New and Notable Books (July 2014)
One perk of being a book reviewer is that publishers regularly send emails, catalogs, and a steady stream of advanced review copies.
I try to review as many as I can, but I can’t get to them all. So each month I highlight a few new and upcoming books that I’m particularly excited about.
(The descriptions below are either from the publisher or from Amazon.)
by Brian Kennelly
TAN Books, 280 pages, paperback
Released on August 28, 2014
Born to a wealthy family in Turin at the dawn of the 20th century, Pier Giorgio Frassati was good-looking, popular and athletic. He spent much of his youth climbing the rugged Italian Alps, disappearing into the clouds for days at a time. He was quick with a joke or a prank and enjoyed a good time. It seemed he was blessed with everything a young man could ask for.
But he hungered for more.
Despite coming from a family of such prestige, Pier Giorgio spent most days in the slums of Turin, visiting the poor and serving the sick. His love for Christ burned within him and brushed off on everyone he came into contact with – from lepers and orphans to college friends and political diplomats. He shared his Faith with kindness and charity, and defended it passionately against the evils of Fascism, even coming to blows with Mussolini’s thugs on numerous occasions.
Pier Giorgio touched the lives of thousands, yet his high-society parents remained unmoved by the life he led as they frowned upon his religious practices and charitable work. Reaching them would be his last challenge, his final mountain to climb.
To the Heights is an unforgettable novel about Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. Dig deeper than the biographical facts and discover the heart of a charismatic young man whose soul blazes brightly and uniquely among the host of heaven.
by Cheryl C. D. Hughes
Eerdmans, 283 pages, paperback
Released on August 1, 2014
On October 1, 2000, Pope John Paul II proclaimed Katharine Drexel (1858–1955) to be a saint of the Roman Catholic Church. Only the second American-born Catholic saint in history, Drexel founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in 1891 and established more than sixty Blessed Sacrament missions and schools.
In this biography Cheryl Hughes chronicles the remarkable life of St. Katharine Drexel, exploring what drove her to turn away from her family’s wealth and become a missionary nun who served some of the most underprivileged and marginalized people of her time. Through her inspiration and effort “Mother” Katharine improved the lives of untold numbers of Native Americans and African Americans, overcoming open hostility to her work from various quarters, including the Ku Klux Klan. Her saintly legacy lives on today.
Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial?: . . . and Other Questions from the Astronomers’ In-box at the Vatican Observatory
by Guy Consolmagno, S.J. and Paul Mueller
Image Books, 304 pages, hardcover
Released on October 7, 2014
Pope Francis posed that question – without insisting on an answer! – to provoke deeper reflection about inclusiveness and diversity in the Church. But it’s not the first time that question has been asked.
Brother Guy Consolmagno and Father Paul Mueller hear questions like that all the time. They’re scientists at the Vatican Observatory, the official astronomical research institute of the Catholic Church. In Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? they explore a variety of questions at the crossroads of faith and reason: How do you reconcile the The Big Bang with Genesis? Was the Star of Bethlehem just a pious religious story or an actual description of astronomical events? What really went down between Galileo and the Catholic Church – and why do the effects of that confrontation still reverberate to this day? Will the Universe come to an end? And… could you really baptize an extraterrestrial?
With disarming humor, Brother Guy and Father Paul explore these questions and more over the course of six days of dialogue. Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial will make you laugh, make you think, and make you reflect more deeply on science, faith, and the nature of the universe.
by Edward Sri
Our Sunday Visitor, 112 pages, paperback
Released on August 28, 2014
The call of Christ to each of us is as heart-stopping as the moment captured by Caravaggio in his painting, The Call of St. Matthew. Jesus points, he invites-and Matthew the tax-collector must make a decision. “The Lord does not disappoint those who take that risk” and choose him, Pope Francis tells us in his Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel.
Dr. Edward Sri, theologian, author, and speaker, unpacks The Joy of the Gospel, making it accessible and actionable. In these brief reflections Sri explores those things that hold us back, how we can open ourselves to God’s love, and the difference this can make to our joyful proclamation of the Gospel.
Pope Francis and the Joy of the Gospel reminds us that when life weighs us down, “the Lord is already there, waiting for us with open arms.”
Great for use by individuals or groups, each chapter concludes with questions for reflection or discussion, moving readers further into a renewed personal relationship with Christ.
What new and notable books are you looking forward to?