Saturday, September 20, 2008

Narrowing it down

Several of you have told me that the list of books on the sidebar is overwhelming and asked me to recommend a few. So . . . you're right, the list is overwhelming and I'm not even sure where to start.

I know that I have really enjoyed reading spiritual memoir this year and so I will start with that genre. I loved Take This Bread by Sara Miles and have reread it twice since the summer of last year (I remember when I first read it because we were living in the one-bedroom/study apartment before we moved into this house.) Sara was a non-religious liberal radical who found a relationship with Jesus when she participated in the eucharist at a progressive Episcopal church near her home in San Francisco. Out of gratitude for being "fed" spiritually, she began to feed people literally, giving away food and starting food pantries. This book reads like Traveling Mercies (a favorite), although it is a little less whiny and occasionally a little more preachy. Her understanding of how the church is supposed to work is breathtakingly inspiring and her description of how the church actually does work will make you nod knowingly.

OK, so what else . . . I also enjoyed Here If You Need Me by Kate Braestrup. In this book, she weaves together the story of the tragic death of her husband and her ministry as a chaplain. Leaving Church by Barbara Brown Taylor has also stayed with me this year. Beautifully written with Taylor's characteristic depth, it was also sad for me because it so poignantly describes the way that we leave our ministers empty and burned-out and the way they want to please us so much that they let us. eat pray love by Elizabeth Gilbert was a trip--literally! It's a fun and sometimes thought-provoking travelogue-meets-spirituality book by an extraordinarily self-absorbed author. But as you read, you get to visit Italy, an ashram in India and a guru in Indonesia and I enjoyed the ride.

And I know you might think it's cheesy but I really, really, really liked The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, especially after I saw the video he made for Oprah and then the piece that Diane Sawyer did after his death. It touched me in a deep place and I keep going back to it.

So that's all for now. I'll choose another genre tomorrow and try again. I hope it's helpful.

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