As you may have heard, I recently graduated for the third time in five years, and I have no more school books to read. This means that I can get down to the serious business of reading fun ones. Every now and then, I’m going to write up a little about what I’m reading lately, which is a partly for you but mostly for me, so that I have to pay attention. Let me know if anything interests you, and I’m always looking for recommendations!
1. Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton
In each new person, I see an invitation to know a new side of God… I think that’s why he keeps making people. He’s not done telling us about himself yet.
-Glennon Doyle Melton
This book is a gem. The kind that makes you laugh out loud in public, and makes you want to underline everything and write exclamation points in the margins and hand it to all your friends and say “loved one, read this and feel more alive.” Gritty and honest and human and hopeful and all the best things. Plus, she just writes really good prose. And if the world desperately needs people who know how to be human, it also needs people who know how to write about it. And Glennon does both.
2. Lust for Life by Irving Stone
This is what I always do. I read the best thing a dead author ever wrote, and then I go looking for more and everything else is like . . . meh. I read Stone’s The Agony and the Ecstasy, about Michelangelo, two years ago (and right before I went to see the actual Sistine Chapel, which was crazy), and it was great. Exquisite. I’ve been crushing on Michelangelo for years, and The Agony and the Ecstasy didn’t help. So then I hunted down Lust for Life, about Van Gogh, whom I also already loved. And it was just okay. Whatever. Read The Agony and the Ecstasy.
3. Subversive Jesus by Craig Greenfield
When a friend asked me whether his lack of interest in the poor made him a bad Christian, I asked him what he was passionate about. “I’m a nurse. I’m passionate about helping sick people,” he said. “Then you’ve found your vocation. Serve Jesus with all your heart in the hospital.
Another friend asked if the call she felt to minister to university students from affluent backgrounds was valid.
“Of course. Who will love them if you don’t?”
Abraham practiced hospitality and God was with him. Elijah loved to pray and God was with him. David rules a kingdom and God was with him too. If you are seeking the work God has made you to do, search for the deepest inclination of your heart and follow it to where it meets the suffering of the world.
Kids, this guy kicks b*tt. I found him on Twitter, and now I put hearts on everything he tweets and he probably thinks I’m stalking him. He talks about hospitality the way I want to live it, and then he lives it too. He writes about making spaces where people can be part of the operation, rather than just spaces where they can show up for handouts. Or about throwing a party for all the drug dealers in the neighborhood, and then none of them came. Or about coming alongside people and, rather than attacking what is bad, cultivating what is good and holy and beautiful. Giving people something to pursue, rather than only something to root out. It’s beautiful, and there is a part of my heart that wants very much to call these people up and ask if I can come live with them. But only a small part. Most of my heart is very happy where it is.
4. Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist
Because we were made for motion, for arching up toward God with all the energy and passion of a thunderstorm, lightning slicing through a sleepy world to remind us that we serve a fast-dancing God, a God who set this world whirling and crashing through space so that we could live from our toes and drum out the pulse of a billion veins carrying lifeblood to a billion hearts, temples to a God that got his hands dirty making us from dust.
5. Signifying Rappers by David Foster Wallace and Mark Costello
This book was a little pretentious and mostly disappointing. I don’t think I’m far enough out of grad school to appreciate DFW yet. I need to live a little longer in a place where I can go a week without someone mentioning Infinite Jest and reminding me how un-well-read I am. Also I still don’t really know about rap. So, in addition to wanting book suggestions in general, I should probably add a call for, specifically, books about rap. Is that a genre of books that people write? Let me know.
6. The Urban Halo by Craig Greenfield
The story all began very simply really. Just by moving into the neighborhood. But then, that’s how Jesus kicked things off too, when the word became flesh and pitched his tent among us.
Like I said. Kicks b*tt, right? This is Greenfield’s earlier book, on working with orphans in Cambodia. Also the word “halo” is a pun on their organization’s acronym, which is good, because otherwise it’s kind of a dumb title. Read the book anyway.
So there it is. Life in books, Summer 2016 edition.
Thanks for joining!
PS. The part about recommendations is very very serious. What are your go-to reads? Also, books about rap.