Call me obsessive, but I keep yearly lists of every book I’ve read. There are a couple reasons for this. The list is very handy when someone asks me if I’ve read any good books and the titles immediately escape me. Happens all the time. Also, I used to tease my mom for getting into a book and then thinking, “Wait – this is familiar. Oh! I read this one!” I haven’t done that – yet – but my lovely list is a way of making sure I don’t.
Six months into 2018, here are some of the non-fiction books from my list (fiction books next week):
Born to Wander: Recovering the Value of Our Pilgrim Identity by Michelle Van Loon.
I was very much looking forward to reading this book. Michelle is a friend of mine, so that was part of my anticipation, but I genuinely wanted to read her thoughts on a pilgrim identity. I was challenged and not at all disappointed. I’ll repeat the review I posted on Amazon.
“Exile is not a terminal point. It is not meant to be a destination. Exile is meant to transform us into pilgrims.” (p. 13) That was a new thought for me. I’ve always known that we are pilgrims in this world, but I admit that I rarely gave it the attention it deserved. Born to Wander impresses on us the importance of pilgrimage, the subtle differences between wandering, exile and pilgrimage, and ultimately where we are headed. “The very words that launch us from exile into pilgrimage are our journey’s end. Jesus invites us. He Himself is the road we travel and is our companion on the way. And He is our destination, calling us to come to Him. We were born to wander, but we were born again to wander home.” (p. 173)
There are many other quote-worthy sentences in between those from the beginning and the end of Born to Wander. This was an enjoyable and thought provoking book. Van Loon nicely summarizes Bible stories to make her points and she includes personal events that make the concepts very real.
Read Born to Wander: Recovering the Value of Our Pilgrim Identity. You won’t regret it!
Restless Faith: Hanging on To a God Just Out of Reach by Winn Collier. My sister-in-law recommended this book a while ago, and I’m glad I finally read it. It’s based on the Old Testament book of Malachi and ponders resting in the mystery of a God who is beyond us. We generally don’t like to rest in mystery, but we have no choice with God. What can we do but worship Him?
“He disrupts their ease by dismantling their construction of a quaint God who can be easily managed, hoping for little and requiring even less. He charges through a litany of bewildering realities. God will hate Esau if he so chooses. God will curse and ravage when he deems it necessary. God will answer prayers – or not – at the time he considers appropriate. God will entice with beauty and bless with silence. God will, at times, allow the wicked to seemingly go unpunished while the righteous writhe in despair. He will not be robbed. He will not be coerced. He will do what he will do. When he chooses. How he chooses. He is God.” (Location 2275 in Kindle)
The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives edited by Viet Thang Nguyen. Excellent essays by refugees, their experiences and their challenges all written from different perspectives. The editor want us to begin to see refugees for who they really are and includes this thought in the introduction.
As refugees, not just once but twice…my parents experienced the usual dilemma of anyone classified as an other. The other exists in contradiction, or perhaps in paradox, being either invisible or hypervisible, but rarely just visible.
I read several other books on the subject of refugees, discussed further here: Seeking Refuge: On the Shores of the Global Refugee Crisis, by Stephan Bauman, Matthew Soerens, and Dr. Issam Smeir, The New Odyssey: The Story of the Twenty-First-Century Refugee Crisis by Patrick Kingsley and City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp by Ben Rawlence.
A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa. This was a head shaking read. It is impossible to fathom how a whole country of people can live lives of desperation and poverty. The last few sentences of the book are heart wrenching.
I often think about what would have become of me if I’d stayed in North Korea. I would probably have starved too. But at least I’d have died in someone’s arms with my family gathered around me. We’d have said our goodbyes. What chance of that now?
People talk about God. Although I can’t see him myself, I still pray for a happy ending.
Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say by Kelly Corrigan. On a completely different note, Tell Me More is a delightful book, well written, engaging, and actually brought me to tears a time or two. Chapters like “I don’t know,” “I was wrong,” I love you,” and “Tell me more” are filled with stories and wisdom to encourage us to use those phrases more often.
When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life’s Sacred Questions by Sue Monk Kidd. I read this book way back in January, and it resonated with me. It is a personal story about Kidd’s spiritual transformation.
Follow the Cloud: Hearing God’s Voice One Next Step at a Time by John Stickl. Stickl uses the cloud in Exodus, the very visible presence of God, as an illustration of God with us today.
This cloud represented his tangible presence. It defined their identity, surrounded then with his love, and led them into a land of freedom. From within this mighty cloud, he spoke with the gentleness of a whisper. Follow me, one next step at a time. When I move, you move. When I stop, you stop. Where I go, you go. Keep your eyes on me. Stay in step with the cloud, and I will lead you to discover who you are, who I am, and what you were created to do.
I’d love to hear of non-fiction books that you have been reading!