Today’s book picks are by Leigh Kramer.
One of the things I love most in this world is being asked for book recommendations. I am a well established book nerd. I could talk for hours about books and reading habits and even the publishing industry.
Imagine my joy, then, when Ed asked me to recommend Christian nonfiction. Imagine my conundrum when he limited me to only three. Three books?! After much hemming and hawing, gazing reflectively upon my bookshelves, flipping through a stack of contenders, I have indeed narrowed it down to three. Ish.
The following books spoke to me in a way I particularly needed when I read them. There have been many others but these are my go-to’s.
My friend Mike told me about this book on a cold winter day in 2005. We were tucked in the corner of a friend’s house and he’d asked about my unending job search after graduating with my MSW seven months prior. I was not handling this well, to put it kindly. Not only did Mike tell me I needed to read this book, he dropped it off a few days later.
A Sacred Thirst aptly depicted my dark night of the soul and showed me I was not alone. I was surprised by how much it resonated, even more so by how it offered healing. Over the years, I’ve turned to a passage in chapter 14 more times than I can remember. It’s become a well-worn friend, speaking of hope while waiting, joy in sorrow. This is the book I buy for friends going through times of transition, who feel burned out, or who simply need to meet God again.
I expected to like Weber’s memoir of her first academic year at Oxford and subsequent conversion to Christianity. What I did not expect is how she would come to feel like a kindred spirit. The book is part love letter to Oxford, part book nerd’s dream with its literary references, and part road to faith. Then woven around and between it all is her friendship (with promise?) with a certain fellow.
She asks excellent questions about God and faith. One need not divorce faith from intellect, a truth very evident in these pages. Weber’s words were poetry for my soul and I was quite sad to finish it. I read this last winter; I’m not sure why but this lovely memoir is especially suited to chilly months.
With her richly written essays, Niequist has become a favorite author of mine. I give away copies of her books to just about everyone I know. She has a way of writing about her experience while tapping into deeper, often universal emotions. Bittersweet, the practice of recognizing we need both the bitter and the sweet, relates to those of us who have grieved for any number of reasons.
Niequest reminds us while we wouldn’t want to repeat difficult circumstances, we can see how God uses them, if we let Him. I won’t say anything more because I have such an intimate reaction to her books. But I will say this: I cannot wait for her forthcoming work Bread & Wine.
Some might say Lamott isn’t a real Christian or that her memoir isn’t Christian nonfiction. I disagree. Lamott’s “outside the box” faith was a revelation to me the first time I read Traveling Mercies. Her unorthodox life leads to a so-called unorthodox faith and yet I learned so much from her prayers and insights. We couldn’t be more different and yet she had some of the same questions and doubts I did. This is one for the seekers, the question-askers, and the believers.
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