The Red Couch: 2016 Selections


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It’s the time of year when we can’t help but think ahead. There are turkeys to buy, holiday parties to attend, and Christmas decorations to hang. We book tickets back home and ponder gift giving. We think about buying a party dress for New Year’s Eve or shrug our shoulders about whether or not we’ll make it to midnight.

And then, in a blink of an eye, it will be 2016. A new year, a fresh slate.

The Red Couch has been thinking a lot about 2016. How many books should we read? What topics should be covered? How on earth do we narrow down the selections?!

In the end, we’ve come up with six fantastic books to read and discuss together.

Yes, six. Did you notice that? The past two years we’ve read a book almost every month, but this year we wanted to create a little more space and provide people more time to read. We’ll host six formal discussions and we’re thinking about what we might do in the off months. Because let’s face it: there are a lot of books we want to read and it’s so much more fun to talk about it with friends afterwards. If we do decide to read something in the off months, it’ll only be announced and discussed in the Red Couch Facebook group, so please be sure to join us there.

2016 Books:


The Irrational Season– Madeleine L’Engle

Book 3 of L’Engles nonfiction Crosswick Journals, The Irrational Season takes us through the church calendar starting in Advent. Now it might make more sense to start reading this book in December but I like the idea of reflecting on the Advent we just had and then setting the tone for the year we’re going to have.



Between The World And Me– Ta-Nahesi Coates

If you’re not already familiar with Ta-Nahesi Coates’s name, then prepare for your life to change. TNC came onto many more people’s radar after writing The Case For Reparations for The Atlantic. He is a talented writer and journalist, often tackling matters of race. Between the World and Me is his second memoir. Written as a letter to his teenage son, Coates weaves his childhood growing up in Baltimore, attending Howard University, finding his place in the world with the history of racism in America. It is at once an intimate glimpse into the relationship between a father and son and a framework for understanding and discussing one of the greatest issues we face today.



Life Path: Personal and Spiritual Growth Through Journal Writing– Luci Shaw

Journals can serve as a record of how far we’ve come and as guides for where we want to go. Whether you’ve kept a journal since childhood or barely keep a grocery list, Life Path will help us explore the connection between writing and spiritual growth.



I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education And Was Shot By The Taliban– Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

Malala did a dangerous thing: she went to school, even after the Taliban took control of her town in Pakistan. They shot her at point-blank range but she survived. She survived and she continues to speak out about the rights of girls in Pakistan. At 16, she was the youngest nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. Her courage should inspire us all.



Too Heavy a Yoke: Black Women And The Burden Of Strength– Chanequa Walker-Barnes

I first learned about this book through Christena Cleveland (author of our January book Disunity in Christ.) She wrote, “Meanwhile, the StrongBlackWoman identity, which at first glance seems like a positive identity, has wreaked havoc on black women’s emotional, physical, spiritual and relational health. In an attempt to escape one set of racist/sexist stereotypes, black women have run smack dab into another stereotype, one that is also maintained by societal racism and sexism. The StrongBlackWoman identity continues to ensnare black women like myself, as we work to disprove the racist stereotypes that society simply refuses to relinquish.”

Cleveland says Too Heavy A Yoke is for anyone who is a black woman or who cares for black women. That is to say–it’s for all of us.



The Reluctant Pilgrim: A Moody, Somewhat Self-Induglent Introvert’s Search For Spiritual Community– Enuma Okoro

I can’t do better than the Amazon description: “Part Augustine, part Jane Austen with a side of Anne Lamott, Okoro attempts to reconcile her theological understanding of God’s call to community with her painful and disappointing experiences of community in churches where she often felt unseen, pigeon-holed or out of place. At turns snarky and luminous, laugh-out loud funny and vulnerably poignant, Reluctant Pilgrim is the no-holds barred account of a woman who prays to savor God’s goodness and never be satisfied; a daring, insightful and deeply moving field guide for the curious, the confused and the convicted.”



Next Wednesday, Nov. 25 is our discussion of Take This Bread by Sara Miles.

Our December book is A Widening Light: Poems of the Incarnationedited by Luci Shaw. Our contributing writers will share brief reflections on select poems on Wednesday, Dec. 2. There will also be a special opportunity for you to link up your own reflections. More details to come.

You can see all of the books the Red Couch has discussed here.

Which 2016 book club selection are you most excited to read?

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