In middle school, the first books that got me into reading were the Twilight series and the Christy Miller series (which turned into the love of ALL books by Robin Jones Gunn- she’s still my all time favorite author and Christy and Todd are actual couple goals). Throughout middle and high school, I was very into fiction books. Nicholas Sparks, Sarah Dessen, the Divergent series, the Hunger Games series and many other stories along the way… you get the drift. (And I’m very embarrassed to admit that I’ve never read the Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter books… what is wrong with me, really?) But lately I have been on a nonfiction kick. So, I wanted to share with you some of the books I’ve read as well as some that are on my to-read list that I already know will be amazing.
First up, my current read:
Executing Grace by Shane Claiborne
I’ve been wanting to read a book by Shane for a while now and when I found out about this one, I knew it was one that I had to read. I’m only two chapters in right now, but it has already challenged me in how I think about the death penalty. I know many people will automatically turn away from this book especially if they are pro-death penalty because Shane is making the argument against it. But he writes it in a way that appeals to all audiences. For a long time, he was for the death penalty and he recounts what made his opinion change while having compassion and understanding for those who are for it. He also doesn’t leave a subject or role in executions untouched. He covers it all, has real-life examples and stories and Jesus is laced throughout the entire book. I’m very excited to finish reading it, and I highly recommend it!
Savor by Shauna Niequist
I received this as a gift at Christmas and was very excited to get a devotional. I’ve admittedly been struggling in the quiet time department and was thankful to receive something that could be a guide for me during that time. Since it’s a daily devotional, I decided to start it on January 1st. Again, I’ll admit I’ve gotten a few weeks behind on it recently. But I’m hoping to get back into it. So far, I really enjoy reading what Shauna has to say. It’s not the deepest writing ever, but it’s a good pick-me-up during the day.
Next up, my recent favorites:
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
This book, y’all. I think this book is a new all time favorite. It’s a book that I could 100% see myself reading again (and I don’t re-read books often) and a book I could post a quote from every day. Bryan is one of my favorite people. My first exposure to him was a TED talk by him that I watched in one of my classes. Let’s just say that I’ve now seen that TED talk probably ten times. Bryan is a lawyer and the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. He’s been on the front lines of the injustices within the criminal justice system for years and has been an advocate and warrior in fighting to correct those injustices. This book is full of heartbreaking as well as celebratory stories that he experienced first-hand. Before reading this book, I would have considered myself fairly knowledgeable of the injustices within the CJ system but I learned so much from this book and I know I’d learn even more if I read it again. There were stories that almost brought me to tears, stories that made me full of anger at the injustices, but the book was also full of grace and mercy and redemption and it is beautiful. It is a beautiful book and you should read it.
Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey
Sarah Bessey has been one of my favorite social media presents for a little while now. So when I got this book, I was excited to dig into her actual work. Jesus Feminist probably sounds scary to some people (oh no, the F-word!), but I think this is a book for everyone (male or female). Even if you don’t think you consider yourself a feminist, Sarah does an excellent job of redefining the word in a Biblical context. She quite literally revisits the role of women in the church, and it was very inspiring to me. Sarah’s voice and writing is stunning. She is extremely knowledgeable of the gospel, and it’s obvious that she has done her research. Again, I’d recommend this book in a heartbeat. I’m looking forward to reading her new book, Out of Sorts, when my to-read list gets a little less long.
Books I’ve started but not quite finished:
America’s Original Sin by Jim Wallis
Jim is the founder of Sojourners, a faith-based online news outlet (of sorts). I stumbled across Sojourners a while ago and instantly fell in love with their mission. Their articles are some of my favorites to read. Currently, one of my good friends is interning for them and I was given this book by her before she left. I got about a third of the way through before I (temporarily) abandoned it and moved on to something else. It wasn’t at all because I didn’t love it. Jim has amazing and knowledgeable input on racism, and this book is most definitely an important and necessary read. For some reason, I just had to take a break from it, though. I think the writing was just a little too long and hard for me at the time I was reading it. But eventually, I look forward to finishing it up. I would definitely recommend that everyone check out Sojourners as well as this book.
Faith Unraveled by Rachel Held Evans
I started this book, but then I think I got another book that I really, really wanted to read so I put this one down and picked that one up. Rachel is another one of my favorite people on social media, and I’ve been wanting to read one of her books for a while. This was the first one I found (and also her first book I think) so I got it. I only got a few pages in before I moved to the other book, but I have a feeling that I’m going to like it. I don’t agree with every single thing that Rachel believes, but I enjoy learning more about her viewpoint so I’m excited to dig deeper into her faith journey. I’m also looking forward to eventually reading her other books as well.
Finally, my to-read list:
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
This book is currently sitting on my bookshelf. It scares me slightly because it looks like a textbook, but I am so excited to read it. I read a couple of chapters in one of my classes so I already know that it’s amazing. I just have to motivate myself to read the entire thing. Michelle is a law professor and an outstanding woman. She is so knowledgeable on mass incarceration, the criminal justice system and race, and all of that knowledge is revealed in this book. It’s not an easy or comfortable book to read. I know it will be challenging and uncomfortable to me, but I would easily consider this book the most important book on this list (and it’s one of the ones I haven’t read…). Like all of these books, I would highly recommend this one.
Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle
I also received this book as a Christmas present. The only thing I really know about it is that a friend posted a quote from it, I fell in love, and I wanted to read it. Gregory is the founder of Homeboy Industries, a gang-intervention program in Los Angeles. The book tells stories from his time working with the individuals in the program. In the about section on the back of the book, it says ” Tattoos on the Heart reminds us that no life is less valuable than another.” So basically, I know I’m going to love it.
For the Love by Jen Hatmaker
Jen is another one of my favorite people to follow on social media. So again, I wanted to read her books. This is just the book that’s currently sitting on my bookshelf. But I’m looking forward to reading any or all of her books. She’s hilarious but also graceful and profound. When I finally decide to read something lighter, I’m going straight to this one.
And that’s everything (for now)! Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever read any of these books and what you think of them if you have. Are there any you’re going to the bookstore to pick up right now? I want to know that too. Also, feel free to leave me suggestions on what I should read next. I always welcome a longer to-read list and a messier bookshelf.