Encouraging Words

Thanks to all loyal Crux customers who have stopped in this week to support us. Your words and actions mean a lot to us. This morning, one of our regular customers — and friend to many on staff — Rev. Rachel posted a reflection on her blog connecting Pentecost and Crux. Here’s our favourite paragraph:

Crux provides a vital source of theological depth in our city. Perhaps even more importantly — it is staffed by committed people of faith who believe that what they do is a ministry to our spiritual community (several of them are personal friends). If you’ve always thought about investing in your spiritual library, now is the time to do it! Take a walk down Hoskin Avenue and check out some titles and authors you’ve always wanted to explore. Support this wonderful independent store, and keep them going through the summer months. Let us be the body of Christ we celebrate in the coming of the Holy Spirit and minister to one another.

Thanks Rachel!

 

Reading and Re-Reading: An Introduction to March Picks

The Crux Staff Picks them for February was “Books we Love.” The March theme is “Books we found/find challenging.” To bridge these two themes, we recommend reading this article on Re-reading Books. Sometimes we re-read books because we love them. Other times we need to re-read books to better understand them. Look for our books we found challenging posts over the next week or so.

What about Women?

Astute readers of this blog will have noticed that there are no women in the Authors Who Sell Well list previously published, yet there are three women in the Authors Who Don’t Sell Well list. This may concern some of you. It concerned the feminists here in the store, the ones who carefully count how women are represented in each “X People From Christian History” book we stock. If you look at the writings of the saints, or saints’ lives, that is a place where women clearly outsell men at Crux. Which women? I’m glad you asked, here’s a list:

  1. Julian of Norwich
  2. Catherine of Siena
  3. Hildegarde of Bingen
  4. Teresa of Avila
  5. Mother Teresa of Calcuta
  6. Therese of Lisieux

Of course, Francis of Assisi has been getting a lot of press and increased book sales since Francis I became pope. But none of the other male saints get the sales of the holy women.

Famous Authors Who Don’t Sell At Crux

Crux is a theological bookstore, which has served the Toronto School of Theology for years. The number of Christian bookstores in downtown Toronto has been shrinking for many years, and we are the last ones standing. We have lots of new customers coming into the store all the time. Sometimes new customers are surprised by what we do and do not carry. Like most bookstores, we order books based on our experience of what sells. Here are two lists for you to consider — 8 authors who do not sell at Crux, and 8 authors who sell very well at Crux. We draw no conclusions, but you can, if you’d like.

Eight Authors Who Do NOT Sell Well at Crux (alphabetically listed):

  1. Billy Graham
  2. Tim LaHaye
  3. Beverly Lewis
  4. Anne Graham Lotz
  5. Max Lucado
  6. Martin Luther
  7. Joyce Meyer
  8. Tullian Tchividjian

Eight Authors Who Sell Very Well Indeed at Crux (alphabetically again):

  1. G.K. Chesterton
  2. Pope Francis I
  3. Tim Keller
  4. C.S. Lewis
  5. Henri Nouwen
  6. J.I. Packer
  7. John R.W. Stott
  8. N.T. Wright

 

7 tips for Difficult Reading

Sometimes it is difficult to read scholarly books. Language and concepts can both be dense and tangled, but only one of the two need be obscure for difficulties to arise. (See what I mean?)

We (Crux Staff) have read our share of difficult texts. Here are 7 strategies (see what we did there?) we use to wade through and find meaning when things get tangled and twisted.

  1. Fling the book in question across the room and against the wall. This releases the tension caused by obfuscation and may allow you to move on with reading. This also works when you find the argument vacuous or ridiculous. We have flung authors from Hegel to Harris across rooms. You can decide which of those is obtuse and which ridiculous.
  2. Use a dictionary or other reference tome that may shed light on the text. Regular English Dictionaries are very helpful, as are specialized dictionaries of theological or philosophical terms. Maps and diagrams can be helpful depending on the subject.
  3. Read slowly and in small sections. Sometimes summarizing a paragraph helps decode what happened in that block of text. Active reading includes taking notes and sitting at a desk or table, not sprawling on a couch or bed. Some difficult books must be read on hard chairs, no cushions allowed.
  4. While cushions are not allowed, breaks are allowed, and even recommended. Breaks help the brain digest the heavy rich food found in difficult books.
  5. Talking about a book with a study group can help untangle the threads of an author’s point. Of course, class discussions and professors can also make things plain, but the work of decoding a text yourself is far more rewarding in the long run. Really.
  6. A summary or précis can be helpful. Some authors realize this and produce their own summaries. Other times we resort to notes and summaries written by others. Be Selective in the summaries you use though!
  7. Speaking of selective, help yourself out by being choosy from the beginning. Pay attention to which English translation you use. Translators make a difference — are you reading the King James Version of a work or is it more like The Message?

Ask the Crux Staff — we sure do. We are here to help in any way we can, even when the reading gets tough.

Possible Gifts for Theologians for Valentine’s Day

Here comes V-Day, where V is for St. Valentine. Hearts and flowers might be traditional, but there are some books that also might fit for Valentine giving. Here are some slightly tongue-in-cheek possibilities, selected by the staff at Crux. (Yes, this is what we talk about in the store.)

barth

Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics 4.1: The Doctrine of Reconciliation. Reconciliation sounds good for relationships, plus there’s the pink cover. A winning gift for the Barth scholar.

lewis

C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce. Ok, maybe it isn’t very romantic, but it might be just the thing for the Lewis fan who is single? Maybe?

Sentilles

Sarah Sentilles, Breaking Up With God: A Love Story. Nothing more need be said.

Chapman

Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages has so many different editions that there is sure to be one for someone you know for V-day. Nothing says love like a gift? Isn’t that a love language?

Sherwood

Yvonne Sherwood, The Prostitute and the Prophet. Because nothing says V-Day quite like Hosea and Gomer?

And finally, the book for all couples on Valentine’s day:

9782895075592