Plymouth’s Elaine Marsh Library

This is a lending library with a rich spectrum of over 3,000 books, which may be checked out for up to a month. The library is open on weekdays, 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. on Sundays, and until 9 p.m. most Wednesdays September through May.

Featured books

Jesus Against Christianity: Reclaiming the Missing Jesus

Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, 2001

Nelson-Pallmeyer is a home-grown academic, Associate Professor of Justice and Peace Studies at St. Thomas University in St. Paul. A clear and compelling writer, in this book Pallmeyer points out that current Christianity is often at odds with Jesus’ life and how that disconnect has led to negative consequences for humanity and how reconnection is life-changing and life-giving. While the book is over 20 years old, the contents remain completely pertinent today. Other books by Nelson-Pallmeyer that are in our library include: The Politics of Compassion; Worship in the Spirit of Jesus: Theology, Liturgy and Songs Without Violence; Is Religion Killing Us?: Violence in the Bible and Quaran; and, Saving Christianity From Empire.

Caste

Isabel Wilkerson, 2020

Caste is a system of regarding certain people as superior or inferior to others.

It is a world-wide phenomenon of which the book highlights three systems in depth: American, Indian and Nazi. The race-based American system subjugates African Americans, who are the equivalent of India’s notorious “untouchables”. Shockingly, Nazis studied the American caste system as a model for subjugating Jews, but even the Nazis thought it was too awful to use all of its policies. The book moves right along in a logical and understandable fashion, leaving the reader chilled, but far more aware of the role of caste in our lives. The 2023 movie Origin is based on the book.

The Book Thief

Marcus Zusak, 2006

Liesel Meminger, not quite an adolescent, lives with her foster parents, Hans and Rosa, in Molching, Germany during Nazi rule. She is especially close to her gentle foster father, Hans, who teaches Liesel to read. She steals a book from the book burning fire and borrows books from Ilsa, the wife of the town’s staunch Nazi mayor. Hans also allows Max, a Jewish man whose father saved Hans’s life in WWI, to hide in their basement. The war marches ever closer to Liesel, her family, friends and Max. Will any of them survive? Death—the narrator of the book—is exhaustingly busy, following the path of the bombs and in the end, confesses to her, “I am haunted by humans.” So much better than the movie! Check it out.

The Tale of Despereaux

Kate DiCamillo, 2003

“An interesting fate awaits almost everyone… who does not conform.” (Ch. 3) This book holds the story of a mouse, Despereaux, who did not conform to the rules of castle mice. Despereaux melts at the sound of music, falls in love with a human princess (who herself is rather non-conformist), and meets a sunlight-loving rat who helps him rescue said princess. The reader is shown the beauty of light, the relief and joy of forgiveness, the fear that is part of bravery and the power of love. The themes and metaphors of this middle-school age book are presented with humor by Minnesota author, Kate DiCamillo. If you missed reading this when it came out 20 years ago, be quick to read it now—to yourself, your children or grandchildren!

The Grimke’s: The Legacy of Slavery in an American Family

Kerri K. Greenidge, 2022

The Grimke sisters are seen as heroes who converted from a family of southern slave owners to abolitionist northerners. This book looks at the entire Grimke family: the sisters who advocated for abolition as well as their brother, Henry, who continued the southern tradition of black enslavement for the next two generations. The book provides “an intimate and provocative account of a family’s intergenerational struggle to remake itself.” (NYT, 10/29/22) Check it out!

Bewilderment

Richard Powers, 2021

The story of a man who has just suffered the death of his wife and now faces the future of raising his neurodivergent son alone. In an effort to avoid giving his increasingly troubled son medications, he turns to an experimental biofeedback treatment involving his wife’s recorded brain patterns. Initially, the treatment seems to offer a miracle cure, but the boy’s obsessive concern regarding climate change takes over and the treatment benefits wane. Tragedy follows. Check it out!

Democracy Awakening

Heather Cox Richardson, 2023

Richardson is a historian, writer, and educator (Boston College) who has examined the throughline of the rise of American authoritarianism, which has brought us now to the brink of autocracy. She describes the small group of wealthy Americans who have sought to destroy American ideals through destructive language and repeating a false history. These actions created a subset of citizenry who have been made to feel “less than” and disgruntled. They are then promised a return to a mythologized past where they can feel important. Richardson provides hope that history can show us how to remain on the path of democracy and avoid authoritarianism, which threatens us now as it has in the past. A well-written, easy-to-read and important book for 2024. Check it out!

Everyday Awakenings

Five Practices for Living Fully, Feeling Deeply and Coming into Your Heart and Soul
Catherine Duncan, 2023

Rev. Duncan suggests 5 things we can choose to do to enrich our lives: Coming back to the present moment; Connecting with something greater; Growing our trust; Embodying love; and, Holding openness. Several ways to incorporate these practices into daily living are offered. Rev. Duncan is a Covenant Partner of Plymouth. A book study with the author is going on now. Check it out!