A Monitor Guide to Religion Bestsellers

The Monitor's quarterly review of bestselling religion books offers a one-stop opportunity to survey the resurgent interest in religion and spirituality.

1. I HOPE YOU DANCE

by Tia Sillers

Rutledge Hill Press, $13.99

About this time last summer, if you listened to your radio at all, chances are you heard "I Hope You Dance," the hit song by Lee Ann Womack. Now, the writers of the song have put the CD single in a gift book, which breaks the song apart, lyric by lyric, adding photos and text. Although the treatment risks overexposure, it is an inspiring song, sung from the point of view of someone who loves you and wants you to overcome every obstacle in your way. A little sappy, but it could still make for a good grab-bag present. (62 pp.) By Christy Ellington

2. WILD AT HEART

by John Eldredge

Thomas Nelson, $16.95

Eldredge says God designed men to be dangerous, adventurous, and heroic. He rejects society's praise for the "nice guy," insisting that our emasculating culture forces men to deny their true nature, and he challenges men to live lives full of risk. At times Eldredge seems to offer an excuse for recklessness, but ultimately he believes God alone gives men the answer to their true identity, and he points to the Bible to support his idea of masculinity. Many men (and women) will relate to his anecdotes, but readers shouldn't expect more than fleeting inspiration. (224 pp.) By Christian Scripter

3. IN THIS MOUNTAIN

by Jan Karon

Viking, $24.95

Available on tape

In the seventh of her series, Karon once again transports readers to the heart of small-town Mitford, where they follow the adventures of Father Tim, his wife, and all the characters they've come to love. In this installment, Father Tim's humor and wisdom see him through run-ins with technology, illness, relationship conflicts, and retirement. Mitford fans will approve – and new readers are sure to feel right "At Home in Mitford." (382 pp.) By Amy Andrews

4. GOD'S LEADING LADY

by T.D. Jakes

Putnam, $19.95

Bishop T.D. Jakes has a compassionate directive for today's modern woman: Take center stage. To illustrate, he uses timeless examples of Bible women who overcame challenges and mistakes to triumph and shine, and he emphasizes learning to move beyond self-imposed labels and doubt. Jakes leads a ministry with a large following, and this book embodies his from-the-pulpit tone. Despite some long-winded, heavy-on-poetry moments, there are insights worth pondering here. Readers will warm up to his conversational style by the book's end. (224 pp.) By Kendra Nordin

5. PRISONERS OF HOPE

by Dayna Curry

Doubleday, $19.95

Available on tape

This is the story of Heather Mercer and Dayna Curry, two Christian aid workers who survived a five-month imprisonment by the Taliban, just before 9/11. It begins with their visits with Afghan families near Kabul where, after showing a film about Jesus on their laptop, they are abducted by the Taliban. The story, told by both women, describes how they found Jesus, how their faith led them to Afghanistan, and how prison challenged their faith. Unfortunately, they focus mainly on their monotonous prison term and not on their Christian aid work. (256 pp.) By Robert Huey

6. BRINGING UP BOYS

by James Dobson

Tyndale, $22.99

Available on tape

Dobson promotes traditional masculinity with a highly readable mix of physiology and folksy storytelling. For Dobson, boys' energy needs to be properly channeled by strong parents – particularly fathers. Chief among his solutions: emphasize gender differences, combat media messages, and make more time. Dobson has both a PhD in child development and a successful Christian Right publishing empire. This creates some tensions: He tells parents to trust professionals on ADHD, but urges distrust of psychologists on homosexuality. (284 pp.) By Ben Arnoldy

7. THE PRAYER OF JABEZ

by Bruce Wilkinson

Multnomah, $9.99

Available on tape

Bruce Wilkinson, founder of the Walk Thru the Bible Ministries, is convinced that the prayer of a man named Jabez could change your life – if you're Christian, that is. Found in I Chronicles, the prayer of Jabez is brief. Wilkinson believes that when this prayer is used daily, it opens the doors to God's blessings. Although it glimmers with moments of inspiration and even aspiration for humanity, by packaging those ideas as a strictly Christian ministry, Wilkinson will leave many seekers of faith on the sidewalks of the road he claims to have found. (144 pp.) By Christy Ellington

8. THE GOOD LIFE

by Peter Gomes

HarperSanFrancisco, $24.95

What's at the heart of a good life? Exploring this question can be hard to do on campuses that, for the past four decades, have chosen to sidestep moral education. Gomes, a Harvard professor and minister, works to fill this void for students by taking on failure and success; discipline and freedom; and the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love. This is an engaging book, inspired, Gomes says, "by a generation of young people who as never before in modern times are prepared to lead in the search for noble purpose ... if we are prepared to help them." (384 pp.) By Amelia Newcomb

9. GRACE FOR THE MOMENT

by Max Lucado

Countryman, $13.99

From a Protestant perspective, Lucado provides his readers with centering insights for each day of the year. The simple yet thoughtful layout of "Grace for the Moment" clearly identifies the date, the day's theme, a related Bible verse, and then a brief inspirational anecdote or interpretation. From "God Listens" on Jan. 1 to "Wistful Words" on the last day of the year, he touches on a wide variety of topics, reminding Christians of the work that needs to be done to draw closer to God – as well as the promised rewards. (398 pp.) By Steven Savides

10. THE PRAYER OF JABEZ FOR WOMEN

by Darlene Wilkinson

Multn., $9.99

Available on tape

Following her husband's lead, Darlene Wilkinson champions the herdsman, Jabez, whom she calls the "Bible's hidden hero" (see No. 7). But unlike Bruce, she tailors the short prayer of Jabez to women and their needs as nurturers. Through daily study of this prayer, she asserts, housewives will feel a sense of blessedness. Her devotion to prayer and helping others experience joy and abundance is admirable. But such strict adherence to a single Christian prayer may strike some as rigid and extreme. (91 pp.) By Jennifer Wolcott

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