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Welcome to the 2015 Politics and Prose Holiday Newsletter. As we have in past years, we’ve tried to select the best—and most beautiful—recent books, fiction and nonfiction, to help you with gift-giving.

It’s also traditional to emphasize how difficult making these choices has been—it’s not just a matter of so many books, but of so many truly wonderful books. This year there’s been an especially impressive outpouring of short fiction and memoirs, but you’ll find bookseller favorites on all subjects here. Enjoy!


For most readers Marilynne Robinson is the beloved novelist of Housekeeping and the Gilead trilogy; she’s also a formidable essayist, and in her inspiring fifth collection of nonfiction, The Givenness of Things (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26), she identifies herself not as a writer but first and foremost as a Christian and a Calvinist. Spanning subjects from neuroscience to Shakespeare, civil rights to quantum physics, Robinson doesn’t just showcase her wide reading interests, she practices the deep-seated humanism she preaches. While the received impression of Puritanism is one of dour, narrow-minded self-righteousness, Robinson, after extensive study of Calvin’s texts, shows that he was a humanist and that, properly understood, Christianity itself is founded in a humanist reverence for everything available to human experience. Breathing life into topics that often seem unapproachable, Robinson explains the Reformation, for instance, as a popular movement that made classical texts available to general readers in the vernacular. Similarly, she believes that Christianity has a wider mission than “merely personal salvation,” and urges today’s churches to look past the so-called “sins Jesus never mentioned”—abortion, marriage equality, liberalism—and focus on “the great sin’”—social injustice. As she did so movingly in Gilead and Home, Robinson critiques and celebrates American history and culture from a rigorously theistic perspective, marveling at “the most complex” thing in the universe, the human brain, with its limitless imagination.

The Givenness of Things: Essays Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374298470
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - October 27th, 2015

The Givenness of Things: Essays Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250097316
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Picador USA - October 25th, 2016

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