The official Downtown Church summer reading list is here. I might add a few titles later if I run across anything else worth recommending. I still buy real books because I like to show off how much I read and because I like to receive packages, but most of the selections that follow should be available digitally. The Spirituality of Imperfection: Storytelling and the Search for Meaning by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham
I don't know how I missed this one considering the 1st edition was published in 1993. I'm only 30 pages in but if the first 30 is an indication of what's to come, this might make it into my personal cannon. Don't let the colon in the title scare you. This isn't an academic treatise. Spanning Eastern and Western storytelling traditions, the book intends to show how storytelling is more than a dramatic art-form or rhetorical device. Stories, the authors believe, are the way we define our humanity, especially the broken part.
This selection will be added to my personal cannon. As a raging introvert that's earns a living spending time with people (once a week the people multiply into a church), my introversion is often accompanied by sense of shame and or inadequacy. As an introvert in a culture that values extroversion, my desire to spend time alone felt like a problem I needed to correct. Susan Cain offers a different perspective that locates the hidden and unspoken power that introverts possess. Her thesis is based on personal experience and recent scientific research. But Quiet isn't just for the introverts. If you are a married, dating, working for/with, or parenting an introvert, they'd probably appreciate someone else understanding how and why a night at home alone is something to desire.
A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good by Miroslav Volf
Volf lectured at my divinity school during my last year. I left his lecture inspired by his careful yet humble reading of scripture, his willingness to challenge orthodoxy from within, and his desire to make his scholarly work accessible to the church. He's a professor at Yale Divinity School which means he ain't dumb. But after reading each of his previous books I remained convinced that his audience is not just the academy, but also the church. I haven't started this one yet, but I'm looking forward to it.
A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers
When I first read Eggers epic A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius years ago, I recall feeling like I was gifted a secret. Eggers makes fun of us, and we laugh while he does it, but you never feel like he left himself out of the joke. His writing is compassionate without being over-sentimental. What is the What, his semi-biographical novel about Sudanese refugees, was beautiful and timeless. A Hologram for the King won't be released until next week.