December Reads (2020 Edition)
This fall, I felt like I was navigating new terrain. Things often seemed uphill and rocky at times as I learned new technology, reconnected with family and friends, and experienced American politics first hand. They say that returning to your home culture can often be more challenging than going to a new culture. Things are the same yet they aren’t.
But I am finding even my friends who are not repatriating feel that they are navigating new terrain. How do we live well in the time of Covid and so much division? How do we have good conversations? How do I relate to those who think differently? How can I love those around me well? These are questions many of us are asking.
When finding answers to questions, I read books. I also read blogs but books are my go-to as they go more in depth, and let me get to know the author better. The easy part is reading the books. The difficult part is living out new truths.
Here are my reads from the last month that have given me food for thought.
- Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by Sherry Turkle
Conversation is becoming a lost art replaced by emails and texts. The author talks about what we are losing and why. The good news is that conversation skills can be learned at any age if we are willing. For me, this book was a reminder of the importance of face to face interaction or as close to it as possible. In addition, I found myself leaving my phone at home or in the car when going to connect with a friend.
Sections are the book are repetitive, but the book is well documented with stories interspersed. I was pleasantly surprised that my son read this book after finding it in our kindle library. Maybe not actually surprised as from a young age, he has loved good conversation.
The big question from the book: How would our interactions be different if they were more face to face and less dependent on our technology?
2. Loving my Actual Neighbor by Alexandra Kuykendall
The audio version of this book kept me company as I walked laps around the RV park where our trailer was parked. Alexandra’s book has seven chapters with each chapter being a principle we can follow in loving our actual neighbor. Each principle builds on the previous one. For example, chapter two is “Ask Questions with the Intent to Understand.”
Each chapter is filled with reasons why the principle is important. These reasons are supported with anecdotes from her life where she succeed in loving well but also where she felt like she missed the mark.
The big question from the book: Have I taken the time to really see and listen to my neighbor whether it is the gal next door or the checker at my favorite store?
3. unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity .. And Why it Matters by David Kinnaman
Even though the book was written in 2012, I found that it still answered questions that confused me about the current culture. David is part of the Barna Study group which studied why the new generation was turned off or turning away from Christianity. The book was not only filled with the “why’s” but also how can we as Christians do better.
The big question of the book: What am I doing that is clouding the message of Jesus in me?
4. Be the Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation by Latasha Morrision
The online school that I teach at has been going through this book together and discussing its questions online. It has been great to talk about the issues of racism and reconciliation with others. But I can see how discussing it in person would be even better. This book has been good for me to see bias in myself and repent. We are only half way through the book so I know I still have a lot to learn.
The big question of the book: How have I not seen others as made in God’s image?
5. The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters by Priya Parker
This topic fascinates me, and I am not sure why. The author shares principles of gathering from having a purpose to choosing a location well. The advice is practical for those planning big events but also for readers like me who want to connect well with others on a smaller scale. I am only halfway through but am finding myself choosing this book over my fiction read which is saying a lot.
The big question of the book: How can I design my event or party so that others will connect well?
Lastly, I am going to do a personal plug. In November, I published a bible study called Rebuild: A Study of Ezra, Haggai, and Zechariah. The book guides the reader through the story of the rebuilding of the second temple making parallels to the rebuilding we need to do in our lives.
The big question of the study: Do I know that God is with me as I rebuild?
What books have you been reading? Any recommendations or books to avoid?
Also a disclaimer that the links above are affiliate links.