Ta-Nehisi Coates – Between the World and Me

About halfway through reading this book, I wrote this note: “I cannot relate to this, through privilege, but it is raw and honest and powerful.” I’ve not read a book that has moved me like this for a long time. I was right, I cannot relate to this book at all, my life has been so privileged that I have never even had to contemplate the things that Coates writes about. But that is wrong. Why should I not have to know...

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Hannah Fry – Hello World

I’m not going to lie, I put this book off for a while because my kindle told me it was a 5 1/2 hour read. That shouldn’t have put me off because I really thought it looked like an interesting book, and it turns out I was mistaken anyway! The book finished at 66% through and the rest of the book was taken up by references from all the research that the author had cited. This book takes us into the hidden world of algorithms...

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She Reads Truth – Colossians & Philemon

I’ve been looking forward to this book since it was announced and it did not disappoint. As much as I love She Reads Truth studies that are in familiar areas, I am always more excited to be spending time in a book of the Bible that isn’t so familiar to me – and this was a two-in-one! I’ve read a bit of Colossians before, but I can’t remember ever opening Philemon, which is silly since it’s such a short book...

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Simon Reynolds – Lighten Our Darkness

This book was requested from NetGalley in exchange for a review. This short but packed book is a guide to Choral Evensong, giving insight into the structure and elements of the service, along with detailed history of each of those parts. I think I’ve only been to one Choral Evensong service before when I was at St Paul’s in London, and I have to admit I didn’t really ‘get it’. But now I’ve read this...

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Stephen Cottrell – Dear England

The author introduces this book by recounting a story of a conversation he had in Paddington Station (Caffe Nero to be precise), when the barista asked him what sounds like an innocuous question: “What made you become a priest?”. Obviously when buying a coffee in a busy train station, there’s not much time to answer such a question as that, but this book is the response that he would have made if he’d had the time (a...

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Tim Hughes & Nick Drake – Why Worship?

I was given this book on NetGalley in exchange for a review. I’ve been following Tim Hughes’ music since I bought one of his CDs in a Wesley Owen shop (remember them?) in Leeds in 2003, and when I saw this book start to be mentioned on Twitter, I knew I needed to read it – seeing it on NetGalley just sealed the deal for me. The book is split into 4 parts: Who and why we worshipWhere and how we worshipWhat happens when...

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Dr Joshua Wolrich – Food Isn’t Medicine

“Would you rather be healthy and fat or unhealthy and thin?” Wolrich poses that the fact that you hesitate when you’re faced with that question is part of the problem which has lead to such huge problems of weight stigma in the western world. Fat is somehow seen as a problem not just a descriptive word, no matter the health. And thin is hailed as the goal no matter what. In the first part of the book, Wolrich debunks...

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David Robertson – What Would Jesus Post?

I started reading this book before lockdown 1.0 last year and unfortunately it just wasn’t the right time for me to be reading it, so I’ve only just got round to finishing it – not a reflection of the book, just a crazy year! Focusing on how to remain true to your Christian self while interacting online, this book was so interesting. With topics like wisdom and discernment and sewing a digital seed, it covered a wide range...

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The Good Immigrant

I’ve been trying to make an effort to read more diverse voices and educate myself more on perspectives different from my own. This book was a collection of essays by 21 different writers, writing on what it means to be Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic in Britain today. The essays brought perspectives that I’d never thought of before, they were insightful and brilliant, but also sad and heart-breaking. To read first-hand about...

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Tony Evans – A Kid’s Guide to the Names of Jesus

I requested this book as an advance reading copy from NetGalley as I thought it might be useful for my youth groups. Although the book is pitched at a lower age range than I usually teach, I thought it would have some material that would be helpful. And I think I was mostly right. I think actually if I was to use this book with my teenagers, I wouldn’t have to do much adaptation in terms of aging the material upwards as some of it was...

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She Reads Truth – Esther

I absolutely loved this study. I’ve been struggling to commit to spending time in my Bible and a two week study felt like a perfect opportunity in the run up to Lent. I knew the rough outline of the story of Esther, but this is the first time I’ve read the whole book through, and it was such an eye opener. First of all, I never realised that God isn’t mentioned by name in the whole book of Esther, because it feels really...

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Sarah Bessey – A Rhythm of Prayer

I received this book as a free copy in exchange for a review from NetGalley. I thought this was a great collection of prayers and meditations, although like some previous NetGalley books, I think my experience was diminished by the fact it was an ebook not a physical copy (this is in no way a reflection on the book itself, I just feel like it would lend itself better to something physical). The book is comprised of contributions from a...

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Rev. Chris Lee – The OMG Effect

I’ve been following Rev. Chris on instagram for a while and have loved his 60 second sermons that he posts to give a brief moment of pause during the day. When I saw that he was bringing out a book, I had to pre-order it. Each chapter in the book starts with one of Chris’ 60 second sermons, then continues on with that topic. Topics including Positivity, Prayer, Humble Confidence, Death and Grief, and Love. Each chapter is...

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Sister Wendy Beckett – The Art of Holy Week and Easter

Having no art background and having not ever gone to art galleries or spent time looking at art, I’m probably not the target audience for this book. But then again, maybe I’m exactly the target audience, because I found this book absolutely fascinating. Filled with some pictures that I’d seen before and a lot I’d never come across, this book opened my eyes to the deeper meanings behind the canvas. Each picture...

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Lenny Duncan – Dear Church

This is possibly one of the most passionate books I’ve read in a long time – the subtitle was “A love letter from a black preacher to the whitest denomination in the U.S.”, and that’s exactly what it felt like – a love letter. A book that raises as many potentially ‘controversial’ points as this one could easily be seen as provocative and argument-starting, but the whole book is written from a...

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Austin Channing Brown – I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness

I’ve been trying to make more of an effort to educate myself on topics that are out of my comfort zone. It’s become abundantly clear this year through many things that have happened that it’s not enough not to be racist, but you need to be actively anti-racist too. And the only way I can think of being able to do that is to educate myself more around the problems that I could not even dream of. This book was a very...

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Colin Marshall & Tony Payne – The Trellis and the Vine

I picked up this book on the recommendation of a few people from Church. As is clearly obvious, things are not normal at the moment and of course Church has been affected by that. Almost every activity we do has been cancelled or materially altered in some way, and as we start to look to ‘the new normal’, it’s the perfect opportunity to take a deep breath and evaluate what and how we’re doing. As I’m sure it did...

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Naomi Graham – Love Surpassing Knowledge

Having seen people I know have to leave a church due to a lack of inclusion and acceptance, I was interested to read this book to figure out what we should be doing better. As the book blurb says “Accessibility is so much more than ramps and physical access”. “When we see someone who is different to us, do we choose to look away to walk away and disengage because we are fearful of what might happen or of what they might say...

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John Mark Comer – The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry

I’ve had this book on my shelf for ages, and having read it, I really wish I’d picked it up so much earlier (at the start of lockdown, but ideally way before that), as it has taught me so much about myself. Just a heads up (I finished writing and had to come back to add this), this review feels a bit more like therapy than an actual review, but I just had to write about how much I personally connected to this book, so feel free to...

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Chris & Rosie Ramsey – Sh**ged. Married. Annoyed.

When I pre-ordered this book earlier this year, I didn’t know how much I’d be in need of a good laugh when it finally was released in September. 6 months into lockdown/weird corona times and this book arrived in a week where I was feeling a bit down in the dumps. It proved to be just what I thought it would be, the perfect tonic. If you’ve not listened to Chris and Rosie’s podcast, first of all, you’re missing...

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Henry Louis Gates Jr – Dark Sky Rising

I picked up this book as something to listen to when I was decorating the spare room, and while this wasn’t an easy listen, I definitely learnt a lot. We never really learned about American history at school, so although this book was aimed at a younger age range, it was the perfect level for me. Starting with the civil war, the book takes you through the history of black America leading to the founding of the NAACP. Despite the...

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