Summer Reading, 2016 Edition


What are you reading this summer? I have been reveling in our break from homeschooling, and I’m pretty ambitious this year.  In between the bouts of hard-core parenting, I’ve been letting the kids run around outside with the neighbors, eating popsicles, while I lose myself in books, just making sure to invite people over for dinner every weekend so we have to force ourselves to clean up the chaos at least once a week.  I sat outside in a deck chair with a mystery novel all afternoon the other day while about 10 kids dug in the sandbox.  Lots of quick historical fiction/detective novels on my nook for research purposes (I’ll tell you more about that later), but here is my “serious reading stack” on my nightstand.  At least half of these will be making that 5000 mile road trip with me this summer…

  • The Bird in the Tree, Pilgrim’s Inn, and The Heart of the Family by Elizabeth Goudge  Have you discovered Elizabeth Goudge?  She’s one of my favorites, and this year, my mom and I agreed to read the Eliot Family Trilogy together again.  We love Elizabeth Goudge for her beautiful prose and her insight into the inner lives of everyday people.  You can see the effects of grace on a person’s life (and all the lives they touch).  Her books are slow, but I savor them.  I often reread and recommend The Dean’s Watch and The Scent of Water, both of which have beautiful portrayals of self-sacrificing love.  Since I haven’t read about the Eliots since being married myself, I’m interested to see what I think of Goudge’s take on love/marriage/commitment/family/loyalty with the Eliot family this time around.
  • Life Under Compulsion: Ten Ways to Destroy the Humanity of Your Child by Anthony Esolen  After our scintillating E2S Group Read of Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child, this was an auto-buy for me.  And I’m looking forward to discussing it with Anna, Bethany, and Christina when our families have a little reunion in a few weeks!
  • Toxic Charity by Robert Lupton  I’ve had this book recommended to me by multiple people, and last week, I saw it on a friend’s shelf and commented on it.  She foisted it on me and insisted that I read it because it had so radically affected her mindset.  All too often, we think that we can just throw money at a problem and pat ourselves on the back for doing our part in mercy ministry.  The reality is always more complicated than that, of course.
  • Um, I am embarrassed to admit this, but in our move, I lost my personal Bible for several months.  It had gotten shoved into a box that I then shoved into a kitchen cabinet and forgot about, so I spent all spring stealing my kids’ Bible or using my phone to do my devotions and CBS homework.  I do still think that the YouVersion Bible App is pretty decent (particularly if you want accountability to do a read-through-the-Bible type reading plan like I do), but I have enjoyed actually holding my own Bible again since rediscovering it!
  • Union With Christ by Rankin Wilbourne  Rankin is our pastor, and we are so blessed to sit under his teaching and now to get to read his first book!  I can listen to one of his sermons 3 or 4 times and learn more each time, so this one was another auto-buy for me.  Rankin has such a heart for our spiritual growth and for helping believers enjoy and know God, and I feel like this whole topic is something that often eludes me in my personal spiritual walk.
  • Lila by Marilynne Robinson  I think I’ve mentioned that this is the best work of fiction I’ve read since graduating from college with a degree in English Literature.  And I’m rereading it this summer along with my girlfriends to discuss at our aforementioned reunion!  I was afraid that it wouldn’t hold up to my memories the second time around, but I’m marking it up, weeping, and savoring it just as much.
  • Jane Austen’s Minor Works (particularly “Lady Susan”)  Did you see Love and Friendship?  I did, twice.  If you haven’t seen it yet and are even remotely a Jane Austen fan, Kate Beckinsdale is amazing as Austen’s most devious protagonist, and the costumes are glorious.  I purposefully did not reread “Lady Susan” before watching the movie based upon it because I didn’t want to be nitpicking every little change.  But as soon as we got home from the movies, I grabbed this off the shelf for a reread and am treating myself to a couple letters a night.  Teenage Austen is of course not as refined as mature, published Austen, but she is wickedly funny and so, so insightful about human nature.  C.S. Lewis said he pretty much always had an Austen novel going on his nightstand, and I think that’s a wise and appropriate thing to do.=)
  • Home by Marilynne Robinson  Okay, you may remember that this was on last year’s list.  I’ve heard it’s more of a downer than Lila and Gilead, and after I broke my foot last summer, I really just wanted cheerful/escapist stuff.  I pre-read a lot of children’s fantasy for my son and reread a bunch of Georgette Heyer to cheer myself up.  But my mom read Home this spring and brought me her copy all the way from Missouri so I’d be sure to read it and discuss it with her.  (She was tired of calling me up to read me a beautiful line and having me not able to reciprocate.  My mom is the coolest.)  Since I’m revisiting the world of Gilead, Iowa for the reunion, anyway, I’m going to buckle down and tackle Home for real this summer.
  • The League and the Lantern by Brian Wells  Okay, this one was given to us by one of my husband’s colleagues.  Apparently the author is trying to do a Christian take on the whole middle-school fantasy/adventure phenomenon (a la Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, et al).  Since our 9 year old is all about this genre right now, I’m interested to see how this holds up to N.D. Wilson (whose 100 Cupboards and Ashtown Burials series are well-written but too scary for my son just yet) or Andrew Peterson (whose Wingfeather Saga is so compelling–and the writing really does get better with each book).

Any more recommendations for me?  We’re hitting the road in just over two weeks, so things I can download to my nook are preferable.  I still have 7 weeks before we have to start up school again, so I’m going to relish my vacation by reading as much as possible!


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