The Boston Unitarian asks "I am trying to remedy my somewhat woeful knowledge of Universalism and (as you know) just picked up an e-reader. I was wondering if you could suggest maybe 5 books that I should read this summer to bring me to a baseline knowledge? If they were free and downloadable to my nook, that would be great.'
i would say that the five should be a history of the denomination, a biography of one of the greats, a theology book, a debate book, and something miscellaneous - either theology for laymen or a memoir.
The best history is likely Ann Bressler's the Universalist Movement in America.
I bought a copy when it was $35 or so, it is now $85 and the ebook $67. I would recommend interlibrary loan. The free choice is porbably
The American Church History Series : A history of the Unitarians and the Universalists, by J.H. Allen and R. Eddy. To be honest, I read eddy's two volume set, but not this one. I have F. A., Bisbee's "From Good Luck to Gloucester" in my to read pile - I see that it's available for free on the Nook, try that one.
Theology, Ballou's "Thesis on Atonement" is hard going, so maybe one of J. W. Hanson's books. like "Bible Threatings Explained" or "Biblical Proofs of Universal Salvation". The Nook also has various volumes of the "Manual of Faith and Duty" (but without that subtitle!) - not sure which of those I would recommend. Or even a sermon book.
Biography, either Ballou or Murray, I believe you have one on Hosea Ballou, so that made that easy.
Debate; to understand Universalism of the 19th century, you have to understand debates. Ii'd go with Manford and Sweeney, because Manford and Sweeney both kept it im print for decades (both thought they won).
Misc., I was going to suggest something like Bisbee's "A California Pilgrimage", to get a sense of Universalists - but its not on the Nook yet. Maybe Emma Bailey's memoir "Happy Day". Wow, the ultra-rare "A Key to Universalism" is on the Nook, I have an original - and it is both rare, and hard to figure out what in the world Shehane is saying (not recommended)."Love that Never Failed" is not available,
Reasonable start, I'm sure that Scott and others can make other suggestions.
You note nothing for the past 110 years - the good books haven't been written yet , But check (not on the Nook) books by Clarence Skinner, and the history of the Charles Street Meeting House (to see how modern UU-ism was created).