Our Top 10 Book Picks | May 8, 2020

Our Top 10 Book Picks | May 8, 2020

Three Things This Week

What it is: Stuck at home, Gen Z has started a trend in DIY fashion, turning to upcycling and customizing clothing as a way to pass the time.
Why it’s a great pastime: 30% of Gen Z reports taking up entirely new hobbies during the quarantine, higher than any other generation. Gen Z reports high concern for environmental impact and sustainability, so it’s no surprise many of them have turned to reusing and selling clothing (Depop is a current fav “thrifting” app). But beyond simply refusing to partake in the waste that fast fashion is known for, the trend is good for other reasons, like encouraging creativity, expression, and learning helpful skills like sewing and marketing. If your teens are struggling to find things to do and/or have expressed interest in fashion, this could be a great project to tackle together, whether you already know how to sew or would learn together.

2. Digital Well-Being Guidelines
What it is: Because technology has become even more important during these times, The Center for Humane Technology has released guidelines to help families as we struggle to keep our tech use in balance.
Why they’re so needed: Desperate times call for desperate measures, which is why we’ve all become even more reliant on our screens. Unlike in the past, social distancing doesn’t have to mean isolation because we have incredible tools like the Internet, video chatting, and social media. So it’s understandable and perfectly fine if we’ve seen our family’s and our own screen time skyrocket lately. But these guidelines remind us that technology is not neutral, that the companies behind our apps and devices stand to profit from our increased use, and that too much time can negatively shape their developing brains. Take the time to read all eight, noting the helpful questions for each one, so that you can better steward your and your family’s time.

3. Perfect Me
What it is: A free “body editor” app that promises to “perfect” and “beautify” one’s appearance in photos and videos (including live videos).
Why it’s gross: The app doesn’t just remove “blemishes” or make waists thinner, it also adds tattoos, completely alters face shape, changes skin tone, and makes legs look longer, all in real-time. One fitness influencer tried the app and candidly remarked that she “felt awful” once she saw her real face again, highlighting how easily the app can distort a user’s perception of themselves and what’s beautiful. But even if your teens haven’t used this app or one similar (like FaceTune), they’re still being influenced by it, since most of the images and videos they see on social media are edited in one way or another. This is a good reminder that teens need frequent encouragement that they are beautiful exactly as they are; they don’t need “perfecting,” “editing,” “fixing,” or “touching up.”


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Summer Book Club

By now, your kids have probably watched all 14 bazillion hours of streaming video that Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime have to offer. Instead of searching for that next show to binge during the lockdown, what about encouraging them to go old school by reading a book? After all, summer is upon us, and there’s nothing better than lying under a shade tree with a great book. And while C.S. Lewis or Dietrich Bonhoeffer are always wonderful reads, this year, encourage your teen to read something new. Here’s our list of top 10 spiritual formation books by authors your teen may have never read before. Start your own book club by reading along and discussing these works together.

  1. 1. The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen. The challenge to love as God loves and to forgive as God forgives is the central theme of this emotional masterpiece.
  2. 2. The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. Written in the 17th Century, this classic continues to help believers see the sacred in everyday life.
  3. 3. Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren. An approachable look at living a liturgical life.
  4. 4. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. The amazing story of a heroine of the Dutch Resistance who helped Jews escape the Nazis and became one of the most remarkable evangelists of the 20th century.
  5. 5. Jesus and the Disinherited by Howard Thurman. This book is the centerpiece of Thurmon’s lifelong attempt to bring the harrowing beauty of the African-American experience into deep engagement with what he called “the religion of Jesus.”
  6. 6. Wisdom Distilled from the Daily by Joan Chittister. Prayer, work, and holy leisure are the characteristics of Benedictine life. Chittister shows how one can live into these ancient ways of being in the modern world.
  7. 7. The Scandal of Redemption by Oscar Romero. To commemorate 40 years since the assassination of Archbishop Romero, read his thought-provoking work on justice and the heart of God.
  8. 8. Strength to Love by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. If you only read one book by Dr. King, make it this one, as he weaves together his theology of nonviolence and enemy love in the midst of racial oppression.
  9. 9. The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton. One of the most creative autobiographical sketches ever produced. Merton’s path from prodigal son to sainthood is a transformative journey.
  10. 10. The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris. Part memoir, part meditation, this thought-provoking record of a married Protestant woman’s time spent in a community of monks will inspire anyone seeking a more meaningful life in the modern world.

Keep the Faith!

The Axis Team

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