10 Books To Read, Mark, and Inwardly Digest This Summer
From Ian (a priest)
- Saving Images: The Presence of the Bible in Christian Liturgy
by Gordon W. Lathrop
Gordon Lathrop’s latest is on a rather important topic: the relationship between Scripture and liturgy. I had the pleasure of taking Pastor Lathrop’s course in seminary when he was in the early stages of work on this book, and I am thrilled to finally read the finished product.
- Eschatology, Liturgy, and Christology: Toward Recovering an Eschatological Imagination
by Thomas P. Rausch SJ
Thomas P. Rausch, SJ begins at the end: eschatology in its fullness is the lens through which he examines the Christian life, the Church, and the liturgy.
- You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit
by James K. A. Smith
James K. A. Smith’s thoughtful and approachable introduction to the concepts he explores in greater depth in his Cultural Liturgies Trilogy (Desiring the Kingdom, Imagining the Kingdom, Awaiting the King). In it, Smith talks about how even secular and unexamined liturgies form us, and how the way we live our lives ultimately answers the question: what do we love?
- The Spiritual Meaning of the Liturgy
by Goffredo Boselli
Goffredo Boselli begins with the proposition that the liturgy should be a source of life to the congregation. It’s impossible to read this volume and not come away with a richer understanding, and perhaps even more importantly, a richer experience of the liturgy.
- Children of Blood and Bone
by Tomi Adeyemi
I’ve long believed that while nonfiction is best for edification, nothing beats fiction for sanctification. Living our faith requires imagination and empathy, and fiction is a great way to cultivate both. This first book of Tomi Adeyemi’s (ongoing) Legacy of Orïsha series weaves West African mythology and fantasy, and is a critically acclaimed NYT bestseller, with a movie already in the works.
From David (an organist)
- Elements of Rite
by Aidan Kavanagh
Imagine Strunk and White's The Elements of Style but for liturgy. Contains such gems as "Churches are not carpeted," and "Find the most serviceable places for the altar, font, and chair, and leave them there." Pro tip: you can get a used copy pretty cheap, and, if you're lucky, it will come with really entertaining margin notes.
- O Sing unto the Lord: A History of English Church Music
by Andrew Gant
This was recommended by a friend who is a librarian, so I immediately bought a copy. I enjoyed wading into the first few chapters, but I regret that I have not returned to it. But what is summer for if not for reading? I have been eagerly awaiting a return to this book, and I aim to finish it just as soon as I finish writing this recommendation about a book I haven't finished reading. Gant was director of music at her Majesty's Chapel Royal, so he has the street cred to write a book like this.
- Inwardly Digest: The Prayer Book as Guide to a Spiritual Life
by Derek Olsen
A wonderful, considerate look at the Book of Commomn Prayer as a "spiritual system". In a time when we are considering deeper engagement with the 1979 Book of Common Prayer (and really, how could that be a bad thing in any scenario?) this book is highly recommended.
- A Theory of Harmony
by Ernst Levy
So imagine Strunk and White's The Elements of Style again, except that it's also teaching you how to write in a kind of upside-down grammar that no one has every considered, but that actually does kind of make sense when you think about it. That's what this is, except for music. I'm not a good enough musician to read this book, I just have to sort of slowly absorb it. But I feel like if I did understand it I might just become the best harmonic improviser on the block.
- The Rings of Saturn
by W. G. Sebald
This is the spot where I might recommend that recently-published bestseller that I read, except that I didn't really enjoy it all that much. Instead, I'll tell you that I've spontaneously taken up the invitation to join a Twitter reading group about The Rings of Saturn hosted by Robert Macfarlane. It begins July 9. I've never read Sebald, but he is supposed to be a big deal. My copy just arrived, and I'm into it.
A NOTE ABOUT THE LINKS TO THESE BOOKS: Okay, here's the deal. We don't have one of those fancy profit-sharing deals with Amazon. But, if you really like our summer reading list and/or you've already put one or two of these titles in your shopping cart, why not throw us a few cents on Patreon? Become a Patron for $1 a month (that works out to about 50¢ an episode).
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