Overwhelmed by Books

Whew! It’s hard to keep up with all the books that get sent to us for consideration. The table in our office fills up quickly each week, and since our territory is “religion, meaning, ethics, and ideas” we get a little bit of everything. Some are good fits, others are too abstract; some come with thoughtful pitches about why the author would be a good guest for us, others have no relevance and I assume come just because we got on some publisher’s mass distribution list.

While we make earnest attempts to plough through these, the reality is we pay attention to program ideas from many diverse sources. But looking at the stack on the table this week made me wonder what summer reads our listeners are enjoying that might be of interest to us. Please tell us — but don’t send us a copy, OK?

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I am reading "The Geography of Bliss One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World" by Eric Weiner, correspondent for NPR...

Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality by Richard Rohr, O.F.M.

The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully by Joan Chittister

The Christian Challenge by Hans Kung

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood... and American Gods by Neil Gaiman.
Neither of them new, but both of these would make for very interesting conversation.
Listening is an Act of Love - amazing stuff from Storycorps.
Oh, and the usual steady stream of Mary Oliver. If there was a patron-saint-of-arranging-interviews, I'd pray to that one for a Mary Oliver interview.

We've actually approached Mary Oliver in the past, unfortunately she doesn't really do interviews. But keep praying and maybe she'll pull through :)

I am reading, actually listening to on CD's on my way to and from work each day, Practicing Catholic by James Carroll. It is very interesting and full of insights on where American Catholicism is today and how it got here. Every Catholic should read this.
Also, an good read that I'm enjoying is God is Back by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge. They are both writers for The Economist.

I'm reading _Saving Paradise_ by Rita Nakashima Brock and Rebecca Parker -- it argues that the first thousand years of Christianity the emphasis was on paradise in the present life of Christian community -- and formation as a Christian sought to sustain good relationships. Only with the conversion of northern tribes did substitutionary atonement and an emphasis on death, resurrection and crucifixion become central to Christianity. Likewise, the authors seem to be arguing (I'm only part-way through the book), that this shift in emphasis created space for justification of violence by Christians ... and maybe it is time to again shift the emphasis ... returning to paradise might enable us to see value in protecting creation, ending war, domestic violence, gangs ...

I'm picking up Collateral Damaged: The Marketing of Consumer Debt to America by economics professor Charles Geisst - have been looking for a thoughtful new look at the historical concept of usury and this book looks promising.

Hollywood Faith: Holiness, Prosperity, and Ambition in a Los Angeles Church by Gerardo Marti

Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant

Love is an Orientation by Andrew Marin

A couple especially SOF-worthy: I just finished Rabbi Zoe Klein's lyrical "Drawing in the Dust." Think Umberto Eco plus Carl Sagan + the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Just before that was Thomas Lewis's yummy neuroscience book "A General Theory of Love" (no relation to Lewis Thomas, though Lewis cites Thomas mid-way through). I read and enjoyed (SOF guest Stuart Brown's) Play, and found Lewis's book more topical for my life. (Happily, I already do a lot of playing.)

I just finished Douglas Coupland's "Life After God" and I loved it.

Reading Mark Twain's, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. My fourth reading in 40 years. Although, he was a rascal regarding faith, but he cared about the humble and hated the fraud people in life. His devout wife brought her to tears from his comments, I'm sure. You might want to think about a SOF issue in the narrative from Huck's eyes. He struggles with good and evil regarding slavery, rather he'd rather "to go to hell" to save his friend, Jim than to do the "right thing" by society's view.

I just got done reading Eat, Love, Pray by Elizabeth Gilbert. I know I'm a little behind since it seems everybody and their sister have read this, but what a wonderful book! Has she been part of any of your shows?

Unbelieving Believers by Richard Graves! A good and concise read about Christianity that is great for new Christians or non Christians to get a good look at some essentials of the faith,

In Search of Memory by Eric Kandel, a neuroscientist and Nobel Laureate. The back cover has a review by Sherwin Nuland, who was gave such an inspiring interview with Krista. I think Dr. Kandel would be a fascinating guest on SOF. I met him at the Skirball Center where the film on his life was shown. His life has been full of miracles and his spirit is gracious and fierce.