Archives For #EmptyShelf

kneelingThis is it! The last book on my Empty Shelf! This means I’ve averaged a book a week for the last year. I definitely read more than I read in 2013, and that was the point!

Title: Kneeling with Giants

Author: Gary Hansen

Date Started: December 23, 2014                                Date Finished: December 28, 2014

Number of Pages: 316                                                  Total for 2014: 16,020

What It’s About: This book is a wonderful exploration of prayer throughout history as taught and practiced by a variety of spiritual giants. Starting with St. Benedict and closing with Andrew Murray, the reader also learns the prayer practices of St. Teresa de Avila, John Calvin, Martin Luther, St. Igantius, and others. This book presents the history of the prayer practices as well as tips to getting started with each one. Prayer doesn’t have to be a one-size fits all, and Hansen encourages readers to try a variety of ways.

Why I Read It: It’s assigned to my Spiritual Formation Group for J-Term. Also, I have Dr. Hansen for History and Confession this semester and this will help me schmooze. (Just kidding about that last part.) (Kind of.)

minivanTitle: Don’t Lick The Minivan

Author: Leanne Shirtliffe

Date Started: December 22, 2014               Date Finished: December 26, 2014

Number of Pages: 304                                Total Pages for 2014: 15,704

What It’s About: Parenthood! Leanne and husband Chris give birth to twins while living in Thailand. What follows are six years worth of hilarious stories about raising two inquisitive, bright, active children.

Why I Read It: Just because I needed something funny to read over Christmas break!

jarsTitle: Christmas Jars

Author: Jason F. Wright

Date Started: December 7, 2014       Date Finished: December 9, 2014

Number of Pages: 122      Total for 2014: 15,400

What It’s About: A young journalist, who has recently lost her mother to cancer, arrives home on Christmas Eve to find her apartment burglarized–items, emergency cash, sense of security all stolen. As the police are collecting information for their report, she spots a jar of money left just inside her door. It is filled with coins and a couple $20 bills. She begins and investigation into who might have left the jar and what it means. Her search leads her to the Maxwell family and a beautiful story about generosity and hope.

Why I Read It: For book club tonight!

You can find more information about the fun project this novel has begun at

poehlerTitle: Yes, Please

Author: Amy Poehler

Date Started: November 7, 2014    Date Finished: November 12, 2014

Format: Audio Book

Number of Pages: 328

What It’s About: This is Poehler’s memoir and it’s fantastic! She writes about everything from her start in improv comedy, to her time on SNL, to her character on “Parks and Recreation,” to her divorce, to her Smart Girls At The Party project, to her children, and about everything in between. She’s witty and fun and fierce all the way through and listening to her read the book is way better than reading it.

Why I “Read” It: I had an Audible credit and really wanted to hear this book!

gaffiganTitle: Food: A Love Story

Author: Jim Gaffigan

Date Started: November 5, 2014    Date Finished: November 10, 2014

Number of Pages: 352   Total for 2014: 15,278

What It’s About: Food. So much food. Everything from specific types of food to fast food brands to special food occasions. Jim Gaffigan writes from experience in his hilarious manner. Favorite line: “I don’t know much about grammar, but I think ‘kale salad’ is what they call a ‘double negative.'”

Why I Read It: My brain needed a break.

newbiginTitle: The Gospel in a Pluralist Society

Author: Lesslie Newbigin

Date Started: September 15, 2014     Date Finished: November 16, 2014

Number of Pages: 276   Total for 2014: 14,926

What It’s About: How can Christians relate and share the gospel in a pluralist society? Lesslie Newbigin Christians understand how they might be able to practice and confess their faith within the current cultural context.

Why I Read It: For my Missions and Evangelism class!

ValhallaTitle: Invitation to Valhalla

Author: Mike Whicker

Date Started: October 17, 2014   Date Finished: November 11, 2014

Number of Pages: 492     Total for 2014: 14,650

What It’s about: Erika Lehman is a cold-hearted, cold-blooded German Spy and family friend to Adolf Hitler during World War II. She’s sent on a mission to Evansville, Indiana in the middle of the war, not long after the attack on Pearl Harbor. FBI agent Charlie Pulaski is sent to stop her. German Agent Axel Ryker is sent to kill her. Local Jewish Mettalurgist Joe Mayer just wants to date her.

Why I Read it: Book Club!

Did I like it? Yep! It was a great book!

I bet you thought I forgot about Empty Shelf! I did not. It’s just that this semester, I’m reading pretty much only books for class (there’s so much reading) and I’m about halfway through the semester. This is the first book we’re finishing!

SannehTitle: Whose Religion is Christianity: The Gospel Beyond The West

Author: Lamin Sanneh

Date Started AND Finished: October 25, 2014

Number of Pages: 150   Total for 2014: 14,158

What it’s About: Think Christianity is a dying religion? It’s not. It may be struggling in Western nations, but it is thriving in the global south and east. Christianity has become a worldwide religion. In this work, Sanneh uses the form of self-interview and explores themes such as inculturation, language, and translation of Scripture and how these have moved the gospel beyond the Western church.

Why I Read it: I’m taking a Missions and Evangelism class and right now we’re studying cultural contextualization and how the gospel is shared in a way that crosses boundaries and respects culture.

Here are three additional books I read for my Foundations of Worship class at UDTS.

intro to worship#42

Title “Introduction to Christian Worship”     Author: James F. White

Number of Pages: 326    Total for 2014: 13,661

What It’s About: Surprisingly enough, this book is an introduction to Christian worship! How did the early church worship? How did worship change through the centuries? What about sacred music, baptism, and communion? Why are there so many different traditions? This book is a great primer for understanding Church worship and it was the basic text for our class discussions.




Title: Eucharist: Christ’s Feast With The Church  Author: Laurence Hull Stookey.

Number of Pages: 211    Total for 2014: 13,872

What it’s About: The traditions, practices, and understanding behind how the Eucharist is celebrated in the  Church. This book gives the history of practices around The Lord’s Supper and table fellowship.


worsihp wars#44

Title: Beyond the Worship Wars: Building Vital and Faithful Worship   Author: Thomas G. Long

Number of Pages:  136   Total for 2014: 14,008

What It’s About: It’s not about traditional vs. contemporary or old vs. new. It’s about worshiping well and strong leadership. In this book, Long looks at 9 characteristics shared by vital and faithful congregations practiced by churches that have moved beyond the debates many of us are still having. He gives practical advice for churches that want to put them into practice. This is a great book for worship leaders and worship planners!


51mjYI8M9sL._AA160_Title: Packing For Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void

Author: Mary Roach

Format: Audiobook (on my way to Dubuque)

Date Started: July 29, 2014     Date Finished: August 1, 2014

Number of Pages: n/a (but 336 pages in the print edition, just fyi)

What It’s About: The space program and all of the odd things that astronauts (and astrochimps and astrodogs) have encountered and endured through the years, from initial rocket tests, to first orbits, to moon missions and space station adventures, and as the program continues to prepare for a “manned” mission to Mars. This book is quirky and fun.

Why I Read It: I heard an interview with the author (NPR, probably) and was interested to read this book. It did not disappoint!