"The Story We Find Ourselves In," by Brian McLaren. I finally got around to reading this second book in Brian McLaren's narrative trilogy, and was fascinated and inspired by it. The book should come with this warning though: "If you are content with the theology you're used to hearing in most Christian churches, well, fasten your seat belt." From beginning to end, in very compelling story-telling fashion, McLaren will make you think again about the belief systems you've grown up with. If you haven't read the first book in the trilogy, "A New Kind of Christian," I recommend you start with that one. And if you're still with him after that, give this one a shot. You may not like it all, or agree with it all, (I didn't), but it will certainly cause you to stop and ponder what it really means to be a follower of Christ and a player in the story. If you'd like a little lighter, shorter, and less controversial look at the "story we find ourselves in," pick up John Eldridge's "Epic." I loved it. It covers similar ground, it is written to inspire, and it succeeds!
"The Disappearing Girl," by Dr. Lisa Machoian. If you have teenage girls, this book ought to be required reading! It will take you inside the world of teenage girls, inside their hearts, and inside their minds to give you a first-person glimpse of the challenges girls face every day growing up in this culture. Don't let the subtitle; "Learning the Language of Teenage Depression" scare you off. Your daughter may or may not be depressed. Machoian, who taught psychology at Harvard, unpacks the battles all girls face in our society, battles that will most likely result in some kind of depression if not won. She writes with a lot of hope and gives us parents great suggestions to help our girls navigate through those tough years. My girls are 15 and 19. I just wish I had read this book years ago.
"The History of South Africa," by Leonard Thompson. This sociological history written by Yale historian Thompson is one of the finest books ever written on the formation and evolution of the country we now call South Africa. For those of you who have read James Michener's outstanding historical novel, "The Covenant," but weren't sure how acurate it was, you'll be pleased to know that Michener did his homework. Thompson's scholalry work backs Michener's story telling throughout, and offers a solid and readable historical perspective for anyone visiting, living, or just interested in South Africa.