Book Reading Challenge

Faith: Dive Deep Reading Challenge – 2017

By Pastor Melanie Homan

On Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, I shared in worship my plan to take on a reading challenge for 2017. I want to push the boundaries of what I’m used to reading to discover new writers and new ideas. This planted the seeds of an idea: what if we challenged ourselves at Lake Harriet to expand our faith perspectives? Sometimes we benefit from reading things that resonate with what we already believe, other times we benefit from reading something that makes us uncomfortable. I invite you to join me in a faith reading challenge this year. Keep track of what you’re reading, and I’ll host some opportunities throughout the year for us to gather and share what we’re learning.

Make your own goal. Maybe it’s 1 book. Maybe it’s 12. Choose a goal and dive deep into it for the year! Looking for suggestions? Below is a list that I’ve compiled from people at church. Happy reading!


Read one of John Wesley’s Sermons


Read one of the Gospels from beginning to end


Bonus: Read the same Gospel in two different translations

  • provides over 50 translations of the Bible. Some to explore: The Message, New Revised Standard Version, Common English Bible


Read a book on death/dying/afterlife

  • Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
  • When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  • Stiff by Mary Roach
  • We know how this ends: Living while Dying by Bruce Kramer and Cathy Wurzer


Read a book from the United Methodist Women reading list


Read a book of poetry

  • New and Selected Poems by Mary Oliver
  • This Day: Collected and New Sabbath Poems by Wendell Berry
  • River Flow: New and Selected Poems by David Whyte
  • Poetry for Young People by Maya Angelou
  • Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur


Read a book written by United Methodist Leadership

  • A Hopeful Earth: Faith, Science, and the Message of Jesus by Bishop Sally Dyck
  • Three Simple Rules: A Wesleyan Way of Living by Bishop Rueben Job
  • The Future of the United Methodist Church: 7 Vision Pathways by Bishop Bruce Ough and Scott Jones
  • Fear of the Other: No Fear in Love by Bishop William Willimon
  • Talking about Homosexuality by Bishop Karen Oliveto and Kelly Turney
  • Half Truths by Adam Hamilton
  • Why? Making Sense of God’s Will by Adam Hamilton


Read an encyclical by a Pope


Read a book about prayer/faith

  • Word by Word: A Daily Spiritual Practice by Marilyn McEntyre
  • If Grace is True by Philip Gulley and James Mulholland
  • Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope by Joan Chittester
  • Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer
  • Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
  • Credo by William Sloane Coffin
  • Soul Feast by Marjorie Thompson
  • Praying in Color by Sybil MacBeth


Read a book written by a female/African American/Latinx/Native/non U.S. theologian

  • “All the Real Indians Died off”: And 20 Other Myths about Native Americans by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker
  • Blue Note Preaching in a Post-Soul World by Otiss Moss III
  • The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James Cone
  • Femmevanglical by Jennifer Crumpton
  • Latin American Theology: Roots and Branches by Maria Clara Bingemer
  • Grassroots Asian Theology by Simon Chan


Read a book of Christian fiction

  • A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
  • Mothers’ Board: Mothers Know Best by LaShaunda Jackson-Williams
  • The Tempest Tales by Walter Mosley
  • Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
  • Evensong by Gail Godwin


Read a book written by an atheist

  • Why There Is No God by Armin Navabi
  • The God Delusion by Richard Hawkins
  • The End of Faith by Sam Harris


Read a book about science and faith

  • Finding God in the waves: How I lost my faith and found it again through science by “Science Mike” Mike McHargue
  • Surprised by Meaning: Science, Faith, and How We Make Sense of Things by Alister McGrath
  • The Universe in a Single Atom by Dalai Lama
  • Einstein’s God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit by Krista Tippett


Read a book about race in America

  • America’s Original Sin by Jim Wallis
  • The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and Cornel West
  • Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
  • A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota by Sun Yung Shin
  • Muslims and the Making of America by Amir Hussain


Read a memoir on faith

  • Night by Elie Wiesel
  • The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd
  • Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor
  • The Song Poet: A Memoir of my Father by Kao Kalia Yang
  • Seeking Enlightenment Hay by Hat by Nevada Barr


  • A book about new monasticism female/African American/Latinx/Non-U.S. theologian, LGBTQ perspective on the Bible, the church or theology, church growth book, one in a faith based series (like Left Behind or Janet Oake), another non-fiction Faith-oriented book. And Something like Blue Like Jazz…
  • A Common Struggle: A Journal Through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction by Patrick Kennedy…’
  • A millenial author
  • The Constitution and Bill of Rights.
  • Great idea! I would suggest “reading through” the hymnal as well because many hymns have terrifically inspiring texts!
  • Book by atheist.
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