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New titles just published

11 March 2022

This week’s selection: self-management in times of darkness, poetry and prayer, and the history of the neighbourhood around St Paul’s Cathedral

The Simple Care of a Hopeful Heart: Mentoring yourself in difficult times by Robert J. Wicks (OUP, £10.99 (£9.89); 978-0-19-751540-2).

“In the end, it is not the amount of darkness in the world, our country, family, or even within ourselves that matter: it is how we stand in that darkness that is crucial. In light of this, the overall question addressed in this book is simple and challenging: ‘How can we best mentor ourselves with the knowledge that already surrounds us so we learn and grow from the changes, stress, and even trauma, that we must face in today's uncertain times?’ Underlying the book's overall message is the signature strength of humility because as the author emphasises: When we take knowledge and add humility, we get wisdom, and when we then add this very wisdom to compassion, we get love. . . and love is at the heart of a rich, compassionate, and resilient life. The book presents a series of 50 brief lessons on such topics as: Developing a renewed and deeper interest in creative approaches to self-care; Overcoming resistance to change; Ways to gain, maintain, and regain a healthy perspective; Appreciating the advantages of the ‘psychological detours’ forced on us in life; How spending only two minutes each day in silence, solitude, and wrapped in gratitude can be transformative; Understanding how we can best apply the principles of posttraumatic growth (PTG) to our own life situation; Dealing effectively with necessary change and unexpected loss; Recognising the importance of pacing and timing in our interactions with others.”

Come Holy Gift: Prayer poems for the Christian year by Steven Shakespeare (Canterbury Press, £10.99 (£8.79); 978-1-78622-412-5).

“Reminiscent of Malcolm Guite’s bestselling Sounding the Seasons, this beautiful collection offers scripture-inspired poems for each of the major seasons of the Christian year. It includes: The Call to Prayer (with poetry on the nature of prayer); Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany; Lent, Easter, and Pentecost (including Wings of Wounded Glory, a sequence for Holy Week); Transforming Ordinary Time (including some feasts which fall outside the major seasons); In the School of Mary (poetic reflections on Mary, see as a model for prayer, contemplation and prophecy). An introduction considers the relationship between prayer and poetry and offers suggestions for using the book in public and private worship settings, and a closing sequence contemplates Mary as a figure of prayers and witness.”

In the Shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral: The churchyard that shaped London by Margaret Willes (Yale, £25 (Church Times SPECIAL OFFER PRICE £19.99); 978-0-300-24983-5).

“The extraordinary story of St Paul's Churchyard — the area of London that was a centre of social and intellectual life for more than a millennium. St Paul's Cathedral stands at the heart of London, an enduring symbol of the city. Less well known is the neighbourhood at its base that hummed with life for over a thousand years, becoming a theatre for debate and protest, knowledge, and gossip. For the first time, Margaret Willes tells the full story of the area. She explores the dramatic religious debates at Paul’s Cross, the bookshops where Shakespeare came in search of inspiration, and the theatre where boy actors performed plays by leading dramatists. After the Great Fire of 1666, the churchyard became the centre of the English literary world, its bookshops nestling among establishments offering luxury goods. This remarkable community came to an abrupt end with the Blitz. First the soaring spire of Old St Paul's and then Wren's splendid Baroque dome had dominated the area, but now the vibrant secular society that had lived in their shadow was no more.”

Selected by Frank Nugent, of the Church House Bookshop, which operates the Church Times Bookshop.

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