What I Read: The Books of Summer [2015]

If books are a delicious feast, airplanes are my dining table. As weird as that metaphor sounds, it’s true, and I found that out about myself this summer. I can devour books when I fly.

There’s something about having a limited amount of time in the air before real life starts up again once the plane lands. No texts or emails coming in, no Instagram to check  – my phone doesn’t light up for the entire flight. So it’s just my book-of-the-moment and me. Peace out, reality. See you in a few hours.

At the beginning of the summer, I made a list of books I wanted to read before the leaves started to change. And since the leaves have, in fact, started to change, I figured I’d share with you my thoughts on the whole experience. But first: I’m going to be totally honest – I did not strictly follow this list. I couldn’t help but read a few new releases/recommendations along the way. Each time I strayed was totally worth it, though – and I finished two of those on airplanes.

So, I present to you: What I read during the summer of 2015…

On the original list:

  1. anne lamottBird by Bird by Anne Lamott – I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while now, and I’m glad I finally did. It’s always fascinating to me to hear a writer’s process because everyone does their thing so differently. Lamott is hilarious and describes to a T the sporadic thought process that happens when sitting down to write something. Her honesty about the deflation one may feel after publication might come across as disheartening, but it’s real, and I believe we can apply it to many “successes” we experience in life. I have definitely started paying better attention to my surroundings because of this book and making note of things for future writing projects.
    • Recommend? Yes, mostly for writers, but not exclusively.
  2. A Diary of Private Prayer by John Baillie; updated & revised by Susanna Wright – Although I haven’t finished reading through all of the prayers in this book, I have loved each one so far. Some days I read them to myself, and some mornings I read them aloud as Nate and I prepare for the day. Some of the prayers even build in spaces where you can pray for specific people or specific circumstances. If you’re feeling stuck and want to enrich the way you speak to God, this book could be helpful for you.
    • Recommend? Yes.
  3. Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling – What a fun one! Pretty sure I read it in an afternoon, but hey, that’s Harry Potter for ya. Rowling has an incredible noggin, and I loved reading about the different creatures she has imagined over the years. I’m really looking forward to the movie.
    • Recommend? Yes, for fun.
  4. Basic Christianity by John Stott – Golden. Stott packs the punch in each chapter with the truth of the Gospel by walking through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Pretty sure I said, “This is blowing my mind,” multiple times while I read it. Imagine cogs clicking and connecting, causing gears in the mind and heart to spin again and wash truth through the soul.
    • Recommend? Yes, yes, yes. Yes again.
  5. this side of paradise (1)This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald – So, somehow, this book ended up being my beach read. I was planning to read something a bit lighter, but I must have started it before we left, and I sort of lack the ability to start a new book before I finish the current one. By the end, I had mixed feelings about the book. Fitzgerald’s writing style is enchanting, and he uses language beautifully even in the midst of the main character’s chaotic emotions and series of loss. Honestly, I prefer The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night, but I think, by reading his first completed work, it helped to see how Fitzgerald developed as a writer.
    • Recommend? Maybe – if the reader already knows they like Fitzgerald.

    Not on the original list:

  6. simply tuesdaySimply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman – I had the privilege this summer of being a part of the Simply Tuesday book launch team, and it was such an awesome experience. The whole book is about “small-moment living in a fast-moving world,” and let me tell you – this book is filled with reminder after reminder of how much Jesus loves us right where we are. I had no idea this book would affect me in such a way, but Emily’s kind, encouraging words about finding freedom in being small have touched every area of my life. Our lives are made up of small, ordinary moments, and those are the places where God meets us; in our homes, our work, our people and our souls. I could say a million more things about this gem of a book, but I’m pretty sure you’ll get way more out of it by reading it yourself. :)
    • Recommend? YES! Make sure to have a highlighter handy.
  7. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss – When you meet someone who loves books as much, if not more, than you do, and they let you borrow their favorite book, you do not pass it up. I can barely find the words for this one. I could not put it down and read basically the entire thing on my flight to Colorado in July. It tore my heart in a million pieces and made me sob on the airplane. Thankfully it was nighttime, so no one could see me crying, but oh man. The story is incredible, the writing is beautiful, and I can’t recommend it enough.
    • Recommend? Don’t think I could have made it anymore obvious, but YES.
  8. amber hainesWild in the Hollow by Amber C. Haines – To share our story with someone is terrifying and wonderful all at once because we fear judgement, but we long for the connection that comes with letting someone in. Amber Haines braved the waters of vulnerability by sharing her story with all of us in her memoir about “chasing desire and finding the broken way home.” I bought a copy because social media blew up with rave reviews when it was released. I stand in agreement with those that said they felt as though Amber told their story, too. When you’ve had a moment like she did, where God met her on the linoleum floor of a college dorm room, your heart is broken and melded together again because you remember exactly what that’s like. Faith is a journey, and Amber walks us through hers honestly and beautifully.
    • Recommend? Yes.
  9. Within the Walled City by Virginia Evans – I’m so excited to add this one to the mix because the author just so happens to be a friend of mine! She’s actually the same friend who recommended The History of Love. :) This is Ginny’s first published novel, and I knew as I read the first page that I was going to love it. I flew through it and finished it just as my plane landed back in NC last week. The story is compelling from the start as clues about the main character’s deceased mother come to light, diving into the messiness of relationships, as well as the deep pain and longing for connection we experience in life. Plus, the way Ginny describes the experience of moving to a different country for a temporary time hit so close to home for me. I don’t want to give anything away, so go buy a copy for yourself and get lost within the walled city (…see what I did there?).
    • Recommend? Oh yes!!!

So, there you have it. Overall, having a reading list is helpful, especially when I’m at a loss for what to start reading next. But I definitely won’t restrict myself from stepping out of bounds. I’m always on the lookout for new releases and recommendations, which is why I’ve loved sharing my thoughts here so that maybe you’re inspired to add some of these books to your own shelves. I’ll definitely be posting another reading list update at some point – maybe at the end of this season? – so stay tuned!

Did you read any great books this summer?

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