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.


January Picks — Reading Resolutions

Happy 2015 from the staff at Crux.

Well a new year means a new start, right? For January our staff pick theme is “Reading Resolutions.” We share with you books we’ve been meaning to read, and have resolved that 2015 is the year we are finally going to get THESE books off our reading lists.

Cindy Resolves to Read: C.S. Lewis – A Life by Alister McGrath


Cindy says: “I have resolved to read C.S. Lewis: A Life by Alister McGrath. I have picked up the book several times, begun reading, then gotten distracted by other books that “needed” reading. This meant I put down the book I really wanted to read. I plan to start the new year off right by reading this book from cover to cover. The few pages that I have already read were an engaging and insightful look into the life and background of C.S. Lewis. I look forward to actually finishing the book!”

Ryan Resolves to Read: The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (ooo, a big Russian novel, go Ryan!)


Ryan modestly says: “The Brothers Karamozov is the final novel by  Fyodor Dostoyevsky.  This year I plan to read this book because it is a great work of literature that treats philosophical and religious issues in great detail.”

Rev. Heather Resolves to Read: Leviticus by Ephraim Radner (ooo, a book by a professor, nice move Rev. Heather.)


Rev. Heather gushes: “In this New Year with all of its infinite potential and shiny new possibilities I – The Reverent Miss Heather Kathleen May Liddell – resolve to read the infamous Radner commentary on Leviticus! Wish me luck! Keep me in your prayers! Consider joining me on this adventure? Can Ephraim Radner really make Leviticus intersting? I’ve heard good things but I’m skeptical. Are you? Let’s find out!”

Sheila Resolves to Read: Uncommon Gratitude: Alleluia for All That Is by Joan Chittister and Rowan Williams. (ooo, Sheila how very ecumenical with that pair of authors!)


Sheila notes: “This year, I am starting off my reading with Uncommon Gratitude: Alleluia for All That Is by Joan Chittister and Rowan Williams.  This is a book that has been on my “intend to read” shelf for longer that I would like to admit.  Now seems the optimal time (o chairos) to begin again the practice of gratitude.  Chittister and Williams seek to guide the reader in the offering of praise regardless of one’s particular circumstance: ‘To define life by its pastoral moments only — the goal of a feel-good society — is to understand vey little about life at all.  Life calls for stronger stuff than that.  Life is dirge as well as symphony, lament as well as hymn.’ [p.94] Amen.”

Yet Another September Staff Picks Post

September is the month that keeps on giving! As summer drags on and wrestles with autumn for dominion over this fair city the staff at Crux Books continue to work hard to offer the best customer service a little independent discount theological bookstore could possibly offer.

Ed’s pick – Walter Brueggemann’s The Land: Place as Gift, Promise, and Challenge in Biblical Faith – is an important book for anyone interested in the theology of Land: in Sabbath, in Promise, and in the Abundant care God shows forth in Creation!


Ed says: I read this book while riding my motorcycle in through Death Valley. The wind was in my luscious hair (or it would have been if I had been silly enough to take off my helmet) and my mind was on the majesty of God’s good Creation. It is important to understand God’s relationship with Creation beyond the New Testament in order to understand the fulfillment of God’s promises in Christ! This book is a must read for all Christians whether they are couch potatoes or avid adventurers like me! I highly recommend it.

(Fictionalized by Rev. H.)

PhD candidate and Cruxian Ryan Reed’s take on our September theme: labour, work, and justice, is along the same lines. His pick is Canadian author and fabulous preacher Mark Buchanan’s The Rest of God.


Ryan says:

While – to a non-PhD candidate – it may sound like this book is about the bits of God that lie beyond our understanding as mere finite creaturely beings, it is really all about rest — rest as Sabbath. The tagline of the book says it all: Restoring your Soul by Restoring Sabbath. Many of us live busy lives in which taking a Sabbath just doesn’t seem practical. I for one spent my summer at a coffee shop where there was no rest. If that sounds like you – if you spend your Mondays as I do breaking down cardboard boxes in the back room and accepting compliments on your amazing fashion sense – don’t hesitate! Pick up your copy of Mark Buchanan’s concise tome and begin to fall into the infinite down comforter of Sabbath. Enjoy the sweet foreshadowing of the Kingdom of Heaven by looking ever forward in anticipation to the true and ultimate rest of being face to face with God. Trust me. I’m very smart.

(fictionalized by Rev. H and Ms. Carolyn.)

And so my dear beloved Cruxians, as this fabulous month comes to a close we hope to see many of you in the store!

Until then – Yours behind the counter,

The Crux Books Team.



September Picks: Labour Day, Work, and Justice

Finally, here are the September Staff Picks. It has been a tiny bit crazy in the store with the textbooks arriving, then leaving, and now arriving again.

With all the textbookishness of the last month or so, we missed out on posting Alain’s final staff pick at Crux. Alain has gone to greener pastures to do his classics doctorate, and leaves us this final book to ponder:


On to September! We chose books related (in our minds) to Justice, Labour, or Work. Here are the choices.

Cindy’s Pick: The Vinedresser’s Notebook by Judith Sutera


This little book is a spiritual wisdom treasure chest. I read it like a small child with an ice cream on a hot summer day, quickly devouring each page. Now I need to return to the book to reread it only slowly, savouring each page and allowing it’s insights to be slowly digested. This is one of those books that after you read it you want all your friends to read it.  This would be a great gift for the “gardener” as the illustrations are drawn from the work of the vinedresser in the vineyard

Carolyn’s Pick: The Economy of Desire by Daniel M. Bell, Jr.


Recognizing that Christianity’s relationship with capitalism is a complex one, Bell tries to go beyond surface comparisons between ideas and beliefs to get at the ways in which capitalism is driven by and shapes our desires. An important text for thinking Christianly about the economy in which we are so deeply embedded.

Rev. Heather’s Pick: Growing Local Food by Mary Lou Shaw


Have you ever wondered about harvesting your own honey, keeping heritage breed cattle, or the many fascinating and fabulous reasons to harvest rainwater? I know I have. Mary Lou Shaw’s Growing Local Food has the answers to many of your how questions when it comes to local food production, but, more importantly, she also delves into the why questions. This is a great starter text for figuring out what this living local phenomenon is all about. What is this urban gardening thing and how can you start to think about the everyday things you can do to make this world a more sustainable place? A fun read as we head into harvest time!

July Picks part 2: More Children’s Books!

Our staff picks for July are children’s books that we stock at the store.

Dr. Heather’s Pick: In Grandma’s Attic by Arleta Richardson


Dr. Heather says: “When I was 11 or so this book made me laugh out loud. In this book a grandmother tells her granddaughter stories connected with objects found In Grandma’s Attic. The format makes this a good book for reading aloud.” Ages 9-12

Sheila’s Pick: The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis


Sheila notes that lots of people don’t think about the creation theology in the Narnia Chronicles. Perhaps it is because this book often gets shuffled off to the side. Read this book, enjoy the creation scene, and join the order debate — is The Magician’s Nephew best read as an introduction to Narnia, or after The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe as a prequel to that book. The debate rages on.

July Staff Picks — Children’s Books!

July Staff Picks feature some of our favourite children’s books because Summer brings out the kid in all of us. Right?

Cindy’s Pick: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle


Cindy says: “A young girl, her brother, and a friend set out on a fantastic journey with a mysterious stranger in search of her missing father.  Science fiction and fantasy combine to bring the reader into the tesseract concept (a wrinkle in time) and a journey filled with danger, adventure and choices that will ultimately affect not only their lives but the whole universe.  Winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal, this is the first book the “Time Quintet”.  Suggested reading age: 12 and up.”

Carolyn’s Pick: Raiders from the Sea by Lois Walfrid Johnson


Carolyn says: “Lois Walfrid Johnson was one of my favourite authors as I was growing up, and all of her books have remained solidly on my “keeper” shelf since then. This book is the first in her Viking Quest series, which follows the story of a young Irish girl and her brother who are captured by Vikings in the late 10th century. The book is full of  adventure, history, and an authentic, non-moralistic engagement with what Christian faith might look like in difficult circumstances. Reading level: Ages 10 and up (probably younger if parent is reading to child).


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.

June Staff Picks Continued

June staff picks are random books for random travels. So far Carolyn has suggested a little time travel to encounter a bear and a monk in the middle ages and Sheila sent us off to China with Hudson Taylor. Here are some more random travels:

Cindy’s Pick: Cindy is the store manager. For summer travel and reflection she suggests a  nice travel journal.


Even if your only trip is around the block, summer is a good time to reestablish the discipline of keeping a journal.

Alain’s Pick: Alain is our resident classicist, about to leave us for advanced degrees in Texas. His pick is a work of literary criticism that takes us into a poem about Eden and the fall.


A Preface To Paradise Lost by C.S. Lewis

Dr. Heather’s Pick:

Dr. Heather has also chosen a work of literary criticism by Lewis. This one takes us into the world of books more generally. It looks at what makes a book worth reading and re-reading and suggests new ways of evaluating works of art, particularly works of literature.


An Experiment in Criticism by C.S. Lewis

June Staff Picks: Random Books for Random Travels

Our June staff picks don’t have a theme. It is kind of a random month in the store. We are getting ready for inventory, there’s construction next door that had been rattling our windows and bones, and the weather in Toronto has been pretty random as well. Those are the reasons for our randomness. Without further ado, here are the first two random selections:

Sheila’s Pick: Sheila is our resident classicist turned theologian. She’s really into Patristics, which should surprise no one. Sheila’s pick of the month is


Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor

This is a classic biography of a missionary to China. Sheila reminds us that we need to read good Christian biographies to be challenged in our life of faith.

Carolyn’s Pick: Carolyn is our resident philosopher. She grew up in B.C. which may explain her affinity for bears. Carolyn’s June pick is:


Carolyn says “You don’t need to have small people in your life to find yourself completely entranced by this children’s story. Working from an obscure 12th century reference to a manuscript being eaten by a bear, the author creates a charming story about life in the world of medieval monastic libraries. This is a simple, beautifully illustrated tale for book-lovers of all ages.”

Happy reading!