RUF Reads: First Edition

Trying to decide what book to dive into next? You’re in the right place! We are launching a new series called “RUF Reads” where RUF staff across the country share book recommendations from different genres. We are excited to begin this series with you! 

SJ Lim is the Metro New York and Northeast Area Coordinator for RUF. He and his wife Susie are natives of Chicago, and they have two boys – Devin and Justin. Here are SJ’s book recommendations: 

Christian-living: Hearers & Doers by Kevin Vanhoozer

Written for pastors but accessible for the lay, this book is my favorite read on discipleship (and the relationship sound doctrine has with spiritual formation). Vanhoozer exegetes culture as well as he does Scripture, and employs memorable analogies and images to get us to think about this subject afresh.

Memoir: Open by Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi is one of the greatest tennis players of all time. And his surprising repeated refrain throughout the book and his life is: “I hate tennis”. It is probably the most engaging memoir I’ve ever read with a deeply vulnerable look into the inner life of a very famous person. (Note: this contains some explicit language and subject material)

Fiction: The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

This is a fantasy book with a fun and original premise: Harry lives and dies but is born into the same world over and over again, and with all the knowledge of the lives he had lived previously. Things carry on this way until one day he meets others who are like him, and then uncovers the sinister plot against his kind. The book is a leisurely read with thought-provoking nudges on the complexities of life and loss peppered along on the way.

Theology: The Beauty of the Lord by Jonathan King

The book is not light material, but it is rarely charted territory for theologians. Theology as aesthetics is a rather unique project, and King traces the contours of beauty through the drama of redemption. His chapter titles speak for themselves: 1. Beauty Triune; 2. Creation: Beauty’s Debut; 3. The Incarnation: Beauty Condescending; 4. The Cross: Beauty Redeeming; 5. Re-creation: Beauty’s Denouement. 

Heather Walters serves as the RUF intern at UC Santa Barbara. She was involved in RUF at TCU, where she was blown away by the Lord’s magnificent work through such ordinary means. Here are Heather’s book recommendations: 

Christian-living: Rejoicing in Christ by Michael Reeves

This little book has hands down been one of the most impactful in my spiritual journey. Reeves displays such a rich and theologically sound assessment of Jesus’ life and defends how Christ Himself *is* Christianity. Rejoicing in Christ is incredibly intellectually and soul satisfying!

Fiction: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Haddon writes through the lens of a fifteen year-old boy, Christopher, whose autism changes his entire lived experience. This quick read is a fantastic and curious story about his quest to uncover who murdered his neighbor’s loved dog, and leads him to a journey of independence and self discovery. It is altogether comical, gripping and thought provoking!

Non-Fiction: Atomic Habits by James Clear

Being an RUF intern means you have a lot of autonomy over your own scheduling, which, at times, is quite challenging. Clear references real life accounts as he writes about the psychology behind healthy and unhealthy habits. This book was almost as exposing as discovering my enneagram for the first time. 

Jayna Duckenfield is the RUF Recruiting Associate for the Intern Department. She was first introduced to RUF in 2011 at Appalachian State University and has been involved ever since. She recently published her first children’s book, Humbleton! Here are Jayna’s book recommendations: 

Christian-living: His Testimonies My Heritage: Women of Color on the Word of God by Kristie Anyabwile

I’m not super far into this one yet, but from what I have read, I’ve already been blessed. The content is rich and the Biblical reflections are solid. It’s been immensely encouraging to read words from women that look like me. 

Fiction: Memoirs of An Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks

This is my go to fiction book recommendation! The story is both fun and intelligent. I knew nothing about the story before reading it, and it far exceeded my expectations.

Biography: Yes, Please by Amy Pohler

This one is funny, interesting, and just as warm as you’d expect from Amy. For fans of Parks and Rec and SNL, it’s certainly an enjoyable read. There’s a chapter on apologizing that is incredibly poignant and was encouraging to read from someone in “Show Biz”.

Nathan Dicks is the Campus Minister at Boston University. He is married to Sarah and has a son named Ward. Here are Nathan’s book recommendations: 

Christian-living: Grace and Glory: Sermons Preached at Princeton Seminary by Geerhardus Vos 

Vos is an eminent theologian whose affection for God is on display in this short collection of sermons. Excellent devotional reading.

Fiction: The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

Before binging Netflix was a thing, there was the moviegoer. Explores boredom and the search for meaning in the modern world of the South.

Non-Fiction: The Mind of the South by W. J. Cash

I didn’t realize how Southern I was until I moved to New England. This book is an old, but still relevant critical self-reflection on Southerness.

Grace Anne Clark serves as RUF Campus Staff at Vanderbilt University. She attended Wake Forest University where she met her husband, Houston, majored in Psychology, and loved being involved in RUF there. Here are Grace Anne’s book recommendations: 

Christian-living: The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen

I have really enjoyed reading Nouwen the past few years, but this book especially spoke to me deep down when I really needed it. Could not recommend it enough! 

Fiction: The Giver by Lois Lowry

I pick up this book every so often and it always feels like the first time. The descriptions of our collective memories have always sounded like poetry to me. Gathering Blue also by Lowry is another dependable favorite that I highly recommend. 

Non-Fiction: The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson 

This is a nonfiction about the events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. It parallels the incredible architect that built the fair and a serial killer who is posing as a doctor and murdering many citizens and visitors during the same time. I’m really into true crime, so this book was right up my alley. I honestly couldn’t believe it was nonfiction at first. Highly recommend if you’re into this kind of thing!