My 2018 Book of the Year

I’m not a voluminous reader, mostly because I’m a slow reader. I plod through books. I’m not a great book reviewer by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t know that I’ve ever posted a “favorite book of the year” before. But this year, a late arrival emerged as a clear favorite.

That honor belongs to Rachel Joy Welcher’s Two Funerals, Then Easter, a collection of poems.

I’ve followed Rachel on Twitter for some time, and also her husband Evan (author of Resplendent Bride). They are beautiful people. The sort of people who—although I’ve never met them “in real life”—I feel as if I could visit unannounced and proceed nap on their couch without feeling awkward, waking up to friendly conversation and hot tea. (That’s really the highest compliment I can pay anyone.)

I’ve gleaned bits about of Rachel’s divorce and the death of Evan’s first wife from what they’ve shared. They are open with their grief and joy. Knowing that backstory made this a moving read—at once both heartbreaking and hope-giving. It reads like a story, moving from Rachel’s loss through their meeting and marriage, to life-together with all its blessings and struggles.

But one need not know that backstory (or have similar experiences) to appreciate Rachel’s poetry. Her brief, poignant poems ring true, capturing the beauty and anguish of life in honest vignettes. Read them slowly. Sit with them. Reread them. Give them your time and attention. You’ll see yourself in them. You’ll meet a friend. The world is a better place for having this book in it.

2019 Book Club

In April, we’ll be reading and discussing Two Funerals, Then Easter in my online book club.

A few weeks ago, Lore Ferguson Wilbert posted her “Not Your White Male Church Guy’s Top Ten List.” I decided to undertake reading each book in 2019, adding her “honorable mention” and a pick of my own (Rachel’s book). For accountability, encouragement, and enjoyment, I started a book club on Facebook, named after Lore’s list—the “Not Your White Male Church Guy’s Book Club.”

Some of the authors have already agreed to join us for Facebook live chats. And I hope to surprise participants with a free book here and there. (I’m happy to offer the entire set of 12 books in the current giveaway.) In January, we’ll be reading and discussing Ruth Haley Barton’s book, Sacred Rhythms. You can view the full schedule on the book club page.

I want to invite you to join us in some online, communal reading in 2019. I’m looking forward to making some new friends, online and in print.