In preparation for 2023-2024 programming, Presbyterian Outlook Book Review Editor, Amy Pagliarella, recommends thought-provoking books for church leaders’ consideration. She emphasizes the value of engaging non-fiction reads for adult faith formation committees and book groups. 

One of her highlighted selections is “Poverty, by America” by Matthew Desmond. In this book, Desmond, a sociology professor at Princeton University, delves into the persistent issue of poverty in America. He critiques governmental policies, healthcare systems, housing structures, and societal attitudes, arguing that the current approach perpetuates a permanent underclass to serve the economy. Pagliarella suggests that this book opens doors for discussions on redefining solutions to poverty while involving people of faith in finding meaningful contributions.

Poverty, by America
Matthew Desmond
Crown Publishing Group, 304 pages | Published March 21, 2023

Another recommended book is “The 272: The Families Who Were Enslaved and Sold to Build the American Catholic Church” by Rachel Swarns. This work sheds light on the deeply unsettling history of Georgetown University’s sale of enslaved individuals to fund the institution. Swarns meticulously unveils the stories of those affected, exposing the horrors of family separation and the brutalities of slavery. Through examining this historical atrocity, the book prompts inquiries into institutional responsibility, restorative justice, and biblical justifications.  Pagliarella hopes that this book will inspire conversations on how past injustices shape present-day decisions and compel readers to address the exclusion of marginalized voices in decision-making processes within the church.

The 272: The Families Who Were Enslaved and Sold to Build the American Catholic Church
Rachel Swarns
Random House, 352 pages | Published June 13, 2023

Learn more about these and other recommended reads in the July/August book issue of the Presbyterian Outlook.