2016 Reading Review – Part III

In this segment: Non-Fiction and Religion. (See the full list of my 2016 reading here.)

My non-fiction reading is a bit eclectic, usually recommendations from others. This year was no different.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie | This was really just a short essay. And while I like Adichie’s reading, I don’t really remember the details.

*Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed | A beautiful, hilarious, and moving read. I didn’t know anything about Strayed’s background as an advice columnist (Dear Sugar) before my wife recommended this book. All her talent from Wild was on display, plus a wonderful insightfulness and intimacy and sense of humor that transcended that other book. I need to recommend this to more people.

Cosmopolitanism by Kwame Athony Appiah | This was one of our summer faculty readings at Waterford. I liked it as a meditation on connecting across cultures and navigating the inevitable complications of thinking about the world as a collection of cultures. But I’m not sure that it gives us a path as a school to shape a shared culture.

The United States Constitution (in graphic novel form) by Jonathan Hennessey | I liked this work, which I assigned for a class on politics. It’s a good mid-point between the direct text and a longer exposition. It covers all the bases and some of the context in an approachable format that’s then easy to expound upon in class discussions. I think I’ll use it in the future in U.S. History or Politics classes.

Without You, There Is No Us (non-fiction) by Suki Kim | After reading The Orphan Master’s Son, I decided it was time to read another non-fiction account of North Korea. This one’s unique in being a first-hand account of a journalist-disguised-as-a-teacher who teaches at a foreign school in North Korea for about a year. As such, she can provide some direct experience with the autocratic state, but in a very peculiar and controlled situation. What a weird place.

I’ve been reading more left-Christian literature lately and discovered some great feminist authors.

Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans | I like Rachel Held Evans’s insights, but I think she’s stronger in short forms than long. I found the book a bit uneven – some really strong passages that I had to share with whomever was around me and some others that didn’t seem to illuminate much.

Accidental Saints by Nadia Bolz-Weber | I really enjoy Nadia Bolz-Weber’s irreverent take on the gospel and am in awe at her practice. I liked this book, though it’s not as strong as her first book (which I reviewed here). Still worth the read.

*Short Stories by Jesus by Amy-Jill Levine | This account by a renowned biblical scholar (and very conversational writer) delves into each of Jesus’ parables to understand their meaning in context. Levine also considers the ways in which the priorities of later Christians (including a heavy dose of antisemitism) have obscured those earlier messages, either in twisting them or flattening them to fit pre-determined messages. An enlightening and accessible read.

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