My Twenty-Five Favorite Books (as of Today)

MY TWENTY-FIVE  FAVORITE BOOKS TODAY – June 2012 – Jean Fitch Justice

A few years ago, my friend Linda Seyfarth asked if I were going to spend the rest of my life on an island and could only have ten books, what would they be?  When she asked me, I couldn’t limit myself to ten.  I came up with 22.  Today, a few of those on my earlier list have been replaced by other options and I’m up to 25.  And I’m already thinking of more I’d want to add to the list (such as Philip Gulley’s If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person so I may have to start a list of the next 25. I’m sure my list will continue to change as the years go by. My choices include works of art, biography, devotions, essays, fiction, history, poetry, reference, science and Scripture.  I love it all.

 Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith by Kathleen Norris – “Incarnation . . . the place where hope contends with fear. . . . a wonderful tension between the Word of God and human words.”

Creation of Feminist Consciousness by Gerda Lerner –  If only for one chapter, “A Thousand Years of Feminist Biblical Criticism,” this book is a must read.

Imaging the Word: An Arts and Lectionary Resource, Volumes I, II, III – Collections of readings, poetry and art to interpret Scripture.  If I could only have three books, I’d take these three because they include worlds of wisdom, centuries of faith, an inexhaustible well from which to drink.

Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories that Heal by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. – “More than a way of loving, the heart may be a way of experiencing life, the capacity to know a fundamental connection to others and see them whole.”

New and Selected Poems by Mary Oliver – “When it’s over, I want to say: all my life / I was a bride married to amazement. / I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.”

Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place by Terry Tempest Williams – “Memory is the only way home.”

Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy – “You are the deep innerness of all things, / the last word that can never be spoken.”  “You said live out loud, and die you said lightly,/ and over and over again you said be.”

Sacred Journeys: A Woman’s Book of Daily Prayer by Jan L. Richardson – “May the God who makes all things new, strengthen you to know and claim who you are. May you journey without fear or shame, clearing a path for many and preparing a table for the feast.”

Skeptics and True Believers: The Exhilarating Connection between Science and Religion by Chet Raymo – “Knowledge is an island in a sea of mystery.”

The Message by Eugene Petersen – The Bible in contemporary language

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley – “She will call you in a voice you cannot fail to understand. If you have heard that call, there will be nowhere in the world to hide from her voice.”  “She knew, if he did not, that the God they both worshipped was greater and less bigoted than any priesthood.”

The New Beacon Book of Quotations by Women by Rosalie Maggio – “God wove a web of loveliness,/ Of clouds and stars and birds, / But made not anything at all / So beautiful as words.” Anna Hempstead, 1905

Pocketful of Miracles: Prayers, Meditations, and Affirmations to Nurture Your Spirit Every Day of the Year  by Joan Borysenko – “May I [you] be at peace, May my [your] heart remain open, / May I [you] awaken to the light of my [your] own true nature, / May I [ you] be healed, May I [you] be a source of healing for all beings.”

The Story of Painting: The Essential Guide to the History of Western Art by Sister Wendy Wright – “Love and knowledge go hand in hand. When we love, we always want to know, and this book will succeed if it starts the reader on the track that leads to more reading, greater knowledge, greater love, and, of course, greater happiness.”

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston – “If you kin see de light at daybreak, you don’t keer if you die at dusk. It’s so many people never seen de light at all. Ah wuz fumblin’ round and God opened de door.”

This Hebrew Lord by John Shelby Spong – “Nowhere in the gospel do I find the goal of Christian mission to be that of making one religious; rather, that goal is to set one free, to call one to life, to invite one to love.”

Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés – “Healthy wolves and healthy women share certain psychic characteristics: keen sensing, playful spirit, and a heightened capacity for devotion. Wolves and women are relational by nature, inquiring, possessed of great endurance and strength. They are deeply intuitive, intensely concerned with their young, their mate and their pack. They are experienced in adapting to constantly changing cirtcumstance4s; they are fiercely stalwart and very brave.”

A Year with Rumi: Daily Readings by Coleman Barks. “Let the beauty we love be what we do.”

The Intellectual Devotional by David S. Kidder & Noah D. Oppenheim.  A year of daily readings in seven disciplines: History, Literature, Visual Arts, Science, Music, Philosophy, Religion.

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell and its sequel, Children of God. Two remarkable books about faith and the relationships between people.

Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom by John O’Donohue.  “Friendship is the grace that warms and sweetens our lives.”

An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor. “Earth is so thick with divine possibility that it is a wonder we can walk anywhere without cracking our shins on altars.”