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Book Musings

Every month or so either our Associate Manager Jerimy Pedersen or Chel Avery send a "Book Musings" email highlighting interesting books and often providing a limited-time-only discount, or other special offer. Links to interviews with authors and book guides are also featured in these emails. Lucy Duncan's Book Musings from 2003 to 2011 are archived here, and you can follow her New Blog as Friends Liaison at AFSC at www.afsc.org/friends

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"Thank you for sharing your book musings with f/Friends. In truth, I usually forget they will be coming, but am always happy to see one in my mail box. I enjoy your personal experiences and thoughts about each book, as I feel they help open my eyes more and more to having an understanding of Quaker values and what it means to live one's life following that particular path. I look forward to your next musings!"

— A Friend

Books from the Latest Musings

from Graham Garner with Chel Avery You may be wondering why we've altered the name of this newsletter. This is because Chel is putting her monthly newsletter, Book Musings, on hiatus for the time being, and is collaborating with... Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on September 11, 2013

New policy for billing meetings   For some time, it has been our practice at QuakerBooks to require prepayment for individual orders, but we have invoiced monthly and yearly meetings, if they so request. Our oversight committee has considered... Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on August 25, 2013

from Graham Garner and Chel Avery The wide skies of Greeley, Colorado, and the welcome of western Friends made a great venue for this year’s annual FGC Gathering. The bookstore enjoyed lots of visitors (though we never quite worked... Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on August 11, 2013

June is a month of abundance for new Quaker books. Authors and publishers know that the week-long FGC Gathering coming up in a few weeks will bring over 1100 Quakers into close proximity with each other and with our... Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on June 6, 2013

by Beth Collea, guest author I’m pleased to introduce Beth Collea, Religious Education Coordinator for New England Yearly Meeting and a member of Wellesley Meeting in Massachusetts, who is the guest author for this month’s Book Musings. For a... Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on May 21, 2013

from Graham Garner So―after a quiet month in April, I have a lot to tell you about the new titles that have come in since my last letter. School of the Spirit Ministry has produced a great little resource,... Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on May 15, 2013

QuakerPress is swamped with manuscripts of memoirs I’ve just returned from the annual conference of QUIP (Quakers Uniting in Publications) where I led a workshop titled “The Memoir Explosion: What Do We Do with Them All?” This is a... Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on April 19, 2013

Have you ever been offended by the gift of a book?  I once pretty much ended a friendship with someone after she gave me a book.  The giver thought it would change my mind over a decision I was... Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on March 25, 2013

from Chel Avery Our world is filled with so much – so much stuff, so many messages, so many things to do and respond to and keep up with.  There must be people who like it that way, but... Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on February 28, 2013

from Chel Avery Over the holiday season, I found myself thinking a lot about how our lives are filled with story.  We are packing up now from a period that is rich in story―the story of a baby’s birth... Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on January 28, 2013

from Chel Avery Sometimes to be hopeful in today’s world feels like an obligation I just can’t fulfill.  And it’s when my expectations about the future are the most dire, I’ve found, that it is time to give thanks... Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on December 28, 2012

from Chel Avery Thank Providence it’s over. This morning I voted. Tomorrow this time I expect I will be either hugely disappointed or greatly relieved. But either way, I will be released from the relentless onslaught of campaign messages... Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on November 28, 2012

from Chel Avery Earlier this month I spent a long weekend with a most amazing group of people at the annual conference of QUIP (Quakers Uniting in Publications) where Quaker writers, publishers, and book sellers from the U.S., Canada,... Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on May 28, 2012

from Chel Avery A few weeks ago I resigned from one of the most rewarding roles of my life. Since 2006, I have been the copy editor for the Pendle Hill pamphlet series. When the current project goes to... Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on February 2, 2012

from Chel Avery

When You Reach Me Darby: What Happens When You Tell The Tr The Reinvention Of Edison Thomas
It used to be my ambition to author books for older children and young adults. It seemed to me that the best, most cutting edge and exciting literature was aimed at that... Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on December 13, 2011

from Chel Avery

The Wisdom To Know The Difference: When To Make A Change - And When To Let Go Black Fire, Epub Ebook: African American Quakers On Spirituality And Human Rights Conversations With Christ, Epub Ebook: Quaker Meditations On The Gospel Of John Build It! Download: A Toolkit For Nurturing Intergenerational Spiritual Community Where Should I Stand - Epub Ebook Lively Faith, Epub Ebook: Reflections On Iowa Yearly Meeting Of Friends ( Conservative)
Traveling requires books. It’s not just about whiling away the long hours of a transcontinental flight or getting through the middle-of-the-night wakefulness that comes with a time shift. I’m often more selective... Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on September 12, 2011

The Spell Of The Sensuous: Perception And Language In A More-than-human World
When I was ten, Omaha, where I was living with my family, was hit by a huge tornado. My brothers and I, home alone at our house, stood out on the second floor porch watching... Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on July 20, 2011

Conversation With Christ: Quaker Meditations On The Gospel Of John
I became a Quaker within Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative). My mother, though a Dorothy Day Catholic, taught theater and English at Scattergood Friends School for many years when I was little and most of my... Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on May 27, 2011

Margaret Hope Bacon, a very bright light in the world of Quaker letters, died on February 24, 2011. I had the privilege of knowing Margaret a bit and attending her memorial service at Central Philadelphia... Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on April 8, 2011

Wrestling With Our Faith Tradition: Collected Public Witness, 1995-2004 Grounded In God: Care And Nurture In Friends Meetings Essays On The Quaker Vision Of Gospel Order Where Should I Stand?: A Field Guide For Monthly Meeting Clerks Black Fire: African American Quakers On Spirituality And Human Rights
Introducing Chel Avery, a New Voice for Book Musings Chel Avery has served FGC for the past six months as Publications Manager. She understands editing as a ministry which assists authors in clarifying their message.... Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on March 10, 2011

Quaker Writings: An Anthology, 1650-1920 Black Fire: African American Quakers On Spirituality And Human Rights
I went to college in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on a campus that abutted the national forest. I would often take hikes up Monte Luna or Monte Sol right behind campus, from which you could... Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on February 3, 2011

Mockingbird Clothbound Edition (921) Decision Making & Spiritual Discernment: The Sacred Art Of Finding Your Way Faithful Voices: Oral Readings Exploring Beliefs In Action
After my father died, my family carried his body to the van that drove him away. We gathered around the dining room table and talked, laughed. It had been a long labor, a beautiful death... Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on December 16, 2010

Timeless Quaker Wisdom In Plain Song: Selected Set To Music And Recorded By Paulette Meier
Right after I graduated from college, I worked for awhile as a bus person at Greens Restaurant owned by the San Francisco Zen Center. The restaurant is in Fort Mason, formerly the military headquarters for... Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on December 16, 2010

“I love my brother. I don’t agree with what he does. Yet, I cherish the wrestling that I do with him, with what he does and why. Because of it, I am held accountable to truly devote myself and... Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on May 19, 2010

Integrity, Ecology, And Community: The Motion Of Love - Php 403 Enlivened By The Mystery, Quakers And God: Giving Form To Faith Series Living Out The Kingdom While Living In The Empire: Bible Lessons From The 2007 Fgc Gathering A Lasting Gift: The Journal And Selected Writings Of Sandra L. Cronk
Last Spring my family had the blessing of serving as hosts for John Lomuria, a Kenyan Quaker who was in the United States as one of ten members of the editorial board for the Quakers... Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on December 18, 2009

Planting The Trees Of Kenya: The Story Of Wangari Maathai Earth Care: World Folk Tales To Talk About Right Relationship:  Building A Whole Earth Economy
For several years now a family of red-tailed hawks has lived in the Quaker graveyard for which my husband serves as caretaker – we live in the caretaker’s house, and so these hawks have been... Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on March 9, 2009 | Comments (0)

Jesus For President: Politics For Ordinary Radicals Quaker Witness As Sacrament: Php 397 Fit For Freedom, Not For Friendship - Paperback: Quakers, African Americans And The Myth Of Racial Justice
“The prophets point us to what is ahead – the fulfillment of God’s dream for creation. And they invite us not simply to wait but to begin enacting that dream – now.” - Shane Claiborne... Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on December 12, 2008 | Comments (1)

The Irresistible Revolution: Living As An Ordinary Radical Children Just Like Me Enemy Pie Turning To Earth: Stories Of Ecological Conversion Miss Crandall's School: For Young Ladies And Little Misses Of Color

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting Friends Meeting of Austin for a weekend committee meeting. I found such a sense of welcome and invitation to the stranger in their new meeting house. It was quite an undertaking hosting all of us who had come to that meeting, yet we were fed and housed and nurtured with a warm embrace. The meeting welcomes its families and children and extends its reach into the community in many ways. They’ve chosen a neighborhood that increases the likelihood that their community’s wealth of diversity (ethnic, economic, sexual, and political) will walk through their doors.

On Sunday, I arrived at the meeting early and was asked to help unload a member’s car that was stuffed to the windshield with bread. The meeting collects leftover bread from Whole Foods and distributes most of it to homeless shelters in the area.

Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on March 16, 2008 | Comments (0)

My cousin sent my 5 year-old son, Simon, an advent calendar this year.  The one she sent is lovely, a country village scene, with gentle, peaceful animals and cozy homes depicted in a fresh snow.  He opened it with earnest anticipation and immediately speculated about what might be hidden behind each opening.  He thought the ones in the sky might cover up stars, or birds; that the door to the café might reveal someone baking muffins; that the openings out on the snow might reveal animals or sledding children.  He speculated that if there were openings over the people (which there aren't), they might reveal "guts."  He thought the stable door, door 24, might hold presents.  I asked, "What happened on Christmas, who was born?"  He said, "Jesus! Jesus will be there."  

Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on December 7, 2007 | Comments (0)

Shortly after I started teaching 2nd grade in a working class neighborhood in Vallejo, California, I was driving to dinner with my teaching partner and her husband. A police car pulled up behind us and trailed the car for our entire journey, staying close and turning on its lights, silently, at least twice. I asked Greg, an African-American university professor, why they were behind us. He said, “Oh, it happens at least once per week to most black men. Getting trailed by the cops is just part of life for me.” The school in which we taught was pretty diverse – I had at least nine distinct cultures in my classroom, Korean, east Indian, Filipino, Mexican, Guatemalan, Anglo-American, African, African-American, Japanese, and Chinese. About a year after having dinner that night, on April 29th, the four policemen who had beaten Rodney King were acquitted and the LA Riots erupted. When I went into my classroom the next morning, I asked my class to gather round the rug, that something very hard had happened and I wanted to talk with them about it. I told them that Caucasian police officers had beaten an African-American man and that many people believed that the police were guilty and unjustified in the beatings. When the police were acquitted, many people’s sense of prevailing unfairness, racism and injustice exploded into mass violence and that the riots, I believed, were expressions of this frustration gone out of control. One by one my seven-year-old students told me stories of their own experiences of racism, of being told to leave stores or being called names on the street. I asked them if they thought the violence would help to make things better and many of them said, “no.” I said that I didn’t believe that people getting hurt would help, but that within that classroom was much of the solution, that continuing to be friends with one another, loving one another, was a way to change the world. Afterwards, an Ethiopian student who was incredibly kind, came up to me, weeping. He said, “Ms. Duncan, my dad thinks that the riots are a good thing.” He was clearly confused by the conflicting messages of his father and his teacher. I said, “Maybe your father believes that if things get bad enough, that will lead to change.” Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on April 25, 2007 | Comments (0)

A few weeks ago I got onto the train on the way to work and started to read On Living with a Concern for Gospel Ministry by Brian Drayton. Two stops down the line a woman wearing earphones sat down next to me. She had the volume up and I could hear what sounded like angry shouting coming from her portable CD player. I listened further and realized that she was listening to preaching, not shouting. I tried to focus on the book. I read: "A concern for the ministry is a calling to be intentionally available to put our experience of the divine light and life at the disposal of others, for their refreshment and encouragement." As I read these words, I thought of the quiet preaching of Friends and how a meeting tends the spiritual fires of attenders, gently cultivating a kind of listening to the 'still, small voice' which transforms. I wondered how different a world it might be if that still witness were more readily available. I wondered how my companion on the train would receive such ministry. She started to look over my shoulder at my book, took off her headphones and asked me what I was reading. I showed her the beautiful cover featuring Darcy Drayton's watercolor "An Expression of Light" and told her that the book was all about discerning the will of God and learning to be faithful to the callings you receive. She said, "Amen!," and put her headphones back on. Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on June 13, 2006 | Comments (1)

The most exacting (and rewarding!) spiritual discipline I practice is parenting. My son, Simon, is one of the most patient and forgiving teachers I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on February 1, 2006 | Comments (0)

It snowed a little here the other day, the first snow. My son, Simon, chose our spot in the meeting house and I was grateful that he sat us on a facing bench where I could see out the two windows opposite and look onto the trees and the snowy schoolyard. As I sat in worship I was filled with the deep peace, the quiet that comes with the winter. I was reminded of the white comforter that we just bought for Simon's bed; he sleeps well under that light warmth and I always love to watch him, dreaming and resting, lying in the quiet repose that fills him with energy in the morning. I could sense the earth's fallow motions on First day, the mysterious underground workings which will be made manifest when the first crocus peeks out of the melting snow, when the first buds appear on the magnolia tree. This dormant time is a welcome reminder of the quiet work needed in order to glean the fruits of the Spirit. The new books featured offer opportunities to contemplate or celebrate and to see the world in a fresh way. Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on December 1, 2005 | Comments (0)

The editorial board for the QUIP book that would become "Whispers of Faith: Young Friends share their experiences of Quakerism" arrived at Twin Rocks Conference Center the day before our meeting would take place. I showed Geoffrey, Zion, Claire, Milam and Rachel their rooms and as soon as they had the chance, they went down to the ocean. Zion had brought a Frisbee and all five of them stood in a circle on the blustery beach and threw it back and forth to one another. Their skill varied, but they were gentle with one another and laughed together and kept the Frisbee in the air. It was such a strong image, these five young Friends, most of whom hadn’t met before, standing together and keeping a small disc aloft on the air. Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on August 1, 2005 | Comments (0)

Each time I finish a catalog, I immediately hear about 5-10 items that really should have been included. I've learned not to get too distressed about this - I just begin my list of new titles for the next catalog right away. This year was no exception.  Within three weeks my list of "Books that should have gone in the 2005 catalog" was 27 items long. Rather than waiting for the next catalog, I thought I'd let you all know about the best of this list in this issue of 'Book Musings.' There are some new books that are real gems and some reprints that I've been wanting for a long time. Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on April 1, 2005 | Comments (0)

The experience that led me to Friends was a deeply healing experience of the divine. After a time of deep sorrow in which I felt as though my spirit was no bigger than a pea and buried deep inside my body, I was driving to work through the flaxen-colored east Bay hills. When I reached the crest of a hill I was greeted by the red-orange light of dawn. In that moment, I felt as though my limbs were filling with the warm energy of the Spirit, I had a deep sense of well-being and knew that I was being held by God. I had known Friends and read some Quaker writings and immediately identified this experience with Quakers. When I began attending meeting for worship I found the kind of focused attentiveness to the Spirit that helped me maintain the connection that I discovered that day. Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on February 1, 2005 | Comments (0)

Here at the office we have a Quaker book club.  About 8 of us meet to discuss newer Quaker books.  At our last meeting we came up with the idea of creating a list of core titles for Quaker young peoples' spiritual formation.  We would include books that serve as foundational literature for children ages 3 and up which help them learn about Quaker life and consider spiritual questions.  I'm hoping that several folks with expertise in religious education will help me develop such a list, but in the meantime I couldn't resist considering what titles I would choose.  Here are my first picks. Stay tuned for a more complete list of titles compiled with the help of a few Friends. Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on December 1, 2004 | Comments (0)

It's a rare year that I end up with a stack of such fine newly published Quaker books on my desk, but this year is just that. In the past few months a number of Quaker titles have been released that really fill gaps in Quaker publishing and/or add substantially to the body of Quaker literature. There have been so many new, good books that for this Book Musings I haven't had time to read each of these books from cover to cover (though I've read at least a chapter or two of each), but I couldn't wait to tell you about their appearance. Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on September 1, 2004 | Comments (0)

It’s rare that I read a book and want to send it to every single one of my women friends right away, but GRACE NOTES: THE WAKING OF A WOMAN’S VOICE by Utah Friend Heidi Hart is an unusual book. It is an intricately composed story of the author’s interior journey towards an authentic and resonant voice; and to Quakerism. It’s written like a musical score with chapters that have 6 repeating parts, each a little puzzle rich with Hart’s lyrical descriptions of her experience. The stories, as in any musical score, spiral back on one another, repeating and ascending toward an inspiring spiritual clarity. She reveals a great deal (just enough) about the workings and vicissitudes of her heart. Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on June 1, 2004 | Comments (0)

My son, Simon (20 months), is a bit of a book fanatic and I often take home a book or two for him from the shop. This week I carried home BLESS THIS HOUSE: A BEDTIME PRAYER FOR THE WORLD written and illustrated by Leslie Staub to see what he thought. He ‘woozled’ excitedly as I read him the book and if he were able to write a recommendation for it, it might read like this ­ “Cat, Giraffe, Moon, Puppy, ROAR (lion), Owl, Ooowk Tree, Duck, fisht (sic), kiss, monkey, Chi Chi Chi - Lovely, special things I know and name.” Needless to say, he really loved the pictures and I liked the soothing, comforting text ­ perfect as a just before bed book. His affection for the book is so strong, we’ll choose it as a gift for a few of his ‘play-group’ pals. Read more

Posted by QuakerBooks on December 1, 2003 | Comments (0)

New Books


Roots Run Deep
Hamde Abu Rahma

Diarmaid Macculloch

Open For Transformation
Ben Pink Dandelion

Blessing Love, A Widows Story
Judy Brutz

Soldiers Girls
Helen Thorpe