The following books have influenced me in some way, and I'd recommend them for a variety of reasons
I’m Still Here, Black Dignity In A World Made For Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
I think that every white Christian should read this before asking their black, female friend to describe racism to them. I’ve heard from many non-white people how exhausting and painful it is to try to ‘prove’ to someone that racism exists--especially within the church. So before you ask any questions of that friend of yours, educate yourself with a book like Austin’s.
Austin was given her name by parents who knew that, in the USA, those with names that sound black and female won’t likely get a call for a job interview, but those with white, male sounding names will. They thought she could at least get to the interview before they realized she was a black woman, and she could fight for herself once there.
She talks deeply about how her black, female body is treated within western society, and within the church. She also describes the truths that she wishes everyone knew about how important her black, female body is to the church and to western society.
Introduction to First Nations Ministry by Cheryl Bear-Barnetson
I met Cheryl Bear-Barnetson at a Justice Conference held at Tenth Avenue Church in Vancouver years ago. She led a breakout session that taught us about the relationship that Indigenous people have with Christianity and the church. I went on to find out that she has had a great influence over the decolonizing efforts at my Christian workplace through her relationship with my recently retired Manager. I hope I get to meet her again one day.
Cheryl is from the Nadleh Whut'en First Nation community (Bear Clan) in northern British Columbia and she is a PhD graduate from Regent College. She wrote this book as her doctoral thesis. It contains some very challenging ideas, as well as deep, soothing breathes of knowledge that free me to love my Indigenous brothers and sisters better. It is a book that I will probably look back to for wisdom for years to come. I was originally borrowing a copy from someone else until I realized I needed my own book so I could mark up every few pages with notes and highlights, indicating words that impacted me deeply.
So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
What drew me to this book was an interview that Ijeoma Oluo gave on CBC radio. She spoke so clearly and succinctly about racism, in a way that made me feel like I had to change, without simultaneously making me feel like a piece of garbage for my mistakes. I promptly looked up her book. (Listen to that CBC interview here)
Ijeoma Oluo is a black woman who grew up in poverty, graduating from a university in Seattle with a degree in political science. After a while of living within Seattle, she realized that within this generally progressive city the conversation around racism and the intersectionality of various marginalized groups was not happening. She mustered up her strength, experience, and knowledge to become a strong voice in highlighting these topics, and has been widely heard through her blogs, published articles, and interviews. This recent book (published 2018) is an incredible summary of her many years teaching and guiding people into understanding racism in western society.
Glory Happening by Kaitlin Curtice
I stumbled across this book when I read an article by Kaitlin Curtice in Relevant Magazine here and decided my life needed more of her writing. In Glory Happening, Kaitlin Curtice writes so beautifully about "finding the divine in everyday places" within her own life. Her examples inspired me to see the glory in my everyday moments as well. The practice of understanding god's intimate relationship with us through our everyday lives gave me new breath in a time when I really needed it.
Planted by Leah Kostamo
I won this book at a justice conference many years ago, and it was an unexpected blessing. Leah Kostamo invites the reader to understand creation care. She does not do this in a harsh fashion, as I'm used to by many environmentalists, but in a caring, humble, kind way. It inspired me to do more for the earth I live on. This is why, for two years I was cycling to work daily (until illness stopped this), and the reason I do my best to make small choices daily to be kinder to creation.
Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans
Rachel Held Evans has an incredibly in-depth perspective on what many of us have experienced in "loving, leaving, and finding the church". This book gave me challenges, but in the best way possible. It released me to see more of God's love, creation, and redemption, of which I didn't know I ached for until Rachel eloquently, humourously, honestly, and intellectually brought me to see. I'm not even sure where my copy is because so many people want to read it!