Need Books for Your Summer Reading List?

With summer coming, you might be looking for a few books to read on the beach. Me too! Here are some that I have read or re-read this past year and a couple that are on my “To Read” list:


Books For Personal Growth

The Miracle in the Middle: Finding God’s Voice in the Void by Charlotte Gambill

This was the first book that I have read by her and I loved it. She has a fun, easy-going style that makes her book feel like you are sitting down to coffee with a friend. How she uses the illustration of the changing room at the gym is my favorite, so let me know if you read it and find it as funny as I did.

A Trip around the Sun: Turning Your Everyday Life into the Adventure of a Lifetime by Mark Batterson and Richard Froth

I haven’t read this book yet, but I have read everything else Mark Batterson has written. He is one of my favorite authors so this book is at the top of my “To Read” list for the summer.

The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the midst of Endless Demands by Lysa TerKeurst

I read this book last year and I still rehearse the lessons I learned from it ALL THE TIME. If you struggle with telling people no or feel like you are juggling a million things then this book might be a good one for you.

Unashamed: Drop the Baggage, Pick up Your Freedom, Fulfill Your Destiny by Christine Caine

Also on my “To Read” list. I have heard Christine tell her life story. It is inspiring how God took her from the narrative she was in and put her on target to minister to hundreds of thousands of people around the globe. I am looking forward to reading her latest book.


Non-Fiction Books

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

I was standing in my living room and shouting at the conclusion. Great story, excellent writing, memorable characters…this was an all around great book. A few months ago I mentioned this book during a sermon. One of the teenage boys in our church came up to me awhile back and told me that him and his younger brother both read this book based on my recommendation and loved it. It made me so happy! And yes, he is now my favorite teen in the youth ministry (just kidding, kinda.)

Creativity, Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull

One of my favorite books I read this year! It tells the back story of Pixar and the lessons learned that helped make a story telling empire. I think every creative team should read this book.

Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee

While I am not aspiring to write screenplays, I loved reading all about the art of storytelling. I have always loved analyzing what makes a story stand above the rest and this book was the perfect recipe for me. Caution: there may have been some swearing…I can’t remember.

The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor

This book was full of fascinating studies on how our perspective on life and situations we are going through affects our health, stamina, and problem solving capabilities.  While I believe that the source of joy comes from God and not our own ability to muster it up, it was impacting to see the difference happiness makes in our everyday life.


Books to Read Out Loud with Kids

Jack Staples and the Ring of Time by Mark Batterson and Joel N. Clark

This is the first book in a trilogy. I read them out loud to my kids and we counted down the days until the last one in the series was released. It is an allegory for discovering the gifts God has uniquely given you and using them to help others. And the heroes are all kids! Caution: a few important characters die and there is a lot of violence. Smaller kids might be frightened by the content. My kids were 9, 7, and 4 when I read these to them.

The Prince Warriors by Priscilla Shirer

I have this one on my “To Read” list as well. While I haven’t read it, I have heard good things. If you get to it before I do, you will have to let me know what you think.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

We read this last summer and had so much fun talking like Gollum. It was an epic adventure that was as much fun for me as for the kids. This summer we are aiming for the entire Lord of the Rings series. Danny pretty much assured me that I would be the best mom ever if I read the entire thing out loud to our kids.

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

Grab the kleenex box for this one! I actually bet the boys that they couldn’t listen to the book without crying and then I was the one who cried. This is a story about a boy and his hunting dogs and the lessons they teach him about love and devotion. (My oldest son was actually looking over my shoulder while I was formulating this list and insisted I add this one.)

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

I love these books! If you have never read them, you have to try the first one at least. It is captivating story that will pull you in. This is a read-more-than-once book for me. We read the books and then watched the movies together last summer. Caution: there is a lot of cruelty (by the villains) and violence that can be frightening for smaller kids. My youngest, who was 5 at the time, had little tears streaming down her cheeks during one of the parts.

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

We read a ton of these last summer! They were a favorite for all my kids. Just recently Hudson suggested we pull them back out. So they are back on the “To Read” list again.

The Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield

I have been waiting for Annie to be old enough to read these books with. While I haven’t read them yet, I have heard good things. So I am excited to make time to read them with her (it can’t all be action and adventure around here.)


Fiction Books

Levi’s Will by W. Dale Cramer

This book wasn’t what I was expecting. It is a story of an Amish boy who runs away from home but can’t outrun the mistakes that haunt him. The really cool part was the how the story emerged from the writer’s own history and what happened after the book was written. I won’t spoil it for you but make sure you read the ending notes.

A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers

A story about 1st century christians and a girl trying to find her voice. While some of it feels a little cliché (the girl seems near perfect except for her timidity to share her faith), it was still an insightful look at what the world was like during that time. Note: Even though this book was a series, I skipped to end of the second book to find out how it ended because I started to feel like I already knew what was coming in every part of the story except one.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I know, I know! Everyone has probably already read this book. I started reading through a list of 100 Books You Should Read At Least Once and this was at the top of the list. For whatever reason, I had never read it until recently. But I am glad that I did…it was great!


My fiction list is obviously not very long. I have actually read more fiction this year but not very much of it seems worth passing on for one reason or another. So feel free to help me populate my “To Read” list for the summer. Tell me what some of your favorite books are…any category.