Academic Book Week: The books that changed how we saw the word
This week (9th-13th March) is Academic Book Week. To celebrate, we asked our authors to tell us about the books that have most influenced them.
Dr Steve Taylor, Principal of the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership, New Zealand, and author of First Expressions: Innovation and the Mission of God
The book that changed how I saw the world was… Inquiring after God by Ellen Charry – for the way it locates theology in the everyday practices of things like work, friendship and sickness
The last book I read was… As an academic, I tend to “dip” into a lot of books. The last book I dipped into was Women and Craft by Angharad Thomas. The last “full book from start to finish” was Robert Macfarlane, The Wild Places, a tour of Britain's remotest places.
If I was only allowed one book on a desert island, it would be… #Niteblessings: Meditations for the End of the Day by Malcolm Duncan. I’ve started praying this to my spouse every night and vice versa. To have prayer from an external source, that gives me hope and perspective, would help me through a desert Island.
Dr Ruth Perrin, Leech Research Fellow at Durham University, and author of Changing Shape: The Faith Lives of Millennials
The book that changed how I saw the world was… Texts of Terror; Literary-feminist Reading of Biblical Narratives by Phyllis Trible. It was seminal as I began to study hermeneutics and wrestle as how to preach Scripture faithfully as a feminist and evangelical. Those foundations are still shaping my ministry and research 15 years later.
The last book I read was…The Happiness Effect: How social Media is driving a Generation to Appear Perfect at Any Cost, by Donna Freitas. It is really rigorous and important research into a phenomena that few of us academics had to navigate growing up. It’s eye opening and disturbing but also accessible and important!
If I was only allowed one book on a desert island, it would be…I’d take the classic Anne of Green Gables series (can I have a series?) they are my go to for comfort reading, or anything by Eugene Peterson (Legend!)
Dr Jione Havea, Research Fellow, Trinity Methodist Theological College (Aotearoa/New Zealand), and pastor Methodist Church of Tonga. Author of Losing Ground: Ruth in a Changing Climate (forthcoming, autumn 2020)
The book that changed how I saw the world was… this is a difficult question, because every book has influenced (in some way) how i see the world.
The last book I read was... The Body in Religion: Cross-Cultural Perspectives by Yudit Kornberg Greenberg.
If I was only allowed one book on a desert island, it would be… for me as an islander, i would not take a book ... there are enough "texts" on islands to read, sniff, taste and hear!
Rev AD France-Williams, visiting scholar, Sarum College, Salisbury, author of Ghost Ship: Institutional Racism in the Church of England (forthcoming, summer 2020)
The book that changed how I saw the world was…The Poet, The Warrior, and The Prophet by Ruben Alves, a Brazilian theologian and thinker who remixed genres to create a powerful piece contemplating death and loss.
The last book I read was…The Water Dancer, by Ta-Nehisi Coates - a fictionalised slave narrative with elements of magical realism. It is beautiful and raw.
If I was only allowed one book on a desert island, it would be... Sapiens by Yuvah Noah Harari
Revd Dr Jenni Williams, St Matthew’s Grandpont, Oxford, author of The Kingdom of Our God: A Theological Commentary on Isaiah
The book that changed how I saw the world was…the Bible, because it constantly challenges me to remember God's love for his world is greater than I can possibly imagine.
The last book I read was... Rowan Williams' The Edge of Words: God and the Habits of Language. I'm fascinated by how human language attempts to convey God and this was a brilliant study.
If I was only allowed one book on a desert island, it would be The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkein. I never get tired of this wonderful piece of mythological writing: its depth and breadth, its inner coherence, the scenery, the characters, the joy, the tragedy...
Revd Dr Simon Cuff, Tutor in Theology at St Mellitus College, author of Love in Action: Catholic Social Teaching for Every Church, and Only God Will Save Us: The Nature of God and the Christian Life (forthcoming, summer 2020)
The book that changed how I saw the world was...The Philosopher and the Provocateur: The Correspondence of Jacques Maritain and Saul Alinsky, the correspondence between the Catholic philosopher and the founding father of community organising. It revealed to me the importance of relationships and how to reconcile theology and a concern for action to bring about social justice in everyday life.
The last book I read was… What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance (by Carolyn Forché. Her account of the build-up to the El Salvadoran civil war is a lesson in the dangers of the corruption of power and the importance for seeing things as they really are. She shares the advice given to her: ‘You have to be able to see the world as it is, to see how it is put together, and you have to be able to say what you see. And get angry’ (p. 274).
If I was only allowed one book on a desert island, it would be… Rowan Williams’ On Christian Theology. I’ve found no other book which encourages such fruitful contemplation of the divine. Reading each short chapter can take days, and you feel a little like Jacob wrestling with the angel. Only afterwards do you realise that Williams has led you to contemplate the one to whom he is constantly leading you back, that you were sitting at Christ's feet all along, sharing in that journey of contemplation, presence, and wrestling that is the Christian life.