Tag Archives: books

Summer Reading List 2014

These 12 books are on my hit list for the upcoming weeks. If you are up for something old, something new, something historic, and something-that-will-be-a-movie-soon, come along for the journey.

The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, by Dinah Bucholz. Recipes for foods mentioned in the Harry Potter series, like treacle tart, pumpkin juice, and mince pies! harry potter

The Giver, Messenger, Gathering Blue, and Son, by Lois Lowry. All four of these are part of the same world. So if you have already read The Giver (which will be in theaters in mid-August!), you can discover the others! gathering bluegiver



Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, by Dee Brown. I have heard this is a historical telling of how we white people slowly destroyed the people who were here in America first. It should leave me in tears and help me understand our nation’s history better.bury my heart

Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman. Fictional middle ages plus dragons. Something about the peace between dragons and humans about to be broken, and a girl with a terrible secret…something something…looks terribly interesting.seraphina

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. Historical fiction about a girl in Nazi Germany who stole books. I have heard this is a great thief

The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott. Another historical fiction, this book is about a girl who survived the sinking of the Titanic. How did she move on after such a traumatic event? Find out with me. l_TheDressmaker

The Maze Runner by James Dashner. This is another book set to come out in theaters mid-September. Something about boys with amnesia being sent one by one into a giant maze filled with giant monsters…The_Maze_Runner_cover

Insurgent, by Veronica Roth. This is the second book in the Divergent series. Since it should be out in theaters next March, I thought I would give it a try just like the first one. insurgent

The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant. This is a artistic broadening of the story of Dinah from Genesis. It has something to do with how women give each other vital tent

I’m sure when I actually read these guys, I will give you more in-depth reviews of them. But I am really excited about this next bunch of books. They are already all on reserve for me at my public library. Woot!


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Posted by on May 28, 2014 in Book Reviews


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A Book Every Young Pastor Should Read

Are you a young pastor? Just entering Christian ministry? Have fewer than ten years under your belt?

Then you need to read this book.

It is called Letters to a Young Pastor, by Calvin Miller.

letters to a young pastorI was delightfully surprised to learn that the author, a 74-year-old retired Baptist preacher, was hilarious as well as full of wisdom. Every letter is about seven pages long, so you feel like you are making good progress in this 250 page book. The letters make up five sections, and cover his advice and stories from experience on topics like keeping your life balanced and your spiritual life healthy, not getting tripped up in the most common ministry pitfalls, and things to remember about preaching. Miller encourages his readers to keep hold of their unique calling. He is honest about many things pastors would not usually confess. But that is what makes this book so uplifting: Miller mentors the reader through the pages of the book. He talks with the young pastor about temptations that will come his way and how to deal with the more troublesome people in one’s congregation.

At first, I thought “A Baptist? He won’t have anything to say to a female Wesleyan pastor like me.” But as I read  it, I found that I had a lot in common with the author.  I, too, don’t drink alcohol, and thought it was fantastic that he linked his abstinence in that area with how highly he prizes his reputation as a Christian. It is simply on the list of things he does not do. I also agreed with most of what he said about handling fads and movements in evangelicalism. I found that Miller wasn’t writing exclusively to male Baptist preachers; he was writing to his younger Christian friends who would be walking the road of ministry as he did.

In the quotes/reviews section at the beginning of the book, Timothy George (founding dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University in Birmingham, AL) said, “There is something in this book to offend almost everyone, from John Piper to Brian McLaren. But there is also a lot of gospel truth and hard-won wisdom from a pastor-professor who loves Jesus and His church with all his heart. This is the irrepressible Calvin Miller at his best.”  Miller calls it like he sees it.

And I think we would be friends. His candor  and empathy are inspiring to me. If I survive being a pastor (and many ministers drop out, especially the ones who go to seminary), I think I will sound a lot like this Calvin Miller.

Now go see if your local library has this book!




I just found out that the author, Calvin Miller, died the year after this book was published. That was two years ago. Rest in peace in the arms of our Father, friend.


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Posted by on May 26, 2014 in Book Reviews


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Must-Read Books

I have read all of the following, and I think you should too. You know, when you can make time for such soul-feeding words as fill these books.


The Giver by Lois Lowery. Close your eyes and imagine. What if there was a way to take away all pain? All color that divides us? All desires that cause strife? What if everyone knew their place and controlled their emotions? What if there was no history or memories from past generations, but only the Now? Discover this world and meet Jonas, who is chosen to be the next bearer of the community’s memories and must face the reality he never knew existed. Plus, it is being made into a movie! Read it first and then you might get to say the reader’s favorite phrase: The book was better.   

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I have decided to read this story every Christmas. It tells the story of four daughters whose father is off fighting for the Union in the American Civil War. Their mother is trying to raise her “little women” as best as she can. A young female reader cannot help but be mothered while reading the book: encouraged to behave well and love the Lord, to work hard and develop one’s abilities. Your heart will wish they were your cousins.  

Persuasion by Jane Austen. Everyone says read Pride and Prejudice. I say read Persuasion. Why? Because I have become best friends with the main character, Anne. She is a bit of a push-over, but loyal, dependable, and loves poetry. She puts others first. She is persuaded by her elders to break a young man’s heart, and wonders if she can ever get another chance. Beautiful story. 

Night by Eli Wiesel. This is a first-person account of life in the Nazi concentration camps during WWII. It will haunt you, as it should. You should not read this for enjoyment, but because his story needs to be heard. He speaks of the death, despair, and numbing pain that can come from the horror humans with power can inflict on each other. 

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. I read this in my Systematic Theology class, to understand the despair of those who are crushed by the powers that be, the least of these. What do you do when you have nothing left and nowhere to belong? It is based on the historical setting of the Dust Bowl in the Midwest. It is an empathy-builder, I think.  

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Set in the French Revolution, this thick book is all about the heroic ending. That is all I will say.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. The only resident on a tiny planet, the little prince takes care of his domain, but is terribly lonely. This was a story written in French, seemingly for children, but it is so profound in some places (like his conversation with a fox about the nature of friendship) that it deserves to be read by all ages.

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orzcy. A man and woman fall in love and marry, but he hides from her his true identity–that he is the Scarlet Pimpernel, a famous British spy and master of disguise during the French Revolution. Written in 1905, it set the precedence for other superheroes with secret identities like Zorro and Batman. The moral of the story: spouses should not be kept in the dark.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. Now there is a creepy book. I read it in a day because I could not put it down. It is THE classic everyone-goes-to-a-scary-mansion-and-everyone-dies-one-by-one book. If trying to figure out who the murderer is is your kind of thrill, this is definitely for you. 


Other favorites: I’ve also read C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, most of Shakespeare’s comedies, and most of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mysteries. I declare them all delightful and engaging.

Do you have any books that you have read and would recommend to anyone?

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Posted by on May 17, 2014 in Just Talking/Thinking


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