Brown, Dale. Conversations with American Writers: The Doubt, the Faith, the In-Between (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 2008). Dale Brown has collected interviews with ten American writers who offer their reflections on writing, church, contemporary culture, and God. Their observations lead Brown to conclude that “contemporary writers are no less preachers than their kindred in previous epochs. The freight may be different, but it is still freight. And it is worth our lives, perhaps, to discover just what the crates contain.”

Brueggemann, Walter. Prayers for a Privileged People (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2008). Recognizing his own status as a person of privilege, Walter Brueggemann offers poetic prayers that engage issues of “privilege and entitlement, injustice and violence.” They are grouped into six sections which begin in self-awareness, address social and economic inequalities, express hope for new life, and end “in glad yielding to the goodness of God.”

Corrigan, Kelly. The Middle Place (New York, NY: Hyperion, 2008). The “middle place” is that “sliver of time when childhood and parenthood overlap”—a time “hallmarked by endless, irresistible, often exasperating comparisons between your family of origin and the family you’ve made.” The stories narrated here especially bear witness to the bond between author Kelly Corrigan and her father, George. This bond grows stronger when Kelly and George offer love, support, and humor to one another as each of them struggles with cancer.

Heifetz, Ronald, Alexander Grashow, and Marty Linksky. The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing Your Organization and the World (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2009). This book builds on the authors’ earlier work by providing further understanding of adaptive leadership and practices for putting such leadership to work. Beginning with a theoretical overview of adaptive leadership, the book explores diagnosing existing systems, mobilizing systems for change, seeing oneself as a system, and “deploying” oneself.

Heller, Zachary I., ed. Synagogues in a Time of Change: Fragmentation and Diversity in Jewish Religious Movements (Herndon, VA: Alban Institute, 2009). Former congregational rabbi Zachary Heller has edited an essay collection that addresses the history, present challenges, and future prospects of synagogue life in American Judaism. Contributors include rabbis, scholars, community activists, and denominational executives. A glossary of Hebrew terms rounds out this work.

Hotchkiss, Dan. Governance and Ministry: Rethinking Board Leadership (Herndon, VA: Alban Institute, 2009). This book articulates the job of the
board and offers advice on how to make board meetings productive. It discusses relationships between clergy
and laity, delegating power and authority, conducting evaluations, exploring change, and facing problems. Appendices offer tools for helping boards assess how
they use meeting time and enabling boards to construct policy outlines.

Mayer, Bernard. Staying with Conflict: A Strategic Approach to Ongoing Disputes (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2009). While books on conflict often focus on quick resolutions, some disputes are inevitably long-term. Mediator Bernard Mayer discusses the nature, challenges, and opportunities of enduring conflict; engaging constructively over time; dealing with conflict avoidance; and framing a conflict narrative. Later chapters address communication patterns, power and escalation issues, the place of negotiation and agreements, and long-term support systems.

Pollan, Michael. In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto (New York, NY: Penguin, 2009). Think about what you ate yesterday, or have eaten today. Would your great-great grandmother have recognized it as “food”?
If not, says Michal Pollan, don’t eat it again. An advocate in the “real food” movement, the author advises us to avoid the center aisles in supermarkets and stick to the perishables. Bottom line: “Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Quinn, Ryan W. and Robert E. Quinn. Lift: Becoming a Positive Force in Any Situation (San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler, 2009). Consultants Robert Quinn and his son, Ryan Quinn, explain the four principles of “lift” and how to implement these principles in daily life. The four principles include being purpose-centered, internally-directed, other-focused, and externally-open. After discussing each principle, the authors offer suggestions for practicing the principle in our lives.