Reading Time: 2 minutes

From award-winning journalist Julia Baird, author of the acclaimed national bestseller Phosphorescence, comes Bright Shining, a luminously beautiful, deeply insightful and most timely exploration of grace.

Based in Sydney, Baird hosts The Drum on ABC TV and writes columns for the Sydney Morning Herald and the International New York Times.

Her writing has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Guardian, the Good Weekend, The Sydney Morning Herald, the Sun-Herald, The Monthly and Harper’s Bazaar.

In 2023 she released Bright Shining: How grace changes everything.

The Guardian, in its review, says this is a book the world needs now; a book to both devour and savour.

Baird says grace is both mysterious and hard to define; there is a touch of the spiritual about it, yet it is not godly or pious.

But it is hard to dispute that Baird is talking about divine grace- a theological term present in many religions.

It has been defined as the divine influence which operates in humans to regenerate and sanctify, to inspire virtuous impulses, and to impart strength to endure trial and resist temptation; and as an individual virtue or excellence of divine origin and certainly not to be confused with the other definition of grace offering poise and elegance.

Grace is something that can be found when we create ways to find meaning and dignity in connection with each other, building on our shared humanity – being kinder, bigger, better with each other.

In its crudest interpretation is it is the opposite of karma, which is getting what you deserve.

Grace is forgiving the unforgivable, favouring the undeserving, loving the unlovable.

But we live in an era when grace is an increasingly rare currency.

We only have to open the newspaper or turn on the television to see the inhumane treatment we put each other through on a minute by minute basis.

So should you rush out to buy it and what does Bright Shining teach us?

Baird explores what grace looks like in the world as we know it; a heartfelt amalgamation of stories to make you feel for humanity.

This book encapsulates the goodness the world needs to believe in; it isn’t simply an exploration of happy, forgiving humans.

Baird is far too clever for that.

I was relieved to see her unafraid to march into the raw, the challenging and the hard topics as we look at our world and don’t recognise it.

At first I didn’t quite understand the significance to the plot and believed it to be too far reaching in its aims.

Then the penny dropped – so much cleverness rolled into one beautiful piece of writing.

This will be my Christmas gift for all this year.

It is a luminously beautiful, deeply insightful and most timely exploration of grace.

It will enable you to nurture it and express it, even in the darkest of times.

If you haven’t read Phosphorescence, I would also highly recommend you do.