Joan of Arc

Helen Castor’s biography of Joan of Arc is an interesting look at the short life of this famous medieval woman. Listen to an interview with Castor on the History Extra podcast, then buy the book at Crux!



February Staff Picks Part 1: Books We’re Reading for Lent

Cindy is reading God’s Wider Presence: Reconsidering General Revelation by Robert Johnson because she was intrigued by the premise of the book as found in the preface:

“What are we as Christians to make of those occasional encounters with God in our everyday lives that seem more real than everyday reality, more fundamental than everything else? . . . While not having to do with one’s salvation in any direct way, and occurring outside the church and without direct reference to Scripture or to Jesus Christ, such encounters for that is what they are experienced to be, are seen, heard and read as foundational to life.  This book attempts to think constructively—both critically and imaginatively—about such experiences.  What is the inherent value of God’s wider revelation, of experiences of God’s Presence not directly tied to our salvation?  And how are they to be understood theologically?”


Ed is reading Embracing Wisdom: The Summa theologiae as Spiritual Pedagogy by Gilles Mongeau because it is Prof. Mongeau’s newest book.


Heather is (re)reading the Chronicles of Narnia. All of them. Because it is time to revisit Narnia.


Carolyn is reading Forgotten Among the Lilies by Ronald Rolheiser because of a friend’s recommendation. She says “It has been the right book at the right time for me. Rolheiser reminds us that our lives will always hold elements of unfulfillment, both as lack and as excess. This unfulfillment is what propels us toward God, and is a timely theme for Lent.”


Sheila is reading Jesus the Bridegroom: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told by Brant Pitre. Sheila says “I am reading this book for Lent because Pitre examines the theme of Christ’s mission as Bridegroom of the Church, inviting his readers to engage in readings from the Old and New Testament as we look at the great mystery of the Passion of Christ.”


Connor is reading The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis because there’s something humbling about hearing your own flaws presented in such an engaging and comical way.


Andrew is reading The Twenty-Piece Shuffle by Greg Paul. He calls it the best book he’s read in a long time.


How about you? What are you reading for Lent?

January Staff Picks: Winter Reading

Winter Reading seems somehow different from summer reading. Books should go well with hot drinks and snowy scenes somehow. Of course, what goes with firesides and hot drinks depends on the person. Here are the Crux staff’s Winter Reading picks.

Ed is reading The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything by James Martin, SJ


Ed claims he’s reading this “because the author signed the book for me (and I really enjoyed listening to his lecture at Regis College).

Cindy is reading Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas


Cindy says she’s finally reading this book “because it’s been on my reading list far too long.”

Carolyn is reading The Sickness Unto Death by Soren Kierkegaard.


Of course, Carolyn frequently reads Kierkegaard. This time, she claims it is “because Winter is for Kierkegaard, and if you don’t believe me, listen to Tyler Lyle’s gorgeous song by the same name. January is a good month to confront the various forms of despair we live in.”

Heather is reading Not God’s Type by Holly Ordway


Heather is reading this book “because I like the cover, and I got it for Christmas.”

Sheila is reading The Divine Comedy by Dante.


Sheila decided to read this epic “because I heard a great discussion on the book How Dante can Save Your Life on the radio, and this encouraged me to follow up on my long-held intent to read Dante’s epic. I did read “The Inferno” for school, but never went further, so I guess I’m also reading this to get out of hell.”

Connor is reading Wittgenstein: Duty of Genius by Ray Monk


Connor says: “Long book? Of course it is! I’m reading it to add background to my study of Wittgenstein this coming term.”

Andrew is reading Unintended Reformation by Brad S. Gregory
Andrew is reading this (despite controversy) because “whether one agrees with his arguments or not, Brad Gregory’s  book needs to be taken into account.”

Giving Gifts

December Staff Picks Part II — Here are some more books we love to give.

Cindy is giving The Gardener by Sarah Stewart and David Small because “my granddaughter planted her first garden this year and was thrilled to see things sprout and grow. I think this children’s book will be a great gift for her.” (We hope none of Cindy’s family happens on gift spoilers on the blog!)


Ed likes giving Return of the Prodigal by Henri Nouwen because he feels like this is a book he can give to anyone.


Heather suggests giving Home by Marilynne Robinson because she likes giving prize-winning fiction to unsuspecting relations.


Carolyn suggests John Jensen Feels Different by Henrik Hovland because “I gave this lovely Norwegian children’s book to myself recently, and I may give it to my goddaughter when she is a little older. If you don’t fall in love with John Jensen in 30 seconds, it’s not my fault, nor is it the fault of Hovland or his brilliant illustrator, Norwegian-Canadian Toril Love.”


Sheila suggests The Experience of God by David Bentley Hart because it is a good book. We all know that Sheila always suggests good books.


Connor, following the colouring book trend, suggests giving All the Libraries Toronto by Daniel Rotsztain because “It’s fun, and another way to connect with Toronto’s growing library system.”


Andrew suggests giving The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky because “Everyone should read at least one classic novel at Christmas time.”brothers

Tis the Season…

… to be giving. And books make great presents. Our staff picks for December are books that we’ve given or are giving.

Cindy is giving The Abbey by James Martin, S.J. because “when I started reading this book I didn’t want to put it down; I’m planning on sending it to my mother.” (We *hope* Cindy’s mother isn’t reading the blog!)


Ed is giving Lila by Marilynne Robinson because it is on his wife’s reading list. (His wife *might* have chosen Ed’s staff picks without his knowledge this month.)


Carolyn suggests giving Dog-Kissed Tears by Lambert Zuidervaart because “I found this book comforting in the wake of losing my beloved dog. It is a lovely gift for anyone who is grieving the loss of a pet this Christmas.”


Heather recommends giving An Experiment in Criticism by C.S. Lewis because it is the perfect gift for reading friends as it is a Lewis work that few people have read. (And it is Lewis. How can you go wrong?)


Sheila regularly gives Becoming Human by John Behr because she loves the book and it has a great cover. (Fr. Behr’s books is not to be confused with the published Massey Lectures of Jean Vanier, also called Becoming Human.)


Connor is going to give Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl because, he says, it is “not cheery, but not to be missed: I’m giving a couple copies as gifts.”


And last but certainly not least,

Andrew suggests giving Terrapin by Wendell Berry, because “people don’t read enough poetry–especially modern poetry and especially modern Christian poetry.”



Books Crux Staff are Reading for Advent

Advent is almost upon us — Sunday, November 29, is Advent 1. Happy Church New Year everyone!

If you are still looking for an Advent read, have a look at the books staff are reading this Advent. Sometimes the reasons we pick the books aren’t super spiritual, but maybe the books themselves will help us with that.

For Advent, Cindy is reading Light Upon Light compiled by Sarah Arthur


Why did you pick this book Cindy? “Because more than one person recommended it to me.”

For Advent, Ed is reading Against An Infinite Horizon by Ronald Rolheiser


Why this book, Ed? “Because the church librarian told me I needed to read it.”

For Advent,Heather is reading After You Believe by N.T. Wright


So, Heather, why’d you pick this book? “Because it has been sitting on my coffee table for a while.”

During Advent, Carolyn is planning to read Preparing for Christmas by Richard Rohr.


Carolyn, why did you choose this book? “Because I got it free.”

For Advent, Sheila is reading Every Valley: Advent with the Scriptures of Handel’s Messiah compiled by Jessica Miller Kelley


Why did you pick this book Sheila? “Because I love listening to Messiah.”

For Advent, Connor decided to read The Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen.


Connor, why this book now? “Because It’s red like a Starbucks Holiday Cup and is as directly related to advent as a Starbucks Holiday Cup; further, it is of interest to me because it invites self reflection.” (Way to jam all that into one sentence Connor.)

For Advent, Andrew boldly chose On the Incarnation by St. Athanasius.


Why this particular book for Advent, Andrew? “Because that’s what its all about.” (Do the Hokey-Pokey much?)

One Woman’s Plain Choices

A review of The Plain Choice: A True Story of Choosing to Live an Amish Life by Sherry Gore (Zondervan, 2015).

by Cindy Hayley


The book is the true story of a woman who chose to live an Amish life. Her story is that of a troubled young woman, whose lack of self-esteem, sense of worthlessness, and belief that she was unloved took her on a deep, dark journey of bad decisions and their resulting consequences—a journey that too many young people take. The book is brutally honest in parts and heartbreaking in others. As you read you can feel the emotional roller coaster ride of her life.

One day Sherry discovers Jesus and feels Him calling her toward a different life. Slowly,  her faith is built, a faith that can sustain her through changing circumstances. Becoming a Christian not only doesn’t solve all one’s problems, in some respects, it creates new difficulties. Sherry chooses to live her Christian life in an Amish Mennonite community, a decision that will change her inside and out. This path will lead her and her children in a direction that is different than the the direction most people’s lives take. Sherry’s choice isn’t for everyone, but everyone can read and learn from her story.