Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday Sentiments: Favorites

Sunday Sentiments is an attempt to record what God has been teaching me and the way in which He does it.

I love the bookshelf I designed and my dad built for me many years ago.  It's in need of another coat of paint and there's no longer room for all the books I've held on to but it is a treasure regardless.  Every bibliophile has their own organization system.  I tend to group books together by author, then by size, then by theme, always paying attention to the aesthetics of the shelf.

The other day I decided I needed to do a little rearranging.  I wanted to group my favorite nonfiction books together.  The middle shelf, which is about eye level for my short stature, became their new home.

A few are missing from the middle shelf because they are too tall- Generation Kill (an embedded reporter's account of the 2003 invasion of Iraq), A New Kind of Christian (which helped me reconcile my faith during college), What's So Amazing About Grace?, and In the Grip of Grace.  They're not all Christian books but they did teach me something.  Overall though, I reread the majority of these, whether my favorite portion of the book as a whole, compulsively.  When I first read them, I knew the author understood what he or she was writing about because they had experienced it firsthand.  Discussing matters of the soul always benefits from the author's vulnerability and willingness to get messy.

*God's Politics- Jim Wallis-  Wallis helped me reconcile my political beliefs with my faith.

*Savage Inequalities- Jonathan Kozol- I read this for a college sociology class and the accounts of economic disparity continue to haunt me.  It is unconscionable that children do not have equal access to public education, even those living in the same city.  And we wonder why impoverished children tend to make poor decisions past high school, if they even graduate in the first place...

*On Death and Dying- Elizabeth Kubler-Ross- I would be a poor excuse for a former hospice social worker if I didn't reference Kubler-Ross's efforts.  Even if end of life issues aren't your expertise, her work is definitely worth reading.  We all face death, loss, and grief at some point.

*The Know-It-All and The Year of Living Biblically- AJ Jacobs- First of all, Jacobs is funny.  Second of all, whether he's reading through the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica or taking a more literal approach to following the Bible, you can't help but learn all manner of things along the way. 

*Animal, Vegetable, Miracle- Barbara Kingsolver- Kingsolver and her family documented a year of deliberately eating food that was produced where they lived. The book is chock full of information on processed food, farmer's markets, and more, as well as delicious recipes. It definitely made me reassess where my food comes from and I've been trying to change my food consumption and purchasing habits ever since.

*A Walk with Jane Austen-  Lori Smith- Yes, I love Jane Austen but that's not why this book is dear to me.  Smith's account of her travels in England retracing Austen's steps directly impacted her faith and her experience as a Christian single.  I couldn't help but resonate with her experience and it definitely made me want to go to England as soon as possible.

*The School of Dying Graces- Richard Felix- I read a few books after Grandma died in 2007 but none spoke to me as much as Felix's experience through his wife's battle with cancer. His examination of the gifts we gain from persevering through suffering was both inspirational and encouraging.

*Sacred Thirst- M. Craig Barnes- I often reference Barnes' words here.  I go back to this book time and time again when I am in need of refreshment.

*When the Heart Waits- Sue Monk Kidd- I read this during a dark night of the soul.  Kidd writes from a place of part mentor, part sojourner.

*Bittersweet- Shauna Niequist- A recent review. I've already started buying copies for my friends.

*Evolving in Monkey Town- Rachel Held Evans- In so many ways, I feel Evans' story is my story, from our shared childhood eczema to wrestling with faith. We came up with a few different conclusions but overall I appreciate this memoir and exploration.

*Radical- David Platt- Do I really need to say anything more about the book that kicked my butt this year?  Here are my thoughts on the final chapter.

*The Beautiful Ache- Leigh McLeroy- The subtitle is Finding the God Who Satisfies When Life Does Not.  This author has a great first name.  But she also has a great way of exploring the tension between the imperfections of earth and the perfection awaiting us in heaven. 

*Crazy Love and Forgotten God- Francis Chan- Crazy Love ultimately inspired my decision to take a leap of faith and move to Nashville.  Forgotten God solidified my desire to pray crazy, courageous prayers and see how He will use them. Chan writes; "I don't want my life to be explainable without the Holy Spirit. I want people to look at my life and know that I couldn't be doing this by my own power...God wants the praise for what we do in our lives. But if we never pray audacious, courageous prayers, how can He answer them? If we never follow Him to positions where we need Him, how can He show up and makes His presence known?"

*Traveling Mercies- Anne Lamott- Lamott's writing is not for the faint of heart.  She is irreverent while being reverent.  Her story of conversion does not fall into the nice cookie cutter shape of other conversion stories.  Yet. She is dynamic, and she is honest about her issues. This is a beautiful exploration of faith. 

Any thoughts on my favorite books?  What else would you add to this collection?

Disclosure: Amazon Affiliate links included in this post.  If you click through to Amazon from HopefulLeigh, any purchase you make supports this site. 


  1. Leigh, what a delight to see The Beautiful Ache on your non-fiction shelf--and to be among such great company! Where the Heart Waits is a favorite of mine, and I read both Chan books this year with my small group. Sacred Thirst is another fave, and I liked Bittersweet, too. Shauna's voice is fresh and true. I'm probably not supposed to say this, but I wrote the cover copy on A Walk with Jane...and so enjoyed it as well. Thanks for the list. If you haven't read Eric Metaxas bio of Bonhoeffer, you might consider giving it a spot--good, good stuff! Warmly, Leigh

  2. Wow, Leigh! Thanks for stopping by. Your book has definitely meant a lot to me since I first picked it up a couple of years ago. The Metaxas bio is actually on my Christmas list! Thanks for the recommendation.


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