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.

The Lazy Genius Way: Embrace What Matters, Ditch What Doesn’t, and Get Stuff Done

Kendra Adachi. WaterBrook, $26 (240p) ISBN 978-0-5256-5391-2

In this pragmatic debut, Adachi, host of the Lazy Genius podcast, explains strategies for changing one’s mindset in order to live a more balanced life. Adachi proposes readers first identify what matters most to them personally; to this end, the author offers 13 “Lazy Genius” principles: remembering where you’re headed and why, considering how to make every task easier, and taking doable steps to get one unstuck, among others. While some real-life situations provide concrete examples of Adachi’s principles—such as Adachi concentrating on her children’s creativity when the house becomes messy with markers or crafts, then focusing on her own priorities when cleaning up—her focus remains more relational than organizational, reminding readers that relationships are what matter most. Though the book’s spiritual content is minimal, the author’s affirming message about being kind to yourself and true to who God created you to be provide gentle nudges toward spiritual, as well as personal, growth. Adachi’s pleasing principles for balanced living will appeal to fans of Jen Hatmaker. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 07/17/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Judaism for the World: Reflections on God, Life, and Love

Arthur Green. Yale Univ., $30 (416p) ISBN 978-0-300-24998-9

Green (The Heart of the Matter), a rabbi and founding dean of the Rabbinical School at Hebrew College in Boston, brings together 29 of his most stimulating “essays, short teachings, insights, and readings of Jewish sources” in this illuminating collection. Reflecting over 50 years of Green’s experience as a “Jewish seeker and teacher of Torah,” the entries are divided into three sections: “Soul” covers his religious journey, including his struggles with observance, the concept of submission to God, and the meaning of prayer; “Year” tracks the Jewish calendar, with Green’s reflections on holidays, fast days, and the Sabbath; and “World” addresses Jewish relations with Christians (helped by a recent multi-faith “awakening”), responds to American anti-Semitism after the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue massacre, and considers the relationship of American Jews to Israel by arguing Israeli society is approaching “a great self-examination” regarding its stance on security. A prologue makes clear the pieces are meant to be read independently of each other, as there is “no central ‘argument’ to this volume, no progression of thought from one essay to the next.” Nonetheless, all are animated by Green’s view that all true religions function as “a set of tools” to enable humanity to protect “that divine spark” in each human being. Admirers of Green’s body of work and newcomers alike will love this humane, accessible collection. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/10/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Seen. Known. Loved.: 5 Truths About God and Your Love Language

Gary Chapman and R. York Moore. Northfield, $9.99 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-0-8024-1990-3

Marriage counselor Chapman (The Five Love Languages) and Moore (Do Something Beautiful), national evangelist for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, address Christians who are seeking purpose in their lives in this refreshing guide based on Chapman’s love languages. The authors assure readers that they “are not alone in feeling alone” and explain how to use their specific love language to “find a consistent path to feel God’s love.” Contrasting the power of God’s word with the emptiness of seeking fulfillment through the fleeting acceptance of social media, Chapman and Moore argue that combining righteousness and love will result in actions that help one flourish. Drawing from the biblical story of the prodigal son, they remind readers that God loves them and desires to give them gifts even when they are at their worst. Each chapter concludes with “Refocus” suggestions for applying the authors’ insights—such as telling God directly about one’s love for him, recalling moments where one felt God’s love, and replacing the word “Son” with one’s name in the famous John 3:16–17 verse. This reassuring work will provide direction for Christians looking for a more intimate relationship to their faith. (July)

Reviewed on 07/10/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Realizing Islam: The Tijaniyya of North Africa and the Eighteenth-Century Muslim World

Zachary Valentine Wright. Univ. of North Carolina, $29.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-46966-082-0

Examining writings by and about Ahmad al-Tijani (1735–1815)—the Algerian founder of the Tijaniyya Sufi order—Wright (Living Knowledge in West African Islam) argues that the order’s global appeal is found in its ability to deepen and sustain Muslim life in the midst of political and social uncertainty. Tijaniyya, the largest Sufi Muslim order in West Africa, are distinguished by their twice daily wird prayers and an emphasis on individual discipleship. Wright illustrates how the order originated as part of a vibrant 18th-century discourse on how to come to the knowledge of truth. He shows how that debate stretched across the Muslim world, from Ahmedabad, India; to Fez, Morocco; to Timbuktu, Mali. Wright depicts al-Tijani as a complex spiritual leader who took part in the intellectual debates of his day, dabbled in Islamic esotericism (the use of talismans, geomancy), and spoke openly about his visionary encounters with Muhammad. This narrow yet thorough work shines light on a little-known example of the diversity, vitality, and worldwide scope of Islamic knowledge and Muslim communities. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 07/10/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Thinking about the Prophets: A Philosopher Reads the Bible

Kenneth Seeskin. The Jewish Publication Society, $21.95 trade paper (162p) ISBN 978-0-8276-1505-2

Seeskin (Searching for a Distant God), a professor of the philosophy of religion at Northwestern, analyzes in this sharp study the biblical books of Amos, Ezekiel, Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Job through the lens of Western philosophy. Seeskin starts with a summary of each prophet’s background before examining the worldview presented in each book and relevant philosophical questions. For instance, in Amos, the proposition that “no one has ever come to God with completely pure hands” is followed by Aristotle and Hegel’s answer to “set standards which, though not perfect, are at least attainable.” In Jeremiah, he asks, “How could an all-powerful God allow a chosen servant” to be harmed or disrespected? He then uses the arguments of Bertrand Russell and Hermann Cohen to claim that “qualities like faith, love, courage, or commitment to an ideal have to be tested to be real.” While Seeskin’s strength is Jewish scholarship, he takes an ecumenical approach by showcasing how the works of the prophets are foundational texts for multiple religions and emphasizing their modern relevance. Erudite and accessible, this insightful analysis will appeal to any reader interested in the Bible, the philosophy of religion, or simply the history and literature of the ancient world. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/10/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Bavinck: A Critical Biography

James Eglinton. Baker Academic, $44.99 (480p) ISBN 978-1-5409-6135-8

Eglinton (Trinity and Organism), professor of theology at the University of Edinburgh, explores the work and life of Dutch Protestant theologian Herman Bavinck (1854–1921) in this dry biography. Bavinck’s work was most significant within his own tradition of the Dutch Reformed Church, and readers outside this sect may be unfamiliar with his name—a fact Eglinton sets out to remedy. Unfortunately, those hoping for a picture of Bavinck as a person will be disappointed, as Eglinton is primarily interested in the development of neo-Calvinist thought at the end of the 19th century. Eglinton opens the book with a history of the Reformed Church in Holland and biographies of Bavinck’s parents, then follows Bavinck’s career as a theologian, which saw the introduction of “modern thought” into the neo-Calvinism of the Reformed Church; the majority of his work focused on applying philosophical concepts of objectivism and subjectivism to the doctrine of revelation. While Eglinton makes a strong case for the influence of Bavinck’s thought on Calvinism, his narrow focus and painstaking analyses bog down the narrative of Bavinck’s life. This dense, overlong work will have limited appeal beyond academics of European Protestantism. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/10/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Witch Hunt: A Traveler’s Guide to the Power and Persecution of the Witch

Kristen Sollee. Weiser, $21.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-57863-699-0

Sollee (Witches, Sluts, Feminists), who teaches a course on witches at the New School, explores the archetype of the witch in this entertaining mix of travel guide, journal, and ghost story collection. Highlights include an examination of the divination culture of Italy, including the tarot-dedicated Museo dei Tarocchi in Bologna, and of England’s occultism, including the Chelsea Physic Garden in London, where “the occult is inseparable from the landscape.” Historical figures such as Joan of Arc in France and Dame Alice in Ireland are recast both as early examples of gender-fluidity and powerful women who were killed by fearful men. These and other historic women are featured in fictionalized “visions” that overcome Sollee, and work as a narrative device in which the dead impart knowledge of their craft and details of their often violent fates. While the author admits these scenes are fantastical, they nicely round out and give context to the catalogue of sites visited. Sollee’s informative history doubles as an intriguing travel guide for those interested in the travails of witches and occultists. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 07/03/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Deeply Formed Life: Five Transformative Values to Root Us in the Way of Jesus

Rich Villodas. WaterBrook, $24 (256p) ISBN 978-0-525-65438-4

Villodas, lead pastor of New Life Fellowship, debuts with an engaging exploration of how to form a deeper union with Christ. Explaining how Christians are constantly at risk of being made shallow by their material desires due to “the value system of a world that determines worth based on accomplishments, possessions, efficiency, intellectual acumen, and gifts,” Villodas recommends a deeply rooted life “marked by new rhythms, contemplative presence, and interior awareness, which results in lives that work for reconciliation, justice, and peace, while seeing the sacredness of all life.” The five values Villodas focuses on—unplugging from hectic life, achieving emotional health, integrating sexuality and spirituality, pursuing racial justice, and spreading the gospel—are explored through prayer suggestions and examples from scripture of the “deeply formed practices of contemplative rhythms” in the lives of Moses, John the Baptist, and Jesus. These concepts become most tangible in Villodas’s detailing of discussions he’s had with congregants about racial injustice and racial disparities, and the seven “habits” for change he learned as a result—remembering history, listening with concentration, lamenting, praying for reconciliation, practicing racial self-examination, renouncing whiteness, and repenting. Christians looking to bring more intention and emotion into their religious life will love this. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/03/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Sanctuary: Being Christian in the Wake of Trump

Heidi Neumark. Eerdmans, $24.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-8028-7839-7

In this insightful work, pastor Neumark (Breathing Space) offers a collection of essays on ministry in the Trump era. “What Trump says and does,” Neumark writes, “publicly disavows every core teaching Jesus set forth.... The church must take sides.” Each piece begins with an epigraph from Trump juxtaposed against an anecdote from Neumark’s life that gives context or runs contrary to his statement. “Suffer the Little Children,” for example, opens with Trump’s quote: “the beauty that’s being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never be able to be comparably replaced.” Neumark then explores the historical white supremacy inscribed in the location and construction of Trinity Lutheran Church in New York City, built by German immigrants in 1908, where she is pastor, before reminding readers that Trump’s quote was in reference to the removal of Confederate monuments. In “Measuring Up” she quotes Trump’s racist remarks (“Hello Miss Housekeeping”) before exploring Trinity’s shelter and food bank program, as well as organization on behalf of immigrant labor rights. The collection ends with a particularly affecting story about The Border Church located between San Diego and Tijuana. With this powerful collection, Neumark adds her voice to the growing chorus of Christians calling for faith-based resistance to the Trump agenda. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/03/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Blessed Are the Nones: Mixed-Faith Marriage and My Search for Spiritual Community

Stina Kielsmeier-Cook. IVP, $15.99 trade paper (250p) ISBN 978-0-8308-4827-0

In this illuminating debut memoir, Kielsmeier-Cook explores the concept of spiritual singleness. After Kielsmeier-Cook’s formerly Christian husband became agnostic after three years together, they were left to navigate the challenges of a mixed-faith marriage. She mentions her concerns about the statistically high divorce rate in couples of “evangelicals and religious ‘nones,’” and recounts how she came to find fellowship among a group of local Catholic nuns, whose friendship make Kielsmeier-Cook realize she was not spiritually single. Describing the joy the nuns bring to their community, Kielsmeier-Cook inspires her husband to become more active in the church community even as he remains agnostic. Kielsmeier-Cook credits the nuns with spurring her to practice the virtues of kindness, patience, and gentleness with her family. Kielsmeier-Cook offers no pat platitudes (“This book will not save your marriage or convert your loved one”) and instead shares her story in order to “testify to a God who is good, who blesses believers and agnostics alike.” Kielsmeier-Cook’s questioning yet committed dedication to her faith will appeal and relate to any Christian within a mixed-faith home. (Sept.)

Correction: An earlier version of this review misstated how long the author and her husband had been together when he told her he was agnostic. It also mischaracterized the way the author addressed divorce statistics.

Reviewed on 07/03/2020 | 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.
X