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Best Selling books at the 2013 Gathering

The wide skies of Greeley, Colorado, and the welcome of western Friends made a great venue for this year’s annual FGC Gathering. The bookstore enjoyed lots of visitors (though we never quite worked out the problems of getting our software to run in the new location). We are home again, mostly unpacked, and trying to recover as we turn our attention to work on a new QuakerBooks website that will launch in a few months. 

This month Graham and Chel are combining New at QuakerBooks and Book Musings into a single issue in which we will tell you about the most popular books at the Gathering this year. Many of these books are new titles that we featured at the author events we sponsored, but a couple are familiar books making a sales comeback. So, starting at the top (because who wants to wait for a countdown to number one), here are our ten best sellers this summer:

No. 1 Hope and History: Why We Must Share the Story of the Movement by Vincent Harding was a huge hit. Harding was a plenary speaker at the Gathering. His author event on this book, which is about the importance of keeping alive the stories of the blackled freedom movement, sparked an exciting discussion. Lucy Duncan has written about some of that discussion on “creating the Quaker community that does not yet exist” in her AFSC blog, Acting in Faith.

No. 2 The second most popular book is the new collection from John Calvi, The Dance between Hope and Fear. Calvi, a widely known Quaker healer and activist who has worked extensively with AIDS patients and victims of torture, has gathered together reflections from his articles, presentations, and journals to produce a very moving book on love, trauma, and healing.

No. 3 Another new and popular title was from our own QuakerBridge Media—Howard and Anna Brinton: Reinventors of Quakerism in the 20th Century by Anthony Manousos. This book was so new we had the printer ship it directly to Greeley to make sure it got there in time. Believe it or not, this is the first book length biography of a remarkable couple who did much to guide what modern Quakerism has become.

No. 4 Sparkling Still—another FGC title—was also a hit, thanks in part to the lively presence of its authors who worked together for years to create an innovative curriculum which both seasoned and inexperienced First Day School teachers can use to build community and learning in groups of children ages 38. In addition to the print version, this title is also available as a pdf download.

No. 5 Public Secrets and Justice: A Journal of a Circuit Court Judge was a lastminute
addition to our author events schedule. Graham had spoken with the author on the phone and was so convinced that this was going to be a very good book that he won over Chel’s reluctance to include an event featuring a title we had not yet seen. When former judge Laura Melvin left the bench, she undertook a spiritual quest that landed her among Quakers. This book is about that quest and about Melvin's thoughts on the broken aspects of the American system of justice. The sales ranking speaks for itself Melvin has something to say that Quakers want to read about!

No. 6 Sweet Fruit from the Bitter Tree: 61 Stories of Creative and Compassionate Ways Out of Conflict was featured in an earlier Book Musings. Mark Andreas, its enthusiastic author, recounts imaginative responses that people have used to manage confrontational situations.

No. 7 Surprisingly, our top ten list includes a book QuakerPress published eight years ago. Margaret Hope Bacon’s young adult novel, The Back Bench, is a work of fiction based on an actual incident from the nineteenth century. A young Hicksite Quaker girl, sent to live with her Orthodox cousins in Philadelphia, attends Friends Select School, comes to know Lucretia Mott, and eventually must take a stand on race relations. Its top ten status may have something to do with the fact that we’ve recently marked this book down to $2.50, but it's exploration of ethical challenges faced by our Quaker predecessors is as meaningful as ever.

No. 8 Quaker Process: For Friends on the Benches was published a year ago by Friends Journal. In it, Mathilda Navais discusses good procedure for Quaker meetings and committees, going deeper than the brief guidelines in our books of faith and practice. We expect this book to become a steady classic, one that will be on the shelves of all meeting libraries, and we think its outstanding popularity in its second year is probably an indication of the positive buzz generated in its first year. 

No. 9 Facets of Quakerism is a small booklet by Sally Rickerman containing “a potpourri of Quakerism and its values.” Included are pieces by Rickerman, Joe Volk, Johann Maurer, Brent Bill, and more. Click on the title to see the table of contents. 

No. 10 Ending Cycles of Violence: Kenyan Quaker Peacemaking Response to 20072013 Elections is newly out in an updated edition. This work has made Chel wonder―if we in the U.S. and Canada faced riots and violence in response to national elections, what would Quakers do? How would our meetings respond, and what would we understand to be our responsibility? This is just the situation Kenyan Quakers have had to address. In the first edition of this book, the authors looked at the work of Kenyan Quakers in the aftermath of the 2007 elections to address the violence then and to build a culture of peace for the future. The new edition continues the story by including the followup to the 2013 elections. 

We hope you are enjoying this summer and finding time for some good reading. Until September . . .