Reading Guides

Englewood Books of the Year – 2008-2019

The Englewood Review of Books
Books of the Year
Page 3:


2014 Book of the Year:

Englewood BooksJust Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
Bryan Stephenson

(Spiegel and Grau)
Buy Now:  [ Amazon

Bryan Stevenson is a prophet, and his testimony is to advocate and make us see, so that we too may be called to seek justice. While Stevenson  compellingly weaves these stories together, he also provides necessary context in law, policy and history. Stevenson understandably explains Supreme Court rulings on the death penalty and juvenile imprisonment. Similarly, he describes the impact of changes in federal post-conviction review of state convictions in making it more difficult for defendants to overturn convictions. The role of elections in skewing justice for prosecutors and judges in the South, as well as the racial dynamics present in the states of the old Confederacy, become painfully apparent. As beneficial as I found Just Mercy for my own vocation as a lawyer, Stevenson has not written a book for lawyers. This book is far too compelling and accessible to be so limited in its audience. This story reminds all of us that justice matters. It matters in terms of life and death and it matters for all members of our communities. For those inspired by the vision of the kingdom of God as it comes to us in Jesus of Nazareth, who himself did not receive justice in dying as a criminal, Just Mercy calls its readers to act for justice leavened with grace. From stories drawn from his own life and his clients, the good lawyer Bryan Stevenson shows us the “power of just mercy.”
– from our review by Jess Hale (print magazine)

2015 Book of the Year:

A Fellowship of Differents:
Showing the World God’s Design for Life Together
Scot McKnight

Buy Now:  [ Amazon

This important book wrestles with the questions: Do we love like God? How diverse is our love? Does it embrace the “differents” or are we determined to make carbon copies of ourselves? Our sordid church history shows that we have often failed in this vision. But if we refocus on how the love of God seeks the fullness of individuality and sees it as a blessing, we would begin to catch the Kingdom-vision of true love. A Fellowship of Differents never avoids our collective warts, but encourages us from cover to cover to not let
imperfection hinder joy. This alone makes it a breath of fresh air. The Apostle Paul shared a vision of history driving toward the unveiling of a renewed cosmos populated by God’s people. Thus, here and now, the most Kingdom-like place is the church, who he calls “his crown, joy and love (Phil 4:1; 1 Thess 2:19).” McKnight’s constant rejoinder to find joy in, for and with the Body of Christ echoes this exclusively Kingdom framework of good news. We are encouraged to be of like mind and find our joy, not only now but forever, in the presence of God and the fellowship of differents.
– from our review by Jordan Kellicut (print magazine)

2016 Book of the Year:

The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right
Lisa Sharon Harper

(WaterBrook Press)
Buy Now:  [ Amazon

Many Christians, especially in the Evangelical tradition, are quick to identify with the gospel (i.e., good news) of Jesus. But why exactly is it good news that God’s kingdom is coming on earth as it is in heaven? This is the
question that Lisa Sharon Harper sets out to answer in her superb new book, The Very Good Gospel. Focusing on the scriptural concept of shalom, a Hebrew word that is often translated as “peace,” but is much broader than
our typical understanding of peace, Harper explores the fullness of the shalom that God intends for creation and why it is indeed good news. The very good news is that God desires us to have shalom with God, shalom
with ourselves, shalom between the genders, shalom with all creation, shalom for broken families, shalom in the midst of racial injustice, shalom between nations, and more. This is a very accessible book (and it includes reflection exercises to help readers engage with it), and it provides one of the richest depictions of the flourishing life God intends for creation. Lisa Sharon Harper will undoubtedly stir our imaginations with her case for
why the gospel is extraordinary news!
– from our review by ERB editor C. Christopher Smith (print magazine)

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Reading for the Common Good
From ERB Editor Christopher Smith

"This book will inspire, motivate and challenge anyone who cares a whit about the written word, the world of ideas, the shape of our communities and the life of the church."
-Karen Swallow Prior

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