Great books tell stories. Here’s our pick of vivid and insightful new releases for better understanding America, world events, history, science, and theology
Culture Notable Books
Unlike many recent marriage books, this one examines the lives of long-married couples who have weathered storms: illness, financial pressures, and prodigal children. Each chapter focuses on a different challenge and offers practical advice for getting through it. Married also offers an insightful interview with Joni and Ken Tada about the role of thankfulness in their marriage and the importance of praying for your spouse: “You have a solemn obligation to get engaged in your spouse’s sanctification through prayer. He’s the person God put in your life to pray for, cheer on, defend, encourage, appreciate and applaud.”
The Lifegiving Home
Every home has a culture—and a wise woman thinks about the “traditions, habits, rhythms, experiences, and values” she wants to characterize her home. The book is organized thematically by month (February focuses on establishing a culture of love, for instance), with mother and daughter alternating chapters. It’s loaded with practical ideas and theological insight and offers encouragement to those who want their homes to be places of beauty and warm memories. Warning: If you are prone to regret, or to comparing your home with others, this book might not be for you.
Joy in the Journey: Finding Abundance in the Shadow of Death
For nine months Steve Hayner fought a losing battle against an aggressive pancreatic cancer. During that time both he and his wife kept in touch with friends and relatives through the CaringBridge website. Their journals provide an intimate look at the struggles they faced together and individually—and what trusting God looks like. There’s wisdom here for others facing illness, or befriending those who do. They write of hymns and the succor they receive from knowing that people are praying. Notes of encouragement bring “hope and joy, not to mention distraction from some of the daily grind of this disease.”
Heavy Lifting: Grow Up, Get a Job, Start a Family, and other Manly Advice
Conservative writers Jim Geraghty and Cam Edwards have written a funny, though sometimes vulgar, book of advice to young men. At the end of each chapter is a pithy “What Would Ward Cleaver Do?” that refers to the classic 1950s TV father from Leave It to Beaver. The authors’ basic premise: We mock those TV dads, but they actually got many things right. They argue that Ward Cleaver and the other 1950s dads may not have been perfect, but, “He’s responsible, a man everyone can count on.” Question: Will those who need this book actually read it?
Tim and Kathy Keller divide the Book of Psalms into 365 readings, acknowledging that Bible readers don’t need a devotional book in order to read the Psalms daily. In The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms (Viking, 2015), they offer scriptural context and explanation along with short prayers meant to help the reader use the Psalms in prayer: “The psalms fire our imaginations into new realms yet guide them toward the God who actually exists. This brings a reality to our prayer lives that nothing else can.”
Sarah Palin’s Sweet Freedom (Regnery Faith, 2015) is a compilation of 260 daily readings and some extras for holidays. She blends in her distinctive voice self-help aphorisms with Scripture, patriotism, and common sense: “Today, vow to get your butt—and the butts of your family and friends—back into the pews at church. I’ll try to.” —S.O.