There are books we read for pleasure. Others we scan for facts, information. Some books are meant to be read slowly, to be absorbed in bits and pieces, pondered and then read again.
And still others carry us along on adventures, affording the opportunity to live vicariously through the author’s chronicled life.
In this latter half of my “summer reading list” (see the first half here) there are books that fit all those categories. I offer eight more bookmarked choices inhabiting my reading stack:
- “The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism” by Timothy Keller. This book is inspiring on several levels. Reading it is pleasurable, it’s full of information and it must be read slowly to absorb all that is contained within. And certainly an examination of the reasons to believe in God’s existence by examining His Word is an adventure. I began this New York Times Bestseller last fall, only to set it aside after a few chapters. It is important and challenging, but it’s also serious work to examine how we hold our God up to what the world calls god. However, understanding its premise is important to my spiritual health and will equip me to share my faith with others. World Magazine’s editor-in-chief Marvin Olasky has been assigning Keller’s book to students in his World Journalism Institute, it’s that good.
- “One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are” By Ann Voskamp. This is another “redux”. I read this wonderful book when it began climbing up various best seller lists four years ago. I’m reading it again with my Sunday school class as we work through a study guide that is a companion to Ann’s devotional video. I’ve been counting gifts for several years now, returning to this book for inspiration from time to time, and I find something new in Ann’s lyrical prose every time I crack open her beautiful book. This is one worthy of owning in hard cover. Her wonderful blog, http://www.aholyexperience.com, is just as lovely and inspiring.
- “Pursue the Intentional Life” by Jean Fleming. This book is new to my stack and it will stay at the top for a very long time. This is one to be savored, marked up, copied, prayed through. Fleming can be seen talking about her book at http://www.incourage.me. From the back copy of her book: “Whether you are facing the end of something in your life or embarking on a new beginning, this book will help you live meaningfully and intentionally in the present while preparing well for the future.” Again, this is not one to rush through, but is meant to accompany personal examination and deliberate prayer.
- “Kisses from Katie” by Katie Davis. This book has been recommended to me so many times, and I’m so glad I finally picked it up. Katie Davis was Glamour Magazine’s 2012 Woman of the Year, but she hardly lives a glamorous life. This young woman stepped away from college and a relationship to travel to Africa at age 18. She has since founded a ministry and adopted over a dozen girls. Having served on three short-term missions to Central America, I’m inspired by the humility and bravery of this young woman. While not everyone is called to live Katie’s life, all of us are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Katie’s book shows us what that looks like in a very practical sense.
- “Teresa of Avila: The Progress of a Soul” by Cathleen Medwick. While reading a collection of Saint Teresa’s writings (“Let Nothing Disturb You” compiled by Ave Maria Press) I became fascinated with this strong, gifted 16th century Spanish nun. Saint Teresa was the first woman to be named a Doctor of the Church and was a reformer in the church. Not a light beach read, this biography is one that will likely remain in the stack into the new year.
- “The Writing Life” by Annie Dillard. At just a little over 100 pages, Annie Dillard’s classic is a perfect “jump-start” for a writer with little time to read about writing. As reviewed by the Chicago Tribune: “For nonwriters, it is a glimpse into the trials and satisfactions of a life spent with words. For writers, it is a warm, rambling conversation with a stimulating and extraordinarily talented colleague.” Once finished, this little book will go on my shelf alongside Steven King’s “On Writing” and Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird”.
- “Into the Free” and “When Mountains Move” by Julie Cantrell. I’m cheating here and giving you two for one (counting them both). I recently finished “When Mountains Move” because I just couldn’t put it down. I love historical fiction and after finishing Cantrell’s first book, “Into the Free”, I couldn’t wait for the sequel to be released. Both offer the well-told story of a young woman who overcomes tremendous personal hardship to pursue a life of adventure. The only drawback to the second book is that to fully engage with the characters, it is important to read the first. But, since that is the case with most sequels and since both books are equally compelling, they belong side-by-side on my reading list.
- “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway. I have read others of Hemingway’s earlier books, but never picked up his final work of fiction. This is my oldest son’s favorite book, which is all the reason I need to put it on my stack in honor of this son’s 30th birthday. That, and the fact this book earned Hemingway the Pulitzer Prize the year I was born.
What’s on your stack? Better yet, what’s that one book you just can’t put down this summer?