Things My Dog has Taught Me: About being a better human by Jonathan Wittenberg (Hodder & Stoughton, £16.99 (£15.30); 978-1-473-66437-1).
“In this book for dog lovers everywhere, Jonathan Wittenberg says his dogs have taught him, more than anything else, how to appreciate the wonderful world in which we live - and how to develop better relationships with his friends and families. If you're one of the 8.5 million dog owners in the UK the answer to a better way of living may already be under your roof.”
Solitude: Memories, people, places by Terry Waite (SPCK, £16.99 (£15.30); 978-0-281-07881-3).
“After enduring nearly five years of solitary confinement, in cruel and terrifying conditions, Terry Waite discovered that he was drawn to find out more about the power of solitude in the lives of other people. The result is this haunting book, in which he recalls his encounters with people who have experienced some very different ways of being solitary: among them the peaceful solitude of remote and beautiful places; the unsought and often unnoticed solitude of lonely people living in the midst of busy cities; the deceptive solitude of those living in the twilight world of espionage; the enforced solitude of the convict and the prisoner of war; and finally the inescapable solitude of those who are drawing near to death. Through all these encounters, and through the memories and reflections they trigger in the author's mind, we see how solitude shapes the human soul - and how it can be a force for good in our own lives, if we can only learn to use it well.”
Nebuchadnezzar’s Marmalade Pot and Other Reflections by Adrian Leak (The Book Guild, £13.99 (£12.60); 978-1-912083-94-7).
“During Adrian Leak's time as a parish priest, he wrote many monthly ‘letters’ for the local parish magazine. His inspiration was the wide and colourful experience of life as a country parson, and the wish to share his reflections with non-believers as well as believers. Nebuchadnezzar's Marmalade Pot is comprised of mostly edited versions of those letters, which appeared in The Withyham & Blackham Parish Magazine, as well as a few adapted from sermons. The book is a collection of 80 short pieces, ranging widely over topics briefly related to church occasions and Christian faith including Easter, Christmas, Pentecost, weddings, funerals, parenthood, prayer, belief, and hope. heir style is anecdotal, humorous and allusive.”
Confession: The healing of the soul by Peter Tyler (Bloomsbury, £14.99 (£13.50); 978-1-4729-3432-1).
“This book will be of interest to all Christians of any denomination who engage in sacramental confession - clergy but also pastoral workers and those millions who actually attend confession as part of their lives. In the post-Freudian age confession of any kind has had a bad press but is now coming back into popularity as guilt and sin become helpful concepts. Peter Tyler, an author and practicing psychotherapist, argues that rather than being something to consign to the rubbish heap of history, confession offers unexplored potential for the healing of the postmodern soul.”
True Stories and Other Essays by Francis Spufford (Yale, £20 (Church Times SPECIAL OFFER PRICE £16); 978-0-300-23005-5).
“An irresistible collection of favorite writings from an author celebrated for his bravura style and sheer unpredictability Francis Spufford's welcome first volume of collected essays gathers an array of his compelling writings from the 1990s to the present. He makes use of a variety of encounters with particular places, writers, or books to address deeper questions relating to the complicated relationship between story-telling and truth-telling. How must a nonfiction writer imagine facts, vivifying them to bring them to life? How must a novelist create a dependable world of story, within which facts are, in fact, imaginary? And how does a religious faith felt strongly to be true, but not provably so, draw on both kinds of writerly imagination? Ranging freely across topics as diverse as the medieval legends of Cockaigne, the Christian apologetics of C. S. Lewis, and the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini, Spufford provides both fresh observations and thought-provoking insights. No less does he inspire an irresistible urge to turn the page and read on.”
Selected by Frank Nugent, of the Church House Bookshop, which operates the Church Times Bookshop.