Need a gift? Christian women offer tips on favorite books
The Christian Chronicle asked five Christian women from across the country to pass on their all-time favorites. Each woman reflected on all the books that had meant so much to her and came up with her top four.
Now, we pass them on to you. Even if you don’t pick one of these books as a holiday gift, maybe the process will help you recall some of your all-time favorites that you can pass on to that special person.
Carisse Berryhill serves in the library at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas, and attends the University church.
1. “The Wind that Destroys and Heals: Trusting the God of Sorrow and Joy” by Stephen Broyles.
This searingly honest account of Elizabeth Broyles’ death and the grief of her family would not, and has not, let me go. The pain is eloquently told without sentimentality or pat answers, but with deep faith.
2. “Walking Across Egypt” by Clyde Edgerton.
In this comic novel of small town Lister, N.C., Mattie Rigsbee at 78 decides that “the least of these” includes a tan stray dog and the dogcatcher’s nephew, a scruffy, escaped, juvenile prisoner.”
3. “Faith is a Radical Master: New and Selected Poems” by Walt McDonald.
Nationally acclaimed Lubbock poet McDonald depicts the landscape of his Texas roots in words bare as bone and rich as water from an irrigation well.
4. “Gaudy Night” by Dorothy L. Sayers.
First published in 1936, this delightful British mystery by a contemporary of C.S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkein asks whether academic women have a proper job to do. I reread it annually.
Fern Hill, one of the founders of Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch in New York, attends the East End church in East Hampton, N.Y.
1. “Training Up A Child” by Gwendolyn M. Webb.
This is my No. 1 recommendation of a book, other than the Bible itself, to parents of young children. It is full of special gems of wisdom and illustrated so well that all eleven essential components to building a child can be easily retained. Every parent of young children can be helped by reading this book.
2. “The Ultimate Gift” by Jim Stovall.
A small, easy-to-read novel that instills values and makes me, as a reader, ever more grateful for the simple gifts of work, money, friends, learning, problems, family, laughter, dreams, giving and each day. It pulls the heart strings to make the reader a better person.
3. “Stepping Heavenward” by Elizabeth Prentiss.
First written in the 1800s and resurrected in 1992 to sell more than l00,000 copies, this little book will encourage women to be more patient, faithful and full of hope as we read the journal of a young girl. It shows us how to really trust in God and make a heaven on earth to brighten the darkest paths. Prentiss is author of the song, “More Love to Thee.”
4. “The Mark of the Lion Series: A Voice in the Wind, Echo in the Darkness and Sure as the Dawn” by Francine Rivers.
Rivers weaves the world today with the world of decadent Rome and solid Christian truths with such a spectacular plot that kept me reading through the night many nights. My faith and desire to be poured out for God completely was strengthened.
Etta Jackson is director of Community Care Center and a member of the Lewis Street church in Little Rock, Ark.
1. “Marriage: A Taste of Heaven” by Patsy Rae Dawson.
This book deals with the whole person in marriage and how to live as an honorary participant. It taught, encouraged and reaffirmed that married life can be beautiful once we truly embrace and trust the marital plan perfectly designed by God.
2. “Keeping Your Balance” by Nancy Eichman.
This book is a must read for those whose life center is Jesus. Keeping our balance in life is crucial. Eichman not only addresses many obstacles in life, she lays out great solutions to live enriched and simpler lives.
3. “Patterns for Living” by Irene Young Mattox.
Mattox’s volume reminds me of the letter to Titus. The older, godly women have a responsibility to teach the younger. “Patterns for Living” is similar to a godly grandmother, whose experience deals with issues of the first century remembering there’s nothing new in the 21st century.
4. “The Wise Woman Knows” by Bessie Patterson.
This book helped me dig deeper into the word of God as it starts with knowledge and ends with wisdom. It is filled with timeless treasures, causing you to read it over and over again.
Judy Shappley operates Holland Studio and attends the Highland church in Memphis, Tenn.
1. “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis.
“Mere Christianity” deserves to be at the top of anyone’s list. While other Christian apologists deal with physical clues that point to God’s existence, Lewis offers persuasions of a more philosophical nature. There are also fine essays on what it means to live the Christian life.
2. “The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming” by Henri Nouwen.
Nouwen takes an interesting look at a famous parable. Inspired by Rembrandt’s painting of the same name, he uses the work of art as a jumping-off point for discussing how he views himself as each of the three central characters in the story — the prodigal son, the elder son, and the father.
3. “Making Sense Out of Suffering” by Peter Kreeft.
Although many books have been written about the problem of human suffering, this is one of the best offerings. While refusing to stoop to pat answers to the dilemma, he nonetheless serves up some unique insights and thought-provoking ideas. His engaging style makes the book an easy read.
4. “A Skeleton in God’s Closet” by Paul Maier.
Mystery buffs who are looking for a light read will enjoy this volume by Maier (not to be confused with Paul Meier). The religious world is set on its ear when archeologists discover a tomb that seems to refute the resurrection of Christ. The reader’s attention is held until the satisfying resolution.
Vickie Reed is a licensed speech pathologist and attends the Northlake church in Tucker, Ga.
1. “The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis.
Lewis creates correspondence between two devils during World War II, giving advice in the use of human events and behaviors to capture souls. Seeing ourselves from another perspective redefines our temptations and intentions.”
2. “As For Me and My House: Crafting Your Marriage to Last” by Walter Wangerin.
This book on marriage is specifically for people who have been married long enough to experience disappointment. Wangerin’s readable style has just enough autobiographical perspective to see his insights functioning in a marriage.
3. “The Prodigal Brother” by Sue Thompson.
This book is written for the one who was the “good” or overlooked child growing up, and who still stings from the disinterest. Each chapter could stand independently and retell its story from different angles.
4. “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson.
A man inadvertently given the chance to temporarily change his identity sees an opportunity to escape the monotony of morality. This classic fiction illustrates the consequence of partitioning our lives to reserve intentionally a part of our will from God’s reign.