1. Leaving Church by Barbara Brown Taylor. I feel like I read this book at exactly the right time. It’s been on my shelf for years, but this month I finally got around to reading it. And I needed to read what Taylor had to say. Church is not always an easy place to be (I wrote about that a few weeks ago), and being in church ministry completely changes your experience of church. Church work can be draining at times, and perhaps one of the greatest dangers of church ministry is neglecting your own relationship and walk with God along the way. Barbara Brown Taylor talks about how she found that again in the hardest and most unexpected way—leaving. This is a great book. Salvation is a word for the divine spaciousness that comes to human beings in all the tight places where their lives are at risk, regardless of how they got there or whether they know God’s name. Sometimes it comes as an extended human hand and sometimes as a bolt from the blue, but either way it opens a door in what looked for all the world like a wall. This is the way of life, and God alone knows how it works.
2. Wild by Cheryl Strayed. To be honest, I picked up this book because I love Reese Witherspoon and really want to see the movie (which feels like an embarrassing thing to admit, but it’s true). I’m a big believer in not seeing a movie based on a book without reading the book first. Plus, my friend Laura told me how much she loved this book, and I almost always end up loving her recommendations. I wasn’t sure this would be my kind of book—I’m not an outdoor girl nor much of an adventurer. But this book is really about a lot more than that. Wild is a memoir about Strayed’s months spent hiking the Pacific Coast Trail after a divorce and the death of her mother. Even though the author and I have very little in common, I found myself relating to her (or a least really wanting to learn from her). She remains completely honest about her faults (and her strengths), while maintaining her courage and resilience throughout her journey. More than anything, Wild is a book about settling into your own skin—definitely worth the read.