The Books That Moved Us
Today, April 23rd, is World Book Day, an international day to celebrate reading and publishing. To celebrate, we asked some of the CCS staff to share a book they’ve read in the past year that had an impact. Here are some of their picks. How about you? What have you read recently that stirred your soul, changed your vision, or touched your heart?
I’ve read the Cloud of Unknowing and I’ll likely read it again and again. It was written by an unknown author in England maybe in the 14th century. It is a short guide to becoming a contemplative, written by a mentor to a mentee.
These past few months have been a confluence of different parts of my life (okay, more like a horrendous traffic jam), and the books on my desk are both balm and indicative.
The Queer Evangelist: A Socialist Clergy’s Radically Honest Tale (2021) is a memoir by Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo that the CCS Integration Year students read as a book study, and I have found myself returning to re-read portions. A raw look at the connections between politics, church, belonging, and life against the grain; it gave me both a new understanding of Cheri’s life and a new perspective on my own early days of queer Toronto.
Bread for the Resistance: 40 Devotions for Justice People (2019), is a bite-sized, deep dive into bible, theology, social commentary, and daily life, reminding me to stay grounded in my faith. Written by Donna Barber of Portland, OR – “cofounder of The Voice Project, an organization that influences culture through training and promoting leaders of colour” – the book includes QR code-accessible songs.
Lastly, The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief (2016), by Jan Richardson, has helped me find the words and helped me settle in the silence of losing my dad to cancer. Written on the heels of her grief in losing her husband, the book is a collection of poems-prayers-blessings-reflections which walk through different moments and seasons. I appreciate that the book itself is not necessarily linear, and offers honest hope without empty platitudes.
Perhaps this summer I will try out the practice of one-book-at-a-time, though unlikely.
I read Love Lives Here by Amanda Jetté Knox. As you might guess, this IS a love story. But it is not like any other romantic love tale. This is a true story about a Canadian family that “simply” learned to be their true selves and it was ok. For years they presented themselves as mom, dad, and three sons. But one of the sons was a daughter. And she was loved into her true self as the family found the words, the tools, the hope, the love, the challenges, the hate, the courage, to be who she was meant to be. A year later, dad said she was a woman. And the joy and struggles began again. And mother realized she was a lesbian. And love united them all in a wonderfully unique and honest family.
The first thing you do is love them.
I’ve been telling most everyone I know about The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson. This is not a book about church work. It is speculative fiction set in the very near future (sometimes it feels almost too near) when the climate crisis has become so deadly that people are willing to do what it takes, legal or otherwise, to save the planet, and about the special UN ministry tasked with protecting future generations from this generation’s short-sightedness. It’s science fiction, but it feels like a call to action, grounded in real science, real politics, and real urgency.
What have you read that had an impact on you?