I am passionate about reading. I’ve been reading since before I could read. No really! Little Sara used to sit curled with a book and having memorized the words from her parents retelling of familiar stories, would reiterate the tales she had committed to memory. The Three Little Pigs was one of my favorites. There is a spirit of reading that comes before the action and ability of reading. I am an English teachers daughter, what can I say.
I was taken aback this past semester realizing how I have put reading on the back burner since entering college. I rarely (if ever) read for fun and after the required reading for school would often not even desire to read another word from academic exhaustion. But my desire to read grew during this season of no reading and I set a goal for myself to take better care of my heart and mind in this regard.
In the words of my wise mother and dear friend:
“Never regret spending money of things that make you better: coffee and books.”
She’s pretty wise. So I compiled the nerdiest list of my dream books. Once I got rolling the pages kept flowing and I add to it constantly. Matt calls me “his cute little nerd”. I love this term of endearment. This term has been used much more frequently as I was unemployed this summer and had a lot of time of my hands. I decided to make use of it, and better myself by reading. I’m back in the reading groove. I feel so refreshed from the friendships I have found in these authors and the wisdoms I have learned.
So here are my reviews and my list of what I read this summer. They are not organized in the order I read them.
- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, and The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
I was recommended by a dear friend to read this series this past semester. I was going through a hard time and needed something beautiful and joyful in my life and this series fit the prescription needed perfectly. Despite growing up in a Christian home I have never read all the books and took so much joy from C.S. Lewis’ work. I finished the series in Montana and during my first two weeks at my new home. Young or old, this series is a must.
2. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
I have been meaning to read this book for sometime and finally sat down to do it. This book was such a faith sharpening tool. The unique perspective of a senior demon writing to a demon in training was unlike anything I have read before.
3. Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge
I actually fond this book in my local library when looking for another book of his! I have been dying to read Captivating but my library doesn’t carry it. It did have this gem though and I am obsessed with this book! Going through the personality of Jesus was refreshing for me. It’s easy to focus on his attributes as Son of God but many forget the attributes of his identity as Son of Man as well. Loved every page.
4. Crazy Love by Francis Chan
It’s embarrassing that I haven’t read this yet. I am thankful to finally have sat and read the wise words of Francis Chan reflecting on what we are called to from the Bible. I have been evaluating my life since and I am so excited for the growth to come that has been spurred in part from this reading.
5. Radical by David Platt
If you’re going to read Crazy Love I highly recommend pairing it with this book as well. Both challenge the comfortable standard we as an American church have set for ourselves that doesn’t necessarily match the Biblical standard we are called to.
6. Erasing Hell by Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle
I’m a huge fan of Francis Chan and loving his various works. I also read his marriage book this past semester. This book however is the perfect read if you’re wrestling with eternity questions and feeling confused. Super Biblically supported and a great guide for starting to ask those hard and big questions.
7. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
My mom and Anna Anderson have encouraged me to read this and it’s been one of those books that has collected dust on my “Need to Read ASAP shelf”. After she spoke at Moody during Founder’s Week I was even more motivated to read this book. I learned so much about thanksgiving and contentment through her writing. It was encouraging and met me in the perfect place as I find myself in this season of transition and change.
8. The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning
Confession: I totally didn’t finish this in high school when the Girl’s Bible study was reading it. I’m terrible. My dear kindred Kami Spence sent this to me and I figured that there was no more room for excuses. I read this and it is seriously a life changing book. If you read any book (besides the Bible of course!) please put this on your list.
9. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
It felt appropriate to read this as a newlywed. Matt and I have been doing long distance for so long that being around each other for this many weeks has been a treat! I want to learn how to love my husband even better than I am currently and seeing how Gary Chapman is constructing a building on our campus with his name on it I thought I’d give it a try. Everyone should read this book. It can never hurt to learn more on how to love people well. Your spouse, friends, and family all included.
10. Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
I’m still geeking out about this book. I am a huge fan of Malcom Gladwell and this book is the perfect complimentary to that author’s work. Chip and Dan go over simply what makes an idea stick? Why do some things stick better than others? This writing was funny, witty, and brilliant. If you’re a teacher, a creative heart, or an entrepreneur, please pick up a copy immediately.
11. Mom and Me and Mom by Maya Angelou
I’ve been meaning to read some of Maya Angelou’s works and this book was the perfect read. I felt like I learned so much about the author just from her story expressed here. It also made me homesick for my momma even though I get to talk to her via FaceTime all the time.
12. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
This book reminded me of Eat, Pray, Love in the sense that I wanted to call the author and invite her to Bible Study and give her a hug and tell her she is loved. She feels that she is at peace after her journey but I felt so sad thinking how she is missing out on the eternal hope that she was looking for. It reminded me also of a secular version of my Mom’s story. My mom and I hiked El Camino after I graduated high school and after she endured the loss of her parents. My mom handled her loss completely different than this author but some of the passages expressing the loss of parents gave me more of an insight on what I imagine my mom experienced on our big hike. Also, I want to hike the PCT now. Great.
13. My Story by Elizabeth Smart
I had the privilege to hear Elizabeth Smart share her story when I was at the Key Club International Conference in Washington D.C. in 2012. I was on the edge of my seat listening to her story. Her story, paired with an organization I met that summer are major parts in why I am passionate about the field of study I am in. This is a hard emotional read but an important one. I commend her bravery sharing her story and publishing it.
14. Love, Loss, and What We Ate by Padma Lakshmi
I actually did not know who Padma was before this read but I am glad I read her story. Her story was full of raw heartache and loss and I am amazed that she published her story. I think celebrities get chewed up by media and her voice being heard through her writing was unique. I am also trying to read more books from authors of a more diverse background and her story of being split between India and America was enlightening.
15. Bossypants by Tina Fey
After reading Amy Poehler’s autobiography I had to read Tina Fey’s. Both were hilarious and encouraging accounts of hard working woman achieving their goals.
16. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
I’m a huge fan of “The Office” and once I was on a role of reading celebrity autobiography’s I couldn’t stop. I loved the humor and personality that Mindy showed in her writing. I hope that if I ever to write a book like this that my personality would be so accessible to the reader as well.
17. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
See previous. This author is gold.
18. The Pioneer Woman Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond
I actually grabbed this book on a whim as Matt was telling me we needed to leave the library and I scrambled to finish my selection process. I love her kitchen products so I said what the hey, I’ll give it a shot. It was a cute love story and a fun read. Nice way to break up some of the heavier readings.
19. Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup
Wow. This was a heavy read. I haven’t seen the movie yet so I thought it’d be good to read this before I brave the movie. It was a sobering tale and one that should be on everyone’s shelves.
20. The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman
I love history and this was a new war story to me! I fond this gem of a book in a bookstore in Red Lodge, Montana. The author’s tone was a beautiful way to convey this unique and heroic story. All World War II buffs, add this to your reading list.
21. After You by JoJo Moyes
Okay, I know this book has a bunch of controversy so let me preface that I do not agree with the conclusion that happened in the previous book. I’m not pro what choice was made. However, I think it’s stretching to read things you don’t necessarily agree with! It helps you strengthen your beliefs and learn how to engage in conversation about such topics. It was nice to see some resolution for the main character. It wasn’t as enthralling as the first book but I’m satisfied with it as a sequel.
22. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
Books are like friend recommendations. Anna Anderson recommended this book to me and my heart was smiling the whole read. It’s not a challenging read but it’s a solid story and a beautiful love story.
23. People Over Profit by Dale Partridge
I have been wanting to read this book since my friend Brooke raved about it. It was worth the wait! The library ordered it for me and that call was sweet news to hear. I devoured this book and loved every minute of it. I am feeling called to maybe be more on the business, leadership side of ministry and this is a perfect read with that in mind. So, so good.
That wraps up this summer! It’s crazy it’s already August but summer came and went and school is just around the corner. You can bet your bottom dollar that I will be reading this semester as well (probably not as many books but the reader in me is refreshed and revitalized!). What are the books on your must read list?