Booklist Reviewers Turn a Phrase
"This is a superb re-creation of a period when many politicians,
journalists, and citizens of differing political affiliations
viewed government as a force for public good."
From the Editor
Best. Big Questions. Ever.
As it does every year, our Spotlight on Religion surveys books that tackle big questions and great debates—and sometimes even offer some answers. Last year, I took a look at the lighter side of religion, but this year we're taking things a bit more seriously. Well, mostly. As you'll see in Ilene Cooper's "Great Reads: Kids Finding Faith in Fiction," when young people ponder the what-ifs and why-nots of the cosmos, even the weightiest theological inquiry is likely to be phrased in contemporary teen vernacular (e.g., Bestest. Ramadan. Ever.).
Read on for Top 10s, high-demand books, and more!
Spotlight on Religion
Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography
By Richard Rodriguez
Paradox has always been at the heart of Rodriguez's brilliant personal essays, whether he was pondering, in Hunger of Memory (1982), the conflict between public and private selves; or defining, in Days of Obligation (1992), the split in his multicultural soul between his American faith in the future and his Mexican sense of the tragic past; or dissecting, in Brown (2002), the incendiary topic of race in America, "in hopes of undermining the notion of race of America."
Top 10 Religion and Spirituality Books: 2013
Contentious and controversial, but also faith affirming and humanizing—all of those qualities and more are to be found in this year's top 10 books on religion and spirituality, originally reviewed in Booklist from November 15, 2012, through November 1, 2013.
Reinventing Liberal Christianity
By Theo Hobson
Liberal Christianity has been fighting second-class status for decades, but Hobson believes it should and must be revived, because other strains of Christianity—orthodoxy, American Evangelicalism, fundamentalism—uphold neither the separation of church and state nor the liberty of conscience that, he asserts, God wills.
Leaving Alexandria: A Memoir of Faith and Doubt
By Richard Holloway
From his enrollment in a theological college at the age of 14 to his resignation as the bishop of Edinburgh nearly 60 years later, Holloway, an outspoken champion of progressive causes, has led a controversial career characterized by doubt, struggle, and a slow disillusionment with the authoritarianism and conservatism of the Anglo-Catholic Church.
What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms, and Blessings
By Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski
Newbery Honor winner Sidman and Caldecott Honor winner Zagarenski once again join together to create a beautiful and meaningful book. Sidman tells readers in her introduction that chanting, blessing, lamenting, and cursing are as old as human history.
Top 10 Religion and Spirituality Books for Youth: 2013
These titles take readers from nineteenth-century China to modern-day America and look at the impact religion and spirituality can have on the lives of young people. The selections below were reviewed in Booklist from November 15, 2012, through November 1, 2013.
God Got a Dog
By Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Marla Frazee
Oh, God. As this book so intriguingly suggests, You do come in many shapes and sizes. Colors, too. But more than what the deity looks like, this slim volume of 15 poems focuses on what God does.
Story behind the Story: Cynthia Rylant and Marla Frazee's God Got a Dog
By Ilene Cooper
There are really two stories behind the story of God Got a Dog, so we asked both author Cynthia Rylant and illustrator Marla Frazee to tell us how this special book came to be, from each of their perspectives.
Deep in the Sahara
By Kelly Cunnane and illustrated by Hoda Hadadi
Lalla lives in Mauritania where the sun burns, the sands shift, and all answer the call to prayer. It is her wish to wear, like the women around her, a malafa, or airy, colorful cloth worn over clothes and covering the head.
Carte Blanche: My Churches
By Michael Cart
I grew up in Logansport, Indiana, a small town located in a valley at the confluence of two rivers: the Eel and the more famous Wabash (Paul Dresser's "On the Banks of the Wabash Far Away" is Indiana's state song). Thanks to the rivers, Logansport came to be known as "the City of Bridges." But it's also, less officially, the city of churches.
With a Mighty Hand: The Story in the Torah
By Amy Ehrlich and illustrated by Daniel Nevins
No one has ever claimed the Torah, the first five books of the Jewish Bible, is always easy to understand. Rather, the complexity and nuance have made the Torah a subject of constant contemplation, interpretation, and argument for more than 2,000 years. How then to present this venerable work to young people?
After I'm Gone
By Laura Lippman
The catalyst for Lippman's (And When She Was Good, 2012) smart and mesmerizing nineteenth work of fiction is the 1976 disappearance of sexy and calculating Felix Brewer, the head of a megaprofitable Baltimore gambling operation.
The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism
By Doris Kearns Goodwin
In this hyperpartisan era, it is well to remember that a belief in an activist federal government that promoted both social and economic progress crossed party lines, as it did during the Progressive movement of the early twentieth century.
The Days of Anna Madrigal
By Armistead Maupin
Alas, this is the ninth and final novel in Maupin's beloved Tales of the City series, the first three volumes of which were made into a television miniseries starring Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis, which has now achieved cult status.
On Such a Full Sea
By Chang-rae Lee
Lee (The Surrendered, 2010), always entrancing and delving, has taken fresh approaches to storytelling in each of his previous four novels, but he takes a truly radical leap in this wrenching yet poetic, philosophical, even mystical speculative odyssey.
Books for Youth
By Marie Lu
In this heart-pounding conclusion to the Legend series, Day, champion of the people, and June, now a Princeps-Elect and confidant to the young Elector Anden, once again find themselves in trouble and in love.
The Impossible Knife of Memory
By Laurie Halse Anderson
There's a compelling theme running through Anderson's powerful, timely novel, and it's this: "The difference between forgetting something and not remembering is big enough to drive an eighteen-wheeler through."
Into the Still Blue
By Veronica Rossi
In this conclusion to the Under the Never Sky trilogy, Dwellers and Outsiders converge in the race to the Still Blue, the mythical pocket of calm beyond the Aether.
By Claudia Gray
The first barrier between our world and the evil entity known as The One Beneath has been breached and redemption is impossible—unless untrained teen witch Nadia, along with her steadfast Mateo and friend Verlaine, can resist a seemingly invincible sorceress' power and a demon's meddling, all while remaining true to their friendship and ideals.