As you know if you follow me on Instagram or on Goodreads, I love that part of my job involves reading and cheering on other writers as they launch their books into the world. Although summer reading generally douses me in a shower of fiction, I still have to start my morning with some sort of centering book, which for me is a book generally found under the umbrella of faith.
So, if lazy, hazy summer mornings with said centering books are the same for you, get your hands on one of these recent or upcoming releases.
1. Learning to Speak God from Scratch (Jonathan Merritt): I’ve long been a fan of Merritt, mostly from his work at The Atlantic and Religious News Service. This book is essentially a collection of essays, some of which come from his previous writings, all of which highlight his voice and his thoughts around old words in the Christian tradition that need a little, shall we say, revision. He’s funny, quick-witted and a deep thinker, so if you’re like me and sometimes find yourself struggling with overused words of your youth, this might be a good fit of a book for you.
2. The Very Worst Missionary (Jamie Wright): Oh y’all, we need more Jamie Wrights in our world. More truth-speakers, shit-stompers, call-it-as-it-is and say-what-everyone’s-thinking-but-not-saying-outloud type of folks. Her memoir surprised me: it wasn’t as snarky as I thought it’d be, but instead, it erred on the side of story – and let’s just be honest, the one thing you can’t argue with is someone else’s story, especially if a tale of redemption shines through the darkest corners.
3. I’m Still Here (Austin Channing Brown): Oh y’all, I know you’ve heard of Brown’s new book, because who hasn’t heard of Brown’s new book? It’s a must read, because every [stop] single [stop] one of us [stop] needs to understand what it means to operate with brown skin in a white world. Although it sometimes hit a little too close to home when it comes to the three who have stolen my heart, hers is a necessary, stop-what-you’re-doing-and-hit-the-bookstore-now type of read.
4. God’s Many Voices (Liz Ditty): Ditty’s new release is nearly the opposite some of the books I’ve mentioned, but it’s just as holy and just as good. Liz is a true teacher in every sense of the word, the lessons woven throughout each chapter rather like sitting at her feet in a West Gate service. More than anything, I love how she pushed the boundaries with some of her chapters, including one on holy interruptions – which helped put words to last week’s blog post.
5. Raise Your Voice (Kathy Khang): Lately, I’ve been trying out the word “activist.” It’s like I’m standing in the dressing room under stark fluorescent lights, squeezing my legs into the word like it’s a pair of skinny jeans. Without taking the metaphor too far, it’s kind of like Kathy Khang is standing on the other side of the slatted doors, daring me to show her how the jeans fit – because somehow she knows they’ll fit. But I have to be willing to take a risk on something that isn’t always comfortable for me. I have to be willing to raise my voice. Friends, Kathy is the real deal: just has she had the guts to raise her voice to me when I most needed to hear it once, she has the guts to encourage every single one of us to raise our collective voices.
6. All the Colors We Will See (Patrice Gopo): Finally, we’ve got the lovely Patrice Gopo’s memoir, which releases in early August. Patrice and I connected at the Festival of Faith and Writing in April, and the second her book arrived in my mailbox, I could not stop reading it. Her writing is exquisite, the pictures she paints in the reader’s mind images that won’t soon go away, the topics of each individual essay a needed conversation piece around your dinner table. PS: I can’t wait to feature her for Author Tuesday in just a couple of weeks …stay tuned!
So, there you go: six centering reads just made for the lazy, hazy days of summer (and let me clarify, the following books are not themselves lazy and hazy – but each one works just fine for those lazy, hazy summer days.
Otherwise, what new and upcoming releases would you recommend to the rest of us? Share a suggestion or two in the comments!
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