They’re Saying Nice Things About “Wrestling with God”

Author phil cousineau at the podium speaking to a 1-6-2014 Left Coast Writers meeting at Book Passage, Corte Madera, about his new book, "Burning the Midnight Oil" Photo by Barbara Newhall

Last year at this time Phil Cousineau was talking about his newest book, Burning the Midnight Oil, to a meeting of the Left Coast Writers at Book Passage in Corte Madera, Calif. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Some really nice people are saying some really nice things about Wrestling with God: Stories of Doubt and Faith.

That’s because I asked them to.

Authors needs endorsements for their books. Also known as as blurbs, endorsements go on the back of the book and into press kits. Big time authors have people whose job it is to secure their blurbs for them. Regular people like me have to round up their own blurbs. They have to ask people for them.

I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of trouble asking people to do things for me. And when that thing is to sing the praises of a book I’ve written, well, let’s just say it took me weeks and weeks to work up my courage to ask the likes of authors Phil Cousineau, Jana Riess and Don Lattin to please read my book and then please say some nice things about it.

Kay Campbell I didn’t have to ask; she volunteered after a glass of wine or two at a Religion Newswriters Association conference back in 2013. (It was I who was drinking the wine, mind you. Which is probably what enabled me to bring up the subject of my beloved book.)

Author jana riess at the 2012 Religion Newswriters confereence. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Jana Riess spoke on a panel at the 2012 Religion Newswriters confereence. Photo by Barbara Newhall

To my surprise, everybody — most everybody — said, yes, they would read my book. And to my amazement, everybody didn’t just like the book, they actually got it. Here’s a sampling:

From Jana Riess, author of Flunking Sainthood and The Twible:

In a score of in-depth interviews with people from all walks of life—right and left, atheist and Christian, young and old—journalist Barbara Falconer Newhall incisively shows where these individuals find ultimate meaning. Some have had dramatic encounters with God while others discover the transcendent in personal relationships or the beauty of the earth. All, however, give thoughtful voice to the deepest questions of human life.

From Phil Cousineau, author of The Art of Pilgrimage and host of Global Spirit, seen nationally on PBS and Link TV:

The search for God, or the gods, the Divine, the Great Spirit, is one of the oldest of quests. As timeless as it is, the search still tends to defy explanation. What is left is description, narrative, and story, all of which are in abundance in Barbara Falconer Newhall’s riverflow of a book, Wrestling with God.

Seekers of all persuasions will feel represented here, from priests, ministers, and rabbis to engineers, physicists, and avowed non-believers. Taken together, the storytellers of Wrestling with God give voice to the reality of the modern world, which is multiphonic, skeptical, but also longing for deep meaning.

Author Don Lattin, Photo by Deanne Fitzmaurice

Author Don Lattin, Photo by Deanne Fitzmaurice

From Don Lattin, San Francisco journalist, and author of Distilled Spirits and The Harvard Psychedelic Club:

Wrestling with God is about revelation, with or without that thing we call “religion.” Unlike many skeptics who’ve plowed these fields, Barbara Falconer Newhall approaches the big questions with an open mind and a commitment to truly listen to what her sources are saying. In the end, she finds God—not with thunderbolts or burning bushes—but through the heartfelt stories of people possessing a wondrous array of spiritual temperament.

From Kay Campbell, award-winning religion reporter since 2005 with The Huntsville Times, now part of the Alabama Media Group:

In Wrestling with God, Barbara Falconer Newhall, a longtime religion reporter, combines the best of gracefully practiced and written journalism with the best of a personal spiritual quest. With a persistent seeker’s humbleness, she asks good questions of thoughtful people from an astonishing range of backgrounds . . . The book arrives at a place of peace with the unknown, of finally bowing to the enduring mystery of the universe and to the persistence of human questions about the universe.

The most touching review I’ve gotten so far, actually, is what Kay said to me in an email after she’d taken the book home to read over the weekend. It was a simple: “I spent the afternoon with you.”



  1. Karen Gleason says:

    Barbara, You really deserve these kudos. I’m so eager to read your book, mostly because I always enjoy your unique perspective, transparency and vulnerability in your writing. Congratulations!

  2. Wow, those are so good! I can’t wait to read the final copy of the book myself, :).

  3. Cheryl McLaughlin says:

    Yea! Barbara! Such well-deserved and thoughtful comments about not just your book, but about the journey you share with us through your curiosity, the perspective of others and your writing. Love it!

  4. Virginia Newhall says:

    Well done, Barbara! What wonderful (and beautifully written!) reviews. I’m so looking forward to “Wrestling With God.”


  1. […] why this  endorsement from my fellow religion writer, Jana Riess, means so much to me. I might not be Studs Terkel, but […]

  2. […] Cousineau was kind enough to write a pre-publication endorsement for my book. Here’s what he had to […]

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