We’ve entered a new Missouri Book Challenge year and we’ve decided to switch up our review style. SCC Library Reads will now be utilizing the “5-word review.” Each book review will now be comprised of only 5 words. This can either be in the form of a short sentence OR 5 words that adequately describe the feel of the book.
We hope you enjoy the new format! It’s going to encourage us to be a little more creative with our word choices while also offering up “punchier” reviews!
Here we go!
You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit by James K. A. Smith
(Brazos Press, 2016, 224 pages)
This book is a popular summary of James K. A. Smith’s Cultural Liturgies project (which includes the books Desiring the Kingdom and Imagining the Kingdom). As the subtitle indicates, the book could be viewed as a sort of theological take on Charles Duhigg’s popular The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.
The book explores the ways that the Christian liturgical tradition trains and habituates human beings into a particular vision of the good. Smith argues that our loves are ordered and directed by the things that we worship. He shows how liturgies – both secular and religious – train us to love particular things and habituate us to particular social orders. The habits that we learn, either through the liturgies implicit in the shopping and consumption of consumerism or through the traditional liturgies of the Christian tradition, make us who we are.
Smith’s work is always peppered with illustrations from films, music, and literature. While I always appreciate this aspect of his books, it is also a bit of a double-edged sword. He often finds just the right literary or cinematic example to make his point come alive. However, there are times when trendier references date the work in unnecessary ways. That quibble aside, Smith’s book is an excellent and accessible summary of his more academic work on the topic.
Jane Re by Patricia Park
(Pamela Dorman Books, 2015, 352 pages)
Jane Re is a modern retelling of Jane Eyre. Jane Re is a Korean-American orphan living with her aunt, uncle, and cousins in Flushing, Queens. Jane is constantly given a hard time because of her lineage – her American father is something of a sore subject. After graduating from college, getting a job in the financial sector and then losing that job Jane doesn’t know how much longer she can stand to be surrounded by her family. That’s when her friend Eunice shows her a help wanted listing for an au pair in Brooklyn. Jane hesitantly decides to apply and then finds herself receiving the offer to come and live with the Farley family.
While living with the Farleys Jane finds herself falling for the father, Ed, and he for her. When it seems that they’re destined to move forward with their affair a familial obligation, combined with a life-changing event, result in Jane spontaneously leaving New York and going to Korea. This time among other members of her extended family takes Jane down a different path and she’s not quite sure where she really belongs and/or if Ed is the man for her.
I really liked Park’s reimagining of the classic Bronte novel. It was just the kind of reading experience I was looking for. If you’re a Jane Eyre fan I think you’ll appreciate this book.
Letters to a Young Calvinist: An Invitation to the Reformed Tradition
by James K. A. Smith
(Brazos Press, 2010, 160 pages)
This was my second time through Jamie Smith’s wonderful little introduction to Reformed theology. It is a quick read that covers a lot of ground. Smith models his book after Christopher Hitchen’s Letters to a Young Contrarian and George Weigel’s Letters to a Young Catholic. Unfortunately, Smith’s attempt at the form suffers (at least to my taste) from too forced an effort at engaging in an imaginary dialogue. While most books in this vein are comprised of letters that only briefly allude to the interests or questions of an imagined correspondent, Smith’s letters engage more thoroughly with the imagined half of the correspondence. I find this dependence on the other half of an exchange more frustrating than illuminating. That being said, the content of the book is excellent. Smith sketches a vision of Reformed theology that stretches far beyond the usual preoccupations with questions of how an individual is “saved.” According to Smith’s vision, Reformed theology is a vital, comprehensive, and flawed tradition that serves as an excellent starting point for seeking a greater expression of the catholicity of the entire Church. Annoyances with the style aside, this is a sophisticated, accessible, and personal expression of Reformed theological tradition.
Welcome to the SCC Library Reads blog! Starting January 2011 we will be participating in the Missouri Book Challenge – competing with libraries across the state to read the most books over the course of the year (with an emphasis on choosing titles from the amazing collection we have here at the Schnare Library). Each library staff member participating in the challenge will post a brief summary of the book letting us know what it was about along with their thoughts on the text. Hopefully we’ll be able to expose some of our students, staff and community members to materials they might not otherwise have picked up.
We can’t wait to get started! Get excited to get a glimpse into all the interesting books we have to offer here at SCC, get exposed to some new titles you might not have thought to read, along with getting to know our library staff a little better. January 1 can’t come soon enough! A little friendly competition is always a good thing…