Lent 2024 – Five Superb Books!

Lent 2024 Books Lent 2024 Books Lent 2024 Books Lent 2024 Books Lent 2024 Books

Ash Wednesday (February 14 this year, coinciding with Valentine’s Day) is only a few weeks away! Here are a few superb new Lenten books that you might consider if you want a book to guide you through the season of Lent.

Lent 2024 BooksA Different Kind of Fast: Feeding our True Hungers in Lent
Christine Valters Paintner

Paperback: Broadleaf Books, 2024.
Buy Now: [ BookShop ] [ Amazon ] [ Kindle

In A Different Kind of Fast, Christine Valters Paintner challenges readers to take the Lenten season to fast not from food, but from some of the most prevalent compulsions of our day. These seven compulsions, explored one per week through Lent, are:

  • Consuming
  • Multitasking and Inattention
  • Scarcity Anxiety
  • Speed and Rushing
  • Holding it all Together
  • Planning and Deadlines  and 
  • Certainty

In addressing each of these compulsions and challenging us to imagine what fasting might look like in regard to each compulsion, Paintner offers us hope of transformation among some of the deepest pathologies of our times. Her interactions throughout the book with the witness of the desert monastics are timely and relevant, as they lived in an era like our own in which the nature of Christian life was changing rapidly due to the deepening bond between church and government. I am currently teaching at class here at Englewood Christian Church on the contemporary relevance of the desert monastics, and I will be recommending this book as a Lenten resource for class participants.

Hard and Holy Work: A Lenten Journey Through the Book of Exodus
Mary Alice Birdwhistell and Tyler Mayfield.

Paperback: WJK Books, 2024.
Buy Now: [ BookShop ] [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Exploring some similar themes to Paintner’s A Different Kind of Fast – including the essential work of paying attention – is Hard and Holy Work: A Lenten Journey Through the Book of Exodus by Mary Alice Birdwhistell and Tyler Mayfield. While Paintner seems to focus primarily on personal transformation, Birdwhistell and Mayfield set their focus on social transformation. “Exodus,” they write, “is a book about an ancient people on a dramatic journey from enslavement in Egypt toward liberation. It concerns a liberating God who sees the oppression of God’s people and acts to free them from bondage” (5). In addition to their reflection on the biblical text and its relevance for today, the authors also offer prompts for discussing the reflections with others, and prompts for taking action, “concrete opportunities for you to engage in your community in hands-on ways” (8).

Where We Meet: A Lenten Study of Systems, Stories, and Hope
Rachel Gilmore, Candace Lewis, Tyler Sit, and Matt Temple

Paperback: Upper Room Books, 2024.
Buy Now:[ BookShop ] [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Another timely new Lenten book that covers some similar ground to Hard and Holy Work is Where We Meet: A Lenten Study of Systems, Stories, and Hope by Rachel Gilmore, Candace Lewis, Tyler Sit, and Matt Temple of the Intersect Network. Intersect is a church-planting network of folks interested in co-creating “communities that are postcolonial, equitable, contextual, diverse, and innovative.” These five themes are central to the structure of this Lenten guide. Although written by church planters, Where We Meet is not just for church planters, but for any congregations and their leaders who desire to have more diverse and equitable communities. Fittingly, the meditations in this collection have been written by a diverse group of church planters and congregational leaders. The Lenten reflections collected in Where We Meet challenge us to take a hard look at our congregations and to imagine how they might begin to embody faithfully the sort of inclusive community into which Jesus invited us.

Unburdened: A Lenten Journey Toward Forgiveness
Carol Penner

Paperback: Herald Press, 2024.
Buy Now: [ BookShop ] [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Another Lenten devotional that is worth mentioning here is Carol Penner’s Unburdened: A Lenten Journey Toward Forgiveness, which also covers some similar ground to the above books and explores the practice of forgiveness as both a personal and a social one. The daily meditations on forgiveness are brief (3-4 pages), but rich, and they all end with a prayer that are written in a poetic form like that of the Psalms, and like the Psalms, these prayers are intended to embed themselves in the hearts and minds of the readers as they set the book down and go about their day. 

Season of Beauty: A Lent and Easter Treasury of Readings, Poems, and Prayers

Hardback: Paraclete Press, 2024.
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]

While the above books are all pretty traditionally structured as devotionals, one elegant Lenten book that stands out because it does not have the normal structure of a devotional is Season of Beauty: A Lent and Easter Treasury of Readings, Poems, and Prayers. A gorgeously designed hardback with full-color glossy pages, this volume is indeed full of literary treasures for the spring seasons of the church year. Interspersed with the classic writings are color prints of artworks that are pertinent to this season. Season of Beauty would make a great book to liven up a coffee table or end table, to be picked up in slow moments when one can the morsels that it contains.



C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at:

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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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