Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Blog Tour: Still by Lauren F. Winner (Review)

I became acquainted with Lauren F. Winner a few years ago when I found her spiritual memoir, Girl Meets God.

That book recounts her faith journey which includes being raised Jewish, a conversion to Orthodox Judaism (her mom wasn't Jewish, and the faith is passed through the mother), and then later, her conversion to Christianity.

Winner's authentic, honest and blunt writing style, along with her faith journey captured my attention.

So when her newest release, Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis, came across my path earlier this spring, I jumped at a chance to read it.

This memoir opens in the "middle" of Winner's spiritual life.

Her marriage has failed, her mother has died, and life isn't quite what she anticipated. But instead of turning away from her faith, Winner found herself turning back to church and to God.

Part of the book follows the church calendar, so Winner's essays use seasons like epiphany and lent to provide a unique rhythm to her writing.

I specifically enjoyed/connected with the essays written around Lent (maybe because I was reading the book at the start of the season).

In one, Winner jokes about what she would give up during Lent. A friend suggests she give up anxiety.

Another essay, focuses on busyness. I loved this quote: "Laziness might have been a problem for nineteen hundred years, but not anymore. Business is the new sloth." I appreciated how this quote - and the way Winner fleshed it out - made me think.

I've heard that some people have criticized Winner for being open about her struggles with her faith (and being honest about her divorce).

I am not one of those people.

I'm grateful that Winner is honest. I identify (and struggle) with many of the things she writes about. I appreciate the integrity she pours into her writing.

Reading Still has made me want to go back and pick up Mudhouse Sabbath - a book of spiritual practices for Christians which can be gleaned from the Jewish faith.

On a scale of one to five, I give this book a solid five. It's a genuine pursuit of faith.

About The Author
Lauren F. Winner is the author of numerous books, including Girl Meets God and Mudhouse Sabbath. Her study A Cheerful & Comfortable Faith: Anglican Religious Practice in the Elite Households of Eighteenth-Century Virginia was published in the fall of 2010 from Yale University Press. 

She has appeared on PBS’s Religion & Ethics Newsweekly and has written for The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post Book World, Publishers Weekly, Books and Culture, and Christianity Today.

Winner has degrees from Duke, Columbia, and Cambridge universities, and holds a Ph.D. in history. The former book editor for Beliefnet, Winner teaches at Duke Divinity School, and lives in Durham, North Carolina.

Winner travels extensively to lecture and teach. During the academic year of 2007-2008, she was a visiting fellow at the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University, and during the academic year of 2010-2011, she was a visiting fellow at the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University. When she’s home, you can usually find her curled up, on her couch or screen porch, with a good novel.

Online Resources
Buy it at Amazon
Find it at Barnes & Noble
Check out Winner's Website: http://laurenwinner.net

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by HarperCollins Publishers. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

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