Opportunities to Affect Reading Guides 2017-18
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
In Whitehead’s rendering, the Underground Railroad is a literal subterranean tunnel with tracks, trains, and conductors, ferrying runaways into darkness and, occasionally, into light. The central narrative of Cora’s flight to freedom in the north is interspersed with short chapters about the other characters she encounters.
Hallelujah Anyway by Anne Lamott
With her trademark humor and candor, Lamott explores the scriptural imperative to “love mercy,” reviewing both the difficulties and the life-changing rewards of obeying this mandate. Lamott’s honesty and humility, laced with wit and compassion, offer wisdom and hope for difficult times.
The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry (YA)
Set in 13th century Provence, Berry draws from meticulous historical research to offer the portrait of a young matchmaker and a condemned heretic who feels called by God to heal the sick. Love, faith, violence, and power intertwine as the teenage girls struggle to survive against insurmountable odds.
An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff
This feel-good story chronicles the lifelong friendship between a busy sales executive and a disadvantaged young boy, and how both of their lives were changed by what began as one small gesture of kindness.
Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave
An insightful, stark, and heartbreaking story about three lives entangled during World War II. Based loosely on his own grandparents, Cleave’s novel portrays the irrepressible hopefulness that can arise in the face of catastrophe.
Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
This collection of science fiction stories often presents characters who must confront sudden change with some sense of normalcy. Chiang examines what it means to be alive in a world marked by uncertainty, but also by beauty and wonder.
Rebirth by Kamal Ravikant
After the death of his estranged father, Amit is led by fate to the Camino de Santiago, an ancient 550-mile pilgrimage route across northern Spain. His month-long journey forces Amit to face life’s big questions and causes him to grow and embrace a new sense of purpose and being.
Mercies in Disguise by Gina Kolata
Kolata, a science journalist for the New York Times, shares the gripping story of how one South Carolina family has dealt with a deadly and untreatable genetic illness. The book considers a number of ethical issues as well as the way faith and medical science intersect for the family.
Ninety-Nine Stories of God by Joy Williams
In Williams’s hands, a “story of God” can apparently be almost anything. This thin collection of 99 stories is funny, unsettling, and mysterious, to be puzzled over and enjoyed across multiple readings.
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Picoult’s novel is inspired by a Flint, Mich., event in which a white supremacist father refused to allow an experienced African-American labor and delivery nurse to touch his newborn. The story, told from three viewpoints, offers a compelling conversation about race and prejudice in America.