Log In

Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the Table-of-Contents Database.

Get a digital subscription to Publishers Weekly for only $19.95/month.

Your subscription gives you instant access exclusive feature articles on notable figures in the publishing industry, he latest industry news, interviews of up and coming authors and bestselling authors, and access over 200,000 book reviews.

PW "All Access" site license members have access to PW's subscriber-only website content. To find out more about PW's site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time.

Goodbye, My Tribe: An Evangelical Exodus

Vic Sizemore. Univ. of Alabama, $29.95 (184p) ISBN 978-0-8173-2057-7

In this cutting, earnest collection of essays, short story writer Sizemore (I Love You, I’m Leaving) reveals his growing disaffection with Christianity. Through a series of anecdotes about growing up as the son of a preacher and professor at a West Virginia Bible College, Sizemore explains his “tribe” of white conservative evangelicals of the Jerry Fallwell tradition, which he depicts as mostly “warp and woof with southern bigotry.” Lyrically capturing his angst as a well-heeled but emotionally traumatized son of an inveterate minister of “Premillennial Dispensationalism,” the author frequently quotes, among others, Dostoyevsky, Malcolm X, and Nietzsche, to thoughtfully rebuke what he sees as spurious Christian mythologizing of the beneficial, superior nature of evangelicalism. A former marine, Sizemore also shares advice on confronting bullies great and small, as well as reflections on war. With other essays delving into his thoughts on how Christians have failed to show humanity to communists, those who support abortion, and secular humanists, as well as society’s failure to address concerns of the LGBTQ community and his disappointment in the role conservative evangelicals played in electing Donald Trump, the collection showcases a wide range of Sizemore’s thinking on hot-button issues. Readers who enjoy the essays of Jonathan Merritt will find much food for thought here. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 01/03/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
You Are Enough: Revealing the Soul to Discover Your Power, Potential, and Possibility

Panache Desai. HarperOne, $24.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-293257-0

Desai (Discovering Your Soul Signature), a speaker on spirituality, promises readers that they “are nothing less than a spark of Divine Light, which animates everyone and everything” in this uplifting work. According to Desai, one can achieve samadhi, the “recognition of our Essential Self,” not through external practices—such as meditation, yoga, or diet and exercise programs—but by turning inward. When one cultivates “awareness, acceptance, and compassion” for oneself, he writes, it is possible to activate a “powerful internal process” of “vibrational transformation” that harmonizes the “dissonant vibration” of negative emotions and experiences. Each chapter teaches readers to achieve their “optimal vibrational state” by cultivating awareness of “conditioning and wounding,” learning acceptance and flexibility, and adhering to five commitments that foster “expansion.” The author’s forthright sincerity and candid examples of his own personal transformation and the effect his work has had on others provide ballast to what might otherwise read as esoteric mysticism. With its focus on sitting “in awareness of feelings,” Desai’s cheery spiritual how-to will appeal to readers of Deepak Chopra. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 01/03/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Koren Tanakh of the Land of Israel: Exodus

Trans. from the Hebrew by Jonathan Sacks. Koren, $49.95 (328p) ISBN 978-965-7760-33-8

Theologian Sacks (Lessons in Leadership) translates and analyzes the Hebrew Bible in this attractive, thoughtful resource. His treatment of the Hebrew Bible is grounded in examination of the ancient Near Eastern milieu of the Israelites. A colorful chart contrasts stages in Israelite history with parallel developments in Egypt, Greece, Mesopotamia, Rome, and the Kingdom of the Hittites. Essays preceding scripture provide accessible overviews of relevant subjects—such as the history, culture, and religion of Egypt—at the time Moses was called upon to free his people. While committed to a fundamentalist approach, this volume also includes discussions of motifs that stories such as Moses’s birth share with Mesopotamian mythology, noting the ethical principles that distinguish the Bible version. The commentary doesn’t always dig deep; for example, the episode in Exodus 4: 24–26, in which God seeks to kill Moses after entrusting him with his sacred mission, receives a very short treatment. While The Jewish Study Bible remains the go-to source for Hebrew Bible students, those comfortable with translation and analysis premised on the traditional view that “the Torah is a unified text from a single Divine author” will find this beautifully presented edition of the Book of Exodus helpful and enlightening. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 01/03/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
52 Uncommon Ways to Unwind Together: A Couple’s Guide to Relaxing, Refreshing, and De-Stressing

Randy Southern. Moody, $9.99 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-0-8024-1938-5

Southern (52 Uncommon Dates) provides a plethora of ideas for partners looking for deeper connection in this welcoming guide. His suggestions include dance class, taking affectionate photos and selfies (of kissing or hugging), and driving one’s spouse to and from work. Southern matches each suggestion with one of the five love languages, based on Gary Chapman’s book of the same name. For example, hiring a calligrapher to paint an encouraging quote on one’s walls may appeal to someone with a love language of words of affirmation. Southern includes a Bible reading and list of questions that correspond to each idea to guide discussions about them. Southern also encourages readers to serve others with such actions as inviting an elderly person or widow to dinner, or mentoring an engaged couple, and reminds readers to be mindful of each other’s preferences: “The fact that two people don’t share the same tastes doesn’t make them incompatible; it makes them individuals.” Spouses who want to spice up date night or understand one another better will be pleased. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 01/03/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Loving Well in a Broken World: Discover the Hidden Power of Empathy

Lauren Casper. Thomas Nelson, $17.99 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-0-7180-8555-1

Blogger Casper (It’s Okay About It) skillfully weaves personal stories and biblical lessons into this persuasive invitation to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Casper argues that becoming a better listener and extending one’s tent of “neighbors” to include those on the fringes of society form the core of being an empathetic Christian, and challenges readers to break new ground within themselves by using criticism as a personal trainer, forming empathetic connections on the internet, and helping the disenfranchised amplify their own voice instead of speaking for them. Casper illustrates her points by sharing her own story and divulges her struggles with infertility and epilepsy, as well as her experience with adoption and parenting a child with autism. Whether exposing her own emotional wounds, offering a fresh perspective on a biblical parable, or guiding readers toward positive change, Casper remains conversational and open throughout. This articulate exhortation for Christians to lead with empathy will please fans of Rachel Held Evans. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 01/03/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Parable of the Brown Girl: The Sacred Lives of Girls of Color

Khristi Lauren Adams. Fortress, $18.99 trade paper (200p) ISBN 978-1-5064-5568-6

In this illuminating work, chaplain Adams (The Misinterpreted Gospel of Singleness) shares stories of girls and women of color she met while working in a residential treatment facility for mental health and behavioral issues, focusing on how her subjects cope with injustices and insecurities. Setting up each chapter as a “parable” of one girl and a main struggle she faces, readers first meet Deborah, a nine-year-old with divorced parents who tells Adams: “Why did God make me a warrior when I’m really just weak?” The exchange prompts Adams to ruminate on the need for women to appear strong. Elsewhere, 19-year-old Leah learns that “God never intended for us to see people as less or as something negative, something other. We are created in God’s image and likeness”; 16-year-old Mary confronts issues of body-image, with Adams explaining how hypersexualization was never God’s intention; and 17-year-old Nimi unpacks the complexity of identities, considering what it means to be black in America as opposed to other countries around the world. In the final portrait, 17-year-old Ebony explores the experience of being too black for the white community and too white for the black community. Though directed toward Christians, these profound profiles will be eye-opening for any reader. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 12/20/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Theodor Herzl: The Charismatic Leader

Derek Penslar. Yale Univ, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-0-300-18040-4

Penslar (Jews and the Military), a professor of Jewish history at Harvard, provides an excellent, concise biography of Theodor Herzl (1860–1904), architect of modern Zionism. The focus is less on the biographical details of Herzl’s life—though the broad strokes are covered—and more on the vision Herzl created that allowed him to position himself as the great visionary of Zionism at the end of the 19th century. Penslar focuses on three elements: Herzl’s “inner life,” his relation to Zionism, and his (self-defined) position in the world. While Zionism as an idea already existed, Herzl saw himself as the man of the hour, ready to step forward and take the movement to new heights. As a journalist, Herzl championed the Zionist cause and established the Zionist newspaper Die Welt in Vienna in 1897. He later formed and headed the First Zionest Congress. Penslar is meticulous in taking the reader along Herzl’s many attempts to bring the Zionist dream to life, which included approaches to Wilhelm II, the Ottoman Empire, the Rothschild banking family, and Cecil Rhodes. Penslar is sympathetic to but not forgiving of his subject, as when he depicts Herzl’s tumultuous marriage to Julie Naschauer. This is an exceptionally good, highly readable volume that will appeal to general readers and specialists alike. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 12/20/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Longing for an Absent God: Faith and Doubt in Great American Fiction

Nick Ripatrazone. Fortress, $27.99 (300p) ISBN 978-1-5064-5195-4

Ripatrazone (Ember Days), culture editor at Image Journal, argues in this piquant analysis that the interplay between lapsed and practicing Catholic authors sustains “a unique and significant literary culture.” For Ripatrazone, both groups engage in similar forms of storytelling—“corporal, messy, strange, and steeped in the sins of real people”—though he argues they do so to different ends. While the book’s analysis of well-known 20th-century authors who were Catholic, such as Flannery O’Connor and Andre Dubus, feels thin, chapters on Toni Morrison and Louise Erdrich are strong, exploring the ways that black and Chippewa cultures and ways of storytelling have differed or responded to Catholic writing. Though Ripatrazone builds his analysis around the differences and shared tensions between lapsed and practicing Catholics—where practicing Catholics used their faith to ground their fiction, lapsed Catholics approached religion through themes of identity and redemption—he leaves uninterrogated another tension that pervades the book: that between Catholics from birth and converts, whose ideas of storytelling were shaped outside of the Catholic tradition. His uneven analysis leaves this and many other tantalizing angles unexplored, but its articulation of a Catholic literature inclusive of—and more importantly defined by—practicing and lapsed Catholics is a valuable one. Scholars of modern American Catholicism will find much food for thought here. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 12/20/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Allow Me to Introduce: An Insider’s Guide to the Occult

Lon Milo DuQuette. Weiser, $15.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-57863-654-9

DuQuette (Low Magick), occult writer and teacher at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, N.Y., shines in this delightful collection of “literary appetizers” comprising more than two dozen essays he originally wrote as the introductions to books on the occult. DuQuette shares stories of his youth as a budding mystic and the development of his “dubious reputation as some kind of magical authority,” finds humor in his alternate personality “Rabbi Lamad Ben Clifford,” and expresses sincere appreciation and respect for the work of his mentors and colleagues. His essays have introduced new editions of classic works such as English occultist Israel Regardie’s The Eye in the Triangle, obscure treatises such as Opus Mago-Cabalisticum et Theosophicum, modern workbooks such as Donald Michael Kraig’s Modern Magic, and even a production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Readers will laugh at DuQuette’s self-deprecating tales of his own magical education and his colorful personal collegiality with Regardie. Far from fluff, his introductions sketch the broad outlines of core ideas within Western magical thought, including the practices of Enochian magic, Masonry, Qabalah, Tarot, and Thelema. DuQuette’s enthusiastic recommendations and heartfelt analyses will inspire any reader interested in the occult. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 12/20/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
A Life Worth Living: Meditations on God, Death and Stoicism

William Ferraiolo. O-books, $19.95 (192p) ISBN 978-1-78904-304-4

Ferraiolo (Meditations on Self-Discipline and Failure), philosophy professor at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, Calif., argues that stoicism can help negotiate most modern ills in this wide-ranging, quirky work. To make the case, he presents the ancient Greek school of thought through the writings and reflections of slave Epictetus and emperor Marcus Aurelius, encouraging readers to take up stoicism as a life plan for peace and tranquility regardless of one’s circumstances. Centered on cultivating virtue and living in harmony with reason—and being indifferent to the twists and turns of pleasure and pain—stoics, Ferraiolo writes, take the world as it comes and do not seek to govern what is not within their power. This, Ferraiolo argues, is the only means of staying sane in a world that is so often out of control. Straightforward, practical, and level-headed (as one might expect from a stoic), Ferraiolo’s counsel is convincing. Most intriguing are his discussions about how stoicism does not require belief in a deity and about suicide being a perfectly moral choice to make in the face of a life not worth living. Unfortunately, the text often wanders off topic, with chapters featuring the author’s musings about, for instance, Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men, multiverse theory, and the “problem of evil.” Despite this, those interested in using philosophy for self-help will enjoy Ferraiolo’s ode to stoicism. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 12/20/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

Parts of this site are only available to paying PW subscribers. Subscribers: to set up your digital access click here.

To subscribe, click here.

PW “All Access” site license members have access to PW’s subscriber-only website content. Simply close and relaunch your preferred browser to log-in. To find out more about PW’s site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com.

If you have questions or need assistance setting up your account please email pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time for assistance.

Not Registered? Click here.