In a recent op-ed in The Washington Post, Philip Yancey, a Christian writer, wrote regarding technology’s effect on our reading habits: “We’re engaged in a war, and technology wields the heavy weapons.” While it may be too early to begin eulogizing the book, technology has made it more difficult to remain concentrated for long periods of time. Despite technology’s ascent, Christians are still people of the book. Here are our recommendations for four new and recent titles that are relevant not just to people of faith, but for those who enjoy the power of a well-written book.
Gospel Fluency: Speaking the Truths of Jesus into the Everyday Stuff of Life, by Jeff Vanderstelt (Crossway, 2017)
Plenty of books have been written about the gospel, yet Jackie Hill-Perry wrote in the foreword to Vanderstelt’s book that it has “the potential to save your life.” Vanderstelt is a pioneer in the missional community movement. He has been teaching on this subject for years, trying to get Christians to immerse themselves in the gospel by doing it the only way Jesus intended: in community on mission.
Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi (Vintage, 2016)
Gyasi’s debut historical fiction novel follows the paths of two enslaved sisters and their descendants from Africa to America over a period of several hundred years. Indeed, the novel’s 14 characters make the structure of the stories fragmented, as a short story collection does. However, Homegoing has been widely celebrated, with the book having received the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for 2017.
Jane Austen At Home: A Biography, by Lucy Worsley. (St. Martin’s Press, 2017)
Worsley, a historian from England, provides a picture of the “real” Austen, as opposed to the one propagated in pop culture, which includes a zombie adaptation (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies). Despite her popularity, Austen had little success during her life, and channeled her bitterness as a result into her art. Jane Austen at Home is the perfect book for artists who feel like their accomplishments are not enough, because it is about the one thing Christians cling to—hope.
Bonus: Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More—Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist, by Karen Swallow Prior (Thomas Nelson, 2014)
Although this book is not new, Prior’s biography of More is a perfect companion to Worsley’s biography of Austen. Fierce Convictions is about a woman who was about as woke as any English woman was during the 18th century. More used her talents to become a leader in the Evangelical movement, providing support for the education of the poor and supporting the abolition of Britain’s slave trade.
Christopher M. Cruz is a writer and educator based in Miami, Florida. While juggling graduate school, he writes essays and fiction that have appeared in The Federalist, The Billfold, Christ and Pop Culture, 100 Word Story, as well as other outlets. You can find more of his work at christophermcruz.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrismcruz09.