7 Great New Reads That Help Us Keep the Faith
Novels and nonfiction books by Pat Simmons, Kim Cash Tate, Sarah Jakes Roberts, Yolanda Pierce and others offer literary food for the soul.
Nearly 80 percent of religious African Americans describe themselves as Christian, but Black women practice a number of different faiths. Whether we identify as Christian, Buddhist, Muslim or with no religion at all, having a strong spiritual life is essential for many of us. It can keep us calm in the midst of life's storms or help forge strong connections to others who share our values, whether they share our beliefs or not. Along with recent Christian fiction from Reshonda Tate Billingsley and Victoria Christopher Murray, and a memoir from longtime Buddhist Tina Turner, the following faith-based reads present diverse viewpoints. But what they all show is the importance of spirituality in our lives.
Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West
Ruby and her best friend, Layla, grew up in the church. When Ruby's mother is murdered, her abusive father seems a likely suspect. Layla struggles to help her friend, while also coping with the deteriorating relationship with her own father, the pastor of Calvary Hope Christian Church. The church isn't just a backdrop for minor and major events — it also acts as one of the narrators. Through its voice, readers see what really happens within its four walls. This richly layered debut novel by Catherine Adel West is brimming with heart and grounded in reality, showing how faith ties the characters together, even if it can't always give them peace.
As Long As I Cling by Kim Cash Tate
For readers who love nothing more than meaty books they can get lost in, Kim Cash Tate delivers this deluxe volume in the Promises of God series. Characters face tests that can shake even the deepest faith. Expectant mother Stephanie tries to find satisfaction and happiness in a marriage that's sorely lacking. Ill-tempered Jade has turned over a new leaf, but walking the walk isn't as easy as she thought. And Tommy, who's sworn off love in order to avoid the pain that he associates with it, has to trust God to overcome his fears. This novel presents realistic characters facing trials we all can relate to.
Here for You by Pat Simmons
Christian romance satisfies readers looking for a nonexplicit love story featuring characters who live by faith. Simmons has dozens of titles under her belt. In this second title in the Family Is Forever series, following Lean on Me, Simmons tells the story of Rachel and Nicholas, who are very good at taking care of others, but not so good at caring for themselves. In true romance-novel fashion, the two are challenged and face a crisis of faith. This biblically-based book is perfect for readers who love clean romance.
In My Grandmother's House: Black Women, Faith, and the Stories We Inherit by Yolanda Pierce
Rev. Yolanda Pierce is a scholar of African American literature and race as it relates to religion. She is also the first female dean of the Howard University School of Divinity, offering a unique perspective on women's liberation as it relates to theology. In In My Grandmother's House, Pierce remembers the spiritual lessons her grandmother taught her, while recognizing that the faith so many African Americans practice today was passed to us from slave masters. She includes stories that present a whole and clear picture of how history shaped the Black church. It's a complicated mix of pain, spirituality, trauma, hope and memory, but it’s a tradition that’s uniquely ours.
Black and Buddhist: What Buddhism Can Teach Us About Race, Resilience, Transformation, and Freedom, edited by Cheryl A. Giles and Pamela Ayo Yetunde
Before seeing Tina Turner come to Buddhism in the biopic What's Love Got to Do With It, it's likely that not many of us associated the religion with African Americans. And in fact, of practicing Buddhists, only three percent identify as Black. In Black and Buddhist, contributors such as Ruth King, Kamilah Majied, Cheryl A. Giles, Pamela Ayo Yetunde and others discuss how their race and religion intersect. While some may connect Buddhism only with peaceful practices like meditation, Black Buddhists like Arisika Razak understand that activism and social justice aren’t separate from the faith. This is the first such anthology featuring work solely by Buddhists in the African diaspora. It teaches readers how to apply Buddhist teachings to empower themselves in the face of racial discrimination.
Dear God: Honest Prayers to a God Who Listens by Bunmi Laditan
Almost all of us have reached out to a higher power at some point, whether to ask for blessings, express gratitude or offer a simple prayer. This collection of essays from Bunmi Laditan covers a range of topics, some humorous and others thoughtful. The author presents prayers, confessions and gratitude in prose and in poetry, revealing how united in humanity we all are. This may be especially appealing to those seeking general faith reads, as Laditan has more than one spiritual interest. In discussing her reconnection to God, she demonstrates that some of the best conversations we can have with the creator are like talking to a friend.
Woman Evolve by Sarah Jakes Roberts
Sarah Jakes Roberts, daughter of influential author and filmmaker Bishop T.D. Jakes, seeks to uplift Black women with her latest offering. Following her earlier works, such as Lost & Found and Don't Settle for Safe, Woman Evolve isn’t just a book. It’s part of her Woman Evolve movement, designed to inspire women to be the best version of themselves, while still maintaining a strong faith life. In this book, Roberts combines biblical teachings with her personal experiences to encourage readers to move on from past mistakes. Since all of us have fallen short at some point, this very relatable book can show us how to leave our failures behind and stop letting them shape our future. As Roberts says, “Bruised heels can still crush serpents’ heads.”