Announcing a New Series: We’re Booked (3 Book Recommendations)

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I should never look at the Christian nonfiction bestseller list.

There are five different authors selling five different repackaged versions of the same book—OK, maybe it’s not quite that bad… but still.

I don’t begrudge their success, but I do roll my eyes at how hard it is to find variety in the Christian book market.

After one such scan of the bestseller list, I had a serious moment of doubt about my writing career.

Why am I bothering to write Christian nonfiction when only the same old stuff sells?

Why would anyone aspire to write full time if only a handful of writers have any hope of being read?

There had to be someone out there who writes the kinds of books I want to read? If those books didn’t exist, what hope did I have for my own projects?

I happened to be at the local library that day. I didn’t have high hopes as I walked to the Christian book section. I expected to find books by authors such as Bart Ehrman and Josh McDowell. Exactly the kind of Christian nonfiction I didn’t want to read and never want to write.

On a whim I picked up Flunking Sainthood by Jana Reiss. Reiss sucked me in, kept me laughing, and said all of the mean things I’ve wanted to say to people like Brother Laurence—it is called flunking sainthood after all.

A few weeks later, A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans arrived in the mail. The book wasn’t just an interesting project. It was tightly written, funny at points, profound at others, and up tempo throughout.

As I began to hope again, I began to wonder if there are some other fantastic Christian nonfiction books out there that I’ve been missing. Rachel’s book has been hard to miss with all of the controversy some have raised about it. However, I wonder if there are some other great books, like  my friend Shawn’s new book How to Use a Runaway Truck Ramp, that haven’t made it onto the bestseller list but make for excellent reading.

Here’s the Plan…

Over the next 3 weeks or so, I’ll be hosting a series of guests posts from folks I’ve invited to make book recommendations. Here’s the catch, the posts will be about 3 Christian nonfiction books.

Art thrives on limitation, right?

Starting next week, I’ll be hosting guest posts Monday-Wednesday for the rest of December that will recommend great books to read over the holidays. My own list kicks off the series on Monday with a memoir that you will be required to purchase… I mean it.

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7 thoughts on “Announcing a New Series: We’re Booked (3 Book Recommendations)

    1. ed Post author

      Thanks Christie! After hitting “publish” for this post, I thought I should mention that there are some great books in the top 25 list. I’m mainly just annoyed that they list 5 different versions of Jesus Calling. Same book, different cover… Ack!

  1. Jen

    I was just confessing that I read very little Of the Jesus book variety. Not because I don’t love Jesus, but because they don’t hold my attention, because I don’t offer hear anything new or fresh, and frankly, because they can be so boring. I read much more fiction and history, because that is what draws me in, and where I see my God showing me redemption. At any rate, I promised to try some Jesus books, and so I will. But I have high standards. And you know, the reason I haven’t read RHE is because much of what she talks about is part of my general history as a feminist believer. Like, I’m already converted. I like her, and know she’s smart, and I feel guilt about not reading it. Anyway, three Hail Marys and I try again ramble ramble. You’re welcome.

    1. ed Post author

      This comment makes me happy. You’re not alone with this struggle to read Christian nonfiction. A lot of times these books read like a long-winded sermon or a lecture gone bad. It’s tough to find great books, but they’re out there. The three books I recommend on Monday are sock nocker offers. And I do think you’d enjoy Rachel’s book to the extent that she really is a great writer and the book is so personal, that you’re sort of carried along in her own personal journey. There are other books that are “popular” about women’s issues in the church that have bored me to death because they lack the narrative arc and craft that Rachel brings to her book.

  2. Ray Hollenbach

    This is (another) great idea, Ed. Throughout church history there have been rock-solid books point the way toward spiritual formation. In our day (and the world of best seller lists) it’s easy to become depressed by foolish Christian self-help happy-talk books, but you’re (once again) lit a candle in the midst of the darkness. I can’t wait to add to my required reading list.

  3. Em Miller

    I read Christian nonfiction almost exclusively. Of course, this year my resolution was to read more fiction so I wasn’t so boring, but I still definitely have a Top 3 for the year.

    I’m adding “Flunking Sainthood” to my Amazon Wishlist as I type. I’d heard about it when it was released, thought, OH, WOW, I NEED TO READ THAT, and then, because I didn’t write it down, promptly forgot.

    I can’t wait to read everybody else’s suggestions… and I hope Santa got me a lot of Amazon and Barnes and Noble gift cards. ;)

  4. David Rupert

    Ed
    I am writing an article, “5o books to read now that I’m 50″ and boy, is it tough. I have the benefit of literary history to choose from. But picking books is hard.

    I’ll anticipate your series!

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