In attacking the incredibly large number of unread books on my shelves, I'm taking a two-pronged approach: books you guys recommended, and books that already have bookmarks in them. In the partially-read category, I've just finished Spirit and Flesh: Life in a Fundamentalist Baptist Church. I started reading the book two years ago on this trip to New York. I think it probably came from the free pile at my former employer.
The book is a sociologist's description of life in, as the title suggests, a fundamentalist Baptist church. It's a little dated - I don't know why he waited until 2004 to publish this account of a church he studied in the 80s - but it's totally fascinating, and I imagine little has changed about fundamentalist churches. That is the point, after all. He spent a few years interviewing people, going to services and bible study, and generally getting to know the church in that participant-observer way. It gave me useful insights into where conservative Christians are coming from, but I was also really interested in the discussion of community. With the help of Miss Shirley, I spend a lot of time, particularly during christmas show season, obsessing about community relationships, and there were some small things from our [very, very different] community that I recognized in the book.
And, yknow, on top of the insights, it's just fun reading about other people's lives. So I recommend it, and I now have a copy if anybody wants to read it. (Otherwise, I'll probably give it to J.Chu's book sale.)