Summer Reading, vol. 5: Caitlin Russell

This week we heard from Pitts Theology Library’s Acquisitions, Serials, and Assessment Librarian, Caitlin Russell. Take a break from the heavy academic reads with these novels grounded in religion and history!

First, Caitlin recommends Eternal Life by Dara Horn (W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2018). This novel recognized by the New York Times follows the life of a Jewish woman in Second Temple Jerusalem who is blessed/cursed with eternal life.

Caitlin also suggests a novel the follows two juxtaposed tales called The Map of Salt and Stars by Zeyn Joukhader. This narrative tells the story of a family of Syrian refugees in tandem with the account of a twelfth century girl who became an apprentice to Muhammad al-Idrisi. This item is available in print at the Woodruff Library and as an audiobook!

Caitlin’s final recommendation is a fun adventure read called The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty (Harper Voyager, 2017). She explains that “this book is loosely based in Islamic ideas of djinn and brings up some interesting conversations about race and class based in a fictionalized world. It’s high fantasy, but with a core of religion running throughout.”

Stay tuned next week for recommendations from Susan B. Reynolds, Candler’s Assistant Professor of Catholic Studies!

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Summer Reading, vol. 4: Alison Greene

This week we invited reading suggestions from Candler’s Associate Professor of American Religious History, Dr. Alison Greene! Dr. Greene provides three cohesive suggestions in a variety of genres and formats to fit the needs of any reader.

First, Dr. Greene suggests Carol Anderson’s One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy (Bloomsbury, 2018) available at Emory in print and online. Carol Anderson is an Emory professor (AAS and History) whose most recent two books aim for a general audience. This publication takes a look at the history of voting rights and voter suppression. It’s timely, readable, and important.

Next, Dr. Greene recommends Yaa Gyasi’s novel entitled Homegoing (Vintage, 2016). This story traces two half-sisters born in 18th century Ghana, unaware of one another’s existence, through eight generations all the way to the present. One sister marries an Englishman; raiders capture the other in her village and sell her into enslavement. The women’s descendants experience the full range of American and Ghanian histories, overlapping once again in a final (and hopeful) twist. Dr. Greene describes Gyasi’s novel as a “gorgeous, beautifully written book” and a “powerful exploration of the legacies of human enslavement on both sides of the Atlantic.” Homegoing is available at Emory in print, as an ebook, and as an audiobook.

Finally, Dr. Greene suggests you plug-in your headphones for a podcast called BackStory. Produced at the University of Virginia and hosted by United States historians Nathan Connolly, Joanne Freeman, and Brian Balogh, this hour-long weekly podcast provides the historical backstory (hence the name) to issues of contemporary interest and concern in the United States, from politics to pop culture to religion. Dr. Greene describes the content as “good history designed for a general audience, and a great introduction to a broad range of historians, who appear each week as expert guests.”

Next week we look forward to hearing from Pitts Theology Library’s Acquisitions, Serials, and Assessment Librarian, Caitlin Russell, with some excellent suggestions for historical fiction and fantasy!

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Summer Reading, vol. 3: Quentin Samuels

This week we spoke to Quentin L. Samuels, Candler’s Assistant Director of Student Life. Quentin has several inspiring book suggestions that will help incoming students develop clear, coherent questions about their calling and purpose.

Quentin SamuelsFirst, Quentin suggests A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas (Bloomsbury, 2014) available in print at Emory and as an audiobook on Amazon. In this book, investigative journalist and innovation expert Warren Berger invites us to consider the powerful force of using questions to identify and solve problems, despite our frequent reluctance to ask “why?”.

Second, Quentin recommends Learning to Walk in the Dark (HarperOne, 2014) by Barbara Brown Taylor, available in print and online at Emory.Image result for A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas this book, Barbara Brown Taylor introduces a path to spirituality for those who don’t yet have all the answers.

Image result for Learning to Walk in the Dark - Barbara Brown TaylorVisit a Fulton County Public Library near you to find these next two items (ps. privileges are free for Emory students, faculty, and staff!). Quentin suggests The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do (HarperCollins Leadership, 2015) by Jeff Goins and The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion (Workman Publishing, 2015) by Elle Luna as excellent resources to consider how purpose and passion can influence your future.

Finally, for those with long road trips or layovers, Quentin invites you to listen in on a podcast that he hosts with Candler alum, Jamaar Pye called We Come as Equals.This series focuses on “extraordinary people having extraordinary conversations.” Quentin explains that the podcast “covers a wide range of topics, but at its core are complex questions about common ideas and experiences.” This podcast is available on Apple Podcast, Spotify and SoundCloud.

Stay tuned next week for recommendations from Candler’s Associate Professor of American Religious History, Dr. Alison Greene!

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Resources for Alums, Volume 1: DPLA

This summer Pitts starts a new blog series highlighting Resources for Alums! Take advantage of these tools post-graduation in and out of the library with recommendations from the experts in Pitts.

We kick off the series with a suggestion from Spencer Roberts, Pitts Theology Library’s Systems & Digital Scholarship Librarian. Spencer recommends The DPLA, which provides access to over 34 million digital objects found in libraries across the US. Anyone can browse the collection of images, texts, videos, and sounds from 41 different contributing libraries and archives.

To help people navigate this vast pool of materials, the DPLA recently introduced special topic collections, exhibitions that highlight specific areas, and sets of primary sources to help educators and students explore important topics. They also developed guides to help different users know where to start.

For Candler alum, the DPLA can be a fantastic source of historical materials that can be used in ministry, outreach, and research. For instance, DPLA has over 13,000 results for “sermon” including texts, images, and recordings. It also has over 3,800 results for “hymn”, 43,000 results for “Methodist”, and over 208,000 images of churches.

Use the DPLA to find inspiring texts and visual aids for sermons, primary sources for teaching and research, and community-related resources to help connect with your audience. Most of the digital objects in the DPLA are out of copyright and can be used as needed (with appropriate double-checking, of course). Access is available to anyone online at

Stay tuned for more suggestions for resources for Emory Alums next week!

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Summer Reading, vol. 2: Brinna Michael

This week, we spoke to an incoming staff member at Pitts whose work behind the scenes will ensure that you can find the books and resources you need in our online catalogue and beyond! Brinna Michael will join the Pitts team in July 2019 as our new Cataloging and Metadata Librarian. Brinna provided some great suggestions that will take the reader on adventures in fantasy, historical fiction, and even magical realism over the summer intercession!

Brinna’s first recommendation is the novel The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti. Brinna explains that this book is a “wild ride that starts out like an even-keeled historical fiction novel and then begins to teeter slightly towards magical realism. On the surface, this is a coming-of-age adventure, but dig a little deeper, and you find a surprisingly complex look at the power of storytelling, words, and belief. With a truly colorful and eccentric cast of characters, this book surprises [readers] with it’s charming (and sometimes absurd) tone and witty dialog, as well as the way it asks [the reader] to suspend disbelief while conveying some truly down-to-earth observations on life, family, and friendship.”

For those long summer road trips or flights, Brinna recommends The Adventure Zone: Balance, a podcast by Griffin, Travis, Justin, and Clint McElroy. Brinna calls this free podcast a “profound piece of storytelling” documenting the McElroy brothers (of My Brother, My Brother, and Me fame) and their father as they play an epic Dungeons & Dragons campaign. This sweeping adventure features an eccentric cast of characters including an elven wizard who once had a hugely popular cooking show, a human fighter who’s also an excellent carpenter and loves dogs, and a dwarven cleric who wears sandals and spreads the good word of Pan with his eXtreme Teen Bible in addition to the players themselves. Brinna highly suggests this podcast for those who like “fantasy, elevators, and the insurmountable power found in the bonds of friendship.”

Stay tuned for more recommendations from Candler and Pitts faculty and staff this summer!



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Pitts Closed for Memorial Day (Monday 5/27)

Pitts Theology Library will be closed on Monday, May 27th, in observance of Memorial Day. The Library will re-open at 7:30am on Tuesday, May 28th. To see a list of all library hours, visit Happy Memorial Day!

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Summer Reading, vol. 1: Ryan Bonfiglio

Pitts kicks off its series of Summer Reading suggestions with recommendations from Assistant Professor in the Practice of Old Testament and Director of Public Theological Education, Dr. Ryan Bonfiglio! Dr. Bonfiglio joined the Candler faculty in 2018. He previously taught at Columbia Theological Seminary and served as the John H. Stembler Scholar in Residence at the First Presbyterian Church (USA) of Atlanta.

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Take a break from the books with a speaker series directed by Dr. Bonfiglio called TheoEd Talks. TheoEd Talks bring together leading thinkers in the church and the academy to give the talk of their lives in 20 minutes or less. By packaging powerful ideas in bite size talks, this series seeks to do for the Bible, theology, and spirituality what the popular TED series has done for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. These highly polished, beautifully produced talks are designed to spark conversations that change how regular church goers and those who are just curious about faith think about God, religion, and the power of faith to change lives and communities.

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Past speakers have included: Shane Claiborne, Amy-Jill Levine, Mike McHargue, Diana Butler Bass, Lauren Winner, Pete Enns, and Candler’s own Greg Ellison and Brent Strawn. TheoEd Talks events are hosted live twice a year in Atlanta, but all of past talks can be viewed for free at You can also subscribe to the podcast, where you’ll have instant access to all of the talks as well as behind the scenes interviews with the speakers. TheoEd Talks is now part of Candler’s new initiative in Public Theological Education. Stay tuned and register for the next event coming up on Sunday, September 22 featuring Jonathan Merritt, Austin Channing Brown, Mihee Kim Kort, and Ted Smith.

Thank you to Dr. Bonfiglio for this timely and innovative suggestion! Stay tuned over the summer for reading and resource suggestions from Candler’s faculty and staff.


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Take your library privileges with you!

Congratulations to all of the 2019 Emory graduates! Remember that your Emory Alumni/ae privileges extend past your time here on campus! Emory alums not only enjoy traditional borrowing privileges, but also remote access to digital tools that will help you in future studies, ministry, and more! Visit to find out how you can continue using ATLA, Hermeneia commentaries, and other resources post-commencement.

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Pitts is in Final Exam Mode!

The end of the semester is on the horizon, and Pitts is officially in Final Exam mode! Please see below for reminders about library policies from Monday 4/29 to Tuesday 5/7. Best of luck on your exams – you’ve got this!

  • Extended Hours: From Monday 4/29 through Tuesday 5/7, the library will extend its hours. Opening hours will stay the same, but the library will stay open additional hours at night. For full hours, please visit Please note that the building locks soon after the library closes, so all students will need to leave the Candler School of Theology building complex when the library closes. There are 24-hour study spaces on campus, particularly the Woodruff Library (
  • Silent Study Space: From Monday 4/29 through Tuesday 5/7, the library will be a silent study space. We ask that all patrons respect their colleagues and go outside the library for any conversations.
  • Pitts Hospitality: During Finals, the library becomes a popular study place for all members of the Emory community. As a part of the Emory community, the library is open to all Emory faculty, students, and staff, and during Finals we often welcome many new patrons to the library. We encourage all to extend hospitality to one another, sharing tables and assistance in the space, while alerting the library staff to any problematic behavior. For our building use policies, please visit
  • Snacks Only: Due to higher library use, we make extra efforts to keep the space clean for our patrons and safe for our books. Please remember our food and drink policy, which allows only small snacks that don’t create a mess or odors and only drinks in spill-proof containers. In addition, we ask that you clean up after yourself and alert staff to any spills or clutter needing attention. Please also be aware of how you are disposing of your waste, using the proper recycling and compost receptacles.
  • Extra Study Space: The library is happy to open extra study space for students during this busy time. The 3rd Floor Lecture Hall (Room 360) and the 3rd Floor Classrooms (Rooms 368 and 369) will be open as a study space from Thursday 5/2 – Tuesday 5/7. If you would like to learn about study space at Pitts, visit
  • Advanced Booking for Small Group Study Rooms: The 7 small group study rooms are popular during Finals, and so we encourage Candler students to book them early. For Finals, we have extended the advance booking time to 14 days so that you can book now for any day of the Finals period. You can read the room policies and make reservations online at
  • Let Us Know How We’re Doing: Each year the library staff works hard to adjust policies and practices to make the library a welcoming space for good work. If you like what you see or notice something that you think we could do better, please let us know. You can speak to any of our staff and feel free to email us at theologyref [at] emory [dot] edu.
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Finals Approaching!

From Monday 4/29 through Tuesday 5/7, Pitts Theology Library will extend its hours. Opening hours will stay the same, but the Library will stay open additional hours at night. For full hours, please visit Note that the building locks soon after the library closes, so all students will need to leave the Candler School of Theology building complex when the library closes. There are other 24-hour study spaces on campus, particularly the Woodruff Library.

During this time, we will also be a silent study space, so please take any conversations outside of the library. Additionally, the third floor classrooms will be open to accommodate extra study space, so be sure to check there for a quiet study spot! If you’re in need of collaborative study space, you can book a group study room.

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