Holy Hot Mess: Finding God in the Details of this Weird and Wonderful Life by Mary Katherine BackstromWhat it's about: learning to embrace imperfection in faith and in life, and how being a "hot mess" is no obstacle to developing a relationship with God.
Read it for: the funny and engaging writing style; the inclusion of many candid and relatable "messes" in the author's own life and the lessons she's learned along the way.
You might also like: Mended by Angie Smith; Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist.
No Cure for Being Human: (And Other Truths I Need to Hear) by Kate BowlerWhat it is: an incisive collection of essays about grief, hope, family ties, and what it means to think about the future in the face of a devastating cancer diagnosis.
About the author: Kate Bowler is a professor of the history of Christianity at Duke Divinity School whose previous works include Blessed, Everything Happens for a Reason, and The Preacher's Wife.
Why you might like it: Bowler tells her heartwrenching story with unexpected but welcome humor, reflecting on the absurdities of life in even the darkest times.
Exodus, Revisited: My Unorthodox Journey to Berlin by Deborah FeldmanWhat it's about: the moving story of author Deborah Feldman, who left her Hasidic upbringing behind in 2009 to forge a new life for herself and her young son.
Topics include: finding a Jewish identity outside of her insular Hasidic community; learning to be a single mother; and traveling across Europe to explore her family's experiences with the Holocaust.
Media buzz: Feldman's first memoir Unorthodox was adapted into the Netflix series of the same name.
The Artist and the Eternal City: Bernini, Pope Alexander VII, and the Making of Rome by Loyd GrossmanWhat's inside: a richly detailed portrait of the political, cultural, and spiritual role that the Papacy played in 17th-century Rome and Pope Alexander VII's efforts to restore the prestige of both the city and the Church as an art and architecture patron.
You might also like: Painted Glories by Nicholas A. Eckstein; Basilica by R.A. Scott.
Reviewers say: The Artist and the Eternal City is an "engaging, sumptuously illustrated" journey to Baroque Rome (Kirkus Reviews).
Even If:Trusting God When Life Disappoints, Overwhelms, or Just Doesn't Make Sense by Mitchel LeeWhat it is: an inspiring exploration of how to learn to trust God even during times of uncertainty and fear.
Why you might like it: Author Mitchel Lee interweaves examples from his own life experience with scriptural analysis and presents his reflections in an encouraging voice.
Chapters include: "Goodness in the Deep End of the Pool"; "Control Freaks of the World Unite"; and "Take a Step (but Not by Yourself)".
I Take My Coffee Black: Reflections on Tupac, Musical Theater, Faith, and Being Black in... by Tyler MerrittWhat it's about: the life, faith, and work of actor, comedian, and musician Tyler Merritt and the way his identity as a Black man has affected all three.
Read it for: Merritt's amusing and engaging style of storytelling and the balance he strikes with humor while discussing difficult topics like racist violence.
Reviewers say: "Readers will be awed by Merritt’s brutal honesty" in this "powerful testament" (Publishers Weekly).
The Awakened Brain: The New Science of Spirituality and Our Quest for an Inspired Life by Lisa Miller, PhDWhat it is: an accessible and thought-provoking look at the intersection between spirituality and science, steeped in years of clinical research.
Topics include: the correlation between spiritual practice and reduced rates of depression and addiction; genetic variables that may predispose someone toward spirituality.
Why you might like it: the author's definition of spirituality (or "heightened awareness") is refreshingly open and allows her to include a broad spectrum of faith traditions, from Lakota healing ceremonies to monastic cloisters.
God, Human, Animal, Machine: Technology, Metaphor, and the Search for Meaning by Meghan O'GieblynWhat it's about: the potential spiritual and existential issues humanity may soon need to wrestle with as artificial intelligence grows increasingly sophisticated.
Is it for you? Although it raises a number of thought-provoking questions and relates them in an accessible, engaging way, the book's melancholy tone might not resonate with all readers.
Reviewers say: "Razor-sharp, this timely investigation piques" (Publishers Weekly).
Where the Light Fell: A Memoir by Philip YanceyWhat it is: a compelling and thought-provoking story of rebuilding a relationship with faith after surviving a traumatic childhood suffused with Christian fundamentalism.
Read it for: the candid portrayal of racism in Southern churches before the Civil Rights Movement; the exploration of fear as a basis for faith and how to create a healthier relationship with spirituality.
About the author: Former Christianity Today editor-at-large Philip Yancey has published numerous books on spiritual topics, including The Jesus I Never Knew, Soul Survivor, and What's So Amazing about Grace?
Contact your librarian for more great books!
If you are having trouble unsubscribing to this newsletter, please contact NextReads at 919-489-3713, 3710 Mayfair Street, Durham, NC 27707