Reading for Renewal

Our Women's Fellowship has participated in the UCC Women's "Reading for Renewal" program for many years. Below is a list of books. For more information on each book, visit the UCC Women's site. You may also click here for a printable brochure.


The Florida UCC Women's Book List


1. Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks.  (F)  Forging a deep friendship with a Wampanoag chieftain's son on the Great Harbor settlement where her minister father is working to convert the tribe, Bethia follows his subsequent Ivy League education and efforts to bridge cultures among the colonial elite.

2. The Calligrapher’s Daughter by Eugenia Kim.  (F)  This historical novel is based on the life of the author’s mother.  Najin, nicknamed after the birth city of her mother as her father has never named her, is torn between the Confucian traditions of her father and Christian faith of her mother. However, the privileged life of a calligrapher’s daughter changes with the harsh occupation of Japan.  One day after her marriage to a student minister they are separated and life as she knew it spirals downhill until more than ten years later when she and her husband are reunited.


3. The Chocolate Diaries:  Secrets for a Sweeter Journey on the Rocky Road of Life by Karen Scalf Linamen.  (NF)  Everyday women share their pursuit of honest, workable solutions to daunting challenges, inviting readers to harness the power of faith in God and hope. 

4. The Grace of Silence by Michele Norris.  (NF)  Norris, the co-host of NPR’s All Things Considered, examines both her family’s racial roots and secrets, including her grandmother’s short career as a traveling Aunt Jemima and her father’s shooting by a white policeman in Alabama in 1946. 

5. Greater Journey by David McCullough.  (NF)   McCullough mixes famous and obscure names and delivers capsule biographies of everyone to produce a colorful parade of educated, Victorian-era American travelers and their life-changing experiences in Paris. 

6.The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews.  (F)  After finding a box of Nazi medals buried in his backyard, the author tells a story of the love and forgiveness that grew between an American woman and a German lieutenant. 

7.Her Mother’s Hope by Francine Rivers.  (F)  This is the first in 2-book saga that explores the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters over four generations.  It begins when strong-willed Marta Schneider leaves her home in rural Switzerland. 

8. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford.  (F)  When artifacts from Japanese families sent to internment camps during World War II are uncovered during renovations at a Seattle hotel, Henry Lee embarks on a quest that leads to memories of growing up Chinese in a city rife with anti-Japanese sentiment. 

9. I Bought a House on Gratitude Street:  And Other Insights on the Good Life by J. Ellsworth Kalas.  (NF)  Kalas shares life lessons on matters of friendship, prayer, sin and success, all seen through the lens of Scripture.

10. I Still Dream about You by Fannie Flagg.  (F)  Hiding her unhappiness from those who believe she has a perfect life, former beauty queen Maggie has an unexpected change of circumstances that leads to surprising discoveries and valuable lessons in friendship. 

11. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.  (NF)  This documents the story of how scientists took cells from an unsuspecting descendant of freed slaves and created a human cell line that has been kept alive indefinitely, enabling discoveries in such areas as cancer research, in vitro fertilization and gene mapping. 

12. The Lost Girls by Jennifer Baggett.  (NF)  Three friends at a crossroads in their twenties quit their high pressure New York media jobs, leave their friends and everything familiar behind, and embark on a year-long backpacking adventure around the world. 

13. The Lucky Gourd Shop by Joanna Catherine Scott.  (F ) When three adopted children grow curious about their Korean heritage their American mother provides a life story of their birth mother.  Mi Sook is found abandoned behind a coffee shop and is reared in the back room until she marries a construction worker.  Deceived by her husband and left widowed with a son and two daughters she is forced to make a practical and heartbreaking decision.  

14. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson.  (F)  Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired) leads a quiet life in the village of St. Mary, England, until his brother's death sparks an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village.  Will their relationship survive in a society that considers Ali a foreigner? 

15. Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger.  (F)  When her mistress departs from Victorian London society to seek relief from tuberculosis symptoms in Egypt, maid Sally throws herself into their new culture and comes to know freedoms she has never experienced before she is harshly reminded of her humble station in life. 

16. Paul and Me:  Fifty-three Years of Adventures with My Pal Paul Newman by A. E. Hotchner.  (NF)  Their friendship began when the relatively unknown actor assumed the lead role in Hotchner’s first television play.  It continued through travels, adventures and the founding of Newman’s Own as a prank that morphed into a major enterprise giving donations to charities. 

17. The Postmistress by Sarah Blake.  (F)  In London covering the Blitz with Edward R. Murrow, Frankie Bard meets a Cape Cod doctor in a shelter and promises that she'll deliver a letter for him when she finally returns to the United States.  Filled with stunning parallels to today's world, "The Postmistress" is a sweeping novel about the loss of innocence of two extraordinary women--and of two countries torn apart by war. 

18. Room by Emma Donoghue.  (F)  Narrator Jack and his mother, who was kidnapped seven years earlier when she was a 19-year-old college student, celebrate his fifth birthday.  They live in a tiny, 11-foot-square soundproofed cell in a converted shed in the kidnapper's yard.  The sociopath, whom Jack has dubbed Old Nick, visits at night, grudgingly doling out food and supplies.  But Ma, as Jack calls her, proves to be resilient and resourceful--and attempts a nail-biting escape. 

21. Scones & Bones by Laura Childs.  (F)  Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning is lured into attending the Heritage Society's "Pirates and Plunder" soiree.  But it's an antique diamond skull ring that gets plundered by someone who murders a history intern in the process.  Theodosia knows she'll have to whet her investigative skills to find the killer among a raft of suspects.   From the Tea Shop Mysteries series. 




1. Birds of Paradise by Diana Abu-Jaber.  (F)  After a five year absence, a runaway (now 18

years old) returns to her family in Miami to deal with the guilty secret that caused her to flee. 

This is a multilayered novel about a family that comes apart at the seams—and finds its way

together again.


2. Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian.  (F)  A psychological thriller about a woman who was a

victim of a vicious assault during college.  Upon graduation she begins working as a social

worker in a homeless shelter and views photographs taken by a homeless man who had once

been a world class photographer. She becomes obsessed with the photographs and begins to

piece together a story of what his life must have been like. 


3. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.  (F)  Now eighteen and emancipated

from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a

small garden of her own.  Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market has her questioning what’s been missing in her life, and when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.


4. Rachel and Her Children:  Homeless Families in America by Jonathan Kozol.  (NF)  This

book, first published in 1988, is based on the months the author spent among America’s

homeless.  It is an unforgettable record of the desperate voices of men, women and children

caught up in a nightmarish situation.  With record number of homeless children and adults

flooding the shelters this look at the homeless resonates even louder today. 


5. Reckoning with Homelessness by Kim Hopper.  (NF)  As an anthropologist and advocate,

the author provides a deeper understanding of the roots of homelessness.  Using ethnography,

literature, history and activism he places homelessness into historical context to trace the

process by which it came to be recognized as an issue. 


6. Tell Them Who I Am:  The Lives of Homeless Women by Elliot Liebow.  (NF)  As a

participant- observer Liebow has provided a moving study and intimate look at women living in

homeless shelters.  The reader will look beyond stereotypes and see the diversity among them

and see that many of their struggles are no different from our own.