Best Non-Fiction: The Fifth Annual Karissa Reads Books Literary Awards

Hello and Welcome Back! Today’s category of the Karissa Reads Books Literary Awards is focused on the best non-fiction books I read in 2022. I am definitely a fiction reader. It takes a lot for a non-fiction book to really jump out at me and onto my TBR. When I do read non-fiction, I tend to focus on Christian writers and books about theology and faith. Looking over the books I selected for this category this became abundantly clear.

HONOURABLE MENTION goes to:

Liturgy of the Ordinary – Tish Harrison Warren (InterVarsity Press, 2016)

This was a simple book but with its focus on incorporating liturgical rhythms into your daily life, it was a very helpful one. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been growing in a new appreciation for liturgy in the church in the past couple of years. This book was a helpful one to me for thinking about how and why I can re-focus my daily habits to better involve prayer and Bible reading.

The Beauty Chasers – Timothy D. Willard (Zondervan Reflective, 2022)

This was such a cozy book. It made me want to go for a walk on a blustery day and then have a drink by a fire with a very good friend. Willard focuses on beauty and why it matters to Christians. What does it meant that God made the world not just functional but beautiful? What does it say about us that we have the ability to have our breath taken away by the natural world or by another person? Why does it matter? How can we foster an enjoyment of beauty and its creator in our often mundane lives? Lots of good thought here.

I’m Still Here – Austin Channing Brown (Penguin Random House, 2018)

I thought this was going to be a book about Black experience in a white majority culture and it was but Brown also highlights Black experience within the Christian church. I found it fascinating and eye-opening and learned a lot more about that intersection of faith and race. I listened to this on audio and it is read by Brown herself (yes, Austin Brown is a woman) and that added a lot to my experience too.

Hope in Times of Fear – Timothy Keller (Viking 2021)

Chances are good that if I read a book by Timothy Keller in the year it’s going to end up on some favourite list. And he still has a few books I haven’t read plus new books coming out so expect to see him here next year too! This book isn’t about the past years of pandemic experience but it is written in the shadow of the early pandemic. Fear and hope aren’t new topics and Keller approaches them both with a steady wisdom and a clear eye. His perspective is always appreciated.

Life Together – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

This is a book that found me at the right time. Almost literally because it had actually been hanging out in my house for years and I happened to be reminded of it during a period of time in which I was massively re-thinking what church and Christian community might look like for me and my family. Thinking back now, I don’t remember much specifically but I know that it was a book of encouragement and reminded me of why faith communities can be so wonderful and so necessary.

Where the Light Fell – Philip Yancey (Convergent, 2021)

Like Life Together, this was a book that I read in a period of time when I really needed to hear stories of people hurt and confused by the church and other Christians. I needed to hear those stories of people who made tough choices, who stayed focused on Christ, and still believed that there was hope and redemption. Yancey’s life story is exactly that and having read so much of his theological writing and knowing what a focus on grace his work has had, it is all the more powerful to read about his background.

9 thoughts on “Best Non-Fiction: The Fifth Annual Karissa Reads Books Literary Awards”

  1. Since I am transferring colleges this winter, and the new college is a private, Christian school (specifically Evangelical), I was wondering if I should read more about their faith. Unlike my past college, which was a private, Christian (specifically Mennonite) college, the new school is not laid back in their faith.

    1. That might be quite a shift! I remember that your current school is Mennonite but a switch to an Evangelical school could be a lot different. Peter was reminiscing recently about how when he went to a Christian college he had to sign a pledge not to consume secular media. I know alcohol bans are pretty common though I’m not sure how they’d enforce that on students living off campus.

      Yancey’s book might be an interesting one because he specifically talks about growing up in those super strict Evangelical circles. Another book I read last year is Jesus and John Wayne which looks at the Evangelical church in the 20th century. What’s prompting your transfer?

    2. Wow, Peter’s school sounds much stricter than anything I’ve heard of before. What kind of Christian school was it? I do know the Evangelical school asks you to pledge not to enter establishments that sell alcohol, but around here that’s everywhere. I mean, would even the grocery store count, let alone restaurants, bowling alleys, the movie theater, etc.

      I’m going to look up Jesus and John Wayne, if you think it’s a balanced account. I don’t want anything that just attacks or is overly praising. I want something more like “Here’s the facts.”

      I’m switching because of something I knew the first semester, but thought I was being too judgmental about, and I’ll describe it here since this is on your blog and not mine: in ASL 3 we did not get any grades or feedback from the instructor, and I complained to my advisor, who said she would get the instructor a TA. Turns out there was a TA, but he wasn’t doing anything. Okay, I’m thinking this is a problem with one person. Then I had ASL 4 and Intro to Interpreting. Neither teacher gives any feedback or grades all semester, and in fact, one teacher basically drops out mid-semester due to mental health concerns. Okay, I’m thinking both teachers are overworked and this is a bizarre anomaly. Also, neither teacher is giving us a course calendar with modules and specific learning objectives. This semester I have the same teacher for ASL 5 and Interpreting 1. No course calendar, no homework due dates, no specific learning goals as we work through different material, theories, no feedback (the most important part to me), etc. Basically, repeating the same task until we “get it right,” which is not how teaching works. At my new college, I had to take a placement test for ASL and was put in ASL 4 even though I’ve been getting A’s all along. I also have to re-take both interpreting classes because we didn’t have any specific learning objectives or theories, practice, etc. for interpreting.

    3. It was a Mennonite school actually but perhaps of an older order than your current school? He went for a year before we met. The no imbibing alcohol is pretty common from what I know of religious schools though not entering a place that sells alcohol seems almost impossible. Even in Canada where we don’t sell it in grocery stores, that would keep you out of just about every restaurant.

      What I appreciated about Jesus and John Wayne is that the author isn’t rejecting the Christian faith or the church as a global institution but specifically delves into this brand of Christianity that has evolved in the US.

      That sounds super frustrating about the school. And I’m sorry that you’ll have to re-take classes. Hopefully the transfer will be a good one for you and better to do so sooner rather than later probably.

    4. I just finished reading Women Talking, and I wonder if Peter’s school was more serious like they fictional community in that book. For example, the Mennonites in the novel did not have rubber wheels on their buggy for fear of the desire to go too fast. Apparently, when my former advisor was hired ten or so years ago, she was middle age, single, no children, and the person hiring her was, according to her, definitely hinting around, trying to ask if she’s a lesbian. Now, there are support services for LGBTQ students, there was a drag show, and people ask your pronouns on the very same campus.

      I found another Evangelical book that has great credentials and looks to be straight informative rather than convincing readers of a viewpoint: https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Evangelicals/Frances-FitzGerald/9781439131343

      While I did not want to retake classes at first, seeing that a better foundation of education is a great investment in the long run is what made me change my mind.

    5. Yes, they weren’t THAT strict but more along those lines. Girls weren’t allowed in boys’ dorms etc.

      That book looks interesting. I will take a further look as I hadn’t heard of it before.

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