You’re locked down at home and looking for ways to spend your time that don’t involve endless trips to the refrigerator to see if something’s magically appeared that wasn’t there the last time you looked (it hasn’t); entertaining the kids (for once they’re looking after themselves); one more Zoom conference call (will they never end?); or yard work (hallelujah!).
What to do next?
How about reading a good book—that thing people used to do before Netflix?
So here are eight books to help keep you sane, balanced and maybe even grow your faith however long the quarantine lasts.
The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World, John Mark Comer (2019). Comer fled his previous position as a mega-church pastor to build a slower, more authentic life leading an urban church plant in Portland, Oregon. Unhurried is an encouragement to anyone longing for a more balanced and meaningful way of living.
The Screwtape Letters, CS Lewis (1942). The fictional account of a senior demon instructing a junior demon in the art of tempting a new Christian, the book is a primer on spiritual health. Lewis is a surgeon who knows how to expose, cut out and heal the cancers of the soul that afflict us all.
The Complete Calvin and Hobbs, Bill Waterson, (2012). Waterson’s whimsical young hero and pet tiger prove how the innocence of childhood and power of imagination can get us through almost any crisis. Spend two minutes enjoying a single strip or two hours laughing yourself silly, Calvin will lift your heart run every time.
The Jesus Way: A Conversation on the Ways That Jesus Is the Way, Eugene Peterson (2007). Peterson was a modern prophet who sounded the alarm about the American church’s descent into idolatry and consumerism decades ago. The Jesus Way may be his best book and calls us back to a faith built on authenticity, sacrifice and prayer.
The Book of Common Prayer (2019). The new version of the classic Anglican prayer book is spiritually nourishing, theologically enriching and visually stunning. The great benefit of reading its prayers, services and Psalms is that they sound like they ought to sound—no one speaks the language of faith like the Anglicans. Learning to use the BCP may be a challenge but it’s worth the effort.
Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry (1985). Before the cattle drive by retired Texas Rangers Woodrow Call and Gus McCrae became the best Western movie ever made it was the best Western novel ever written. There’s no better way to spend a few days of quarantine than in the company of these two heroes and their epic story of friendship, sacrifice and loves found and lost. It’s American storytelling at its finest.
The Spirit of Early Christian Thought: Seeking the Face of God, Robert Louis Wilken (2005). If the title sounds like a dry academic book, it’s anything but. Wilken—a professor at the University of Virginia—takes the early church fathers and shows how their faith is the same as ours, only more so. Free from the clichés, agendas, or just plain silliness that infects much of modern evangelicalism, the book is an invitation into the historic faith of Jesus. It’s also a much easier read than you may think.
Diary of an Old Soul, George MacDonald (1880). I admit this book is a bit of a flyer, but I recommend it every chance I get because more people ought to read it. A book of devotional poems for each day of the year (each poem is a half-sonnet and only seven lines long), it’s a beautiful and moving journey through the seasons—of the year and of the soul.
Find a quiet corner of your house. Tell the kids to try not to kill each other for the next hour or so. Force yourself to wait until later this evening before watching the same episode of NCIS that you’ve seen several times before (trust me, the bad guy still gets caught), sit in a comfortable chair and pull out a good book.
You’ll be glad you did.
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