As the weather in NYC begins to warm, we’ve decided it was time to put together a short summer reading list. Our staff enjoys a wide variety of books—fiction and nonfiction, old tomes and new releases, those in accord with our beliefs and those that may be opposed to them. One thing they all have in common? We think they’re worth the read.
So whether your time for reading is boundless hours on the beach, or limited to your morning subway commute, here are a handful of our picks:
- The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg discusses true transformation—the change and growth one experiences as a natural output of a relationship with God, and how and why such changes occur in both our spiritual and physical daily lives. But rather than the inwardly-focused mantra of self-help books, The Life You’ve Always Wanted shifts the emphasis from ourselves to the One who holds the power of our transformation: the Messiah, Jesus.
- Maus by Art Spiegelman was the first graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize. It depicts the author’s interviews with his father, a Holocaust survivor. The story jumps back and forth between the world of 1930’s-1940’s Eastern Europe and 1970’s New York City as the author processes his father’s experiences. Spiegelman somehow handles one of the heaviest topics of our time through the instrument of a graphic novel—truly embodying the artistry of storytelling.
- The Road to Characterby David Brooks highlights what we love most about its Times columnist author: his wisdom, tempered with wit. Brooks pits our “résumé virtues” (external successes) against our “eulogy virtues”(character strengths)—which alone turns New York City’s value system on its head. World-famous leaders, thinkers, and historical figures all play a role in illustrating the process through which we build a rich inner core.
- A Time for Hope: One New York Pastor’s Biblical Response to 9/11, Terrorism and Islam by David Epstein is as relevant today as it was after that fated day. Epstein documents the healing power of God in the midst of the devastation that he and his congregation experienced firsthand in 2001. A Time for Hope provides a dynamic perspective on how to navigate the weight of world events—all while believing God is a God of love, hope, justice, and peace that identifies with our pain.
- The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ by Daniel Boyarin offers a refreshing perspective on the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, as well as the early Christian faith. Boyarin examines the Gospels and their view of the Messiah within their historical contexts, understanding that “Jewish” and “Christian” were only considered mutually exclusive constructs much later in time. Boyarin himself says, “While by now almost everyone, Christian and non-Christian, is happy enough to refer to Jesus, the human, as a Jew, I want to go a step beyond that. I wish us to see that Christ too—the divine Messiah—is a Jew. Christology, or the early ideas about Christ, is also a Jewish discourse.”
- My Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs documents the author’s experiment: to see if he was able to follow every biblical commandment as literally as possible for the length of one year. Jacobs, an agnostic Jewish New Yorker, produces a great case study in contemporary American spirituality, raising questions that resonate with anyone who has ever wondered how to apply the Bible to their lives.
- Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin by Cornelius Plantinga is a great introduction to a biblical subject from which we often shy: sin. Plantinga discusses the theology of sin and describes it as a breaking of shalom (the way things are supposed to be). Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be truly causes readers to reevaluate whether or not sin is really an outdated topic in the greater category of the human condition.
Have a book recommendation of your own? Comment below and let us know!