I just finished my Summer Reading List 2023 and I’m sharing it with you. Because summer reading isn’t just for kids.
We’re one week away from fully embracing our summer schedule and I cannot wait. I love the longer days and lighter schedules because both mean more time for reading.
This summer, I’m taking it up a notch. While I usually create a summer reading log for my kids, I’m making one for me as well. I’m using this summer reading tracker in my planner.
That means I’ll also need my own reward system. Why have I never thought of this before?? Prizes will most definitely include a pedi at some point, a favorite candle and a trip to the movies by myself.
This kind of planning is a poignant reminder of how far I’ve come since loss. I have bandwidth for summer reading, totally absent in the survival days of early grief. I can think playfully, a gift after life got so bleak and serious. And I can dream — a sign that life can be good again.
Okay, onto my picks for the summer reading list 2023. I’ve divided the list into non-fiction (what I read most and all through the year), fiction (Christian or clean) and just for fun (because summer oughta be lighter!).
Note: I have a book club announcement coming for my book Life Can Be Good Again: Putting Your World Back Together After It All Falls Apart. Make sure to subscribe to email if you want the information first!
Summer Reading List: Nonfiction
This book wasn’t initially on my summer reading list, but Rebekah swayed me as she talked on several podcasts about how we build resiliency and help our children build it. Resilience isn’t a by-product of suffering but choices we make in suffering. From Amazon: “Rebekah offers five practical, life-changing rules that help you live into God’s unshakable peace in a world that seems more uncertain every day.”
2. Seasons of Sorrow: The Pain of Loss and Comfort of God, Tim Challies
Tim Challies is a blogger, author and pastor whose oldest son was away at college when he collapsed suddenly and died. Tim got the news in Canada and began processing his grief through words. Seasons of Sorrow is his nearly real-time journey of grief in that first year.
3. Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering, Timothy Keller
As I wrote earlier, this will be the summer of Keller for me. I’ve already begun re-reading this book on suffering. Keller compares the Biblical/Christian position on suffering to that held by other religions and cultural thought. He addresses hard questions head on and sifts them through scripture. The book also has personal testimonies of friends and congregants who experienced various kinds of pain and suffering.
4. Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, Timothy Keller
Prayer is the one practice nearly every believer says they could do more and do better. Why pray if God is sovereign, what do we pray and how do we persist in prayer? From Amazon: Keller “discusses ways to make prayers more personal and powerful, and how to establish a practice of prayer that works for each reader.”
Summer Reading List: Fiction
This book unpacks the story of the ten Boom family, a devout Christian family who supported the Dutch underground and saved hundreds of Jewish lives during WWII. If you’ve read Corrie’s autobiography, The Hiding Place, Loftis fleshes out a fuller story adding historical context and details drawn from interviews and letters that reveal this family’s costly courage and enduring faith. My father-in-law was saved in Corrie ten Boom’s home after release from a concentration camp in WWII, so her ministry is precious to us.
2. Everything Sad is Untrue (a true story), Daniel Nayeri
This book won NYT Best Book of the Year, NPR Best Book of the Year, Amazon Best Book of the Year, Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and Wall Street Journal Best Book of the Year. Khosrou (Daniel) and his mother become refugees after she converts to Christianity in Iran. Hiding and then fleeing to other countries, they finally land in Oklahoma. From Amazon: With a “distinct literary style…Nayeri deftly weaves through stories of the long and beautiful history of his family in Iran, adding a richness of ancient tales and Persian folklore.”
3. The Secret Book of Flora Lea: A Novel, Patti Callahan Henry
I discovered Patti Callahan Henry through her sister — author and Bible teacher Jeannie Cunnion (I just finished and highly recommend her study Never Alone: Parenting in the Power of the Holy Spirit). This Patti Henry book became an instant NYT best-seller. In 1939, after Hazel and her little sister Flora evacuate war-torn London to a rural village, Flora vanishes while playing along the Thames River. Twenty years later, Hazel’s tidy world of Sotheby’s and her Bloomsbury flat is interrupted when she gets a package holding secrets to Flora’s disappearance. From Amazon: “As Hazel embarks on a feverish quest…an astonishing twist ultimately reveals the truth…about the bond between sisters, the complications of conflicted love, and the enduring magic of storytelling.”
4. Edenbrooke, by Julianne Donaldson
This novel is billed as clean fiction akin to Pride and Prejudice with a heart-swooning romance. It even starts in Bath. From Amazon: “When an invitation arrives from her twin sister, Cecily, to join her at a sprawling country estate, she jumps at the chance. Thinking she’ll be able to relax and enjoy her beloved English countryside while her sister snags the handsome heir of Edenbrooke, Marianne finds that even the best laid plans can go awry.” I’m all in for an old-fashioned Miss Bennett and Mr. Darcy like story.
Summer Reading List: Just For Fun
This has been on my TBR list for a while! I’ve gone from zero to eight grandkids in a blink, with two more on the way. It’s exhilerating in every way, but I have big dreams of doing this Nonni thing well. Susan Yates has hosted Cousin Camp for her 21 grandchildren for years and shares ideas for meaningful, lasting connection.
This book is part diary, part wonky tell-all. It’s a mix of deep, soul-searching ponderings and zany, out-of-the-box questions. As an interactive, conummable book, it’s meant to be written in and worked through. I plan to answer one or two questions a day to help pull out some things I might not otherwise consider. Some days will be wacky and other days will make me pause, reflect, remember, confess, think.
How to find time to create when our days are filled with mothering? Even with older children, adult children and now grandchildren, I’m still toggling between the two. Creating for me comes mostly through writing and it feeds my soul. As a single mom, it’s my work as well. Maybe your creativity is gardening, design, music or photography. I can’t wait to dive into this conversation on stewarding our creative gifts and motherhood.
4. Well Made, Meredith Mann
I need some serious kitchen inspiration and the peachiespoon.com dishes it up. Meredith is a certified holistic nutritionist focusing on blood sugar balanced recipes. I pretty much drool over her Instagram posts like this one and this one. Last summer I was in book launch mode and my kids fended dinner for themselves quite a bit. This summer, I’m ready to get back in my cooking groove. You can also find her recipes at her blog and Instagram.
Can I note that our summer hasn’t technically started and I’m almost done with two books on this list? Which means I’ve got a prize coming soon. Here’s to summer and to all that it will hold for us.