Spirituality and Religion
I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing BrownWhat it is: an impassioned account of what it's like to be a black Christian woman in the U.S.; a history of the author's journey into activism; and a study of how churches helped her find her identity -- and can play a role in racial reconciliation.
For fans of: candid and personal social critiques (such as Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me) and those interested in improving race relations at church -- and elsewhere.
The Light Within Me by Ainsley EarhardtWhat it is: a memoir by Fox News journalist and Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt, in which she reflects on the role that faith has played in her personal and professional life.
Who it's for: Earhardt's many fans; readers looking for an inspiring account of letting one's faith provide guidance and support in challenging circumstances.
Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People by Bob GoffWhat it's about: Accepting that there will always be people who frustrate and annoy us, or who we just don't understand, author Bob Goff goes on to explain how to love them anyway.
Why you might like it: Everybody, Always features plenty of humor and a lively writing style; a wide variety of experiences from Goff's work with refugees and his personal relationships bring a great deal of authenticity to this call to "become love."
Resist and Persist: Faith and the Fight for Equality by Erin WathenWhat it is: an exploration of the ways that patriarchal Christianity negatively affects the lives of women, from misogyny in the Bible to unequal political policies to double standards in churches, written by a Protestant pastor.
Who it's for: anyone who considers themselves a Christian feminist.
Reviewers say: "a much-needed manifesto" (Publishers Weekly).
Focus on: Stillness, simplicity, solitude
Out of the Woods: A Memoir of Wayfinding by Lynn DarlingWhat it is: a widow's journey of self-discovery in the woods of rural Vermont, precipitated by her daughter's departure for college. Stuck in a sort of frozen limbo, Lynn Darling explores the forest around her and discovers herself in the process.
Why you might like it: Though initially directionless, Darling's eventual determination makes her easy to empathize with; her candid exploration of middle age will appeal to those in a similar stage of life.
How to Relax by Thich Nhat HanhWhat it is: a guide to mindfulness practices that emphasize the importance of recharging and relaxing.
Why you might like it: The short meditations, simple advice kindly delivered, and charming illustrations will help you stay calm and connected in a busy, stressful world.
Don't miss: the rest of the Mindfulness Essentials series, including How to Love and How to Walk.
The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere by Pico IyerWhat it's about: the theory that in our tech-obsessed present, it's more important than ever to slow down, unplug, and sit quietly.
Start with: Author Pico Iyer's TED Talk on the topic.
Read it for: examples from the lives of people who have sought stillness, from celebrities like Leonard Cohen to academics like a French molecular biologist who became a Tibetan monk.
Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna NiequistWhat it's about: Way too busy for her own good, bestselling author and pastor's wife Shauna Niequist started working towards a simpler way of being; this accessible memoir shares her experiences.
Keep in mind: Though Niequist is a Christian, readers familiar with New Age practices will feel more at home with her suggestions; those looking for a more Bible-centric book may be happier with Priscilla Shirer's Breathe.
Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown TaylorWhat it is: an elegantly worded meditation on darkness or, as the author says, "anything that scares me."
Why you might like it: Discussing darkness both literal (a cave, simulated blindness) to metaphorical (loss of faith, loss of life), Barbara Brown Taylor argues that time in the dark can lead to spiritual growth.
Reviewers say: "Taylor is always a wonderful guide to the spiritual world, and this book is no exception" (Booklist).
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