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Rector’s Summer Reading List

All year long I create a stack of books to read over the summer, when I will presumably be less busy!  Friends and parishioners have asked me what I will be reading, so several years ago I began publishing my Rector’s Summer Reading List with the caveat that I may not read all of them and I will probably read a few things not on the list…but here is the stack, by loose category, as it stands now.  Happy reading!  Nancy+


Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel – A post apocalyptic tale of a traveling Shakespeare troupe, this novel explores memory, friendship, family, and asks the ultimate question:  what is it that truly makes us human? (N.B.  While I do not typically like post apocalyptic stories or science fiction, this one was recommended by my friend Rabbi Steve Schwartz, whose summer reading list is a “go to” place for me.)

Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck – I have read this one already.  Perhaps the most moving, quiet story I’ve read in years.  Retired classics professor in Berlin befriends African immigrants.  Hearts and lives are changed.  The writing is extraordinary, particularly notable as it is an English translation from Erpenbeck’s German original.

Warlight, by Michael Ondaatje – A coming of age mystery set in 1945 London.

The Wanderers, by Meg Howrey – Three astronauts training for the first mission to Mars. Again, not my usual fare, but the book was short listed for the Chautauqua Prize, so I’m jumping in.

Elmet by Fiona Mozley – a debut novel set in Yorkshire; short listed for Man Booker Prize. “As rich, wild, dark, and beautiful as its Yorkshire setting, Elmet is a gripping debut about life on the margins and the power—and limits—of family loyalty.” review.

Servants of the Map, by Andrea Barrett – linked short stories about curious scientists; their relationship to the world and other people. Often poignant exploration of what it means to be human.  Companion book to Barrett’s Ship Fever and The Voyage of the Narwahl.


Being Human: Bodies, Minds, Persons, by Rowan Williams – Noted theologian explores questions of what it means to be human through neuroscience, philosophy, and religion.

The Priority of Christ: Toward a Postliberal Catholicism, by Robert Barron – Roman Catholic Bishop Barron suggests that “the way to bridge the divide between secular liberalism and today’s Christianity” is with a closer examination of and knowledge of Jesus as revealed in the New Testament. 

The Great Shift, Encountering God in Biblical Times, by James Kugel – One of the best modern Old Testament Bible commentators, Kugel explores the shifting sense of God that is conveyed by the Hebrew Bible.  God spoke then, does God speak now?

Faith in Action

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, by Bryan Stevenson – This our Trinity Summer Book Club All Parish pick! Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative and the new National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Alabama, shares his own story of representing people on death row in Alabama.  A poignant, disturbing, and hopeful book, which challenges us to see more clearly how the US system of “justice” is too frequently not justice at all.

Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race, by Debby Irving – Title says it all.  Funny and eye-opening; honest tale of one woman’s encounter with her white privilege and the implications for moving forward.

Climate Church, Climate World: How People of Faith Must Work for Change, by Jim Antal, UCC Pastor and environment leader.  Antal argues that climate change is the greatest moral issue humanity has ever faced.  Concord faith communities are considering reading this during Lent together.  I’m checking it out to see if Trinity might want to participate.  Let me know your thoughts if you read it this summer?

 Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks, by Diana Butler Bass – Bass claims that four out of five Americans report feeling grateful, but why do we have a hard time translating those private feelings into action for the good of the greater world? Bass is a sociologist and a person of faith who grapples with real life issues.  I’m curious to know what she thinks about gratitude and its practice today.

Janesville: An American Story, by Amy Goldstein – true stories of people in a town where the GM plant closed and people lost their jobs.  What happens next is different for each family.  Goldstein brings light to the challenges of our time which is now reflected in economic policy, the opioid crisis, and our political discourse.

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