Summer is for Reading

Originally published Monday, 05 June 2017.

Ah, the lazy days of summer. Sleeping in. Lounging by the community pool. Trips to the lake or the beach. Chasing fireflies at night. In our house, we've looked forward to summer for weeks now. One of the things I enjoy about summer is the extra time to read. In fact, summer and reading make me nostalgic. My grandfather used to tell everyone about my love of reading and enjoyed sharing about the summer he and my grandmother drove me from my home in Maryland to their home in Florida. As he tells it, I read the entire way there—all 800 miles of it.

Summer reading also makes me think of the library. I grew up in the library. My mother worked there and when I was a teen, I did too. I loved the library's summer reading challenges for children. It was fun keeping track of all the books I read and earning some sort of prize at the end of the summer for my efforts. 

That's why I'm excited that the women's ministry blog I manage is co-hosting a summer reading challenge. We want to encourage people to set aside their phones and open a real book. I look forward to hearing the stories of people reading and learn about what they read.

Are you a reader? If you are looking for a book to read this summer, here are few of my suggestions:

12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You by Tony Reinke: I have a like/unlike relationship with social media. That's why I was excited about Tony Reinke's new book, 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You. His book is a wise and thoughtful look at smart phones and their impact on our lives. One thing that struck me about this book is seeing the technology of smart phones in the context of the history of technology as a whole and realize its use and benefit, rather than only seeing it as problematic. My tendency has been to look at the negative aspects to my phone. Yet, there are certainly problems with our phones. We all know how much it rules our lives these days. Some of us can't go five minutes without checking email or viewing what our friends are doing on social media. In this book, Tony Reinke helps readers wisely take control of their smart phone rather than their phone controlling them.  

Glory in the Ordinary: Why Your Work in the Home Matters to God (Gospel Coalition) by Courtney Reissig: Here's a fact about me: I never thought I'd be a stay-at-home mom. It was on my "I'll never" list. On that list was also: "I'll never drive a mini van" "I'll never homeschool" "I'll never live in Florida." Yes, that list. God had other plans for me and I struggled to make peace with those plans. I often wondered, does my work in the home have as much value as the work I used to do outside the home? Should I somehow make my work in the home more sanctified—maybe by praying while I fold the laundry? If you've ever wondered about your work in the home and what it means to God, you must read Courtney's book. She helps us see how all work, even ordinary mundane work, glorifies God and has purpose. 

Between Heaven and the Real World: My Story by Steven Curtis Chapman: When I was a teen, I went to many concerts with my youth group. Petra. Michael W. Smith. D.C. Talk. Steven Curtis Chapman. I have many fond memories of those concerts. That's why I picked up Steven Curtis Chapman's biography. It's about his life and how it shaped his music. From difficult experiences in childhood, to marriage and raising children, to the loss of his daughter, all of these experiences formed his music. Many of his songs have influenced my own faith and encouraged me when I needed it, perhaps it has for you too.

Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry: Since I turned forty a couple of years ago, I've found myself looking back at my life and assessing the choices I've made. In this fictional story, Hannah Coulter, a woman is in the winter of life and looks back at the decades of her life in a small Kentucky town. She describes life on the farm, raising children, widowhood, and community life. There is much in this book I can relate to in my stage of life and if you are looking for a fiction read, I highly recommend it. 

Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck: I love to travel and enjoy travel memoir's. John Steinbeck's travel memoir is the story of his journey across America with his dog, Charlie. They covered forty states in his pick up truck which he renovated into mobile living quarters, named Rocinante. America was in the midst of change and Steinbeck reflected on the past as he visited town after town. He gives his reflection and perspective on the changes he witnessed. Travels with Charley is a nostalgic and sometimes even funny account of a journey to find America. 

Zeal without Burnout by Christopher Ash: Anyone who has served in ministry for any length of time knows how easy it is to burnout. After years of serving our church in multiple ways, my husband and I found ourselves fatigued and burned out. We took a year off and have gradually found our way back into serving in various capacities. Burnout can be serious, especially with those who are employed in ministry. I've seen pastors leave the ministry due to burnout. I am mentoring one of our youth interns at church this summer and will be talking about this book with her. If you serve in ministry or are employed in ministry, you'll want to read this book. 

So, what's on your reading list this summer?