Summer Book Recommendations: Non-Fiction

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As we make the most of this summer, let's turn to two well-read members of SGC and see what they recommend for our by-the-pool reads! Here are Monique and Beki's non-fiction picks: 

Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates

 This is an important book to read especially given the state of current events in our country. Written as a letter to his son, Coates speaks the hard truth of what it is to be Black in the United States. It’s not a comfortable read, it’s not meant to be. There’s also not a lot of hope to be found here; however, let this book be a conversation starter about how we as a gospel-centered people can infuse the hope of Jesus Christ into our interactions with others surrounding this topic. I would also highly recommend listening to the audiobook version. (M)

A Time for Confidence: Trusting God in a Post-Christian Society, by Stephen J. Nichols

The current cultural and political climate is rife with fear, anxiety, and doubt. In the wakeof news stories that leave you feeling shattered and unsettling decisions made by those in power, this book reminds us where our confidence lies and in whom our ultimate hope rests in. It calls Christians to take heart, to press into God’s word, and to keep our eyes firmly centered on the glory of Christ and his gospel. It’s a short read packed with a lot of truth. (M)

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, by Daniel James Brown

 If you’re looking for an uplifting read this is the way to go. You’ll learn more about rowing than you ever wanted to perhaps, but this work of narrative nonfiction is inspiring and gives you something to cheer for. Though there is a team of rowers, the central representative figure is Joe Rantz. He and his teammates battle illness and egos--among other things--and find themselves in Berlin fighting for gold. There’s fascinating history here about the rise of Nazism in Germany and I had to stop reading several times to do some research myself. It’s one of those books that sweeps you away into a time period and makes you want to discover more on your own. (M)

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, by Nathaniel Philbrick

What do you get when you combine a crew of Nantucket whalers, a huge angry whale, and the endless Pacific Ocean? A page-turning story of adventure and survival. This true story inspired Herman Melville famous Moby-Dick. It is told from personal accounts of survivors. It was fascinating and gruesome to learn that whaling ships harvested and burned blubber from the dead whale while out at sea. What a mess! The harrowing survival details made this the most suspenseful nonfiction I’ve ever read. The ethical dilemmas brought by starvation were gut-wrenching. (B)

Evidence Not Seen: A Woman's Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II, by Darlene Deibler Rose

Darlene is a young missionary from Iowa with an amazing story of the brutal jungles of Indonesia during WWII. I was struck by Darlene’s deep faith and cheerful voice. Her writing made me feel like I too was crossing rope bridges in uncharted jungles or hiding in trenches during a midnight air raid while bombs screamed overhead. I don’t think I can ever forget the scene about how every day she had to peel off damaged skin from her husband’s feet after he had obtained a fungus while sharing the gospel in the wet jungle. The relational community that is experienced in her P.O.W. barracks is beautiful. The kindness she shows her captor is challenging. And her personal dialogue with the Lord through it all is inspiring. I really love this story of faith, grief, and survival. (B)

At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe, by Tsh Oxenreider

From China to Iceland, over the course of a school-year, Tsh Oxenreider and her familyroam the globe with their three small kids. They experience delicious Thai food, breathtaking New Zealand landscapes, dusty African road trips, and rickety Turkish playgrounds. Themes of home and rootedness are teased out in the midst of countless foreign cultures. I loved this book as a mom of young kids and a wannabe traveler. The twist of having kids along for the ride was what made me pick up this book, but the beauty of foreign lands made it rich. (B)


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Monique Hernandez moved from Missouri five years ago and has been going to Sovereign Grace Church ever since. She works at Bethel University and is working on a master's in Strategic Leadership which should conclude, Lord willing, in December. Outside of scholarly pursuits, she is a member of a rock and roll choir called Kith and Kin Chorus, a foodie, and an avid watcher of films. 

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Beki Eikum joined SGC in 2007. She is passionate about books, music, and group communication. She spends most of her time trying to shepherd her two kids in the way they should go. Or just climbing trees with them.