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.

Read a letter from our librarians announcing our revamped, updated library here


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: Christianity Without Dogma

“Christianity without dogma,” Jack Bergstrand explains in the introduction to his book, “is an alternative way to think about the Christian faith, where people can feel safe following Jesus without needing to believe unprovable things.” His goal in writing the book “is to help deconstructing Christians create their own best paths forward.” Neither a theologian nor an academic, Bergstrand, a former evangelical, is a

Featured Book: Beyond Doubt: The Secularization of Society

“The evidence for secularization is clear. Secularization is happening. Secularization is real. It’s beyond doubt.” That is the last paragraph in the new-in-2023 book, Beyond Doubt: The Secularization of Society, and just about everything that precedes it validates this conclusion. The writers—a trio of sociologists—“draw on rich empirical evidence and careful analysis to make their case,” Publishers Weekly attests. In

Featured Book: The History of Christianity II: From the Reformation to the Modern Megachurch

“If I could give this course more than five stars,” one fan avowed, “I would.” But five is all The Great Courses allows viewers of its DVD-based studies to assign, and 45 of 56 students gave these lessons that highest mark. Yes, this is another package of DVDs, and these “trace the story of Christianity as it transformed from the end

Featured Book: “Emerson, Thoreau, and the Transcendentalist Movement”

Transcendentalism is a 17-letter word which describes a liberating philosophy that upholds three main values: individualism, idealism, and the divinity of nature. One source declares, “It’s all about spirituality…[which] cannot be achieved through reason and rationalism, but instead through self-reflection and intuition.” It flowered in New England in the first half of the 19th century, and was, if not for long, “a profoundly

Library Learnings: A Mystery Writer Retells the Gospel Story

“Let me tell you, good Christian people, an honest writer would be ashamed to treat a nursery tale as you have treated the greatest drama in history.” The “drama” to which the English novelist and playwright Dorothy Sayers refers—this in the introduction to the work which this essay searches, The Man Born to be King—is the story of Jesus, from birth

Featured Book: God the Bestseller

“His legacy”—author Stephen Prothero is referencing Eugene Exman, whom he brings to light in God the Bestseller—“was to refashion American religious and cultural life.” He did it by publishing hundreds of “guidebooks to the never-ending search for God.” A spiritual seeker, Exman, for 37 years the publisher in the Harper religion book department, recruited authors “for a religious mission,” The Revealer observes: to

Featured Book: The Mystery of Death

“‘The terror of death is death itself.’” It’s with these words…not the author’s, but Martin Luther’s…that Dorothee Soelle began her last book, The Mystery of Death. In truth, this is a 132-page fragment, the last few lines of which she wrote two days before her own demise in 2003. “Whoever reads this book,” her widower, Fulbert Steffensky, wrote in the foreword, “will

Featured Book: A God Named Josh

“Fresh”—it’s the one word that “encapsulates” A God Named Josh, blogger Joel Wentz [Books & Big Ideas] attests. “This is a fresh look at the life of Jesus [aka Josh]. The driving purpose…is to present a day-to-day look into the life of Jesus.” One reader has it that author Jared Brock “blends a narrative retelling of the gospels with historical context, meaning we get

Library Learnings Extra: Church: It’s a Healthful Place to Be

Alfred P. Doolittle may have been on to something when, in the midst of Lerner and Loewe’s “My Fair Lady,” he beseeches, “For God’s sake, get me to the church on time!” It’s a healthful place to be. That, anyway, is the takeaway from David DeSteno’s June 8 article in The Wall Street Journal, “Is religion good for your health?” Professor of psychology at

Featured Book: Nomad

Featured Book: Nomad: A Spirituality for Traveling Light In Nomad, Brandan Robertson tells the story of his halting exodus from religious fundamentalism. It is a coming-of-age story which Fr. Richard Rohr calls “one man’s compelling account of moving beyond the boundaries of rigid religion into an expansive, true spirituality.” The 31-year-old author writes, “[I]t’s only when we allow ourselves to get lost