I enjoy my gig as a book reviewer. It keeps me reading and writing and making some small contribution to the family’s finances. I like having concrete assignments, deadlines, and front row access to the world of Christian publishing. I enjoy dishearteningly few of the assigned books, however. As a mother of girls I receive a disproportionate number of teen girl devotionals, women’s Bible studies, and Christian parenting titles. This inevitably skews my sense of the job as a rollicking good time, in part because my personal reading tastes don’t tend toward “nice,” but primarily because I maintain an apparently minority position that books for women and young people merit as much theological rigor, ground-breaking novelty, and professional editing as books for markets deemed more discerning. Of course, I try to review each book on its own terms – if it accomplishes what it sets out to do – rather than according to personal tastes, but my reading within and outside of these sub-genres indicates that we can do better here and just don’t bother. Here are links to my reviews of a few good books. They’re not necessarily great literature, but they’re ones that somehow raise the bar on their respective fronts.
“Many books urging women to claim our positions as God’s daughters tell only half the story. They tell us we are God’s beloved little girls, privileged princesses. They expound on our roles or rights as children of God, but not our responsibilities. J. Lee Grady wrote Fearless Daughters of the Bible to encourage women to reclaim the power of God’s promises and step up and act accordingly….A father of four daughters, Grady writes in paternal tones without stooping to paternalism; ideal readers would be high school and college age.” My full review here.
“Leslie Leyland Fields debunks nine myths of Christian parenting, making the case that children are not put on this earth to fulfill us; neither are we asked to be God to them…. The depth to which some of these myths are ingrained becomes evident in the author’s own occasional inconsistency. Overall, her major points, scriptural examples and discussion questions offer an effective, affirming and hopeful counter to destructive myths our culture — and sometimes even our churches — subtly enforce.” My full review here.
“Addressing evangelical concerns regarding sorcery and witchcraft head on, he argues that the supernatural functions not as an alternate belief system, but as a backdrop for a story full of Christian values — a story so Christian that its creator hesitated to discuss her own Christian faith before the last installment came out for fear of giving away the ending.” My full review here.
“High school English teacher Matt Litton offers an outstanding spiritual reading—currently unavailable in most high school English classrooms—of Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird as a parable of compassion, courage and community. In the microcosm of small town Maycomb, Litton discerns lessons about parenting, responsible living, caring for neighbors and envisioning God as a mysterious neighbor who, similar to the enigmatic Boo Radley, must be engaged on his own terms rather than defined or domesticated.” My full review here.
“The Chinese say, “Women hold up half the sky.” Carolyn Custis James figures if the majority of women worldwide suffer oppressive poverty and violence and a privileged minority still struggle to prove or believe in their own value, no wonder it feels as if the sky is falling…. Dismantling the myth of the subordinate helpmeet, she recovers the Old Testament figure of the woman of valor, the strong and capable ezer who helps as God helps.” My full review here.