Five 'Must Reads' for the New Year

By Christa_Banister
Posted: Wed, 01/26/2011 - 10:50

album promo image for Five 'Must Reads' for the New Year

By Christa A. Banister, senior music editor,


Thanks to the wonders of portable technology, reading has probably never been easier – or as accessible as it is today. In fact, the only barrier that separates most people from the pleasures of page-turning is the sheer lack of leftover time in an already crowded schedule.

But when movies bore you and your favorite TV show is still in reruns, there’s nothing better than indulging in a great book, whether it’s for spiritual enrichment or simply appreciating a writer who can spin a great tale. While much has been said about the grim state of the publishing industry, a trip to your favorite bookstore can feel like an exercise in futility – there are just so many titles to choose from! So to help separate the worthwhile reading from books that have nothing more than a great cover, we're offering up five ‘must reads’ for the new year. Some are new, some are tried-but-true, and all of them are thoroughly worth the effort.

Words by Ginny L. Yttrup (B&H)
Some of the best stories are inspired by some of life’s most tragic circumstances, and Words is definitely one of those books that’ll stick with you for a long time. Recently given a starred review by Publisher’s Weekly, Words is the story of a young sexual abuse victim and a lonely artist who learn from the healing, redemptive power of words.

The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming by Henri J. M. Nouwen
Really, is there any time that’s better than the beginning of the year for a meaningful reminder of God’s never-changing, unending love? In Henry J.M. Nouwen’s famed The Return of the Prodigal Son, we’re all reminded how a chance encounter with a poster of Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son forever changed the course of the great theologian’s life and perspective on faith in the real world.

A Widow’s Story: A Memoir by Joyce Carol Oates
One of 2011’s most-anticipated titles, bestselling author Joyce Carol Gates takes a memorable diversion from the heart-wrenching fiction that made her famous and dives into her own life experiences. Centering around how she dealt with life after the unexpected death of her beloved husband of 48 years, A Widow’s Story is also a celebration of marriage and their colorful journey together.

Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan
Given how the masses are still embracing his 2008 breakout book Crazy Love, it’s quite possible you may have forgotten to check out his thoughtful follow-up, Forgotten God. Serving as a compelling invitation to embrace and better understand the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives, Chan offers engaging Biblical insight in an insatiably readable package.

Looks Like Love by Brandy Bruce
For anyone who’s grown tired of the same predictable story lines in modern-day romantic comedies will find plenty to love in Brandy Bruce’s debut novel Looks Like Love. Inspired by travel-related fare like The Holiday and When in Rome, Bruce introduces a protagonist so winning, you simply can’t help rooting for her once she makes her way from her ho-hum Midwestern existence to her adventurous new chapter in London. And yes, some romance may make its way into the picture with all the sightseeing.


About the Writer

After graduating with a B.S. in Journalism from North Central University in 1998, Christa Banister moved from Minneapolis to Nashville, Tenn. and eventually started working at CCM Magazine/Salem Publishing in various editorial capacities as an editor, columnist and website guru for five and a half years. After that, she launched her own Dallas-based freelance writing company and writes for numerous clients including Salem Publishing, (she review movies for them each week), Christian Single, Christianity Today, Threads Media,, and also helped kickstart the first Christian music blog for MTV. In addition, she also writes bios for professional recording artists and authors and penned her first two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers for NavPress.

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