Some great new books (to which I happened to contribute)

April 10, 2011 | 11 comments

And now for a long-overdue update on some exciting new books that I’ve been a part of:

Daily Guideposts: Your First Year of Motherhood

Hot off the presses, Your First Year of Motherhood is a priceless gem for any woman who has recently become a mother. It’s formatted as a series of daily reflections, each one no more than a page — perfect for weary moms who are too tired and busy for some weighty tome. Each reflection contains a personal story of some wisdom gained or lesson learned, a verse from Scripture, and a suggested prayer.

Our fabulous editor, Julia Attaway, strongly encouraged us to skip the platitudes, dig deep, and talk about the stuff that is really on new moms’ minds: tension with spouses, changing relationships with friends, what to do about the utter, all-consuming exhaustion, etc. It also includes the perspective of adoptive moms and moms of twins. It was an exciting project to be a part of, and I am confident that every new mom will love it. Put it at the top of your gift list for your next baby shower! (The astute reader may say: “But wait, you were an atheist when your first child was born! Are your reflections going to be a bunch of vitriolic rants denouncing God?!” Don’t worry, I wrote from the perspective of my first year of motherhood after I came to faith, which, in many ways, was like being a mom for the first time.)

Atheist to Catholic: 11 Stories of Conversion

I was honored to be asked to share my story in this book, which includes the conversion stories of science fiction author John C. Wright; former militant atheist blogger The Raving Theist (back when his blog was The Raving Atheist, he was one of the most popular atheist bloggers online); New York University professor Dr. Paul Vitz; author and blogger Karen Edmisten; and other fascinating folks. From the book summary: “The former atheists in this book…include: a university professor unexpectedly attracted to the faith when a student describes her retreat at a monastery; a young woman impressed by a colleague’s Mass attendance, who writes, ‘I wanted to find her ridiculous, but quite unexpectedly, I felt like the ridiculous one’; a Polish immigrant who shared Communism’s disdain for religion. These seekers ended up some place they never intended to go — the Catholic Church — and yet went there and found that they were home.”

The format of brief essays makes it a light read, yet it’s a book that packs a punch. It’s fascinating to see how each story is completely unique, yet the same themes run through almost every one. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a book that’s easy to read yet deeply thought provoking.

Prayer in the Digital Age

I got so absorbed in this new book by Matt Swaim that I was almost late on my deadline for the foreword. It’s a fascinating look at how the digital age has transformed our relationship to God and others — for better and for worse. It’s not a rant against all technology or an exultation of blogging and Facebook as the solution to all the world’s ills; rather, it’s a deep look into how the constant flow of stimulation and infinite amount of information that comes with modern life shape our personal and spiritual lives. Swaim addresses questions like:

  • How does modern culture tempt us to know the facts about God more than actually knowing God?
  • How does our desire to be entertained interfere with knowing God as he really is, rather than just as we want to perceive him?
  • What are the distinctions between employing media and information as tools to aid evangelization and spiritual growth while avoiding a purely consumer approach to the faith?
  • How can information overload deaden our ability to listen?

I think you’ll enjoy this look into our relationship with God in the age of constant distractions.

The Church and the New Media: Blogging Converts, Online Activists, and Bishops who Tweet

(Not yet released.) This is another great little book that takes a look at a weighty issues in the form of brief personal essays, making it a fun read with information that’s easy to digest. I wrote the chapter about sharing the spiritual journey online, and was humbled to be in the company of such an amazing list of contributors, which includes: Cardinal Seán O’Malley, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Fr. Robert Barron, Mark Shea, Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Shawn Carney, Lisa Hendey, Matthew Warner, Taylor Marshall, Scot Landry, Thomas Peters and Marcel LeJeune. Under the guidance of editor Brandon Vogt, each chapter takes a different look at the face of the Church in the middle of the digital revolution, and ponders what it means to harness new tools of communication effectively to share the Gospel in the 21st century. I hear that it will be released sometime in the Fall of 2011 — I’ll let you know when it’s out, and you can also check Brandon Vogt’s (wonderful) blog for updates.

An update on my memoir

Yes, I’m still working on it. I finished the second version (after scrapping the first) in November of 2010. My literary agent got back to me with his thoughts in December, and I was caught off guard at the scope of the changes. Though he had many good things to say about it, he pointed out that there were some problems with the basic structure — and, unfortunately, fixing that kind of thing involves a lot of rewriting. As frustrating as it is for all of this to take so long (I started writing it in the summer of 2008), I’m grateful to have an agent who is guiding me to write something of really top-notch quality. This is also why I don’t have a title or a release date yet: though multiple publishers have expressed interest in the project, we’re waiting to have any formal conversations with them until the book is in really good shape — this takes the pressure off of me and gives me as much time as I need to make this a really good book. I’ll keep you posted!


  1. Leah @ Unequally Yoked

    Congrats, Jen! I had no idea you had your finger in so many pots. I’m planning to order Atheist to Catholic after I finish my senior essay. (Big surprise that’s the one I’m beckoned toward, huh?)

  2. Brandon Vogt

    Thanks for mentioning “The Church and New Media”, Jen! I wanted to echo your love for Matt Swaim’s book. I think it is an excellent encouragement for Catholics to use media, but to use it with prudence, caution, and discernment:

  3. MelanieB

    Wow looks like a great roster of books. My wishlist keeps getting longer and longer…. So many books so little time.

  4. Catholic Bibliophagist

    These all look like books I’d like to read, except the motherhood one — and that only because I’m now in the grandmother stage.


  5. Megan at SortaCrunchy

    Jennifer, these look amazing – especially the one about prayer in the digital age. Thanks for sharing them with us along with the memoir update.

  6. Karen Edmisten

    Jen, I’ve been meaning to pick up Matt Swaim’s book, especially since Atticus and I have been using the iBreviary far more often lately than the breviary that contains actual pages. 🙂

    And thanks for the mention — I feel honored, too, to have been asked to share my story in the book on conversion. (I’m the one who wanted to find her colleague ridiculous. Little did I know ….)

  7. Coleen

    Jen, I’ll definately be adding a few of those to my reading list.

    For Lent I’m reading “Consoling the Heart of Jesus – A Do-It-Yourself Retreat”. It’s based off of the spirtual excercises of St. Ignatius. I’m loving it but thinking that I’ll need to go through it a second time to get the most out of it – I read it while I’m pumping in the Mother’s room at work – not always the best environment for thoughful reflection 😉

  8. Dawn Farias

    How exciting to have contributed to such great books! “Prayer in the Digital Age” seems very interesting, based on the questions you shared.

  9. Ismael

    The “Atheist to Catholic” book sounds really interesting!

    Jennifer, have you ever considered doing a ‘Journey Home’ show with Micheal Grodi on EWTN? I’d love to see that!

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