A number of years ago Geri and I began structuring our vacations as mini-sabbaticals, taking the 4 principles of our weekly Sabbaths- Stop, Rest, Delight and Contemplate. One of the most delightful aspects of vacation for me is to read broadly. The following is a sample of what I have been reading the last few weeks. 1. Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Greg Mortenson. This was my favorite read. I felt it was much better written than his Three Cups of Tea. It was so good I didn’t want it to end and put it down for 3 weeks before finishing. I love Mortenson’s creativity and ability to think outside the box, his clear vision, and his willingness to take risks. God used this book to give me a love for the people of Afghanistan. 2. Russka: The Novel of Russia, Edward Rutherfurd. This outstanding historical novel on the founding and history of Russia to 1991 was an eye-opener to better understand what Geri and I tasted in the Ukraine last June. Rutherford gives a taste of the richness, complexity, diversity, suffering and perspective of the Eastern part of the world. 3. Life Shouldn’t Look Like This: Dealing With Disappointment in the Light of Faith, Gregory Popkak. An edifiying, unique perspective on the will of God from a Catholic, Theology of the Body perspective. 4. Faith, Hope, Love by Josef Pieper. 1950s’ theologian from Germany translating Aquinas into the present. I read a few pages at a time as part of my prayer times each day. Devotional. 5. Eva Luna, Isabel Allende. Novel in Spanish I am reading very slowly to expand and improve my Spanish in preparation for a trip to Latin America next year. 6. The Household of God: Lectures on the Nature of the Church, Leslie Newbigin. I picked this up at a used book store in Portland, Oregon. Newbigin was a former bishop from Madurai, India in the 195o’s. Challenging spiritually and theologically. 7. Anatomy of the Soul: Surprising Connections between Neuroscience and Spiritual Practices that Can Transform Your Life and Relationships, Curt Thompson, M.D. I am having a hard time getting through it but I like his attempt to integrate Siegel’s work on the brain to spirituality. 8. The Book of Mystical Chapters: Meditations on the Soul’s Ascent, from the Desert Fathers and Other Early Christian Contemplatives, by John Anthony McGuckin. I do one meditation per day on a saying of a desert father/early contemplative to keep me rooted. McGuckin is a Byzantine Orthodox priest who teaches at Union Theological Seminary in NYC. My daughter is headed to Liberia this weekend for her work with charity water so she just handed me a memoir on that country! Thoughts? What other recommendations might you have to read?