Nourishing Narratives: The Power of Story to Shape Our Faith, By Jennifer L. Holberg
Nourishing Narratives
  • Length: 240 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.5 in
  • Published: July 25, 2023
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: A0524
  • ISBN: 9781514005248

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Humans are story-shaped creatures.

We make sense of our world, pattern our lives, and reflect on what is ultimately significant through language and the words that compose our stories. But how does this relate to the narrative of the Bible and the story that God is writing through history?

In Nourishing Narratives, writer and professor Jennifer Holberg engages with words from the likes of Dante, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Flannery O'Connor, Marilynne Robinson, and more while also offering some of her own stories to reflect on the importance of story to our lives and our faith.

Here, readers are encouraged not only to understand how stories nourish our faith, but to discover how our stories are part of God's great story.

"Pull up a chair and let this master storyteller gently question and correct the destructive stories we often rely on to make sense of our lives. In an age marked by narratives of stress-inducing scarcity and individual achievement, Jennifer Holberg invites us to instead live out truer narratives of abundant friendship and restorative hope. As the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre has written, if we want to rightly answer the question, What am I to do? we must first answer the question, Of what story or stories do I find myself a part? Holberg is a wise guide to the faithful, life-giving stories that Christians are called to inhabit."

Jeffrey Bilbro, associate professor of English at Grove City College and author of Reading the Times

"Not only is Jennifer Holberg a clear, compelling, and beautiful writer, but her words in Nourishing Narratives are also filled with truth and goodness. I can't remember the last time I read a book that made my heart sing along as this one did. Nourishing Narratives will open your eyes, grow your faith, and feed your soul."

Karen Swallow Prior, author of The Evangelical Imagination: How Stories, Images & Metaphors Created a Culture in Crisis

"Funny and approachable, erudite and smart, this book is not merely a celebration of literature—it is an invitation to learn how to read as if our faith lives depend on it. Jennifer Holberg shows us why we love stories and, more importantly, why we need them."

James K. A. Smith, editor in chief of Image journal and author of You Are What You Love

"Threading her own stories with rich reflection on biblical narratives and on the novels and poems she has taught and loved, Jennifer Holberg offers here a beautiful way of understanding what it means to live by stories. Nourishing Narratives is a rich celebration of cookbooks, dog walking, Dante, college life, embracing solitude, and living in communities bound together by shared stories that equip them to see one another through whatever life brings. Every page offers food for thought and thanksgiving."

Marilyn McEntyre, author of Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies and When Poets Pray

"Wise, observant, and compassionate, Jennifer Holberg's Nourishing Narratives is a beautiful book that celebrates the readerly life of stories, novels, and poetry. With warmth and honesty, Holberg brings the worlds of writers from George Eliot to Dante into the trials of daily life. She inspires us to hold on to a 'vision of a light-filled world, full of sometimes difficult things,' as she puts it so well. I shall cherish this book."

Michelle Kuo, author of Reading with Patrick

Read an Excerpt


1. Complicated Narratives and Important Failures
2. Enough
3. Graced with the Ordinary
4. Assessing the Hill
5. A Witness Ready to Serve
6. Our Little Systems
7. Small Steps at Very Great Cost
8. Root-Room
9. Our Hope for Years to Come



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Jennifer L. Holberg

Jennifer L. Holberg (PhD, University of Washington) is professor and chair of the English department at Calvin University and codirector of the Calvin Center for Faith and Writing, the home of the Festival of Faith and Writing. She is a founding coeditor of the academic journal Pedagogy and also the editor of Shouts and Whispers: Twenty-One Writers Speak About Their Writing and Their Faith.