Rachel Bomberger is EerdWord editor for Eerdmans. She loves reading, writing, and new beginnings.
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Yesterday, back when it was still 2013, I came up with the perfect New Year’s resolution.
Today, I’m sharing a few of the reasons I’m so excited about keeping my resolution. They’re all Eerdmans books, and they’ll all be hitting shelves (Deo volente) in the first half of 2014.
This is not an exhaustive list, but it is a subjective one. If you were making this list, it might well include the forthcoming NICOT volume on Psalms (which I know makes some of our readers a little giddy); new books from Walter Brueggemann, Allan Aubrey Boesak, and Bruce Waltke; or even Ryan Noppen’s illustrated history of Dutch aviation between the World Wars. If you feel inspired to make your own list, you may, of course, include whatever you like on it. This one’s mine, though.
Here, then, are a few of the books I’m looking forward to reading in this good new year:
Toughest People to Love
Toughest People to Love: How to Understand, Lead, and Love the Difficult People in Your Life — Including Yourself
People — frustrating, confusing, disappointing, complicated — are the most difficult part of leadership, and they challenge leaders everywhere, from leaders of many to managers of a few. In this book Chuck DeGroat addresses the flawed nature of people and offers wisdom for leaders of all types in dealing with just about anyone who is difficult to lead and to love.
Toughest People to Love explores the basics of how people “tick,” encouraging leaders to examine and take care of themselves so that they can better understand and care for others. Based on DeGroat’s wealth of experience as a pastor, professor, and therapist, this book — both wise and practical — is one that countless leaders will go back to time and again for valuable insights and renewed vision.
In my many and various vocations — as pastor’s wife, school mom, friend, relation, employee, and more — I encounter enough difficult people (though wild dogs couldn’t drag their names out of me in a public forum) that I’m very keen to mull over Chuck DeGroat’s insights on how better to understand and work with them.
Brother Hugo and the Bear
Brother Hugo and the Bear
Written by Kathryn Beebe
Illustrated by S. D. Schindler
Brother Hugo can’t return his library book — the letters of St. Augustine — because, it turns out, the precious book has been devoured by a bear! Instructed by the abbot to borrow another monastery’s copy and create a replacement, the hapless monk painstakingly crafts a new book, copying it letter by letter and line by line. But when he sets off to return the borrowed copy, he finds himself trailed by his hungry new friend. Once a bear has a taste of letters, it appears, he’s rarely satisfied!
Brother Hugo and the Bear is loosely based on a note found in a twelfth-century manuscript — and largely on the creative imaginings of author Katy Beebe. Lavishly illustrated by S. D. Schindler in the style of medieval manuscripts, this humorous tale is sure to delight readers who have acquired their own taste for books.
A funny story, charmingly written; a kid-friendly historical introduction both to medieval monastic life and to the ancient art of bookmaking; a subtle lesson in the value of good literature; oh — and some of the most delightful illustrations I’ve ever seen . . .
I cannot wait to bring this one home.
Shaping the Prayers of the People
Shaping the Prayers of the People: The Art of Intercession
Samuel Wells and Abigail Kocher
This book by Samuel Wells and Abigail Kocher offers a model of profound and accessible congregational prayer. At once inspirational and practical, it will empower and equip laypeople and clergy alike to offer heartfelt, informed, thoughtful, and appropriate prayers on behalf of the people of God. As Wells says, “Interceding in public worship is a duty. This book is intended to make it a joy.”
Shaping the Prayers of the People begins by considering what public prayer is and offering practical guidelines for avoiding common pitfalls. It explores prayers as an integral part of worship and discusses the kind of language we need (and don’t need) to address God. Finally, the book provides an array of example prayers along with commentary.
Anyone who enjoyed so much as a paragraph of Samuel Wells’s Learning to Dream Again knows that he’s a wise and winsome writer. Now he and Abigail Kocher have paired up to offer pastors, church leaders, and worshiping Christians everywhere helpful guidance on the art of corporate intercessory prayer.
Given that the “prayer of the church” each Sunday has — stretching back to my earliest childhood — more often been an occasion for snoozing or daydreaming than a high point of my worship life, I think it’s safe to say that the world needs this book. Or, at the very least, I do.
A Pond Full of Ink
A Pond Full of Ink
Poems by Annie M. G. Schmidt
Illustrated by Sieb Posthuma
This delightful collection of poems offers children and the young at heart a refreshing, inventive look at the world from the well-known Dutch author, Annie Schmidt. The rollicking poems tell the stories of such intriguing characters as three elderly otters who long to go boating but find themselves biking instead, animated furniture that comes to life when no one is home, and Aunt Sue and Uncle Steve who nest up in a tree!
Take a beloved Dutch wordsmith (Annie Schmidt) whose poems — at once hilarious and profound — take me back to my childhood heroes Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky. Add whimsical artwork by an illustrator (Sieb Posthuma) whose work reminds me of the great Quentin Blake. The result is a book that deserves to be in any family library — especially mine.
How (Not) to Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor
James K. A. Smith
What does it mean to say we live in a “secular” world? Charles Taylor’s landmark book A Secular Age provides a monumental history and analysis of what it means for us to live in our post-Christian present — a pluralist world of competing beliefs and growing unbelief. This book by Jamie Smith is a small field guide to Taylor’s genealogy of the secular, making it accessible to a wide array of readers.
Smith’s How (Not) to Be Secular is also, however, a philosophical guidebook for practitioners — a kind of how-to manual that ultimately offers guidance on how to live in a secular age. It’s an adventure in self-understanding and a way to get our bearings in postmodernity. Whether one is proclaiming faith to the secularized or is puzzled that there continue to be people of faith in this day and age, this is a philosophical story meant to help us locate where we are and what’s at stake.
Like Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age is a massive, massively important book that I feel I really ought to have read. Somehow, though, I’ve never yet found the time and courage to tackle it. Now, thankfully, Jamie Smith’s reader-friendlier volume offers a slightly less intense way for me (and others like me) to access, understand, and interact with the key ideas in Taylor’s masterwork. Brilliant.
There are, of course, other books I’m keen to get my hands on this year: Gordon Olson’s historical account of Civil War scout Isaac Newton Earl, Craig Harline’s memoir of his time as a Mormon missionary, a stunning new picture book by Garmann-creator Stian Hole, a slew of new editions of C. S. Lewis and N. T. Wright classics . . .
I could go on and on.
These should keep me busy for the present, though.
Happy New Year.
Which new or forthcoming books — from Eerdmans or anywhere — make you excited to be alive and reading in 2014?