It’s no joke: summer is made for reading.
Now summer, mind you, is also made for grilling and for camping, for swimming in lakes and pools and rivers and not caring what we look like in our suited attire of choice. But mostly, summer is made for pounding through books (and not instead for writing, something I try my hardest to do in this season, but struggle to achieve when the sun is out! The sky is blue! The outside world is calling my name!)
But I digress.
If you’re a reader, you likely read for a number of different reasons: for pleasure and for fun. Because you’re interested in the subject. For learning purposes. Because someone passed along a free copy to you.
I happen to put a check mark next to all of the above, so in an effort to save you some book reading time and energy, here are three faith-themed books that have come out this summer that I’d love for you to check out.
A Woman’s Place (Katelyn Beaty). Katelyn, the print managing editor of Christianity Today, is a witty and wise young thirty-something woman who set out to reconsider women’s work, especially in Christian circles. And I’ve got to tell you: I’ve been waiting for this book for a long time. Three and a half years ago I did something I never thought I’d do: I left the traditional work force to care for my son, and pursue writing and speaking. Leaving full-time ministry proved harder than I ever believed it would (or should) be, partially because of other people’s expectations of me, and partially because I didn’t know what to make of this whole mama-writer-speaker gig (especially when invitations to use my words didn’t roll in as I thought they would). I cringed when people called me a stay-at-home mom. I yearned for someone, anyone to believe that my words held value and hand me a paycheck for the work I did when babies were napping and babysitters watched the boys. And Beaty’s book gives my own journey value: she urges men and women “…into a better framework for imagining career, ambition and calling. Whether caring for children, running a home or business, or working full-time, all readers will be inspired to live in a way that glorifies God.” So, yes, read it.
How to Survive a Shipwreck (Jonathan Martin). Now, I’ll be honest: I ordered this book to review when I mixed up the last name of said author with another well-known online religion writer. We’ll just chalk that up to not having had enough coffee that morning. So, I began reading Martin’s book with a very limited understanding of him: a white guy who wrote a book about shipwrecks and other such harrowing adventures at sea. And that’s when this modern Thomas Merton words captured me from the very beginning of the book:
“The only way to lose yourself forever is to keep hanging on to the life you had before. The storm rides you hard, but the Spirit whispers into the pitch-black that surrounds you, carrying the words Jesus spoke to Nicodemus in the wind: You must be born again.”
He doesn’t go into details over his shipwreck of a situation, but he doesn’t have to – that’s not the point of the story. Instead, we’re transported into a land of mysticism and intrigue, where Jesus is not a pat and dry answer to be realized, but a person to journey on in this wild, treacherous ride called life. So, pick up a copy and enter into the relic that is his story …and yours.
Reading for the Common Good (C. Christopher Smith). Chris has become a friend of mine in the online world: the editor for Englewood Review, he’s a thinker and a reader, a connector and someone who is deeply desirous of community. But what happens when, in our fast-paced 21st century lives, we forget to enter into life with other people? How might reading be the common thread that brings us back together? In this short read, he points out the obvious – but the obvious we’re often times too blind to realize and see is right in front of us. We were created to learn and to read, just as we were created to flourish with the people who are right in front of us, namely in our churches and in our neighborhoods. As someone who’s participated in and led book clubs in both arenas, I can attest to its truth …even if I wouldn’t have figured out that an entire book could be written on the subject. Enter in, and read Chris’ words – and see if they change the way you live.
So, there you go: three faith-themed reads that you’ve got to add to your list in the remaining month and a half of summer. I’m also eager to read Rescuing Jesus: How People of Color, Women & Queer Christians are Reclaiming Evangelicalism, America’s Original Sin, and Assimilate or Go Home: Notes from a Failed Missionary on Rediscovering Faith. They may not be books that may not strike your fancy but have me wholly intrigued.
What’s on your list this summer, especially when it comes to faith-themed reads? What have you read lately that you just can’t get off your mind?
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