Hellooooooo, summer! It may not be June 21 quite yet, but summer is definitely here. Especially here in the south, where you sweat immediately when you walk outside and, in turn, get goosebumps anytime you walk into a store or restaurant. Southerners love their AC.
Summer has especially been on my mind in the last few days, as I listened to a podcast about “pulling out our summer brains*” on my drive home from Charlotte on Tuesday. This season can be a wonderful opportunity for restoration and rejuvenation even as we continue to work and travel. Our culture in the U.S. is noisy, and we have to work hard to find quiet places. But it is so important.
Another thing that put summer on my mind was this post by Katy about her summer reading list. I am consistently overwhelmed by the books on my own shelf that have yet to be read, not to mention all the books I have yet to discover. Reading tends to be therapeutic and motivating for me, so what better way to take the first step to pulling out my summer brain and seeking quiet places than making my own summer reading list?
And on that note, I present to you The Books of Summer: 2015.
1. “Bird By Bird” by Anne Lamott – I just started this book last week, and I’m loving it so far. What better way to find motivation to write than to read a book about writing? Lamott’s voice is so unique, engaging and relatable, so I’m looking forward to what else this book has in store.
2. “A Diary of Private Prayer” by John Baillie; updated & revised by Susanna Wright – This devotional was given to me by a dear friend and mentor a few days before Nate and I moved. Each day includes a morning prayer and an evening prayer, so this will be something that I work through all summer. I’m so thankful for this wonderful resource to help deepen my conversations with God daily.
3. “Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald” by Therese Anne Fowler – Although this is a fictionalized representation, I can’t wait to dive into the Jazz Age and the fascinating, complicated lives of both Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
4. “Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them” by J.K. Rowling – I purchased this fun little book in London when my sister and I visited The Making of Harry Potter at Warner Bros. Studios. Books make for lovely souvenirs. At the time, I didn’t know about the upcoming film based on the book, but all the more reason the read it now. I’ll probably save this one for the beach!
5. “Basic Christianity” by John Stott – My dad has recommended this book to me many times, and I feel like it will be a good opportunity to understand “the historical facts on which Christianity stands,” as stated on the back cover.
6. “Searching for God Knows What” by Donald Miller – My first Miller book was “Blue Like Jazz,” which I devoured in tenth grade. I read it again my junior year of college, and it became one of the few books I’ve ever chosen to read more than once. Senior year of college, I listened to the audiobook of “Through Painted Deserts” and couldn’t get enough of the great storytelling. “Searching for God Knows What” has been on my shelf for a while, so now is a good a time as any to add it to my reading list.
7. “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis – I began reading “Mere Christianity” in high school with a youth group bible study, but I’m pretty sure I never finished it, so I’m glad to add it to my list. As you may have already noticed, this book and the last two have similar themes about getting to the roots of the Christian faith. To be honest, I didn’t notice that pattern until just now, but as I’m seeing it, I know it will be helpful to be reminded of what Jesus did when he was crucified, why he did it, and how I should live in light of it. Plus, getting three different perspectives should be interesting.
8. “A Year in Provence” by Peter Mayle – Southern France is very near and dear to my heart, specifically Aix-En-Provence since I studied there for four months in 2012. I bought this book the summer after I returned and somehow never finished it. I think I’ll save this one for the beach, too, and do a little traveling back to Provence through Mayle’s story.
9. “This Side of Paradise” by F. Scott Fitzgerald – Ohhh, Fitzgerald. I am a huge fan. The last paper I ever wrote in college was about Fitzgerald and Hemingway, and believe it or not, I enjoyed writing that paper. The Lost Generation…So much talent left behind by such sad souls. This short novel was Fitzgerald’s first, and since it sparked so much success, I’m excited to find out why.
10. “Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Tracy Chevalier – My grandmother kindly gave me her copy of this book, and at the time, I had no idea what it was about. Now, after reading the inside cover, I’m looking forward to traveling back in time to the seventeenth century through a story that combines a real historic time period with a real piece of art that results in an intriguing work of fiction.
11. “Echoes of Eden” by Jerram Barrs – The subtitle of this book is, “Reflections on Christianity, Literature, and the Arts,” which is a topic that resonates with me deeply. I bought it at RUF Summer Conference in 2014, and I’m surprised I haven’t read it by now. I believe when Jesus becomes real to someone, He will show up in all aspects of life; in music, books, movies, paintings, landscapes, etc. Before I started “Bird By Bird,” I read “Popologetics” by Ted Turnau, which is an incredibly helpful take on popular culture from a Christian perspective. As Turnau says in his book, pop culture is “a messy mix of both grace and idolatry,” and he provides ways to sharpen our discernment when we watch movies/TV shows, listen to music, or what have you. I think “Echoes of Eden” will be another immensely helpful tool for evaluating great art and seeing it as “a unique window into divine truth and the truth of the divine,” as William Edgar says in his endorsement.
12. “Dismantling Taboo” by Natalee Whitesell – This book is the only one not pictured in the photo at the beginning of this list because I just ordered it a couple of days ago. Natalee is a close friend to my parents and dear to me because she used to babysit my siblings and me when we were young. “Dismantling Taboo” is about her battle with mental illness and the journey to discovering her true identity and hope in Christ. Putting these kinds of experiences into words is never an easy task, but what a blessing it is when those who have been there remind us that God meets us in our deepest, darkest places and brings us into His light.
And there you have it! My 2015 summer reading list. I linked all of the pictures of the books to their respective Amazon/webpages so you can check them out in more detail.
As a tiny disclaimer: I’m aware that this is a very long list, so while I’m going to try my best to read as many of these books as I can this summer, I may end up only reading some. Besides, it’s still helpful to have this list going into the fall and beyond.
What are you planning to read this summer?
*If you’re not familiar with hope*ologie, you may be more familiar with the two sisters on the podcast Myquillyn [The Nester] & Emily [chatting at the sky]. If not, check them out! They’re continuously encouraging and inspiring in their writing. Happy Reading!