USC Book Club 2012

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2012 Reviews

December 2012:

Sister Wendy's Bible Treasury: Stories and Wisdom through the Eyes of Great Painters

By Sister Wendy Beckett

Review: What wouldn’t you give for a private tour of an art museum with Sister Wendy Beckett, the contemplative who famously charmed TV audiences with her stunning 1997 PBS series, The Story of Painting? This book brims not only with Sister Wendy’s wisdom on art but her penetrating insights into scripture as well.

“Once again,” she writes of Samson, “God is bringing good out of evil, accepting human foolishness and yet somehow still achieving his wise ends.” In Botticelli’s painting The Mystic Nativity she points out that while the ass in the stable is riveted by the birth of Jesus, the ox gazes off into the distance: “It is not being there that matters, but being aware,” says Beckett. Who could ask for a better guide?

Catherine O'Connell-Cahill, Senior Editor, U.S. Catholic

Orbis says: From the majesty of Genesis to the mystery of Revelation, journey through the Bible with Sister Wendy and some of the greatest artists of all time.

Paperback: $35.00

Available at bookstores or from Orbis: 800-258-5838 or shop online at www.orbisbooks.com

Order now from Orbis.

What do you think? Once you have read the book, discuss it on uscatholic.org.

General Book Club guidelines

 

November 2012:

A Private History of Happiness: Ninety-Nine Moments of Joy from Around the World

By George Myerson

Review: It’s no secret that happiness is meant to be shared, and that is exactly what George Myerson has done in a big way in A Private History of Happiness. By sharing pieces of letters and diary entries spanning thousands of years and several continents, Myerson helps us glimpse small moments where people in other times and places found a bit of bliss.

Whether it’s through an outing to the park, a peaceful late-night bath, a warm welcome by the in-laws, or a shady grove on a hot day, readers will no doubt recall the times in their own lives when they have been overwhelmed with delight at simple pleasures. We can all experience joy from reading this book, taking comfort in knowing that somewhere, sometime, someone else has shared that same feeling.

Elizabeth Lefebvre, Editorial Assistant, U.S. Catholic

BlueBridge says: A Private History of Happiness offers a fresh look at everyday moments of joy as they were lived by real people—across many centuries and from around the world—and invites us to discover the happiness in our own lives.

Paperback: $19.95

Available at bookstores or from BlueBridge: 800-888-4741 or shop online at www.bluebridgebooks.com

Order now from BlueBridge.

What do you think? Once you have read the book, discuss it on uscatholic.org.

General Book Club guidelines

 

October 2012:

Why Stay Catholic? Unexpexted Answers to a Life-Changing Question

By Michael Leach

Review: Ask Catholics what frustrates them about their church and you’re likely to be in for an earful. But Michael Leach has plenty of reasons—50 of them, in fact—why being Catholic is worthwhile not only for our heavenly reward but here on earth, too.

From the church’s most profound teachings to the people and places that are sure to inspire, Leach takes readers on a highly engaging tour of the best that Catholicism has to offer. Flip open to any page and you’ll find a boost of encouragement for those days when you feel like throwing up your hands and walking away. When you reach the end you won’t be asking “Why stay Catholic?” but rather, “Why would you not?”

Scott Alessi, Assistant Editor, U.S. Catholic

Loyola Press says: In Why Stay Catholic? Mike Leach offers surprising, inspiring, and timely questions to this life-changing question, giving readers plenty of reasons to celebrate the Catholic faith here and now.

Paperback: $14.95

Available at bookstores or from Loyola Press: 800-621-1008 or shop online at www.loyolapress.com

Order now from Loyola Press.

What do you think? Once you have read the book, discuss it on uscatholic.org.

General Book Club guidelines

 

September 2012:

Grace Notes

By Brian Doyle

Review: Loyal U.S. Catholic readers need no introduction to Brian Doyle, whose musings, reflections, essays, short stories, and poems have truly graced our pages ever since 1979, when Brian worked here for a year as an associate editor.

“I am here to sing grace under duress,” he sums up his vocation. “I am a storycatcher, charged with finding stories that matter.” This collection of 37 of his best recent stories wonderfully captures Brian’s unique combination of quirkiness, humor, depth, heart, faith, and wisdom. Whether he reflects on marriage, parenting, miracles, sin, basketball, the “Coherent Mercy,” or the “skinny Jewish guy,” Brian’s prose consistently encourages all of us to look deeper and strive toward that “crucial wriggling possibility for what human beings might someday be.”

Meinrad Scherer-Emunds, Executive Editor, U.S. Catholic

ACTA Publications says: Be prepared to take a beautiful, breathtaking, tear-jerking ride on some of the most accomplished, outside-the-box writing you’ll ever read. In 37 short snapshots, Brian Doyle writes about his discovery of the incarnated Spirit of God in the most unlikely of people, places, and things.

Paperback: $14.95

Available at bookstores or from ACTA Publications: 800-397-2282 or shop online at www.actapublications.com

Order now from ACTA Publications.

What do you think? Once you have read the book, discuss it on uscatholic.org.

General Book Club guidelines

 

August 2012:

Psalm-Shaped Prayerfulness: A Guide to the Christian Reception of the Psalms

By Margaret Daly-Denton

Review: Beginning with Jesus himself, the psalms have been a source for Christian prayer through the centuries. Margaret Daly-Denton sheds new light on this ancient Hebrew poetry, first on the psalter as a whole and then on individual songs of praise, wisdom, even grief. “Perhaps the most endearing feature of the psalms is their honesty,” Daly-Denton writes. “The psalmists had no hesitation in expressing their feelings to God, about ‘letting it all hang out.’ ”

Along with her own scholarship, Daly-Denton offers readers a guided path to explore the psalms on their own, to discover not only the people of faith who composed them but a source of insight and prayer for today’s believers.

Bryan Cones, Managing Editor, U.S. Catholic

Liturgical Press says: Margaret Daly-Denton guides readers through the centuries-long process of reinterpretation that is ongoing as psalms sung in worship shape the everyday prayerfulness of Christians.

Paperback: $24.95
eBook: $19.99

Available at bookstores or from Liturgical Press: 800-858-5450 or shop online at www.litpress.org

Order now from Liturgical Press.

What do you think? Once you have read the book, discuss it on uscatholic.org.

General Book Club guidelines

 

July 2012:

The Artist's Rule: Nurturing your creative soul with monastic wisdom

By Christine Valters Paintner

Review: Unlike other books promising to unlock your creativity, the practices in The Artist’s Rule are rooted in monastic spirituality, gently encouraging the reader not to achieve more creative output, but simply to be more present.

As contemplative practices are explored, time is slowed and prayer is deepened. Creativity becomes less of a possession and more of a practice. While presented as a 12-week journey, this is a book worth revisiting for inspiration and guidance.

Meghan Murphy-Gill, Associate Editor, U.S. Catholic

Ave Maria Press says: Inviting readers to discover and develop their creative gifts in a spirit of prayer and reflection, this 12-week course draws on Benedictine spirituality to explore the interplay of contemplation and creativity.

Paperback: $14.95

Available at bookstores or from Ave Maria Press: 800-282-1865 or shop online at www.avemariapress.org

Order now from Ave Maria Press.

What do you think? Once you have read the book, discuss it on uscatholic.org.

General Book Club guidelines

 

June 2012:

The Way of Goodness and Holiness: A Spirituality for Pastoral Ministers

By Richard M. Gula, S.S.

Review: Father Richard Gula’s The Way of Goodness and Holiness is a wonderful invitation for ministers—whether ordained or lay—to reflect on just what kind of minister they want to be. A veteran moral theologian, Gula bridges the gap between ethics and spirituality by grounding a spirituality of pastoral ministry in the virtues. He suggests that developing and cultivating these qualities—including gratitude, humility, generosity, compassion, and humor—make us more effective and authentic ministers.  

This is not a “how to” book or manual, but one that provides wise guidance for reflection in a very accessible style. This book is a great source of information—and inspiration—for all who minister in the church, as well as a great resource for formation for ministry programs.

Rev. John Molyneux, C.M.F., Editor, U.S. Catholic

Liturgical Press says: By grounding a spirituality for pastoral ministry in the virtues, Gula helps ministers to discover who they are and who they hope to become in imitation of Christ Jesus.

Paperback: $18.95
e-book: $9.99

Available at bookstores or from Liturgical Press: 800-858-5450 or shop online at www.litpress.org

Order now from Liturgical Press.

What do you think? Once you have read the book, discuss it on uscatholic.org.

General Book Club guidelines

 

May 2012:

Jesus and the Emergence of a Catholic Imagination

By John Pfordresher

Review: In this fascinating account, John Pfordresher, an English professor at Georgetown University, traces the roots of the Catholic imagination from Jesus to the arts of the West through the centuries.

His chapter on Jesus, “the poet of everyday life,” takes apart his imagination and preaching techniques: parable, analogy, irony, and the use of everyday objects and situations such as lost coins, masters and servants, vineyard owners hiring workers. The book then examines artwork found in a third-century house church in Syria, the Roman catacombs, and the famed Book of Kells in Dublin, Ireland. A fascinating tour of the images that have shaped our lives as Catholics, whether we realize it or not.   

Catherine O’Connell-Cahill, Senior Editor, U.S. Catholic

Paulist Press says: Traces the development of a Catholic way of imagining the world, from its genesis in Jesus’ teachings through the first 800 years of Christianity.

Paperback: $27.95

Available at bookstores or from Paulist Press: 800-218-1903 or shop online at www.paulistpress.com

Order now from Paulist Press.

What do you think? Once you have read the book, discuss it on uscatholic.org.

General Book Club guidelines

 

April 2012:

Simple Faith: Moving Beyond Religion As You Know It to Grow in Your Relationship with God

By Margaret Silf

Review: As we mature through life, all of us are challenged by complex questions that can become roadblocks to developing a meaningful relationship with God: What is the meaning of life? How can I know God exists? Why do bad things happen to good people? In Simple Faith, Margaret Silf breaks such big questions down to open a path forward, reassuring us that we don’t need to have all the answers to have faith in God.

This book takes readers on a guided journey of discovery with simple reflection questions and illustrative metaphors from everyday life. Along the way we come to accept that the questions we ask—rather than the facts we think we have—are what can deepen our faith. Ultimately, Silf aims to show us that “faith is not to know, but to trust.”

—Elizabeth Lefebvre, Editorial Assistant, U.S. Catholic

Loyola Press says: Margaret Silf believes faith is not about mastering the “facts” of religion, but about encountering the mystery of God and forming a relationship with the Divine.

Paperback: $9.95

Available at bookstores or from Loyola Press: 800-621-1008 or shop online at www.loyolapress.com

Order now from Loyola Press.

What do you think? Once you have read the book, discuss it on uscatholic.org.

General Book Club guidelines

 

March 2012:

Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life

By James Martin, S.J.

Review: If you ever got in trouble as a child for laughing in church, prepare to be vindicated. In Between Heaven and Mirth, Jesuit Father James Martin reveals that God never intended for us to take ourselves, or our spirituality, quite so seriously. Joy and laughter aren’t contrary to a life of faith, but as Martin demonstrates, they are integral to it.

“Humor shows your trust in God, who will ultimately make all things well,” Martin writes. Though we’re bound to feel pain and sadness, too, he shows readers the value of laughing at ourselves and finding the humor in any situation. The ability to do so, readers will discover, is truly one of God’s greatest gifts.

 —Scott Alessi, Assistant Editor, U.S. Catholic

HarperOne says: From the author of the bestselling The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, comes a revolutionary look at how joy, humor, and laughter can change our lives and save our spirits.

Hardcover: $25.99

Available at bookstores or from HarperOne: Shop online at www.harperone.com

Order now from HarperOne.

What do you think? Once you have read the book, discuss it on uscatholic.org.

General Book Club guidelines

 

February 2012:

A Dangerous Dozen: 12 Christians who Threatened the Status Quo But Taught Us to Live Like Jesus

By the Rev. Canon C.K. Robertson, Ph.D.
Foreward by Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Review: As Canon C. K. Robertson readily admits, any selection of 12 exemplary Christian saints and prophets who “threatened the status quo,” once it reaches beyond the more obvious choices, is by nature subjective and open to being challenged. But with his sometimes surprising choices, Robertson introduces his readers to a fascinating and quite diverse cast of characters that is definitely worth knowing better.

Spanning five continents and 2,000 years of Christian history—and ranging from Paul of Tarsus to Oscar Romero and the Chinese church leader K.H. Ting and from Mary Magdalene to Sojourner Truth and Dorothy Day—these 12 portraits ought to inspire and give all of us a little more courage to follow the Nazarene troublemaker by living the gospel more faithfully and without worrying too much about rocking the boat.

 —Meinrad Scherer-Emunds, Executive Editor, U.S. Catholic

SkyLight Paths Publishing says: Meet 12 fascinating Christian change agents who were unafraid to ask what God would have them do in the face of life’s realities—and unafraid to go ahead and do it.

Paperback: $16.99

Available at bookstores or from SkyLight Paths Publishing: 800-962-4544 or shop online at www.skylightpaths.com

Order now from Image Books.

What do you think? Once you have read the book, discuss it on uscatholic.org.

General Book Club guidelines

 

January 2012:

Our One Great Act of Fidelity: Waiting for Christ in the Eucharist

By Ronald Rolheiser

Review: Catholics have long relied on Oblate priest Ronald Rolheiser as a spiritual guide firmly grounded in the Catholic tradition yet also attentive to many graces outside “church.” Our One Great Act of Fidelity continues that tradition, offering a comprehensive yet accessible spirituality of the Eucharist that connects its ritual to the day-by-day journeys of those who celebrate it.

In doing so he affirms the grace to be found in life’s joys as well as its sorrows: “The eucharistic person is not the noble antihero who luxuriates in despair,” he writes, but “the grace-merry person who, while sharing fully in the tears of this world, is ultimately distinguished through his or her laughter.”

 —Bryan Cones, Managing Editor, U.S. Catholic

Image Books says: From the author of the bestselling The Holy Longingcomes a book about the central expression of faith for hundreds of millions of Christians: the Eucharist.

Paperback: $18

Available at bookstores or from Image Books, a division of Random House: 800-733-3000 or shop online at www.ImageCatholicBooks.com

Order now from Image Books.

What do you think? Once you have read the book, discuss it on uscatholic.org.

General Book Club guidelines

 

The U.S. Catholic Book Club is a collaborative project of U.S. Catholic magazine and the Catholic Book Publishers Association. The titles featured in the U.S. Catholic Book Club are selected each month by the magazine’s editors from submissions by participating book publishers. The publisher provides a paid advertising in U.S. Catholic magazine for the featured book.