Suggested Summer Reading List

We’ve reached that point.  My kids can now tell me exactly how many days of school are left before summer vacation (though, truthfully, a couple of them have been able to tell me since mid-January).  Now that summer is almost here, for many of us that means its time to take some time to slow down and relax, maybe even read a good book at the beach, in the mountains or just in the back yard.  With that in mind, I want to recommend a few books that I will be reading and want to invite you to join me.  And then, let’s get together, have a cup of coffee and talk about how they spoke to you.  Heck, I’ll even buy the coffee!


Pre-Post-Racial America: Spiritual Stories from the Front Lines by Sandhya Rani Jha

Sandhya is a friend and colleague, and was our guest preacher last week!  She’s written an incredibly powerful, engaging book that invites us to look deeply at one of the most divisive issues in our culture today.  In a way that only Sandhya can, she uses the powerful tool of storytelling to speak prophetic truth in the most disarming way and takes us on a tour of the rocky landscape of race and faith in this country. 


Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans

Evans is quickly becoming one of the most powerful voices in the church today. Like millions of her millennial peers, Evans didn't want to go to church anymore. The hypocrisy, the politics, the gargantuan building budgets, the scandals--church culture seemed so far removed from Jesus. Yet, despite her cynicism and misgivings, something kept drawing her back to Church. And so she set out on a journey to understand Church and to find her place in it.  This is a memoir about making do and taking risks, about the messiness of community and the power of grace; it is about overcoming cynicism to find hope and, somewhere in between, Church.


It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War by Lynsey Addario

As a war photographer, she gets asked this question a lot: “Why do you do this?” In her new memoir, Addario wrestles with this question — and she asks it not just for the reader, but it seems for herself.  Her story is inspiring, heartbreaking and an eye-opening look at what it takes to reveal events from the other side of the world.  What she does, with clarity, beauty, and candor, is to document, often in their most extreme moments, the complex lives of others. It’s her work, but its much more than that: it’s her singular calling.


The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

I realize I’m a little slow to the game in this one, many of you may have already read this.  It is already the #1 New York Times–bestselling story about American Olympic triumph in Nazi Germany.  It’s an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times—the improbable, intimate account of how nine working-class boys from the University of Washington showed the world at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin what true grit really meant.  The team was composed of the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, and they were never expected to defeat the elite teams of the East Coast and Great Britain, yet they did, going on to shock the world by defeating the German team rowing for Adolf Hitler.


Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray and Still Loving My Neighbor by Jana Ries

Ries sent out on a quest to become more saintly by devoting an entire year ("a year-long experiment") to mastering 12 different spiritual challenges, including praying at fixed times during the day, exhibiting gratitude, observing the Sabbath, practicing hospitality according to the rules set by St. Benedict, abstaining from eating meat, and amply demonstrating her generosity. But nothing turned out as planned.  Can you relate to that?  It's clear from the start of this very funny memoir that Riess means well. But as she readily admits, she's a spiritual failure.  There are lots of books that will teach you how to be a success.  This one may show you the benefits and advantages of falling short.  As one reviewer writes, “is surprising and freeing; it is fun and funny; and it is full of wisdom.  It is, in fact, the best book on the practices of the spiritual life that I have read in a long, long time."

That’s what will be on my nightstand this summer.  What about you? If you have recommendations for me, I’d love to hear them!