Top 10 of 2013

I know 2013 isn’t over yet, which still gives me more time to read and maybe find something that should be on this list, but I wanted to get it put together in case some of you might want to purchase a book or two for holiday giving this year or take some down time and read in the spirit of the season.

1. The Art of the Commonplace by Wendell Berry

art of commonplace

This was my first experience with reading Wendell Berry, and I am smitten.  I found this book to be very profound, thought-provoking, challenging, and wonderfully engaging.  This is a book meant to be read slowly and reflectively; therefore, I wouldn’t suggest this as a “fun, weekend read” to take along on vacation or such.  Everything in this book is tied to the idea of being close to the earth–what good comes of creation care and what bad comes from creation neglect.  It must be mentioned that this is a book of essays by one of the greatest essayists; which means, unless you are familiar with this genre of writing, the rhythm of it may be different than what you’re used to.  But please, whatever your style preference, give this one a try!

 

2. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs

Incidents in life of slave girl

This is an autobiographical account of a girl/woman and her life of slavery before the Civil War.  It is harrowing.  In fact, if it weren’t a first-hand account one might be prone to find some things a little sensationalized.  But as harrowing as it might be, it is also an inspiring story of a what a person can accomplish, even in the most disparate of circumstances.  This book is important because it causes us to remember–and we must always remember, never forget–what the world (humanity) can be like, and we must take care.

 

 

3.  The Unselfishness of God by Hannah Whitall Smith

unselfishness of God

 

Hannah Whitall Smith is better know by her book The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, but this book is her spiritual autobiography.  I include this book as a Top 10 pick this year because of her effusive joy in coming to follow Jesus as her Savior AND friend.  This joy seems to characterize her entire life, even as a woman well-advanced in years.  It is a simple book, but for all it’s simplicity, it is also profound.  While some may object to the theological leanings of this woman (many of which are not discussed at all in this book), the reader does well to remember that this is her personal testimony and her spiritual story, and it is a note-worthy, inspiring story of a faith-filled life, at that.

 

4.  Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof

half the sky

This is such an important book for the time that we live.  The situation of women world-wide–especially in regard to education and opportunity–is one we must begin to think about more critically and begin acting upon more rigorously.  This book looks into the issues of women from around the world, the cultures that make their oppression unique, and stories of women who are suffering and stories of people doing things about it.  Well- traveled, well-researched, well . . . you should read it.   This book is a champion of awareness and a major call to action.  Let me just say this, and not simply because I am a woman, but because I am human: this book is too important not to read!

 

 

5.  The Imperfect Environmentalist by Sara Gilbert

imperfect environmentalist

If nothing else, this book is a great resource for living a “cleaner” life; however, this book is so much more than a resource.  It is funny, easy to navigate, and fully relatable.  Within its pages is handy information, scientific data, humor, and DIY ideas that are compelling and in a communication style that is disarming.  Sometimes we think a more sustainable life comes with a hefty price tag, and in some cases that is true, but she, herself, never claims to be a purist and includes resources and ideas that even someone on the meagerist of budgets can begin doing today to make the earth a happier, healthier planet (and us too).

 

 

6.  Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis by Lauren F. Winner

still-notes on a mid-faith crisis

What do you do when your faith walk stops moving?  What happens when all you’ve come to trust about your world and your God don’t seem cutout for the challenge any more?  When you want more and don’t know where to turn?  Then what?  This book is about that.  It is poetic.  It is real.  It is messy.  It is cathartic.  I can relate.  Can you? Read it and find out.

 

 

 

7.  Serve God, Save the Planet: A Christian Call to Action by Matthew J. Sleeth

serve god, save the planet

This book is the Christian’s call to creation care.  Written by a doctor, it’s all about making the shift from what our culture tells us the good life is all about, to living the good life created according to God’s design.  As Christians, if we aren’t concerned about this planet we call home and doing more to take care of it, then our service to God is incomplete.  The information shared here is straight and to the point, mixed with personal stories of why and how Sleeth came to be a herald of green living.  He might be pretty radical in some of the things he does, but he walks what he talks.  He’s the real deal, and so is this book.

 

 

8. Unveiling Grace: The Story of How We Found Our Way Out of the Mormon Church by Lynn Wilder

unveiling grace

Jesus makes all the difference!  There’s no apology (as in “apologetics” which is the defending of faith) better than one’s personal story.  Lynn Wilder, once a faithful, committed LDS member and professor at BYU, tells the story of her and her family’s journey toward Jesus and away from Joseph–Joseph Smith, that is.  This book sheds light on many of the differences between Christianity and Mormonism, none more important than that of grace through Jesus Christ.  This book is informative, personal, and easy to read.

 

 

9. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

hunger games trilogy

I know that this is actually three books instead of one, but to me, it’s one story in three parts, and you can’t read one without the others.  I don’t usually get into the bestseller books hype thing, but after watching the movie I decided to read these and believe the buzz about them is appropriate. While the action tends toward violence, the story is reminiscent of history during the times of the Roman Empire.  These novels are engrossing, and I found the characters tending toward realism in their struggles and their coping mechanisms.  Because this is young adult fiction, the tempered rating makes this story more palatable in many ways, kinder and gentler and more noble.  If you haven’t read these already, as so many already have, then you really should.

 

10. The Pipeline and the Paradigm: Keystone XL, Tar Sands, the the Battle to Defuse the Carbon Bomb by Samuel Avery

Pipeline and Paradigm

I chose this book as a Top 10 because of it’s importance to the climate change issue and the effects that the oil industry has toward this global issue.  More and more people are becoming aware of the science, and that is good, but I think relatively few are aware of the extent that the oil industry is already invested in the development and production of natural resources which causes such great harm to our planet.  But not only in the big picture, on a smaller scale, the pipelines that crisscross under the ground beneath many of us are risky and dangerous and hold the potential to destroy in so many small ways.  Added up, over time, these little things will amount to something huge, something beyond a quick recovery tactic.  This book is science, activism, and persuasion told through the author’s personal journey and untold interviews with people who are up against the giants.  Get reading, get learning, get involved.

 

As always, I hope this list is helpful, and if you are wondering what to read next, maybe try one of these.  If you do, let me know what you think; I’d love to have some feedback.

Happy Reading, and Happy Holidays!

 

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