Summer reads: Faith book recommendations
With travel, fixing up the house and having the kids home from school, it’s all too easy to neglect faith or spirituality in the summer. Some local experts in the field (and a couple of Post staff members) helped us put together a short book list to help remind you that, between diving into the pool and watering the garden, you may also need to dive into the deeper things in life. So prop up your feet and spend some time with one of these great books.
These books are full of wisdom from the ages and reveal what it was like to be a person of faith at particular moments in history.
, by Will Campbell
Recommended by the pastor of Spencer Presbyterian Church, Dr. Barrie Miller Kirby
An autobiographical work, “Brother to a Dragonfly” tells the story of Campbell’s brother and wrestles with what it meant to be a Christian in the height of the civil rights movement. Kirby says it is a great book that grapples with faith and what it really means to be a Christian.
The December Project, by Sara Davidson
Recommended by Temple Israel Rabbi Andrew Ettin
Ms. Davidson, a best-selling author who describes herself as “a skeptical seeker,” interviews the influential, colorful Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi in his late 80s as he reflects on a lifetime of living, learning, teaching and spiritual exploration in Europe and the U.S. They converse candidly and often amusingly about aging, along with the challenges and opportunities that come as one nears the end of life’s calendar.
These books provide insight to aspects of life, faith and spirituality, and provide a guide to strengthening faith and improving self.
Care of the Soul, by Thomas Moore
Recommended by Jessica Bellemer, Hood Theological Seminary library director
Suitable for people of all faiths, “Care of the Soul” is a guide to nurturing the soul in daily life to acquire dignity, peace and character. The book focuses on accepting flawed human nature and learning to be at peace with it.
The Sabbath, by Abraham Joshua Heschel
Also recommended by Rabbi Ettin
“Heschel, one of the leading religious figures of the 20th century, writes movingly about the beauty and value of a day given to our inner lives and our spiritual connection with something greater than ourselves,” Ettin says. “At a time when we are all connected and available electronically 24/7, Heschel’s lessons seem even more important now, several decades after the book’s first publication.”
The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas A. Kempis
Recommended by Father Jason Barone, parochial vicar of Sacred Heart Catholic Church
A spiritual classic, “The Imitation of Christ” is a practical guide to listening to the voice of God and improving specific areas of life to become more Christ-like. Even though it was penned in the 13th century, Barone says the book is extremely accessible and full of wisdom. “You don’t have to be a spiritual master,” Barone said.
Meditations of the Heart, by Howard Thurman
Recommended by Dr. Barry Sang, professor of religion at Catawba College.
Suitable for people of all faiths, “Meditations of the Heart” is a collection of meditations and prayers from renowned spiritualist Howard Thurman that focuses on the importance of a contemplative life and the importance of our relationships with others.
New Wine, New Wineskins: How African American Congregations Can Reach New Generations, by F. Douglas Powe Jr.
Recommended by the Rev. Dr. Grant Harrison Jr. of Soldier’s Memorial AME Zion Church
In this book Powe provides practical advice about making the gospel accessible and relevant to the hip-hop and millenial generations.
In Step with the God of the Nations, by Phillip M. Steyne
Recommended by Pastor Peter Newell of Maranatha Bible Church
Newell says that Steyne’s book gives readers a solid biblical background on the importance of missions and on God’s desire and love for every nation.
“God loves the whole world, and that’s what it’s all about,” Newell said, “Every nation.”
The Angel Dialogues, by Anthony S. Abbot, with illustrations by Betsy Hazelton
Recommended by Deirdre Parker Smith, book editor at the Salisbury Post
This book is not really a collection of poems; rather, it is a narrative, a story that takes place over a year, in which a poet, who has prayed for a muse, receives instead an angel who teaches him what it means to be a human being, and leaves him, at the end of that time, wiser, healthier and more spiritually aware.
These stories focus on the struggles we often experience as we struggle to reconcile what is happening in the world around us with our own faith.
An Unexpected Wife, by Cheryl Reavis
Recommended by Hood Theological Seminary Director of Library Jessica Bellemer
Set in Salisbury and written by Salisbury resident Cheryl Reavis An Unexpected Wife follows the love story of a young woman and a former Confederate Soldier in the years following the Civil War.
My Name is Asher Lev, by Chaim Potok
Recommended by the of Spencer Presbyterian Church, Dr. Barrie Miller Kirby
“My Name is Asher Lev” tells the story of Asher Lev, a Ladover Hasid who struggles between his faith and his desire to be an artist — a career that often leads him to blasphemy.
Cold Sassy Tree, by Olive Ann Burns
Recommended by Salisbury Post Editor Elizabeth Cook
Set in Cold Sassy, Ga., in 1906 “Cold Sassy Tree” explores small-town life at the turn of the century. Told from the perspective of 14-year-old Will Tweedy, the story focuses on how a local scandal sends ripples through a community and how Grandpa Tweedy’s down-to-earth faith comforts him during the
trials of life.
Let us hear from you: Would you like to recommend a book? Tell us about it at firstname.lastname@example.org. Send the title, author’s name and a little about the book. We’ll publish more recommendations as the summer proceeds.