Welcome to the SSUC Library page. Please visit the library in the main floor lounge of our building, browse the shelves, grab a cup of coffee and settle in for a read, or borrow a book and bring it back when you’re done. Would you like to browse the catalogue from home? See the Title catalogue here; the Author catalogue here; and the Reference books catalogue here. In the meantime, get introduced to a new book: read a preview of a featured book every two weeks, written by our librarians. Enjoy.


Introducing the SSUC Library collection

One of life’s biggest joys

Visit SSUC’s Library; browse the shelves laden with books ‘bout religion, spirituality, and all such; borrow one; read it. Why? Because it’d be good for you. “Reading a book is one of life’s biggest joys,” Christina Quaine wrote recently in Britain’s Stylist magazine, but then went on to report: “There’s a wealth of evidence to support the idea that books can cure, console, and enhance wellbeing.”

One study she cited, from New York’s New School of Social Research, found that reading “improves something called ‘Theory of Mind’—this is essentially our ability to empathize with others, and understand that other people hold different beliefs and desires than our own.” Why, “[t]here’s even evidence that, as a bookworm, you could enjoy a longer life,” she added. “A 2016 study from Yale University School of Public Health found that people who read books had a 20% reduction in risk of death…compared with non-book-readers.”  

A more recent scrutiny by Oxford University Press reported that “‘challenging language’ was found to send ‘rocket boosters’ to our mind that can help boost our mental health.” Quaine then quoted Dr. Paula Byrne, founder of ReLit, a UK charity which promotes bibliotherapy—simply, books as therapy: “‘Books can take you to a different place. They can…offer [you] wisdom….” 

Stylist is hardly alone in upholding books. Last November, Lynda Kachurek, head of book arts, archives, and rare books at Virginia’s University of Richmond, in a piece for The Conversation’s occasional series of “unusual courses”—it highlights “unconventional approaches to teaching”—pointed up “For the Love of Books”. This UR course teaches “how to judge a book by its cover—and its pages, print, and other elements of its design”. Books, she explained, “have long influenced literacy, economics, technology, art and culture” [and religion, we would add]. They’re “agents of change that have influenced societies and cultures for centuries.” 

As for the places they’re to be found—bookstores and libraries—they too are countenanced. Back in September, Canadian author Ray Robertson bubbled about second-hand bookstores, and the once-in-awhile discovery there of an impellent volume, this in a writing [“Book Smarts”] for The Globe and Mail: “Every time you walked through the door of one of them, you knew that this could be it—today might just be the day your life could change for good. Even more remarkably, sometimes it actually was.” 

As for libraries, a Michael Gordon of Toronto made common cause with them in a December letter to the editor of The Globe and Mail: “The attacks we now observe on libraries, by local governments and parents who object to certain subjects being made available to their children, are threats to democracy and lifelong learning. […] Libraries are jewels in the crown of society. …they are an irreplaceable resource for all of us.” 

And look: our church has one of its very own. Please, see for yourself. 

The SSUC Library collection—of more than 700 books, of ideas—explores religion, church, spirituality, theology, faith, doubt, values, beliefs, Jesus, God and gods, and all such things. These are writings to be pored over and pondered, weighed and wondered about. And valued. 

The classics are present and accounted for, everything from The Confessions of St. Augustine to Martin Buber’s I and Thou. There are works written by such luminaries as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Northrop Frye, Abraham Heschel, Albert Schweitzer, Paul Tillich, and Simone Weil. Others will acquaint you with such great church figures as John Wesley and Hildegard of Bingen. There are plays—The Trial of God by Elie Wiesel, and Lucas Hnath’s The Christians. Progressive Christianity pioneers like Jack Spong and Lloyd Geering penned still other of the volumes. Consider Karen Armstrong’s The Case for God, but also Richard Dawkins’ refutation in The God Delusion.

On the shelves you’ll come upon the Iona Abbey Worship Book, Bible atlases, an eco-foods guide, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, self-help books, including lots on loss and grieving by the likes of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, even Nancy Steeves’ doctoral thesis. There’s fiction, too: challenge yourself and read Nikos Kazantzakis’ controversial The Last Temptation of Christ, and Putting Away Childish Things, the novel that, as one reviewer put it, “flows out of Marcus Borg’s life.” There are books about the Earth Charter, LGBTQ concerns, the Dead Sea Scrolls, fundamentalism, myths and mythology, bullying, preaching, sexism, the labyrinth, mid-life crises, evolution, Christmas, human rights and humanism, feminist theology, Buddha, Islam, justice, the parables, prayer, Christian ethics, Celtic wisdom, parenting, sin, eternal life, shamanism. Whoa, catch your breath.

Discover The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot; read how Jesus became Christian, and also God; see why No Man is an Island; explore The World of Anne Frank; join in The Battle for God, or play Hide and Seek with God, or go along with SSUC’s Clair Woodbury Looking for God; go In Search of Paul; learn how to love nature; spend The Last Week with Jesus; get acquainted with the Middle East; ask, Can We Trust the New Testament?; ask also The Great Questions of Life; meet The Pagan Christ; find faith, peace, the right words, your way home, and your religion. Why, You Can Teach Yourself Philosophy of Religion. And this litany of authors, titles, and topics, only scratches the surface!

Along with handfuls of DVDs and videos, all this is waiting to be browsed and borrowed; what’s not to be circulated are the slim number of reference works. Everything has been ordered and shelved, arranged by author, from A (Abbott, Deborah) to Z (Zuckerman, Andrew). Book-borrowing has been made as easy as can be: you’ll find lists, both by author and title, in a binder atop the first of the two tallest bookcases; as well, these can be accessed on the Library’s webpage (, so you can pick and choose what you’ll want right from home. Simply sign out the books using the in-and-out form—it’s in the same binder; later on, please be sure to note on the form the date you return the items you’ll have borrowed, and place them in the basket atop the second of the taller bookcases. It’s pretty much grab and go!

So, please, get going!

Ellen & Ken Fredrick

Featured Book: Do I Stay Christian?

In his newest book, public theologian Brian McLaren sets out, in his words, to think “through the question of retaining or shedding Christian identity, with you looking over my shoulder”. And get this: he’s “clear that…he hasn’t written to convince us one way or the other,” The Presbyterian Outlook attests. Publishers Weekly affirms, “This earnest inquiry solidifies McLaren’s place as one of the more thoughtful interrogators of

Library Learnings Extra: Re: book banning: “It’s time to make a fuss”

It Can’t Happen Here. It’s a book, which the publisher of the 2014 paperback edition, Signet Classics, calls “a shockingly prescient novel.” First published in 1935, it is a “cautionary tale about the fragility of democracy,” and “an alarming, eerily timeless look at how fascism could take hold in America. Written during the Great Depression, when the country was largely oblivious to

Library Learnings: Church: more than meets the eye, part 8

“The aesthetic draw of churches” Now coming to a close, this Library Learnings multi-part essay introduced, and then moved on from The Great Courses DVD set, The World’s Greatest Churches—available in the SSUC Library—which opens to view dozens of round-the-world church buildings of note. As the course guidebook has it, these buildings are “masterpieces of architecture, painting, and sculpture”. If such

Featured Book: Without Oars

“Pilgrims”—which all of us are, or should be—“walk away from their lives to discover their souls,” Wesley Granberg-Michaelson counsels. What’s more, he would have readers cast off on such a voyage “without oars”. “[M]any pilgrimages are inward journeys,” Publisher’s Weekly explains, “and require a willingness to step away from one’s routine, and leave behind comfort, for the unknown. […] [D]etaching oneself brings

Featured Book: Life is Short

“This book,” its author attests, “is principally about using your most precious resource, time, wisely and more effectively—and also more consciously, with an awareness of how extraordinary it is that you have any time at all.” Dean Rickles is a history and philosophy of modern physics professor at Australia’s University of Sydney. It’s as explains, “[T]he finiteness and shortness of life is the essence

Featured Book: The Invention of the Jewish People

Shlomo Sand’s study of Jewish historiography “elicited a thunderous response that has yet to abate,” Michael Berkowitz declares in Reviews in History. It’s a book that’s “intended, from the title onwards, to be provocative,” The Guardian’s Jonathan Wittenberg agrees, adding, “But the book is a great disappointment.” For Repercussions & Reflections, Paul Atwood says otherwise: “I found this book stunning.” Read it, and decide for yourself who’s right. The

A Library Learnings “extra”

Batten down the hatches! Starting on April 23, Americans…well, some Americans…will celebrate National Library Week, an annual event there since 1958. This year, it has as its theme, “There’s more to the story”. But one wonders if “Batten down the hatches”—as in, to quote the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, “prepare for a difficulty or crisis”—might not be a more appropriate slogan to upraise. “By the

Featured Book: Search

“I come to have my soul cared for, my values refreshed, my heart opened.” That’s what Dana Potowski—the voice of best-selling author Michelle Huneven in her novel, Search—wants the next minister for her Unitarian Universalist congregation to conjure. Will the search committee, of which she’s a member, ferret out such a miracle worker? There’s no telling, not by this Featured

Library Learnings: Church: More Than Meets the Eye, Part 7

“Think about where we go from here” Arising out of The Great Courses DVD set, The World’s Greatest Churches—which is available in SSUC’s Library—this seventh instalment in what is a multi-part essay about “Church,” is based entirely on a book, also to be found on our Library shelves, We Shall Be Changed, which encourages us to “think about where we go from here”.   __________________________________________________________________________ “What if you

Featured Book: Death, Dying and the Afterlife

“Most of us would admit that…we fear death.” Religious studies chair at Hamline University, Mark Berkson explains, “The thought that we will vanish one day, and that no part of our lives and efforts will endure, is almost unbearable.” But look: “We cannot avoid our ultimate fate….” So it is that he here confronts head on death, dying, and—should there be one—the