I hope you enjoyed the last two BookNotes — one mostly on novels, and then the more recent one listing books about the reading life and why we must champion reading, study, and learning. I hope you saw that list including the recent Reading for the Love of God by Jessica Hooten Wilson and other such book-nerd resources. If you missed it, it is worth a look. All of our previous BookNotes are archived at our BookNotes section of our webpage.
A trusted friend asked me why I didn’t list a certain favorite of his, A Book for Hearts & Minds: What You Should Read and Why, which is, as the cover shows, “A Festschrift Honoring the Work of Hearts & Minds Bookstore.” It is, exactly, a book about books. Done as a tribute to us just five years ago.
It was a great, great honor when our friends at Square Halo Books surprised us with this edited volume when our store was in its 35th year, five years ago. And it is a true joy to have somebody recall it, now.
Alas, I didn’t list it (in last week’s BookNotes) for fear of seeming self-promoting since, alongside chapters and chapters of annotated bibliographies by specialists from all over — NT Wright on the New Testament, Karen Swallow Prior on literature, important authors and friends from Denis Haack to Steve Garber to Gregory Wolfe to Cal Seerveld to Andi Ashworth — there are a handful of blurbs and endorsements that are honoring us, celebrating the work, such as it has been, of Beth and me and our cheerful team here in Dallastown. So I was reluctant.
But yet, A Book for Hearts & Minds really is a quintessential book about books, a guide to so much good stuff. I was self-conscious and dumb not to take it to show off at my Bayview/Chautauqua lectures and I was foolish not to try to sell a few in that last BookNotes with its bookish theme. Thanks to my pal for pushing me on that, since it really is a great read.
So here you go: a quick addendum to the last BookNotes. After explaining (with apologies to long-time friends who have heard this spiel before) the value of the Square Halo produced festschrift, I’ll name five other titles that have also come to mind. Okay?
A Book for Hearts & Minds: What You Should Read and Why – A Festschrift Honoring the Work of Hearts & Minds Bookstore edited by Ned Bustard (Square Halo Books) $18.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19
You can read HERE the long and delightful back story of the owners of Square Halo surprising with this release five years ago and get a good sense how they invited experts in a number of fields to more or less do a BookNotes-type column, listing why folks should read in that field and what to take up. A few of these contributors are very dear friends and others are specialists I do not know. A few are regular customers but most are not. The SHB editors knew some of them, but some they roped into the project from my own previous recommendations of their work. Admittedly some of the great folks they invited to this then-secret manuscript needed to decline.
ABFH&M does have a page of very humbling kudos to us from authors and friends and they say exceptionally nice things about our work here. From Margaret Feinberg to Os Guinness, Jonathan Merritt to Margot Starbuck, good writers offer us great encouragement.
But that, really is a very tiny part of the book. 99% of it is, in fact, a great resource regardless of this celebratory context. It is a book about books, and we think many of our readers will enjoy it a lot. The writing is quite good, the suggestions stimulating (and sometimes surprising) and the whole big idea a grand-slam home run.
I will prove the point not by quoting big excerpts of the often very clever prose or saying what the fans have said in commending it, but, rather, but by sharing the table of contents. It’s a blast.
[As you will see, two of the chapters are by me. For the record, the first was transcribed from an old cassette tape, I think, from a workshop I did at a PCA church, if memory serves. Quite some time ago; there may be errors. But, man, my own chapter in a real book! How about that?! The chapter on “Creation Care” is one that Ned snuck in as transcribed from an older BookNotes column. I’m proud of it, actually, and glad to see it included, a little dated as it may be.]
Here ya go — after my opening piece, in a nice touch, the chapters unfold in bookish alphabetical order:
- Reading – Byron Borger
- Art – Ned Bustard
- Biblical Studies – Calvin Seerveld
- Cooking – Andi Ashworth
- Creation Care – Byron Borger
- Creation Nonfiction – Gregory Wolfe
- Education – G. Tyler Fischer
- Ethics – David P. Gushee
- Fantasy – Matthew Dickerson
- Film – Denis Haack
- History – Daniel Spanjer
- Law – Michael Schutt
- Literature – Karen Swallow Prior
- New Testament Studies – N.T. Wright
- Poetry – Aaron Belz
- Politics – Eric Bryan
- Science – Michael Kucks
- Sociology – Bradshaw Fry
- Urban Planning – Tom Becker
- Vocation – Steve Garber
In each section of the 220 page paperback, the subtitle is “What fill in the blank with that chapter’s theme Books You Should Read and Why.” Hooray. Order a few today!
Sea Glass: New and Selected Poems Luci Shaw (WordFarm) $24.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $19.20
Have you heard of Petoskey stones? They are said to be unique to the northern coastlines of Lake Michigan and, once roughed with sandpaper and polished, small fossils of pressed tiny creatures from ancient glaciers will appear. Naturally, we looked for them in some free time at Bayview, there along that Great Lake in Petoskey, and saw hints of their remarkable, tiny, quilt-like patterns. Beth has since been busy attending to them, almost like our friend Luci Shaw did years ago.
In the lectures at Bayview, then, I naturally read Luci’s lovely poem “Polishing the Petoskey Stone.” (Beth is not rubbing them in Kansas, as Luci did.) I don’t think I said this in my last column, but I was moved in reciting it and the memory of that moment has oddly lingered with me. Like the best poetry, it rewards after repeated readings…That one (and the others from that slim volume) are now anthologized in a big collection called Sea Glass: New and Selected Poems. It is our great delight to stock her books and we are happy to commend all of her good work to you.
The Habit of Poetry: The Literary Lives of Nuns in Mid-century America Nick Ripatrazone (Fortress) $28.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $23.19
Many BookNotes readers know the important, expansive, Christian arts journal (now edited by James K.A. Smith) Image. Nick Ripatrazone is the poetry editor (among other things) for Image and if you have a good memory you may recall how I raved about his previous volume exploring faith-influenced nature writers, Wild Belief. He is brilliant, a bit high-brow and erudite, and an incisive and astute critic. This one looks to be simply extraordinary.
There was — who knew? —a mid-20th century literary renaissance by nuns and this volume offers (as it says on the back) “a case study in how women negotiate tradition and individual creativity.” Or, at least, how these women religious did. Wow. Even the senior editor of the important Jesuit magazine, America, notes that this is a good study of “a previously neglected subject.” James Keane continues, “Nick Ripatrazone has uncovered troves of valuable cultural artifacts from the American Catholic literary tradition — and also reminded us of the lyrical mastery possessed by these women religious in their written work.
This new book is a gem for those who are interested in poetry, for those interested in the relationship of faith and writing, and, frankly, for those wanting a close historical look at mid-twentieth century Catholics, especially those who became nuns.
The clever title itself — The Habit of Poetry — speaks volumes and makes me smile. Of the handful of sisters it tells us of and whose work it explores, I only knew of Jessica Powers, who he describes nicely as a “pastoral mystic.”
Knowing What We Know: The Transmission of Knowledge From Ancient Wisdom to Modern Magic Simon Winchester (Harper) $35.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $28.00
This is a handsome, thick hardback by a stellar and respected nonfiction author (from the UK) who has been on the top of the bestseller’s lists many a time. Of his beloved Krakatoa, an important review says that “Winchester demonstrates a keen knack for balancing rich and often rigorous historical detail with dramatic tension and storytelling.” He knows so much the New Yorker opined that he “exudes the comfort and charm of a beloved encyclopedia come to life.”
And now, in this new volume, he (in just over 400 pages) surveys the history of knowing, or, more, the “transmission of knowledge.” It is sweeping, to say the least, and intriguing for anyone with an interest in learning, education, reading, and more.
As the publisher writes:
From the creation of the first encyclopedia to Wikipedia, from ancient museums to modern kindergarten classes — he is award-winning writer Simon Winchester’s brilliant and all-encompassing look at how humans acquire, retain, and pass on information and data and how technology continues to change our lives and our minds.
I read a few pages in and was hooked, but it is a big book that is going to take a while. I skipped ahead to find a bit on the role and impact of propaganda. He worked as a reporter for The Guardian when Ireland’s Bloody Sunday happened and his comparison to the way understanding was deepened in those years (by reporting on The Troubles, by coverages of Tiananmen Square, by studies of the anti-apartheid efforts in South Africa ) had me turning the pages quickly. This is a grand book on a fabulous subject.
Speaking Peace in a Climate of Conflict Marilyn McEntyre (Eerdmans) $22.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $18.39
In my previous BookNotes column I mentioned how I cited in my presentations dear Marilyn McEntyre’s great book Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies. I commended it to my Chautauqua audience and then used the table of contents as a bit of a blessing, nearly a benediction at the end. I love all of her many books, and mentioned in passing (as I had cited it there in Bayview) her wonderful When Poets Pray. I love that book and here at the shop we stock it under literature, under poetry, and under prayer.
Ms. McEntyre has, by the way, a forthcoming new book of her own poetry coming in early October, to be called Midwinter Light: Poems and Reflections for the Long Season which you can pre-order from us now, of course. Broadleaf; $19.99 – OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99.) Just scroll down to the order form link below.
Speaking Peace in a Climate of Conflict is another one of hers that is a must-read in my view. A smallish sized, trim hardback. For those who care deeply about our political polarization and the routine sorts of conflict that comes up at home, work, church, and in our neighborhoods and families, this book is a masterpiece of fresh ways to think and be in that conflicted space. As a sequel to Caring for Words McEntyre invites us in Speaking Peace to use words well as a way to push back against the breakdown of civil discourse these days.
She draws on poets and writers, exploring their vision and their work, channeling for us their energy into creating new ways to speak the truth in love. As Paula Huston notes, it is written “with her signature intelligence and poetic flair” and helps us “reclaim the nobility of language and its power to heal.”
I can hardly imagine a more timely book at a more urgent time! Marilyn McEntyre has given us a startling reflection on words, metaphors, and poetry and how they illuminate or obscure the wide realms of politics, culture, and community. It is a book that is profoundly literate, vividly relevant, and plainly wise. It manages the rare feat of demonstrating both soaring vision and precise focus. The reader is startled into fresh insights that invite deeper forms of service and care. — Leanne Van Dyk, President of Columbia Theological Seminary, author of Believing in Jesus Christ
Overcoming Apathy: Gospel Hope for Those Who Struggle to Care Uche Anizor (Crossway) $16.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $13.59
This little book packs a wallop and I’d highly recommend it to most of our customers. It won, by the way, the 2023 Book of the Year Award from CT a few months back in the general “Christian Living” category. It is based on bunches of conversation the author has had with various people, including with younger Christians, exploring spiritual listlessness, those with a lack of motivation, with indifference. Does God care about that, really? Does it matter all that much? Is it maybe even a sin, such carelessness about the gospel? What do we do when we don’t know what to do? Can God graciously invite us to repent, to newness of (abundant) life, to resist what Henry David Thoreau called “quiet desperation”? This is not so much about mental health issues (depression and the like) but about the more generic sort of apathy we have about things that matter most.
This is a short, practical book that “examines the prevalence and causes of apathy in culture, churches, and individual lives.” By identifying seven common sources, it “suggests healthy practices to help fight it in our daily lives.” Uche Anizor is a very smart guy, and seems to have a caring, pastoral spirit.
His description of an early Greek writer speaking of listlessness when reading sounds like it could have been written last week! In my Bayview sermon I invited folks to the spiritual discipline of being a life-long learner, to gape in wonder at the world, read widely. I perhaps wasn’t sensitive to those who, frankly, don’t care about being wide-eyed and full of curiosity. Maybe this little gospel-centered book can help. Know anybody that might need it? Dr. Anizor is a professor of theology at Talbot School of Theology at Biola in Los Angeles.
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Hearts & Minds 234 East Main Street Dallastown PA 17313
Sadly, as of July 2023 we are still closed for in-store browsing. COVID is not fully over. Since few are reporting their illnesses anymore, it is tricky to know the reality but the best measurement is to check the waste water tables to see the amount of virus in the eco-system. It is bad; worse than it was two years ago, even. It’s important to be aware of how risks we take might effect the public good as those at risk, while not dying from the virus, are experiencing long-term health consequences. (Just check the latest reports of the rise of heart attacks and diabetes among younger adults, caused by Covid.) It is complicated, but we are still closed for in-store browsing due to our commitment to public health (and the safety of our family, staff, and customers.) The vaccination rate here in York County is sadly lower than average. Our store is a bit cramped without top-notch ventilation, so we are trying to be wise.
We will keep you posted about our future plans… we are eager, but delayed, for now.
We are doing our famous curb-side and back yard customer service and can show any number of items to you if you call us from our back parking lot. It’s sort of fun, actually. We are eager to serve and grateful for your patience as we all work to mitigate the pandemic. We are very happy to help, so if you are in the area, do stop by. We love to see old friends and new customers.
Of course, we’re happy to ship books anywhere.
We are here 10:00 – 6:00 EST / Monday – Saturday. Closed on Sunday.