Looking for a good summer reading list?
Maybe you’ve got a vacation planned (with some much needed time by the pool), or you know you’ll have more breathing room in your schedule now that school is out.
Either way, summer is a wonderful time to curl up with a good book! Finding a great summer book to read is a treat I give myself this time of year.
Here are 9 book recommendations, divided by category.
They’re not necessarily the newest or hottest book releases, but if you and I were chatting over coffee, these are the books I’d wholeheartedly recommend.
NOTE: I’m recommending these as books for an adult to read, and wouldn’t necessarily recommend them for kids (unless otherwise noted). Although they are all high quality reads, many of them contain intense subject matter and I would highly caution parents to preview.
Same Kind of Different As Me: A Modern Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Brought Them Together
by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
I read Same Kind of Different earlier this year and couldn’t put it down, especially at the end.
Oh my gosh–if you’re looking for an inspirational story of what it’s like to step outside your comfort zone, this has to be the book you read this summer!
In a nutshell, it’s the story of how the lives of two men from completely different socio-economic classes collide, and most of all what happens when we choose bravery over fear, and right over wrong–regardless of the consequences.
A major motion picture of the book (starring Renee Zellweger and Greg Kinnear) is scheduled to release in 2017.
by John Maclean
Our family was introduced to this book in an unusual way: My husband met the author.
One day while attending a meeting, my husband sat next to John Maclain, a paralympic wheelchair athlete who was paralyzed 25 years ago in a cycling accident.
John’s remarkable story–and his triumphant spirit–is captured in his memoir as he shares what has happened to him over and over the past 25 years as he’s asked himself , “How far can you go?” (a question originally posed to him by his dad right after the accident).
And if it gives you any indication as to what happens in the book, yes, that’s him standing next to my husband. Talk about an inspiring and miraculous story!
While it’s great for reading on your own, I’d highly recommend this as a family read aloud as well (we’ve been reading it aloud to our kids)!
by Laura Hillenbrand
My grandpa (a World War II veteran) handed me this story a few summers ago and insisted that I read it.
Honestly, I wasn’t really up for a “war book” or another book on history (even though it took place in the 1940s, one of my favorite eras), so it sat on my shelf a while.
But when I finally opened the pages and quickly became engrossed in the story, I kicked myself for not reading it sooner.
This book taught me so much about the human condition, what we can endure, and how God uses every life circumstance to create a remarkable tapestry of story that connects us all. It gave me a fresh new appreciation for the trials and horrors of war that this generation endured, and reminded me that hope lives even in the darkest places.
If you haven’t read it, you’ve got to. The movie is good, but not as good as the book. And when my boys are a little older (mid-late teens), we will be giving them a copy to read too.
Note: There is a young adult adaptation of the book that we’re going to preview this summer for our 11-and 13-year-old boys. Again, I haven’t read it, but it might be a great way to young adult adaptation of the book
by Francine Rivers
This book. (If you were sitting next to me, I would be holding it close to my chest and shaking my head in disbelief). This book will rip your heart open and sew it back together at the same time.
I’ve probably read it three or four times (more than any other fiction book) and know the story inside and out and it still gets me every time! That’s because the story itself is an overarching allegory of the boundless, unmatched, relentless love of God.
Every time I read this novel, it hits me in fresh new way and ministers deeply to my soul. Read this book with a prayer journal (and tissues) nearby because you will be touched and moved (and won’t be able to put it down)!
Note: While the author does a fantastic job of keeping the story clean, I will warn you that there are some incredibly intense (and possibly disturbing) scenes in this book, especially in the beginning. I do think that young women especially need to read this book, but I would definitely wait until my daughter’s late teen years to share this with her.
by Anthony Doerr
Non-Christian fiction is always tricky for me. I want to keep up on the latest fiction book releases, but I have been burned too many times by books with inappropriate content, so I often don’t consider them.
However, I heard over and over about All the Light We Cannot See (from multiple people) that it was an absolute “must read.” I mean, it won the Pulitzer Prize, for goodness sake!
So (last summer!) I put my name on this list to reserve a library copy. And literally, just a few weeks ago, a copy became available.
I am only into the first few pages of the book, but I have to say that so far I appreciate the books’ imagery and poetic retelling of life in Europe during World War II. The novel offers a fresh perspective on this fascinating time in history by telling the story of two everyday people caught up in the midst of this dramatic historical moment.
So, I’m recommending it with reservations since I haven’t officially finished it (it’s 531 pages!), and I know that there are some scenes in the book (which I have yet to read) that you may or may not be OK with.
I’d highly recommend the Plugged In book review to decide if it’s a good fit for you.
by Francis Schaeffer
This is an epic classic that I try to read every few years because of it’s sheer brilliance to seamlessly tie the pieces of history together into one narrative.
How Should We Then Live? takes the reader on a heady journey from the fall of the Roman Empire to modern times, explaining how major cultural events (art, music, books) shifted the politics, economics and belief systems throughout the centuries. It demonstrates over and over–through the telling of history–that God’s truth must be the foundational truth for a society if it is to flourish.
When I first read it, I couldn’t believe how history made so much more sense to me. I wish I’d had this book when I was sloughing through my high school history courses!
The book answers the very important question: “How did our western culture shift to its current state, and what should our response be?”
And with the highly volatile state of our current culture, this book is more relevant than ever.
I have begun reading parts of it to my kids to supplement our homeschool history (TK) studies, and when they are in high school, it will be required history reading for them.
It’s not easy reading (Schaeffer can be a little wordy) but there’s so much richness here! Truly a must read.
by Robert McGee
I read this book several years ago and I still think about the great power contained in its pages.
We all wrestle with questions like, “Why am I here?” “Why have the events in my life happened to me?” and “Am I really worthy of love and acceptance by others?”
McGee describes how performance, approval, blame and shame have so many of us trapped and unable to experience the fullest life God wants to give us.
It is one of those books that you start thinking, “I’m not sure if this is for me…” and you finish with half a box of used tissue and a journal full of tear-stained pages.
One person in the reviews describes it as the perfect book for someone who has a head knowledge of God, but has somehow disconnected their heart from the depths of God’s love for them.
I would agree, and I included it here because I know so many moms in this place (even if they don’t realize it). I still find myself here sometimes too.
If you find yourself wrestling with some deep spiritual issues right now, this is a wonderful reminder that your true worth is in Christ. This could be the life transformation you need this summer!
by Dave Ramsey
Many of us moms have small businesses we manage (like, hello, running a website?!), and Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership is a compact book full of rich wisdom on starting and running a successful business.
I love how these principles are applicable to any business–whether a multi-million dollar corporation or a home-based entrepreneur.
And I trust Dave’s advice because my husband and I not only paid off $100K in debt through his savvy money-management lifestyle strategies, but Dave is someone who has both succeeded and failed in business so he understands what works and what doesn’t.
This book is never far from my nightstand, and I would highly recommend it to any fellow entrepreneur mom!
by Dannah Gresh
I have an eight-year-old, and she is the only girl in a house full of boys.
It’s been evident since the day she was born that this fiery, passionate little girl (with a tender, compassionate heart) was made very differently from her brothers.
Since the beginning, I have loved her femininity. And, truth be told, I have also been terrified of it, mainly because I remember that transition to womanhood in the teen years (and the sometimes-bumpy road).
From the first chapter, the book is honest and candid about what our girls are facing and will go through in this transition (which, at one point, made me put the book down because I wasn’t emotionally ready to handle it yet!).
What will keep you reading is the hope, encouragement and practical tips found in the pages. It shares how we as moms can confidently lead our girls through this transition, and that we don’t have to succumb to the fears we may have for them as they progress through the teen years. Great stuff, indeed.
There you have it! These are my top 9 recommended summer reading books!
Here they are in one place:
Which one will you read?
Happy summer reading, and enjoy!