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A Few Book Suggestions

July 9, 2009

Since I’ve been away with the family that I nanny for over the last couple of weeks, I’ve had lots of free time to read. I want to pass along some new recommendations, in the hopes that you will enjoy them as much as I have, and that you’ll return the favor with your own suggestions in the comments section!

  • Pathologies of Power doesn’t really count as a new recommendation, since I’ve been talking about this book for years, but this was the first time I read it all the way through. Paul Farmer’s work is informative, challenging, and rooted in liberation theology’s commitment to making a preferential option for the poor. Anyone who is interested in global poverty, healthcare, medicine, or practical applications of liberation theology should absolutely take the time to read this through. I’m so glad I picked it up again!
  • Bird by Bird was always one by Anne Lamott that I had avoided, thinking that its subtitle, “Some instructions on writing and life” did not really apply to me. I’m glad I went back to it though, because even though the writing advice is for novelists instead of bloggers, her analysis of the parts of a good story have made me a better reader. As always, Lamott is engaging and funny, and her short chapters make this easily readable and fun.
  • Martyr of the Amazon: The Life of Sister Dorothy Stang lit an unexpected fire under me. The book is not particularly well-written, but the story of Dorothy, a nun from Ohio who devoted her life to serving the poor in Brazil and ultimately was murdered for her prophetic work, spoke for itself. Dorothy’s theology and praxis were remarkable: she saw the macro-level interrelatedness of many levels of justice, especially eco-justice and social justice, while working with small communities in the middle of the Amazon. I hope that next time I sit around angstily “choosing” between the false dichotomy of working for systemic transformation or personal relationships to create change, I will remember her example and aspire to be half the woman that she was.
  • Couldn’t Keep it To Myself caught my eye in the local bookstore a few days ago, mostly because it is co-authored and edited by Wally Lamb (who wrote She’s Come Undone). This series of autobiographical essays from the women of the York Correctional Institution in Connecticut were hilarious and heartbreaking, and offered me a glimpse of a world that I otherwise could not imagine. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in women’s stories or our current prison system, as certain chapters explain how our country’s political changes have directly impacted the nature and quality of prisons in the last twenty years.
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