It’s just the beginning of summer, which means some of us (myself included) are still full of dreams. Dreams where we lounge by the pool, sit on the porch, or lay on the beach with a book. Or twelve.
My reality for summer typically involves checking out lots of books that are recommended by people I trust, then forgetting about them until the night they are due back at the library, speeding to get them there before they close. I usually only read a few books each summer, even with the best of intentions.
This year, I started my summer reading early by reading and re-reading to get in the spirit. You’ll find a list of what I’ve read in the last few months, with a brief description.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
This book is classy. Regardless of political affiliation, I think reading about Michelle Obama’s life, her part in American history, and her view of the world was fascinating. It’s warm, smart, and eye-opening.
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Tina Fey is my spirit animal, so I read this one fairly often just for the chuckles. And just when you think it’s all fluff and giggles, she throws a life lesson in for good measure.
Gumption by Nick Offerman
Each chapter of this book is devoted to a different person (some historical, some current). You can read into his political leanings from the way he writes, and if that bothers you, steer clear. I found it frank, witty and fun. It’s an easy one to read a little at a time since each chapter is based on a different person.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
An African American man writing to his teenage son about what race means in our country is not light reading, but I needed to read these words, and I’m still digesting them. I think everyone’s story has value and their perspective is important — the only way to learn is to listen (or in this case, read). I’ll come back to this one for sure.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
This novel focuses on a young married couple as they deal with tragedy that should have never happened. It’s stretched out over a number of years, and I was fascinated watching their personalities change over time with their changing circumstances.
Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty
From the author of other favorites, What Alice Forgot and Nine Perfect Strangers, this book focuses on the lives of a set of triplets. Moriarty weaves a story of how interconnected they are and how they try to break free from their molds.
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
This book is centered around an African American nurse who is faced with an impossible decision of trying to save the newborn child of a white supremacist. It’s a great read about race, justice, and discrimination.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
In a suburb town, two families’ lives connect in unlikely ways. The various pairs of characters create a beautiful, complicated story, all while a seemingly unrelated custody battle happens nearby. I loved how well she created distinct characters and motives.
A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman
I’m late to the party on this one, but better late than never! This story follows a curmudgeon of an old man named Ove as his pesky neighbors continue to ruin his schedule and plans. It is beautiful and I cried like a baby.
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
This book unwraps a secret orphanage/kid-for-sale scheme which is pulled from true historical events, while telling a current story of a young career woman as she uncovers the truth about her family. It’s both terribly sad and heartwarming.
Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving and Finding the Church and Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again by Rachel Held Evans
I am not alone in being devastated that this contemporary author, scholar, and faith warrior passed away unexpectedly last month. As a result of her passing, I’ve re-read two of her books. Searching for Sunday focuses on falling out of and back into love with faith — understanding the difficult parts and embracing their importance. She outlines a handful of religious traditions (baptism, communion, etc.), and describes them, both in historical terms and in a contemporary way. Inspired is her newest book, and she writes about leaning into the hard questions that faith often try to shove to the side. She jumps head long into difficult questions, and handles them with humor, research, and a bit of irreverence. I highly recommend both of them!
Love Does and Everybody Always by Bob Goff
Love Does is part memoir, part self-help, and part faith journey. With his fascinating stories, Bob Goff gives you the feeling that you can (and should) do anything. He makes challenges simple and exhilarating at the same time. Everybody Always is the follow-up book with more stories from his incredible life, woven in with lessons and challenges to experience life through love and possibility.
The Wondering Years: How Pop Culture Helped Me Answer Life’s Biggest Questions by Knox McCoy
This book combined some of my favorite things: faith, pop culture, childhood nostalgia, sarcasm and storytelling. He does a great job weaving in personal stories while sprinkling in references about some old favorites like Pee Wee Herman, He-Man, the Simpsons, Family Matters and more!