What I’ve Been Reading and Watching (Sabbatical Style)

Here are a few recommendations for great books I’ve read and movies I’ve watched. Most of them tie into my sabbatical water theme from last summer (or I read them while on sabbatical).

Sabbatical reads:
Let Your Life Speak (Palmer): I read this in seminary and happened to re-read it during my silent retreat in Collegeville in August. In this slim volume, Palmer writes, “Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you.” If you’re feeling restless about what’s next in your life, this book is a great place to start. It was a perfect read as I prepared to step back into my ministry at CTK.

Grounded (Butler Bass): This book came out right before my sabbatical and tied wonderfully into my water theme. Bass writes about how our culture is shifting the idea of God from “verticle” to “horizontal”—God is no longer found above us but is next to us in creation, in relationships, in water and air and our neighborhoods. The church needs to listen to this shift and honor God’s presence in the everyday.

The Boys in the Boat (Brown): Again, I happened to download this book before my trip to Scotland in June and it fit in well with my sabbatical adventures with its themes of water, teamwork, hope and human resilience. When I visited Seattle in July I sped past UW on several boat rides on Lake Washington, where the rowing team practiced countless hours.

Other notable books:
How to Celebrate Everything (Rosenstrach): This is Rosenstrach’s third cookbook and it joins her other 2 well-loved books on my shelf. It charms with a lovely balance of simple and special recipes interspersed with heartwarming tales of family traditions. Best recipe we’ve tried so far: pork lettuce wraps (http://www.dinneralovestory.com/how-to-celebrate-sunday-dinner-video/).

The Golden Compass (Pullman): This was my first time picking up Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy and I couldn’t put it down. I loved everything from the setting (perfect for a winter read) to the feisty main character to the connections between humans and animals. Extraordinarily creative and imaginative.

Spotlight: I watched this on the plane coming home from Norway in June. It covers the Boston Globe’s investigation into clergy sexual misconduct in the Boston area and is at once horrifying and hopeful—the uncovering of untold stories of systemic abuse is beyond shocking, yet the perseverance of the journalists is inspiring.

The Goonies: We watched this in July after visiting Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast, where the movie is set. Our kids loved the fun adventure story, though we’d forgotten about some adult language and jokes. Still, the themes of friendship and determination made it worth watching together. Is there a better cast of kids in a movie?

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: I’m a longtime Harry Potter fan, and I delighted in this foray into the Potter world. Performances, effects, characters—I adored it all.

Moana: The greatness of this movie caught me off guard. Not only is it gorgeous to look at with wonderful music by the incomparable Lin Manuel Miranda, the story centers around a typical-looking girl showing bravery, creativity and leadership without any romance. The coconut pirates are also worth the price. (And again—lots of water themes. See the connection?)

Enjoy these cozy winter days. They’re getting longer!

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