The Pleasure Was Mine. Tommy Hays. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2005; $12.95. This novel about the resilience of family focuses on Prate Marshbanks, who is slowly losing his wife of fifty years yet getting to know his son and grandson in a new way. Critics have called it “tender,” “bittersweet,” and “captivating.” Hays is director of the Great Smokies Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Asheville and a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville.
The Priest’s Madonna. Amy Hassinger. Putnam, 2006; $24.95. Weaving history and legend, romance and spirituality, Hassinger tells the story of a priest’s housekeeper (and possible lover) in late nineteenth century France. The author puts a refreshing twist on historical fiction, focusing on moral and spiritual struggles. Hassinger, who has written for UU World, is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Urbana-Champaign, Illinois.
Death of a Prince. Susan P. Baker. Five Star, 2005; $25.95. In this whodunit, mother and daughter law partners Erma Townley and Sandra Salinsky defend a client from a capital murder charge while trying to stay alive searching for the real killer. Baker is president of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Hill Country in Kerrville, Texas.
Once Around the Sun. Bobbi Katz. Illus. by LeUyen Pham. Harcourt, 2006; $16. Each of the twelve months is captured in a poem in this beautifully illustrated book for children ages 5 to 10. The poet is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Catskills in Kingston, New York.
The Family Silver: A Memoir of Depression and Inheritance. Sharon O’Brien. Univ. of Chicago, 2004; $27.50. O’Brien uses her scholar’s skills to dig into her family history and finds that depression is part of a legacy tied to Irish history, American culture, and the pressures faced by generations of immigrants. The author, a professor of American studies at Dickinson College, is a member of the Unitarian Universalists of the Cumberland in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania.
Writing Brave and Free: Encouraging Words for People Who Want to Start Writing. Ted Kooser and Steve Cox. Univ. of Nebraska, 2006; $12.95. Practical and upbeat advice. Kooser, an English professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is U.S. poet laureate and a member of the Unitarian Church of Lincoln, Nebraska. (UU World, Winter 2005.)
Naming the Holy: Selected Writings of David B. Parke. Unitarian Universalist Christian, vol. 59. UU Christian Fellowship, 2005; $20 (uuchristian.org). The Rev. David B. Parke, author of The Epic of Unitarianism and former editor of this magazine, recently retired from full-time ministry.
Gods After God: An Introduction to Contemporary Radical Theologies. Richard Grigg. SUNY, 2006; $55. A compact study of theologians who abandon traditional views of the divine and the movements they have inspired. Grigg is chair of philosophy and religious studies at Sacred Heart University and a member of the Unitarian Society of New Haven, Connecticut.
The World is a Waiting Lover: Desire and the Quest for the Beloved. Trebbe Johnson. New World Library, 2005; $14.95. Johnson explores the concept that desire can transcend human relationships and be applied to one’s relationship within the world and with life. Johnson is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Binghamton, New York.
Words and One-Liners, Take 2. Ric Masten. Sun-Ink, 2005; $30 (www.ric-masten.net). Another hefty collection of poetry by Masten, the long-time UU minister-bard. Illustrated by the author with whimsical line drawings. Masten is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Monterey Peninsula in Carmel, California.
Getting On Message: Challenging the Christian Right from the Heart of the Gospel. Ed. by Peter Laarman. Beacon, 2006; $15. Biblical resources for progressive politics. Contributors include UUA President William G. Sinkford (on marriage equality), Bill McKibben, Garret Keizer, Marilynne Robinson, and ten others.