Better World, Better You

REVIEW: Ridge Writers on Books


If you haven’t started your New Year’s resolutions, here’s a thought: Read a book. One of these might inspire you to feel fabulous and help get the world back in shape.

“A Bigger Table” (by John Pavlovitz, Westminster John Knox Press, trade paperback, 192 pgs., 2017, $16.00) subtitled “Building Messy, Authentic, and Hopeful Spiritual Community” explores the cruelties and incongruities of contemporary values and culture. The blogger behind “Stuff That Needs to Be Said” with a worldwide audience, Pastor John Pavlovitz sets forth four marks of the bigger table: radical hospitality, total authenticity, true diversity and agenda-free community. Through them, he examines faith rooted in love and the “singular, odd, staggeringly beautiful story we all share.” He tells “a bit of my story … in the hopes that you find some of your own story there” and offers “the way forward, given the divisiveness we’re experiencing.” He concludes with questions for discussion.

“How To Be Alive: A Guide to the Kind of Happiness That Helps the World” (Colin Beavan, Dey Street William Morrow, hardcover, 448 pgs., 2016, $25.99) compiles Beavan’s adventures and those of others who successfully transformed their lifestyles to contribute to a better community and planet. Beavan became famous for his year-long “zero-net-impact” existence in New York City. He invites us to make exciting choices, noting that the world continues to change so dramatically that “we all have the chance to matter in an entirely new way.”

For a handsome, gift-worthy reminder that our glorious Earth deserves unstinting protection, “America’s Great National Forests, Wildernesses & Grasslands” (Char Miller, hundreds of full-color photos by Tim Palmer, Rizzoli International Publications, coffee-table hardcover, 272 pgs., 2016, $50.00) embraces 193 million acres of deserts, snowfields, giant sequoias, and altogether astounding majesty. In our backyard alone, “Eight Sierra Nevada national forests are wonders of the natural world. Northern California sprouts more conifer species than anywhere else, and the concentration of wild rivers there exceeds that of every other region.” At the same time, Miller articulately and elegantly issues timely warnings, shining a light on why we dare not take public lands for granted.

Ready for 2018 and its transcendent opportunities? As Pastor Pavlovitz in writes in “A Bigger Table,” “Pull up a chair.”

This monthly column is written by members of Ridge Writers, the East Sierra Branch of the California Writers Club. Meetings are held the first Thursday evening of each month at Ridgecrest Presbyterian Church and free programs are offered throughout the year. Ridge Writers’ book “Planet Mojave: Visions From a World Apart” is available at the Historic USO Building, Jawbone Canyon, Maturango Museum and Red Rock Books.

Story First Published: 2017-12-15