faith in action

Nine books to read this summer

Church and Society staff have some recommendations for your summer reading list.

My Life on the Road

Gloria Steinem

What Steinem lovingly calls her “Life on the Road” is less about traveling open highways and more precisely a collection of stories from her time as a journalist, activist and organizer. She paints a vivid picture that illustrates the power and importance of relationships and collaboration as tools for justice across a variety of issues. Steinem’s work on women’s equity, civil rights, peace and indigenous representation are reflected in her memoir and reminds readers of the intersectional nature of social justice. — Amber Feezor

The New Creation: John Wesley’s Theology for Today

Theodore Runyon

Runyon’s book is an outstanding study drawing heavily from the sermons and writings of John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement. Runyon links Wesley’s engaging positions on a host of social concerns to the issues we face. This book speaks with hope and conviction. — Clayton Childers

God’s Welcome: Hospitality for a Gospel-Hungry World

Rev. Dr. Amy Oden

An inspiring book about the importance and understanding of God’s radical welcome, and how, as God’s beloved people, we are called to welcome others. Oden’s book invites the reader to encounter welcome through a biblical, theological, and practical lens that will challenge the reader’s understanding and practice of welcome in the church and community. In addition to the reading, there is a bible study that makes this a perfect text for a summer bible study or small group. — Laura James

The Blood of Emmett Till

Timothy Tyson

Written by a fellow United Methodist (and the brother-in-law of Bishop Hope Morgan Ward), The Blood of Emmett Till is a powerful window into a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement: the lynching of Emmett Till. Tyson has recently won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award in 2018. — Susan Henry-Crowe

Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace

Vandana Shiva

I first encountered Shiva’s writing in a college course on environmentalism. I was blown away by her ability to draw deep connections between so many issues I care about, particularly the intersection of planetary sustainability and gender justice. Her works helped shape my understanding of many of the issues we strive to address at the United Nations and International Affairs office, and I’m thankful to have them on hand in our little library. You might suspect an excavation on the ways capitalistic greed, institutionalized sexism and (white) nationalism work together to exacerbate climate change and its disproportionate consequences for women and poor communities of color to be a bit of a downer, but Shiva also reminds us of the real power we have to incite change. — Quinn Wonderling

Just Mercy

Brian Stevenson

Just Mercy is one of the many works exposing the enormous injustice and racial inequity in our justice system. Written as a memoir, the book offers a unique and personal account of Stevenson’s life and work as an activist lawyer, addressing injustice through his defense of individuals on death row. Stevenson offers real-life stories that are expressions of love, profound suffering, transformative relationships, and the potential for mercy to redeem us. If you want to learn about God’s grace and redemption, this is a must read. — Rebecca Cole

Bullets into Bells: Poets and Citizens Respond to Gun Violence

Edited by Brian Clements, Alexandra Teague, and Dean Rader, with Foreword by Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly and Introduction by Colum McCann

This book of 54 poems on gun violence is one of the most impactful encounters I have had with gun violence. A response from an impacted individual accompanies each poem — gun violence survivors, family members, politicians, activists, experts and others. The over 100 voices featured include: Samaria Rice, the mother of Tamir Rice; U.S. Senator Chris Murphy; Amber Goodwin, founder of Community Justice Reform Coalition; Lucy McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis; pastor-activist the Rev. Michael Pfleger; and poets Rita Dove, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Natasha Trethewey, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Christopher Soto, Patricia Smith, Matthew Olzmann and many others. Art is one of the ways we are most human, and you feel the human implications of gun violence profoundly in this book. — Jeania Ree Moore

Tattoos on the Heart

Father Gregory Boyle

Boyle, a Jesuit priest, has spent decades in Los Angeles where he founded Homeboy Industries. Homeboy Industries is a sort of one-stop-shop for the restoration of former gang members. Homeboy Industries provides an opportunity for people living in poverty who have turned to gangs a place and community where they can regain their self-worth. This book broadened my perspective on our call to be in ministry with the poor; it also undeniably strengthened my faith. Father Boyle provides an example of the deep compassion, unwavering commitment to the poor, and the no-strings-attached love of Christ. — Tricia Bruckbauer

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

Matthew Desmond

Evictions in the U.S. were once rare. They’re now relatively common; there were more than 2 million evictions in 2016 alone. Desmond tells the story of eight families (and their landlords) in the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and shows the heartbreaking consequences of our country’s growing income inequality. — Warren Gill