Archives For Best Books

 

2009 Englewood Book of the Year

David Dark - Sacredness of Questioning Everything

The Sacredness of
Questioning Everything.

David Dark.
Paperback:
Zondervan, April 2009.
Buy now:
[
ChristianBook.com ]

Few writers have the capacity that David Dark has, to orchestrate familiar stories from literature and popular culture as part of engaging theological discourse. In his new book The Sacredness of Questioning Everything, David emphasizes that questioning, and more broadly that conversation, is an essential practice in the life of the Church. Certainly, his words rang true to us here at Englewood Christian Church, as conversation has been one of the defining practices of our church community.

“In SACREDNESS, Dark champions the power — and the spiritual necessity — of the open mind. Asking questions of our convictions, assumptions, perversions, religions, is the only way to let the light and air into them. ‘There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in,’ he maintains, using Leonard Cohen’s words. Questioning our God(s), our government, our eschatology, our language or our lusts, opens them to the possibility of rehabilitation, redemption and ultimately resurrection.” (from our review)

Indeed, conversation is fundamental to our identity as the community of God’s people, relating to one another and to God. It is a lost art that must be recovered and Dark skillfully navigates the complexity of life in conversation and we would do well to follow his lead.


Click here to see our 2008 Book of the Year…

 

2009

Englewood

Honor Books


*** Best Poetry Volume ***

Leavings: Poems.
By Wendell Berry.
Hardcover: Counterpoint, 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

These new poems enlarge the possibilities of Berry’s vision and work, always clarifying language, interweaving art and work with land and life, and describing glimpses of the Kingdom of God as it is embodied in the Kentucky hills. As Berry writes, “Hope / then to belong to your place by your own knowledge / of what it is that no other place is.”

[ Read our full review… ]

Pluriverse: New and Selected Poems.
Ernesto Cardenal.

Paperback: New Directions, 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

These collected poems span 60 years of Cardenal’s writing, considering at various turns the particularities of the Nicaraguan landscape to the complexities of quantum models of the universe. The intricacies of Cardenal’s poems always suggest the wonderful interconnectedness of the whole creation, informed by years as a poet/priest/revolutionary in his native Nicaragua.

[ Read our full review… ]

Shop Class as Soulcraft:
An Inquiry into
the Value of Work.

Matthew Crawford
Hardback:
The Penguin Press, 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Following in the tradition of one of last year’s honor books, Richard Sennett’s The Craftsman, Crawford masterfully forms a case for the importance of manual labor. “It’s the capacity to probe the writings of Iris Murdoch or Martin Heidegger and the workings of a late-model Kawasaki liter-class sport bike that make Crawford so interesting to read.”

[ Read our full review… ]

*** Best Novel ***

Eve: A Novel of the First Woman.
Elissa Elliott.
Hardcover:
Delacorte, 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Although we admittedly don’t review a lot of fiction, we are slowly increasing the number of novels we do review. Elissa Eliott’s poignant debut novel Eve, enthralled us like no other novel this year. “Following in the footsteps of Buechner and those of writers like Flannery O’Connor, Nikos Kazantzakis and Walker Percy, Elliott creates a world of deep and twisted brokenness, and yet one that is saturated with an even deeper hope.”

[ Read our full review… ]

*** Best Biography ***

Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor.
Brad Gooch.

Hardcover:
Little, Brown & Co., 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Brad Gooch has offered a gem of a book in his deeply-researched biography of one of our favorite writers, Flannery O’Connor.

[ Read our full review… ]

Empire of Illusion:
The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.

Chris Hedges.

Hardback: Nation Books, 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Hedges takes our present shadow politics, economics, and entertainment industries and holds them up in the light to suggest that mostly we have been captivated by illusions, stuck back in Plato’s cave. World Wrestling Entertainment, the $10 billion US porn industry, our “permanent war economy,” and “participatory fascism” are indicting critiques of the American brand of Empire, based largely on illusion, and Hedges exposes these caricatures for what they are.

[ Read our full review… ]

Green Metropolis:
Why Living Smaller, Living Closer,
and Driving Less Are the Keys to Sustainability
.
David Owen.

Hardback: Riverhead, 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

An important revision of ‘green’ technologies and sustainability, which offers an apologetics for dense urban places as the ‘greenest’ places we have. Building on Jane Jacobs’ descriptions of population density and diversity, Owens re-narrates conversations about urban sustainability, positing New York City as “the greenest city in the United States.”

[ Read our full review… ]

Enough:
Contentment in An Age of Excess

Will Samson.

Paperback: David C. Cook, 2009.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

After the economic crashes last year, 2009 offered us the opportunity to reflect on the consumerism that led us into this economic mess, and no book spoke more lucidly on the problem of consumerism in our churches than Will Samson’s Enough.

[ Read our full review… ]

[ Interview with Will ]

A Conservationist Manifesto.
Scott Russell Sanders.
Paperback:
Indiana Univ. Press, 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

A Conservationist Manifesto is a rich book and like a rich wine or rich dessert, it is meant to be savored. Sanders sees beyond the mass destruction of consumerism and prophetically calls us to the redemptive work of conserving creation and connecting deeply with our neighbors and the places in which we live.”

[ Read our full review… ]

*** Best Theology Book ***

Desiring The Kingdom:
Worship, Worldview and Cultural Formation
.

James K.A. Smith.
Vol. 1- Cultural Liturgies Series
Paperback: Baker Academic, 2009.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

We are all motivated by some vision of “the kingdom,” and our desires of it largely motivate how we understand and inhabit the world; Smith describes formative rituals, practices, and liturgies from the mall to the Eucharist, showing all cultural institutions as some form of liturgy, and enlarging the language of liturgy to encompass the immanence of the kingdom of God.

[ Read our full review… ]

Wendell Berry and Religion:
Heaven’s Earthly Life
.
Edited by Joel James Shuman and L. Roger Owens.

Hardback: University Press of Kentucky, 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Certainly, any book about Wendell Berry and Christianity is bound to attract our attention, but our imaginations were ignited by this book’s broad vision of the applicability of Berry’s work to Christian Social Ethics.

[ Read our full review… ]

God’s Economy:
Redefining the Health and Wealth Gospel
.

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.
Paperback: Zondervan, 2009.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

For the second year in a row, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove has written a book that landed on our list of best books. Few books have celebrated God’s abundant provision and our call to generosity as eloquently and as compellingly as God’s Economy.

[ Read our full review… ]

[ Read a 28 page excerpt… ]

*** See the runners up and
our other award books here…
***

 

So, the first six months of 2009 have slipped past us already. At this half-way point of the year, we thought it would be great to recap the best books that we’ve read and reviewed so far this year:

10. And Then There’s This: How Stories Live and Die in Viral Culture
Bill Wasik.
Hardcover: Viking.
Review: http://englewoodreview.org/?p=363

9. Pluriverse: New and Selected Poems
Ernesto Cardenal.
Paperback: New Directions.
Review: http://englewoodreview.org/?p=233

8. Love is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community
Andrew Marin.
Paperback: IVP Books.
Review: http://englewoodreview.org/?p=350

7. Eve: A Novel of the First Woman
Elissa Elliott.
Hardcover: Delacorte.
Review: http://englewoodreview.org/?p=228

6. Fresh: A Perishable History
Susanne Freidberg.
Hardcover: Belknap Press.
Review: http://englewoodreview.org/?p=374

5. Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor
Brad Gooch.
Hardcover: Little, Brown & Co.
Review: http://englewoodreview.org/?p=246

4. Fasting (Ancient Practices Series)
Scot McKnight.
Hardcover: Thomas Nelson.
Review: http://englewoodreview.org/?p=224

3. Enough: Contentment in An Age of Excess
Will Samson.
Paperback: David C. Cook.
Review: http://englewoodreview.org/?p=279

2. A Conservationist Manifesto
Scott Russell Sanders.
Paperback: Indiana University Press.
Review: http://englewoodreview.org/?p=338

And the best book so far this year is… [drum roll ]

1. The Sacredness of Questioning Everything.
David Dark.
Paperback: Zondervan.
Review: http://englewoodreview.org/?p=328