On Our Bookshelf: From the Déjà Vu Issue

If you get déjà vu scanning this list, it would be no surprise…you may have […]

Mockingbird / 9.14.18

If you get déjà vu scanning this list, it would be no surprise…you may have encountered some (but perhaps not all!) of these titles on this site. As compiled for the latest issue of The Mockingbird, these are the books we’ve been reading and re-reading this summer:

The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison:

In an honest but relentlessly engaging memoir, Leslie Jamison talks about alcohol, addiction, and her own recovery story. Along the way, she follows the threads that connect addiction stories, delving into lives of artists and fellow AA attendees. This book is not just a recovery story; it’s a rediscovery of the self and of the beauty in life’s normality that Jamison finds in her own journey to sobriety.

Martin Luther’s Commentary on Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians (1535) [trans. Haroldo Camacho]:

In this new translation of the Reformer’s most comprehensive work on justification by faith, Haroldo Camacho set out to parallel the passionate, lively style of Luther’s spoken lectures. And thanks be to God, he succeeded! Major kudos to 1517 Publishing for dusting off the linguistic cobwebs and allowing us all a fresh avenue into this invaluable resource.

Bed and Board: Plain Talk About Marriage by Robert Farrar Capon:

Robert Capon’s first bestseller, originally published in 1965, strips away the unspoken expectations that we place on marriage and families and cuts to the heart of the matter. Grace-filled and beautifully written, this “anti-marriage-manual marriage manual” is a wonderfully compassionate, refreshingly realistic guide to the things that truly matter in life.

Tropic of Squalor: Poems by Mary Karr:

Maybe the fact that we asked to borrow three poems from this new collection is evidence enough, but this will be one to return to, especially for New Yorkers (several of these poems are palpable tributes). This book, which includes a mini-collection entitled “The Less Holy Bible,” is like a prayer book for the degenerate, the deluded, and the damned, written by one who’s kin. Mary, per usual, describes our world with both vulgar clarity and apocalyptic hope. Exemplar A: “How God Speaks.”

Selfie: How We Became So Self-Obsessed and What It’s Doing to Us by Will Storr:

An accomplished journalist, Storr traces the story of I, from the very earliest hominids to cutting-edge genetic modification. Personal narratives and wide-ranging research in several disciplines combine to illuminate the anxious development of the self—even Storr and his subjects’ own selves. Surprisingly (or not), stories of striving and failing selves continually intertwine with their deaths, so much so that Storr titles his final chapter “How to Stay Alive in the Age of Perfectionism.” The Law (“thou shalt be flawless”) tolls.

Reckless Love: The Scandal of Grace in a Performance-Driven World by John Newton:

John Newton writes on the strange overabundance of God’s love and grace towards his people and of our undeniable failures to match any of that love ourselves. Arguing that God loves recklessly despite these failures, Newton’s devotional repeatedly calls for reflection, discussion, and recognition of the scandalous grace that refuses to love selectively.

Therefore I Have Hope: 12 Truths That Comfort, Sustain, and Redeem in Tragedy by Cameron Cole:

One fall evening, the Coles’ worst nightmare became a reality. Their happy, healthy three-year-old son Cam died suddenly in his sleep with no medical explanation in sight, leaving them with one thing: the Cross. Regardless of your proximity to the Valley of the Shadow of Death, Cameron’s humble retelling of his encounter with God’s steadfast presence in the wake of this tragedy breathes new, tangible life into the Gospel. This is a book of complete surrender—not self-help—of acknowledging that even though God’s plan usually does not make sense, he nevertheless is the only one who promises not to wither away and desert us when we need him the most. Keep the tissues handy; you’re going to need them.

God’s Two Words: Law and Gospel in Lutheran and Reformed Traditions by Jonathan Linebaugh:

From a colloquium at the Birmingham Cathedral Church of the Advent in 2016, these essays feature an all-star cast of some of the top Lutheran and Reformed theologians today. This remarkable book offers so many valuable insights, expounding the dichotomy of Law and Gospel for its pastoral relevance, positing helpful correctives to this Reformation tenet, and highlighting the similarities and differences between the Lutheran and Reformed Traditions. It is this final point which is, perhaps, the most significant. Rather than striving for an artificial rapprochement between Lutheran and Calvinist traditions, the charitable debate provides a necessary clarity between the two that appreciates their depth and value.

Trials of the Earth: The True Story of a Pioneer Woman by Mary Hamilton:

Mud that is gumbo-thick, a child who predicts her own death, and a ne’er-do-well British husband: this ain’t the latest from the BBC—this is the memoir of the first pioneer woman in the Mississippi Delta. These days we often predict that hardship will lead to a crisis of faith. But Hamilton cannot possibly lose one more thing. Like Naomi of the Old Testament, she looks to the Lord and acknowledges that her belief in him is unwavering, but she has no idea what in the Sam Hill he must be doing. A must read for anyone who complains about having to unload the dishwasher.

The Déjà Vu Issue is now available!

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