Top Four Books I Read in 2013

As I lay in bed ushering in 2014 with a nasty head cold, I decided to share my favorite reads of 2013. It was not a year for fiction, which is unusual. I did my reading for learning this year and I liked it. So drum roll please- Erna’s Favorite books of 2013!

1) Tattoos on the Heart by Father Greg Boyle


cvr9781439153154_9781439153154_lgFather Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries, has been serving gang members in East LA since the height of gang activity in Los Angeles . This book is awesome because it humanizes an often caricatured group of people and it is theologically profound, without being academic and aloof. It will make you cry- but not in an annoying way, because the emotion springs from real substance.  Plus, he shares about the importance of providing jobs and opportunity for people coming out of gangs and prison. Many books on social justice are so academic I get the feeling that the author might run away from an actual person from the hood. Father Boyle is on the ground, but exegetes his context with profound insight and compassion. JUST READ IT ALREADY!


2) Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

04-02leanin_full_600I consider this the second in a series- that started with Bossypants by Tina Fey- on modern day lady power. I kind of had to read Lean In- or I would have lost my lady leader street cred. It was great! It articulated a lot of dynamics that depressed me and gave some empowering suggestions. It’s odd, because I felt like I learned a lot as I read it, but when I was done I couldn’t tell you what I learned. I think I internalized a lot of it as I went along because it resonated on an intuitive level.

Here are two of ideas I’ve been referencing a lot.

1) Consider a job for its potential, not just where you start but where it could go. 2) Men tend to assume they can do a job, woman tend to be more reserved about putting themselves forward for a position until they feel very confident of their ability to execute it. Both of these ideas have helped me to take more risks.


3) The Next Evangelicalism by Soong- Chan Rah

Absolutely shocked that I liked this book because typically I cannot stand white dude evangelical chatty Cathy 61NI5tM4qsL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_theology. But this is written by one feisty ass Korean American professor man who says some SHIT! I mean the stuff he articulates about how the American church is a slave to Western ideologies is AWESOME! And he has so much attitude! Attitude with brains- and readable. Potent combination! I LOVED IT! Read this if you want a clearer understanding of syncretism in the American evangelical church. And read it if you’ve ever felt like there are too many white guys with  goatees talking like they know everything about Christianity. Or read it if you are that guy.


Here are some sweet quotes that had me yelling for my husband so I could read them out loud to SOMEBODY!


“If you are a white Christian wanting to be a missionary in this day and age, and you have never had a nonwhite mentor, then you will not be a missionary. You will be a colonist. Instead of taking the gospel message into the world, you will take an Americanized version of the gospel.”

“I believe that the real emerging church is the church in Africa, Asian, and Latin America that continues to grow by leaps and bounds. I believe that the real emerging church is the hip-hop church, the English speaking Latino congregation, the second generation Asian American church, the Haitian immigrant church, the Spanish speaking store-front churches and so forth. For a small group of white Americans to usurp the term “emerging” reflects a significant arrogance.”


4) The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

I’m going to be honest. I haven’t finished this book. It is just breaking my heart. The depth of brokenness and injusticehome_book_cvr in our prison system and criminal justice system is so overwhelming I feel despair. I pick this up and read a few pages and try to untangle the complexity of the War on Drugs, the impact on urban neighborhoods, and the impact on the Black community and I just can’t keep reading. This book is prophetic, and informative, and absolutely to the core heartbreaking.





Well that’s it! Would love to hear your thoughts on these books or books you read in 2013 that impacted you.  Happy 2014!