The Red Couch: 2018 Book Selections

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RedCouch-books 2018

Tis the season for posts reminiscing about 2017, rating best books of the year, and looking toward the new year. In the land of the Red Couch, this year has been one filled with changes. In March, I was honored to step into the role of editor for this incredible community. You all have stretched my thinking and my reading this year, and it’s been quite an adventure and learning experience!

Something that is so interesting about planning a year’s worth of reading in advance is learning to trust that the right book will be picked for the right month. I found that to be true in so many ways of our 2017 selections, whether remembering the importance of lament to learning the complex history of immigration in the United States to making space for the layers of hospitality this season, each book seemed picked for the right moment in time.

As we sorted and arranged and added books to the 2018 lineup, my hope is that the same holds true for next year. It was difficult narrowing the list down but I love the story we’re trying to tell through these books!

This year, we have a few changes. As usual, we’ll have six official books. You’ll read an introduction post at the beginning of the month and a discussion post at the end here on the SheLoves site. But we’re trying to add depth and engagement throughout the month over in our Facebook group. We’re working on videos and interviews to go along with our themes and books. If you’d like to continue the discussion, please join us over there! (www.facebook.com/groups/RedCouchBookClub)

We’re also bringing back the “off month” books. These won’t have official essays, but we’ll be engaging with them and some of their authors over in our Facebook group.

Before I announce our 2018 lineup, I want to introduce our incredible contributors. Our team has grown this year and I’m thrilled with the experiences and perspectives our writers will bring to these books! You’ll remember the familiar words of Melissa Powell, Jamie Watkins, Liana Norheim, Caris Adel, Sarah Caldwell, and Nicole Walters. Please welcome Olive Chan, Carolina Hinojosa-Cisneros, Maya Dean, and Debby Hudson to our team!

Without further ado, here are our 2018 books!

January

Original Blessing: Putting Sin in Its Rightful Place by Danielle Shroyer

Amazon Synopsis: Of the world’s three major religions, only Christianity holds to a doctrine of original sin. Ideas are powerful, and they shape who we are and who we become. The fact that many Christians believe there is something in human nature that is, and will always be, contrary to God, is not just a problem but a tragedy. So why do the doctrine’s assumptions of human nature so infiltrate our pulpits, sermons, and theological bookshelves? How is it so misconstrued in times of grief, pastoral care, and personal shame? How did we fall so far from God’s original blessing in the garden to this pervasive belief in humanity’s innate inability to do good? In this book, Danielle Shroyer takes readers through an overview of the historical development of the doctrine, pointing out important missteps and over-calculations, and providing alternative ways to approach often-used Scriptures. Throughout, she brings the primary claims of original sin to their untenable (and unbiblical) conclusions. In Original Blessing, she shows not only how we got this doctrine wrong, but how we can put sin back in its rightful place: in a broader context of redemption and the blessing of humanity’s creation in the image of God.

March

Mujerista Theology: A Theology for the Twenty-First Century by Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz

Amazon Synopsis: Mujerista Theology is a comprehensive introduction to Hispanic woman’s liberation theology written from the heart and convictions of experience. Continually drawing on her Cuban roots, Isasi Diaz focuses on the life journey and struggles of Hispanic women as she develops a theology to support and empower their daily struggles for meaning. With her own life journey always firmly connected to the grassroots experience of Hispanic women and to the struggle for liberation, Isasi-Diaz is a major spokesperson for the continuing need for liberation theology today. One of the best-known Hispanic theologians, Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz is professor of theology and ethics at The Theological School, Drew University.

May

Dangerous Territory: My Misguided Quest to Save the World by Amy Peterson

Amazon Synopsis: Amy Peterson grew up in church, where she loved the adventurous stories of missionaries in foreign countries who won people to the Lord. After college, she was ready to “do big things for God” on the mission field herself. Dangerous Territory is a captivating memoir that tells Amy’s personal journey from wide-eyed adventurer to questioning believer to simply a beloved child of God. Her story will challenge your notion of “mission work,” showing how you can have a vital relationship with God that naturally spills over to affect others.

July

The Power of Proximity: Moving Beyond Awareness to Action by Michelle Ferrigo Warren

Amazon Synopsis: We can see evidence of injustice all around us, whether in continuing incidents of racial inequality or in the systemic forces that disenfranchise people and perpetuate poverty. It’s important to learn about the world’s inequities and to be a voice for the voiceless any way we can. But in an age of hashtag and armchair activism, merely raising awareness about injustice is not enough. Michelle Warren knows what is needed. She and her family have chosen to live in communities where they are “proximate to the pain of the poor.” This makes all the difference in facing and overcoming injustice. When we build relationships where we live, we discover the complexities of standing with the vulnerable and the commitment needed for long-term change. Proximity changes our perspective, compels our response, and keeps us committed to the journey of pursuing justice for all. Move beyond awareness and experience the power of proximity.

September

Mending the Divides: Creative Love in a Conflicted World by Jon Huckins and Jer Swigart

Amazon Synopsis: Conflict, hatred, and injustice seem to be the norm rather than the exception in our world, our nation, our communities, our homes. The fractures and fissures run so deep that we’re paralyzed by our hopelessness, writing off peace as a far-fetched option for the afterlife. Even if there was the possibility of peace, where would we begin? Instead of disengaging, Jon Huckins and Jer Swigart invite us to move toward conflict and brokenness, but not simply for the sake of resolving tensions and ending wars. These modern-day peacemakers help us understand that because peacemaking is the mission of God, it should also be the vocation of his people. So peace is no longer understood as merely the absence of conflict―peace is when relationships once severed have been repaired and restored. Using biblical and current-day illustrations of everyday peacemakers, Mending the Divides equips disciples of Jesus to move toward conflict and seek the restoration of our relationships, our communities, and our world, offering practical steps to engage in the kingdom-building work of waging peace.

November

The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingson

Amazon Synopsis: In her award-winning book The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston created an entirely new form—an exhilarating blend of autobiography and mythology, of world and self, of hot rage and cool analysis. First published in 1976, it has become a classic in its innovative portrayal of multiple and intersecting identities—immigrant, female, Chinese, American.  As a girl, Kingston lives in two confounding worlds: the California to which her parents have immigrated and the China of her mother’s “talk stories.” The fierce and wily women warriors of her mother’s tales clash jarringly with the harsh reality of female oppression out of which they come. Kingston’s sense of self emerges in the mystifying gaps in these stories, which she learns to fill with stories of her own. A warrior of words, she forges fractured myths and memories into an incandescent whole, achieving a new understanding of her family’s past and her own present.

Off Month Books Include:

Shalom Sistas: Living Wholeheartedly in a Brokenhearted World by Osheta Moore

Adopted: The Sacrament of Belonging in a Fractured World by Kelley Nikondeha

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

These are a sampling of our off-month books. Check in with our Facebook group to keep up-to-date on those, as well as any other bookish discussions!

Which books stand out for you? Were there any already on your to-read stack? We look forward to hearing your voice in our discussions!

Disclosure: Amazon Affiliate links included in this post.  If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site.

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Annie Rim
I live in Colorado where I play with my daughters, hike with my husband, and write about life & faith. I have taught in the classroom, at an art museum, and now in the playroom. I am honored to lead the Red Couch Book Club here at SheLoves. You can connect with me on Twitter @annie_rim or on my blog: annierim.wordpress.com.
Annie Rim

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Annie Rim
  • There are some titles here that I’ve been meaning to read, and I can’t think of a better way to go through a book than with a gathering of She Lovelies. Thanks, Annie, for your faithfulness here!

    • Thanks, Michele! I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

  • Looking forward to all that unfolds. Thanks, Annie.

    • I’m so glad you’re joining this conversation! 🙂

  • What a line up! Looking forward to this!

    • I’m glad! Can’t wait to hear your thoughts! 🙂