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Summer Reading on Sabbath Vacation

A number of years ago Geri and I began structuring our vacations as mini-sabbaticals, taking the 4 principles of our weekly Sabbaths- Stop, Rest, Delight and Contemplate. One of the most delightful aspects of vacation for me is to read broadly. The following is a sample of what I have been reading the last few weeks.

1. Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Greg Mortenson.  This was my favorite read. I felt it was much better written than his Three Cups of Tea. It was so good I didn’t want it to end and put it down for 3 weeks before finishing.  I love Mortenson’s creativity and ability to think outside the box, his clear vision, and his willingness to take risks. God used this book to give me a love for the people of Afghanistan.

2. Russka: The Novel of Russia, Edward Rutherfurd. This outstanding historical novel on the founding and history of Russia to 1991 was an eye-opener to better understand what Geri and I tasted in the Ukraine last June. Rutherford gives a taste of the  richness, complexity, diversity, suffering and perspective of the Eastern part of the world.

3. Life Shouldn’t Look Like This: Dealing With Disappointment in the Light of Faith, Gregory Popkak. An edifiying, unique perspective on the will of God from a Catholic, Theology of the Body perspective.

4.  Faith, Hope, Love by Josef Pieper. 1950s’ theologian from Germany translating Aquinas into the present.  I read a few pages at a time as part of my prayer times each day. Devotional.

5. Eva Luna, Isabel Allende. Novel in Spanish I am reading very slowly to expand and improve my Spanish in preparation for a trip to Latin America next year.

6. The Household of God: Lectures on the Nature of the Church, Leslie Newbigin. I picked this up at a used book store in Portland, Oregon. Newbigin was a former bishop from Madurai, India in the 195o’s. Challenging spiritually and theologically.

7. Anatomy of the Soul: Surprising Connections between Neuroscience and Spiritual Practices that Can Transform Your Life and Relationships, Curt Thompson, M.D.  I am having a hard time getting through it but I like his attempt to integrate Siegel’s work on the brain to spirituality.

8.  The Book of Mystical Chapters: Meditations on the Soul’s Ascent, from the Desert Fathers and Other Early Christian Contemplatives, by John Anthony McGuckin.  I do one meditation per day on a saying of a desert father/early contemplative to keep me rooted. McGuckin is a Byzantine Orthodox priest who teaches at Union Theological Seminary in NYC. 

My daughter is headed to Liberia this weekend for her work with charity water so she just handed me a memoir on that country!

 Thoughts? What other recommendations might you have to read?



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  • Kevin M.

    Plan B by Pete Wilson
    The Me I want to Be by John Ortberg

  • Jim Martin

    Pete, I appreciate this post. It is so good and very helpful to see what another pastor is reading. I have much respect for you and your ministry. (Have been blessed by both books.)

  • Margaret Marcuson

    I love to hear what people are reading! Here are a few of mine:
    Seek God Everywhere, Anthony de Mello
    Discerning Your Congregation’s Future, Oswald & Friedrich
    Why Smart People Do Stupid Things with Money, Bert Whitehead
    The Good Life, by Tony Bennett
    The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler

  • Christine Labrum

    Just picked up your book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality kind of by accident today. Read a few chapters and seemed like it was a divine appointment. I have had a difficult year hitting the wall with depletion, death of my brother, and family conflict. God has been offering healing nand it has been good.

    My friend wrote a book recently published “No Mercy.” It is a novel but very much about the spiritual journey. It can be found here:

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