous! This is the story of a young boy growing during the war between Russia and Afghanistan and then the rule of the Taliban. Incredibly well written but heartbreaking, though not without a sense of hopefulness. 5 Stars
12. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
A very unique story for C.S. Lewis, quite different from anything else of his that I have read. This is the mythical story of Cupid and Psyche. I read this with a group of knitting friends on Ravelry and we are discussing the Christian themes and symbolism in the book. It is kind of a confusing story but interesting nonetheless. 4 Stars.
13. unChristian by David Kinnaman
The author spent several years surveying young people (about 16-30 years old) on their opinions of Christians. This isn’t just another book about how to change your church service to be “relevant” to young people. Kinnaman actually plays the role of a prophet in revealing where Christians have fallen short of the call of Jesus. I can be somewhat critical of the church and I was afraid this book would make me even more critical, but instead, Kinnaman made me think most about how I live out my faith and how I can best share Christ’s message with the world. Every Christian should read this book! 5 stars.
14. Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw
An absolute must-read for everyone. The authors describe exactly what it means to live the alternative lifestyle of following after Jesus, especially in contrast to the materialistic, separatist nation we live in. I describe this book in a lot more depth here. 5 Stars.
15. Cohousing: A Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves by Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett
An excellent overview of cohousing, including floorplans and maps of cohousing communities. Cohousing is a new model of housing where families and individuals own their own houses/condos with all the typical amenities but then also share a common house or area with kitchen, dining room, lounge/library, playroom, workroom, etc. We are looking into becoming a part of a new cohousing project, Josiah Community, in Chicago. This book answered a lot of questions and gave me a lot of ideas for the Josiah Community. 4 stars.
16. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
This memoir follows Gilbert as she travels to Italy, India, and Indonesia to experience the wonders of each country: food in Italy, spirituality in India, and a zest for life in Indonesia. Gilbert’s writing completely sucked me in and made me feel like I was right there with her. I was very intrigued by her descriptions of her spiritual experiences (more new-age than anything else). She helped me to better understand how someone could describe themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious.” An excellent, easy read! 5 stars.
17. L’Abri by Edith Schaeffer
Edith Schaeffer’s story of her experiences with L’Abri, especially how it all started. Part of the Josiah Community is going to be a L’Abri-style learning and training center for inner-city ministry. Not knowing a whole lot about L’Abri, I thought this would give me a good introduction and I was right. God did incredible things through the Schaeffers and it is still going on with L’Abri. 4 stars.
18. Hidden Art by Edith Schaeffer
Schaeffer makes a strong argument for creating an environment in the home and family that honors God even in the littlest things, like decorating with fresh flowers and reading stories with your children. At first this sounded like a cheesy homemaking book but Schaeffer encouraged me to see life in the home with new eyes. We even buy fresh flowers from the farmers market now, and it really makes a difference! 5 stars.
19. Foreskin’s Lament by Shalom Auslander
The author’s story of growing up in a very strict orthodox Jewish environment, both at home and school, and how his experiences shaped his view of God. Auslander is an incredible writer and, though his story is a bit morose, he will cause you to ponder long and hard about how you think of God. And, just so you won’t say I didn’t warn you, I would give this book an R rating for language and sex so don’t read it if you are easily offended. 3 stars.
20. Gang Leader for a Day by Sudhir Venkatesh
Fascinating! Sudhir Venkatesh befriends a gang leader in Chicago (in the early 90s) which gives him the opportunity to observe life in the projects. This author has a fantastic writing style and he has a lot of interesting insights into the world of American poverty. I practically devoured this book! 5 stars.
21. The Baby Thief by Barbara Raymond
Currently Reading

2 Responses to “The Bookshelf”

  1. kevin Says:

    Hi. Like your page and share your love for a Jesus-like life. I’ve recently release Eden: A Novel with a lot of truth to it… check it out.


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