If you’re like me at all, there is nothing better than sitting back on a summer evening with a cup of coffee and a good book.
There is something so relaxing about diving into a good read – whether a novel, a memoir or a Christian living book.
In particular, since I got my Kindle, I’ve found myself flicking through pages way too late and losing out on sleep – all for the sake of “one more chapter.”
Maybe you’re looking for a good read to take with you on your next road trip or vacation, something to dive into when the kids are in bed, or just something to enjoy in a few spare moments. I present – my top ten summer reading recommendations for 2018! I’ve actually read all of these, and have LOVED them.
1. “Beautiful Bodies” by Kimberley Rae Miller
Seriously though, this book. I JUST finished reading it about two weeks ago, and I couldn’t put it down. I laughed, I cried and highlighted about a gazillion things. Miller’s memoir about her struggle with weight loss, dieting and what makes a body beautiful was so relatable. It was an easy read, but thought-provoking and encouraging. I finished this book feeling better about myself, my own struggles, and my relationship with food.
PSA: Some profanity.
Favourite Quote: “There are seven billion bodies in the world, and I got this one. It may not be the best one, but it’s far from being the worst. It’s a strong body and a soft body, and while it’s not as beautiful as I’d have liked, it’s the only one I will ever have, so I’m working on being thankful for it.”
2. “Everything Happens for A Reason (And Other Lies I’ve Loved)” by Kate Bowler
Kate Bowler’s book wasn’t an easy read, but a worthwhile one. Kate was 35 years old and a university professor when she was diagnosed with Stage-IV cancer. Ironically, she was researching the “prosperity gospel” at the same time she was diagnosed. Kate’s book is an examination of the popular American belief that tragedy always happens for a reason. Her book hits where it hurts, but is also refreshing in the world of “do this, do that & something else and everything will be fine.” Everyone should read this book!
Favourite Quote: “What would it mean for Christians to give up that little piece of the American Dream that says, “You are limitless”? Everything is not possible. The mighty Kingdom of God is not yet here. What if rich did not have to mean wealthy, and whole did not have to mean healed? What if being people of “the gospel” meant that we are simply people with good news? God is here. We are loved. It is enough.”
3. “Birthing Hope: Giving Fear to the Light” by Rachel Marie Stone
While I’ve heard Rachel Marie Stone’s name before, and skimmed over some of her articles, it was the first time I had picked up one of her books and actually dug in. Birthing Hope caught my attention – because of both its premise, and the fact that I am a recent first-time mom.
From the first page where she quoted Micha Boyett’s poem “Darkness” to the last page, I was hooked. As I read this book, I found myself nodding with enthusiasm, shedding a few tears, and even laughing because I related so deeply to what she was saying. I recommend this book to ANY mom (and well, just about anyone else too!).
Favourite Quote: “The scandal of the incarnation is that God became a human, not by being beamed down from on high but by being born in the usual way…The scandal of the incarnation is that a woman – we may even be tempted to refer to Mary as a girl, she was so young – was in labour with God.”
Parenting & Family
4. “The Tech-Wise Family” by Andy Crouch
Andy Crouch’s book on technology and its place in the home is a quick, convicting read. Filled with charts, graphics and statistics as well as practical advice and techniques, Crouch’s book offers something for everyone! One of my favourite parts of the book was the contribution of Crouch’s two teenage children to each chapter. Following the principles Crouch introduces, his kids talk about how its been introduced to their family. This is a quick read, but one you’ll be mulling over all summer!
Favourite Quote: “We are continually being nudged by our devices toward a set of choices. The question is whether those choices are leading us to the life we actually want. I want a life of conversation and friendship, not distraction and entertainment; but every day, many times a day, I’m nudged in the wrong direction.”
5. “Raising World Changers in a Changing World” by Kristen Welch
Kristen Welch’s book was exactly what I needed to read during this season of my life. Her eloquent words and transparency about living a life that is different than much of our world’s was both encouraging and challenging. The way Kristen unpacked her work at Mercy House, her family’s involvement, and both the small and big things her family does to change the world were practical, heartwrenching at times, and convicting.
One of my favourite features of Kristen’s book was the way she interviewed one of her kids at the end of each chapter. It provided a real look into the life of her family, and encouraged me as a parent to see that this way of living life can actually work! Kids can actually get it! I also appreciated her challenges at the end of each chapter – and I’ll definitely be implementing them.
Favourite Quote:”It’s not about how much we give away; it’s about what we are giving our lives for.“
6. “The Turquoise Table” by Kristen Schell
Schell’s book was a challenging read for introverted me! Her story of planting a Turquoise Table smack-dab in the middle of her front yard and practicing hospitality is an inspiring one. While I’m not 100% sure I’ll be putting a table in my yard anytime soon, her approach to hospitality and welcoming others was refreshing. She makes hospitality feel doable and shows the importance of it in today’s fast-paced world.
Favourite Quote: “Most of us are one paycheck, one divorce, one drug-addicted kid, one mental health illness, one sexual assault, one drinking binge, one night of unprotected sex, or one affair away from being “those people”—the ones we don’t trust, the ones we pity, the ones we don’t let our kids play with, the ones bad things happen to, the ones we don’t want living next door.
7. “Divine Direction” by Craig Groeschel
This was one of the first books I read in 2018. It was a practical read on making decisions – not just the big ones like “Who should I marry?” or “What should my career be?”, but the smaller day-to-day decisions as well. Groeschel’s premise is that the choices we make each day are what create the life we live. He shares 7 principles for making wise, God-honouring decisions. I highly recommend this book to anyone faced with a big decision, or who’s just looking to be better at decision-making in general!
Favourite Quote: “That’s because we’re not changed by the promises we make to God; we’re changed by believing the promises God makes to us.
8.”Holy Hustle” by Crystal Stine
Crystal Stine’s book was exactly what I needed in this season. During a time of heading back to work and balancing being a mom, I needed to read her words – especially because I love my job so much! Crystal’s book was freeing and empowering – it made me feel GOOD about the call to work in this season, and also challenged me to achieve that ‘holy hustle’ – a beautiful balance of rest and hard work.
Working moms, high-achievers and type-A personalities should all have a copy of this book on their shelves. I have a feeling it’s a book I will refer to time and time again over the course of this season!
Favourite Quote: “When our hearts are in ruin, no work of our hands will be useful for God’s Kingdom.”
9. “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis
I come back to this classic time & time again. Lewis’ wit, wisdom and theology in this book is some of the best there is, in my opinion. This book will challenge the seasoned theologian or the skeptic with no knowledge of God or the Bible. If you haven’t read any of Lewis’ books, Mere Christianity is the place to start. Lewis is a wizard with words and paints a picture of God and the Gospel like no other. I recommend this book to pretty much everybody – so if you haven’t read it yet, you should!
Favourite Quote:“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
10. “Finally Feminist” by John G. Stackhouse Jr.
This book was first placed in my hands by a professor during an undergrad. As I was wrestling through some questions regarding the role of women in the church, he recommended this to me. This small book is jam-packed full of good theology and first introduced me to the idea of being a Christian feminist. Stackhouse is academic, but is also accessible. I recommend this book to anybody searching for an explanation of why God calls women equally, wondering where you belong in the church, or how to articulate it to someone else!
Favourite Quote: “Now, however, that modern society is at least officially egalitarian, the scandal is that the church is not going along with society, not rejoicing in the unprecedented freedom to let women and men serve according to gift and call without an arbitrary gender line. This scandal impedes both the evangelism of others and the edification – the retention and development of faith – of those already converted.”
A couple bonus fiction reads:
1. “The Solace of Water” by Elizabeth Byler Younts
2. “A House Without Windows” by Nadia Hashimi
3. The Anne of Green Gables Series by L.M. Montgomery (Especially if you’re only seeing Anne with an E on Netflix – the series doesn’t even compare! PLUS they’re great summer reads on your patio, by the pool or with your kids)
4. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling (Okay, I just jumped on to the Harry Potter train this year – and I am recommending them to everyone I know)
5. The Well by Stephanie Landsem
So, what are YOU reading?
What books do you recommend for the summer?
Leave me a comment! Let me know!