Good reads for summer

My apple green nightstand usually brims with books. I have this habit of reading five books at once (minimum), but it sorta works well for me. There are seasons and days and times of the day when I want to read cerebral nonfiction, and there are other times when I want a good story.

During the summer in particular, I crave fiction. There’s something satisfying about an afternoon in a deck chair with a glass of iced tea and a good book, and a novel fits the bill when it’s hot and the kids are romping in the sprinkler. But non-fiction works for me as well—I like to dabble back and forth.

As I furiously pen my next book this year, I’m surprised how much I need to read as I write. It’s as though the words leave me, and I need to refill my soul with new words so that I’m not depleted.

Basically, I love books. And here’s what I’m reading over the next few months (and what I’ve also recently finished).

1. Paris in Love

I wasn’t sure I’d like this book when I first got it, but I like Paris, I like the illustrated cover, and well, I’d be happy to spend a year in the City of Lights. Paris in Love is about a family’s year in Paris, when the parents take a year-long sabbatical from work. The writer, Eloisa James, is actually a Shakespeare professor and romance novelist, and this charming memoir is based on her Facebook status updates from their year.

This is a charming, lighthearted read—I kept it on my nightstand and read several pages every night over the past month.

2. Echoes

Maeve Binchy has been one of my favorite novelists for a while now; I remember reading her books on the bus as I left class and headed home to my college apartment. Solidly Irish, her writing opens my eyes to a culture and a worldview that I don’t know very well. (I’ve been to Dublin twice, but that’s the extend of my Irish experience.)

Echoes is another great story of hers, full of fascinating characters. A small coastal town called Castlebay is home to a host of neighbors and family, and well, lots of things happen. I can hardly tell you much without giving things away. It’s an intriguing story, and I really enjoyed it—recommended with a cup of tea, hot or iced.

3. Anything: The Prayer that Unlocked My God and My Soul

This book comes recommended to me by a few of my friends, so I imagine it’ll be good. Jennie Allen is a fellow Austinite, and Anything is about a prayer she and her husband, Zac, prayed that eventually took them down a road of fascinating abandonment. She says, “Anything is a prayer of surrender that will spark something. A prayer that will move us to stop chasing things that just make us feel happy and start living a life that matters. A life that is… Surrendered. Reckless. Courageous.”

4. The Red Tent

I’m a bit late to this party, but enough recommendations from friends on Facebook have me convinced. A decade after its publication, author Anita Diamant has released a tenth anniversary edition of The Red Tent, so I thought it’d be a good time to give this book a whirl. From its description:

“Told in Dinah’s voice, Anita Diamant imagines the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood–the world of the red tent. It begins with the story of the mothers–Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah–the four wives of Jacob. They love Dinah and give her gifts that sustain her through childhood, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a foreign land. Dinah’s story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history and creates an intimate connection with the past.”

I’m anxious to see if this story lives up to all its five-star reviews.

5. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

Another Austinite, Jen Hatmaker’s name won’t leave my Twitter stream and Facebook feed. I’ve chatted with her briefly via email, and she immediately made it to my People I Want to Meet Soon list. She and her family are church planters in socially unique setting in the city, and she says they’ve seen their world turned upside down as they’ve considered what it means to ask God how to live and not just what to do.

7 is the true story of how Jen (along with her husband and her children to varying degrees) took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence.

It sounds very akin to how my family lives, so I look forward to reading her words in 7.

6. What Alice Forgot

Finally, this new novel by Liane Moriarty has been pegged as funny, addictive, thought-provoking, heartfelt, and witty. Alice is a twenty-something girl who’s newly engaged and full of life—except that she’s not. That was 10 years ago; she slipped in a step-aerobics class, hit her head and lost a decade. Now she’s a grown-up, bossy mother of three in the middle of a nasty divorce and her beloved sister Elisabeth isn’t speaking to her.

I love a good story, and all the recommendations for What Alice Forgot has convinced me to bring this to the poolside chaise this summer. I’ll let you know what I think.

Now it’s your turn—I’d love to hear what you’re reading. Any recommendations? Have you read any of these books I’ve mentioned?

(This post contains affiliate links.)

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Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. I haven’t read any of them! But I have 7 on my to-read list.

    I also always have several books going at once — currently Mission to Paris (WW2 espionage) and Behold a Pale Horse (7th century Irish mystery – loving it!). I just finished Snow-Storm in August (about the 1835 Washington race riots), which was also really good.

  2. ” It’s as though the words leave me, and I need to refill my soul with new words so that I’m not depleted.”

    YES!! I have this feeling too!

    We’re heading into winter down here (heading in? It’s here, baby. My feet are freezing) so it’s the perfect time to snuggle up with hot chocolate and my dangerously tall “to read” stack. I need to cut some books off it before the council comes round asking if I have a permit for a skyscraper…

  3. I have read both The Red Tent (okay, it was a book on tape. I used to travel a lot with my job before kids) and What Alice Forgot. I loved both of them. The Red Tent is a great Historical Fiction take on the biblical story. What Alice Forgot… um, I can’t begin to tell you how sobering, and funny it is to read- 10 years into marriage and 4.5 years into kids. I imagine I should read it once a year for the rest of my life.

  4. Am reading the – 7: excess – book at this very moment! Also, – Respectable Sins – by Jerry Bridges (interesting), – Gift from the Sea – by Anne Morrow Lindbergh w/ Darcy’s book club at MessageinaMasonJar (love this one), and Emily’s – Grace for the Good Girl – (love this too), and – Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus – by Joyce Magnin (w/ some funny ladies at church)… And still want to read Kisses from Katie that everyone raves about.

  5. Several years ago someone loaned me the Red Tent on cd. I really didn’t think I would like it but I found myself simply sitting in my car long after arriving at my destination bc I COULD NOT stop. It was so very good.
    I just read 7 last month and um, thanks a lot Jen Hatmaker, you kinda messed with my head. And my heart. She writes like she’s chatting with you over coffee and before you know it you want to jump on the bandwagon with her. Wherever it may be headed.

  6. I really would like to read more this summer. I think I need to make a list! A couple that I have started and want to finish: The Gospel for Real Life (Bridges) and The Hidden Art of Homemaking (Schaeffer). The 7 book looks really interesting to me. I’d like to read A Praying Life, The Help and many more….

  7. Red Tent–so good! At first glance, a tale about women in that era would never appeal to me. But amazingly, despite the oppression women faced in those days, I found myself quite wistful of the community they created for themselves. It is a great read; enjoy! I just started We Need To Talk About Kevin–not necessarily a lighthearted summer read, but I’ve heard good things about it. And maybe add In the Heart of the Sea to your list–again, a story about Nantucket whaling ships would not necessarily be something I would be interested in, but it’s one that you don’t want to put down.

  8. I tried to read The Red Tent, but I found it so unBiblical that I couldn’t finish it. It literally hurt my spirit to see what liberties the author took with Biblical characters.

    • I agree, Crystal. Thanks.

    • Katherine says:

      It was written in the Jewish tradition of midrash – an ancient form of biblical interpretation that involves spinning yarns, so to speak, about biblical narrative. These stories aren’t meant to supplant scripture, but illuminate and awaken. Kind of like faithful imagining.

    • Michelle says:

      I, too, was disappointed in the Red Tent. I know people in the bible weren’t perfect, but if I’m going to read a book with Biblical characters, I prefer to read about holy people. Orson Scott Card has some lovely books about Genesis women.

      • I really loved his whole Women of Genesis series. I learned to much. I would definitely recommend them all. “Sarah”, “Rebekah”, and “Rachel and Leah.” I’m still waiting for Part 2 of Rachel and Leah.

      • Francine Rivers does a wonderful job with a women of the Bible series. I really enjoyed them.

        • Christie says:

          I loved the books by Francine Rivers! Realistic portrayals but respectfully done.

          Details in “The Red Tent” are sometimes quite different from scripture. Without giving away the plot of Dinah’s story in the book, I think a good example of the liberties taken by the author is the retelling of Joseph’s experience with Potiphar and his wife … pretty much completely opposite of scripture. The depiction of the family’s idol worship, while disturbing, did show me a realistic picture of the religions in Canaan and the possible combination of worshiping God and idols. I thought how people are faced with temptation to corrupt our faith, no matter what generation we’re born into.

          I do think “The Red Tent” was a finely crafted story, great plot, great characterizations, but not a faithful retelling and sometimes too explicit. I found myself liking its good qualities but, at the same time, really disliking its graphic nature.

      • Kitchenchick says:

        Oh my goodness Michelle, then you better not read the Bible. It’s full of “holy” people who were adulterers, murderers, playboys, drunkards, prostitutes, liars, cheaters, prideful, etc. 🙂

    • You are definitely right. I love reading books, but this one, I don’t think so.. One of the books by Francine Rivers that I don’t like to continue reading..

  9. Rebecca says:

    I just finished my second read through the Hunger Games series, which I love, despite the fact that it’s youth fiction. I also just finished Mystically Wired: Exploring New Realms in Prayer, by Ken Wilson. I cannot read more than one fiction and one non-fiction at a time, so I’ve been looking for what to start next. I heard there is going to be a new movie of The Great Gatsby, so I thought I might pick that up again, since I haven’t read it since high school. I’m a little hesitant to jump into modern fiction without a good recommendation since it is often unexpectedly smutty.

  10. I will be adding at least one of these to my summer reading list. Thanks for sharing. I also like to read more than one book at a time. Right now I am reading From the Garden to the City by John Dyer which is about technology and its affect for good or bad on us. I am also reading When to Speak and When to Shut up by Dr. Michael Sedler. As a mom of teen, I could use all the help I can get. I love to read fiction but don’t actually know which one I will read next.

    • So fun to see someone reading a book by Mike Sedler! He’s from my city, and I’ve taken several continuing ed classes from him to keep my teaching certificate current. I haven’t read that particular book of his, but I do own Stop the Runaway Conversation: Take Control Over Gossip and Criticism. Good stuff.

  11. Thanks for the list! I haven’t read any of them, but 7 is on my list and seeing as I grew up in France Paris in love should be on my list! Putting it on now!

  12. I’m with you, Tsh–I love to read! I always have 30 books in my to-read stack, yet I still struggle with finding satisfying modern fiction. Thanks for the suggestions here.

    I loved 7 and want to read Jen’s previous book Interrupted this summer. And Eloisa James based her Paris book off her facebook status updates? Crazy!

  13. Jamie Woodbury says:

    Maeve Binchy is one of my favorite authors!

  14. Caroline says:

    ‘What Alice forgot’ is fabulous, a light read but at the same time makes you appreciate your family and whats around you. On my bedside table i also have ‘When god was a rabbit’ it has come highly recommended from several friends and ‘The Paris wife’ which is about Ernest Hemingway. I like the sound of 7 by jen hatmaker, i will add it to my list, thank you.

  15. Emily @Random Recycling says:

    Thanks for suggesting something other than 50 Shades…although it was the first book I finished in just a few days in probably a few years.

  16. Oh thank you! I just put all those (except The Red Tent, I read that years ago) on hold at the library. I’m so excited to read them!

  17. I’m reading The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman right now and reallllly enjoying it. Up next will probably be something lighter, maybe Crossed by Allie Condie, sequel to Matched?

  18. I have Paris in Love on my library list already, and will try out The Red Tent and the 7 Excesses book. Thanks for the recommendations. I have been working through Malcolm Gladwell’s books lately, starting with Outliers, and have found them fascinating as well as practical for a homeschooling mom because they contain many ideas about creating opportunities and how we learn and make decisions.

    • Malcolm Gladwell is great; I agree!

    • i, too, love the malcolm gladwell books…in a somewhat similar vein, we recently read “nurture shock” for my reading group and it was fascinating…we all loved it

  19. My most recent book-that-stayed-with-me was “Life As We Knew It”.

    I loved both “The Red Tent” and “What Alice Forgot”. And it looks like I’ll be reading “7” and “Echoes” – Happy Summer!

  20. This is the second time today I have seen the book 7 mentioned. I think I will download it to my nook today and start it during rest time! I have been looking for some good fiction to read recently, I feel kind of tapped out on non-fiction – which is usually my go to book type.

  21. Katherine says:

    I just started 7 last night – previewing it for the same moms group at church that loved reading your book!

    I humbly suggest that you might enjoy my own book, just out this spring: Any Day a Beautiful Change: A Story of Faith and Family. It’s quite cheap on Kindle right now!

  22. I keep hearing about this ‘7’ book! I’m gonna have to pick that one up…. and TRY to refrain from buying the others you mentioned. I’m a compulsive book-buyer and always have 5+ going on my nightstand at any given time, as well!

  23. I’ve read 7…Very good! Loved it!

  24. I just flew through The Red Badge of Courage (a reread) so that my son could read it, and now I’m back to tripping along through Mrs. Dalloway (again, a reread), and I’m waiting for The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks to come in at the library so that I can work on that. Every summer I work a bit more on Theology of the Body, and I’m hoping to eventually get to The Hunger Games for a bit of fluff. I have about 6 books in various stages of completion going on right now too. 🙂 I’m fascinated by “7” — I’m going to add that to my must-read list.

  25. What Alice Forgot was fun reading! I found The Red Tent a little too sexually explicit for my comfort level, even though I generally enjoy Biblical fiction. Can’t wait to try some of the titles you’ve suggested!

  26. Ally Abbott says:

    Although it gets pretty messy, I also have a stack of books in varying stages by my bed (not even on the nightstand) and on my hope chest.
    I just finished “the GOD who sees you” by Tammy Maltby. It was good and opened my eyes to look at Him when I am struggling. I also am reading the Leader Who Had No Title (Robin Sharma) for work, but have been having a hard time to finishing.

    This is the first I have heard of “7” and I am going to pick it up.
    Thanks for sharing the lists of suggested reads 🙂

  27. I’ve just finished reading 7 and Anything. They’re both such honest, encouraging, thought and prayer provoking, and timely reads! Enjoy!

  28. I too have mulitple books going on at once. Right now I’m reading “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”, “Simply Jesus”, and “Home”. Thanks for the reading list. Looks like I’ll be adding a few more books to my pile. 🙂

  29. Katherine says:

    I am reading 7 now! And loved The Red Tent.

    You are more than welcome to check out my book, just published this spring. Any Day a Beautiful Change: A Story of Faith and Family. I think you would enjoy it. 🙂

  30. I just read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua and found it absolutely fascinating. Next I am reading My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira about a young midwife in the civil war. On page 9 and the story already has me captivated. I LOVE story and can’t get enough of books. I also compulsively look at other people’s bookshelves and always ask what others are reading – always looking for recommendations! Your list looks good, Tsh. The only one I have read is The Red Tent.

    • I just read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother too. I liked it much more than I thought I would (though I’m not sure my kids are appreciating my new vigor & discipline in terms of their homeschooling!). Right now I’m reading “am I being kind” by Michael Chase. And then I need to get to some fiction, like “The Condition” by Jennifer Haigh.

  31. Great book ideas, I’m currently reading several, 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life an ebook by Money Saving Mom, Live Organic 52 Briliant Ideas, just finished the first 2 books in the Matched Trilogy, another great book, it takes 90 days at least to read if you follow the book the way it says is Daily Dose of Determination but I am always looking for great book ideas. I have on my Kindle waiting on me to start: Calm my Anxious Heart, A Confident Heart, Faith – a 4 week Mini Bible Study and a Family Bible Study about being a good helper. I also read just about anything I can get my hands on to help me with making products for my business.

  32. Love “The Red Tent”! So many of these looks fantastic!

    One of my personal favorites is “Gilead” by Marilynne Robinson. It is quite possibly the most beautiful book I’ve ever read. The prose is incredible, the story is subtle, hopeful, and charming. And you will fall in love with the characters. Love it.

    • Katherine Willis Pershey says:

      Gilead is my favorite novel. Luminous.

    • Gilead is probably one of my all-time favourites too. Since you live in Oregon Tsh, I recommend “The Brothers K” and “The River Why” by David James Duncan. Even if you don’t like baseball and fly-fishing, they are excellent fiction. Sarah’s Key and Peace Like a River are books I’ve enjoyed this month.

  33. Loved the Red Tent (it inspired me to start baking bread).
    I just finished and LOVED:
    1) Wild by Cheryl Strayed (memoir)
    2) The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (fiction)
    3) The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert (bio of Eustace Conway)

  34. I highly recommend Kate Morton’s novels if you like historical fiction:
    “The House at Riverton”
    “The Forgotten Garden” (my favorite)
    “The Distant Hours”

  35. 7 totally changed my life!!! I hope it changes yours too!

  36. What Alice Forgot is so very good! A good pick for summer- light reading that will move you emotionally.

  37. Carolyn says:

    I just finished “What Alice Forgot” and could not put it down. Move that one to the top of your list. “The Red Tent” was also FANTASTIC. Have fun with your summer reads!

  38. Wow–these all look great. Think I will have to join the 7 bandwagon as my first choice. The only one I’ve read is Red Tent. It was a long time ago, but I really loved it. What I’m reading right now is Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier). Haven’t read it since I was a teen, but was in the mood for a good, old-fashioned light read. It’s not disappointing!

  39. The Red tent is my favorite book of all time. I have probably read it 4 times. You will love it.

  40. I read What Alice Forgot this spring (Twice!) and LOVED it! It’s not deep literature, persay, but it did get me thinking about Life and what I want out of mine. Great read.

  41. The Dragonspell series by Donita K. Paul…..youth fiction, but amazingly good stories I didn’t want to put down.

  42. Great suggestions! I read Love in Paris already and I absolutely love it. I’ll defentely add some of them to my kindle’s library.

  43. I read “7” recently and loved it. It is inspiring. And hilarious. I plan to read it again with my husband. I think I started reading “The Red Tent” years ago, but never finished it. I don’t remember the details and I usually finish any book I start, but something about that one just didn’t sit well with me. I’m currently reading “The Act of Marriage” and think it’s fantastic. I just finished reading “The Paradox of Choice” and loved it. I also recently read “The Money Saving Mom’s Budget” and found tons of useful information in it (plus proceeds from the book go to Compassion Intern’l). I can relate to reading multiple books at a time. Sometimes I need easy reading when I’m distracted and other times I like to read something that causes me to really think.

  44. Just finished Veronica Roth’s “Divergent” and I’m about to start the second book in the trilogy. It’s YA dystopian Chicago, but it’s really good, thought-provoking.

  45. Niki Blake says:

    I think (I hope) I recommended WHAT ALICE FORGOT to you b/c it is awesome! I have read the THE RED TENT, and yes, it is a 5-star book. I finished “7” about a month ago and it is one of my favorites and I think b/c Jen is the funniest woman on the planet. 🙂 I am currently finishing up the third HUNGER GAMES book but plan to read TO HEAVEN AND BACK as well as Jeanette Walls newest book HALF BROKE HORSES. You HAVE to put on your MUST READ list her first book which was THE GLASS CASTLE. I think it might be my favorite book of all time…even before THE HELP!! Good reading and happy summer!!

  46. the book of 7 reminds me of zerowasteblog & your simple living blog, very similar. Anymore, I think twice about what exactly I need versus the wants.

  47. What Alice Forgot is great. Her books are very deceptive, they seem like a light read and then you realize she is questioning our acceptance of the way things are. I would also recommend her novel Three Wishes.

  48. 7 looks fascinating. I love the idea of living simply and can always improve on that. One reason I’m glad I found your blog!

  49. Shannon says:

    The Red Tent and What Alice Forgot are great. If you haven’t read it I recommend Cutting For Stone, The Thirteenth Tale and The Shadow of the Wind. I also just finished A Good American which was really good too. Happy reading!

  50. Thanks for the additions to my already too long Goodreads list!! I recommend “Still Alice” by Lisa Genova – the best book I’ve read since “The Help”.

  51. I recently read Crazy Love by Francis Chan, so I’m thinking 7 sounds like a great follow up book. I’ve been reading a lot of books out loud to my kids and have neglected to get fun stuff for myself as well. Currently we’re enjoying the 100 Cupboards trilogy by N.D. Wilson and I’m just as sucked into it as the kids. 🙂

  52. I read 7 and wasn’t impressed with it. Perhaps if one lives with much more and has so much excess but we live minimally so it didn’t speak to me.

    • I have a feeling it will a book I’ll be happy to recommend along with my book, more than anything new I haven’t yet done in my life. Which is fine by me. 🙂

  53. This is a great list to suggest to my book club. I’ll read several of these myself either way! Thanks!

  54. julianne says:

    I read Wendall Berry’s Hannah Coulter. So good, check it out.

  55. I read The Red Tent in college as supplemental research on a paper about the fictional portrayal of Leah and Rachel. I loved it. I hope you enjoy it too.

    This summer, I plan to tackle Emma (Austen), A Million Miles in a Thousand Years (Miller), The Woman In White (Collins).

    I’m anxious to hear what you think of 7. It’s on my “someday” list!

  56. I’m reading Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal and loving it – the perfect intersection of food & philosophy. 7 and Holley Gerth’s new book are on my nightstand too.

  57. I’m beginning/in the middle of numbers 3, 4 and 5! 🙂
    I’ll have to look up the other ones too. Thanks for the recommendations!

  58. My list at the library has just gotten longer; thanks for the suggestions! I really enjoyed The Red Tent and I love Maeve Binchy, but I haven’t read Echoes yet.

    Barbara Delinsky and Kristin Hannah are two other authors I fall back on. I’m working through some children’s book award winners and loving those, too: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, Smile, Confetti Girl, and 11 Birthdays.

  59. So many good recommendations here! I read your list earlier today, Tsh, and promptly “borrowed” a copy of Paris in Love as an e-book from my local library. I’m already quite a few chapters in (almost through the Fall season) and I’m enjoying it. I wish it wasn’t so jumpy (?) with just little snippets here and there; I feel like a lot of her little stories (which I assume were her FB posts?) could be expanded and make really great stories. Anyway, I love reading about France and Paris, and she has a very funny, realistic voice.
    When I get to the library in the next few days, I will pick up a copy of “Wheat Belly” which is on hold for me. Should be some interesting non-fiction.

  60. Sweet. I was looking for a post like this to share with my readers!! Yea, for more time to read this summer 🙂

  61. I haven’t read any of these…but there are several now I’m going to add to the library queue. And recently, I’ve loved reading Suzanne Kearsley’s most recent books. I LOVED “The Winter Sea” as someone who loves to write.

  62. Anything and 7 are both on my Amazon Wishlist (which, of course, is way too long- I’m forever finding books to add to it).

    The Red Tent is amazing. I read it 6 years ago, when I was going through a rough time and just needed a good read, and I loved it. I do have to say that the first half is better than the second half (in my opinion), but it’s still a great book overall.

  63. Oh these all look like great reads for this summer Tsh. I love hearing what other people are reading.

    This summer I want to read the entire Chronicles of Narnia. Sounds silly, but I’ve never read them. I’m half way through The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. After this I’ll dive into your list. For sure 7 is number one. Have a happy summer!!

  64. Two goods ones:
    State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. Great book, beautifully written with much to think about. I couldn’t put it down and still think about it.
    One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus.

  65. On my summer reading list: Unbroken, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and 11/22/63.

  66. I loved the Red Tent! That book was excellent! And I just put all the rest on my library list (except for a few that were a steal used on Amazon!) I just read The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeanette Walls and it was a wonderful, funny, intriguing book. I highly recommend it! Fair warning, very hard to put down- start when you have more than 2 minutes!

  67. Thanks for your descriptions. Checking out several.
    I recently reviewed “7” which is the only on your list I have read. Here is my review in case you are interested:
    Have fun reading,

    • Forgot to mention what I am reading…. The MBI Story by James Vincent, Illuminating the Darkness by Noel Dear, Loving the Way Jesus Loves by Phil Ryken, and Love Jan by Jan Bonn (all review books) and A Mom Just Like You by Vickie and Jayme Farris
      Looks like I am with lots of ladies who like reading more than one book at a time.

  68. I am about to finish up a book by Bob Goff called Love Does. In it he tells some amazing stories of his life and how love means action. I cried, I laughed, I dreamed, I plotted. It’s pretty amazing.

    I also recommend anything by Don Miller. I just read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, and it’ll have you dreaming as well.

  69. Loved all the suggestions in the post and comments. I have a long list of books to read! Seeing how I’m averaging about a book a day this is definitely needed. Thanks!

    I would recommend “The Running Dream” by Wendelin Van Draanen. An inspirational story of a 16 year old runner who loses her leg in a bus crash.

  70. Perfect, perfect, perfect. I was just looking for a new book and voila! A whole list. Thanks 🙂

  71. Cynthia says:

    I just finished Sarah’s Key and adored it. It was heart breaking and soul stretching and just really well written. My favorite novel of all time is Les Miserables. It really is a treatise on Mercy and Love. If your only knowledge of the story is the wonderful stage show, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Additionally, reading The Mitford series is like going on a retreat. I bring them out every few summers . Other summers, I bring out the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

    • I have the Miford Bedside Campanion on my bedside table and very now and then I’ll read a few pages. It’s definitely like a sweet escape.

  72. I, too, loved the Red Tent. I’ve read Orson Scott Card’s Women of Genesis Books and really liked them as well. Fictionalized accounts, but it certainly puts you in the middle of the story and the time period.

    For anyone looking for an imaginative and well written story, I recently finished both The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. Both are very unique, but very good!

    I also really liked Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffmann. If you liked The Help, you’ll like this one too!
    I just went to Half Price books and grabbed some cheap and hopefuly good ones for our vacation. We’ll see!

  73. I think my favourite read of all time has been The Birth House by Ami McKay. It is a story set in rural Nova Scotia, during the time when midwives were starting to be overshadowed by medical doctors, and all of their wisdom was being overlooked. It was inspired by the fact that the house the author was living in at the time turned out to be a “birth house,” a midwives’ home where women went to have their babies. What a great story, strong female characters and a wonderful setting. Thanks for this great list of books, everyone!

  74. I just recently got back into reading. I haven’t read all that much in recent years and when I did read I had this unfortunate thought that it could only be self-improvement material. After reading The Book Whisperer, Awaken the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller (thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend) I have since given myself permission to rediscovered that pure joy of reading for pleasure as she so passionately believes in. I have read several books lately which I thought were WONDERFUL!! I HIGHLY recommend each of the following: Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo (wow – will give you chills!), The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (wow! inspiring!), The Help (couldn’t put it down), The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks (I was one of the few that never saw this movie but read the book and it was great!), The Fat Boy Chronicles by Diane Lang and Michael Buchanan (great book!!), 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper (great book!!), Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’dell (a childhood favorite that I read to my kids and they loved it), Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (recommended by a neighbor and I was surprised how much I enjoyed it), The Shack by Wm. Paul Young (really makes you think), Don’t Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman (a great book about parenting based on biblical principles and specific scriptures but I think it should have been titled something more descriptive because based on this title I hesitated on reading it for a long time thinking it was just another parenting book), Saving Cee Cee Hunicutt by Beth Hoffman (awesome!), The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (wonderful!), and I just finished reading The White Giraffe by Lauren St. John to my kids who loved it. We’re just starting the next in the series, Dolphin Song. I am so glad that I came across this blog posting because I have been in search for my next book. Now I have so many to choose from based on all of your ideas!

  75. Highly recommend A Good and Perfect Gift by Amy Julia Becker. It’s a memoir of her daughter’s first years. Her daughter has Down syndrome and Amy Julia writes about receiving the diagnosis and how her faith and expectations for her child were challenged. I think it’s an interesting book – regardless of whether your child has special needs. (Although I read it because I have a baby with Down syndrome). I love to read and will add some of your suggestions to my list! What Alice Forgot sounds like a perfect summer book. 🙂

    • Thank you so much for this recommendation! Her story resonates with me on multiple levels as we navigate the waters of my chronic pain disorder (our own unexpected event) and prayerfully consider adopting a child with downs syndrome. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who has had an unexpected event in their life, and the kindle version is just 2.99 right now!

  76. I just recently finished The Happiness Project and I loved it! It took me awhile because it was thought-provoking but I’m done now and I think I’d like to read it again next year.
    I’m currently reading Soulprint by Mark Batterson. It’s quite good!

    I have 7 on it’s way to me right now via amazon. I’m very excited to get it!
    I ordered Bloom by Kelle Hampton at the same time so I think next weekend will be a reading marathon if my family will let me!

    Thanks for the reading recommendations. I will check those out!

  77. I am looking forward to a summer of libary and reading time! Thanks for all of your suggestions.. and all those that have followed in the comments. I’ll have a long list indeed! I LOVED The Red Tent, read many, many moons ago, and enjoy all things Maeve Binchy… looking foward to delving in again. Happy Reading!

  78. Tsh, we have really similar taste in books. I’ve read all of those except The Red Tent. I adore Maeve Binchy and have read all of her books. She writes great characters. I have heard about The Red Tent, just never got around to it so you’ll have to let me know if it’s worth adding to my stack. Right now I’m reading, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Platform, Stepping Heavenward, The Kitchen House, The Power of Habit, The Hiding Place, and Moonwalking with Einstein.

  79. I just finished Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart. What a sweet book!
    Currently on my nightstand is a mountain!!
    *The Man Who Talks with the Flowers by Glenn Clark…about George Washington Carver
    *Blood, Bones, and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton
    *All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot
    *As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto
    by Joan Reardon
    *Robinson Crusoe
    and I am wondering about Wild by Cheryl Strayed

  80. Marc Anthony says:

    These are really nice books as far as i would say from your review and i have read two of them and they are quite intriguing . i hope the rest f the books are as like you mentioned ..

  81. Just received “7” from the library and read it front to back yesterday. A good read – lots of humor and honesty.

  82. Just added What Alice Forgot to my list! I just read Half the Sky, which talks about women in the developing world. So, so good.

  83. Kelly McSparran says:

    Reading David Copperfield. Classic!

  84. I haven’t read any of these yet, but a friend of mine LOVED The Red Tent, so it’s always been in the back of my mind as a good read. This summer, I’m reading Grace for the Good Girl as part of Emily’s book club. I’m re-reading Gift from the Sea for a book club on my blog, and re-reading One Thousand Gifts for an in-person book club my mom is leading. But I do think I need to get some fiction on the night stand. Maybe The Red Tent or What Alice Forgot. Hmmm….

  85. I have thought about Jen Hatmaker’s book as well. Maybe something both Ben & I could read. For light, before bed reading is Little House. I’m also finishing up Animal Vegetable Miracle (I left off two years ago, but didn’t finish) and I have my eyes set on a food memoir book of some sort, just ruling some out.

  86. This may be a duplicate comment. Sorry! I highly recommend A Good and Perfect Gift by Amy Julia Becker. It’s a memoir about her first two years as a mom; her daughter Penny has Down syndrome. She writes a lot about faith and expectations. I found it thought-provoking.

  87. I wasn’t a huge fan of The Red Tent, for most of the reasons listed here, but I hope you have lots of fun with your summer reading!

    Of the books mentioned already in the comments, I have LOVED reading Gilead by Marilynne Robinson and Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry. My summer list is: Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas (done – 5/5), Return of the King by JRR Tolkien, The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and a re-read of Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner.

  88. I loved The Red Tent. So compelling. Just adored it and would love to re-read. This summer, I’ve got my reading plate extra full because for the first time ever, I attended the Book Expo in NY (just last week)!!! I have loads of new and exciting titles to choose from, but the very first on my list is called “Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend” by Matthew Dicks. I’m about 100 pages in and highly recommend it! (And it will be published in August…perfect for late summer reading). After that, in no particular order, Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver, Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner, and The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe.

  89. I am adding What Alice Forgot to my List. Just finished The Mudbug series about a Mother-in- Law Ghost and they were really cute. I mostly read tech books so it was total indulgence.

  90. Elizabeth says:

    I am addicted to Elin Hilderbrand books. I know when I start one of her books I am not going to get much done for a couple of days. She writes stories that take place in Nantucket – so perfect summer reads.

    Thanks for the recommendations!

  91. I have to say that I finally read The Red Tent this year after all the hype and was extremely disappointed by it… the sometimes subtle and sometimes overt mockery of men and the complete distortion of the story’s biblical context/meaning didn’t leave me feeling “empowered” as a woman (or very interested in the story). I suppose I have a profoundly different worldview than the author (which doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate books written from a perspective other than mine!)… but this one was just not very good.

    My recent satisfying reads have been: Home by Marilynne Robinson, Andy Catlett: Early Travels and Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry, Little Bee by Chris Cleave, and the Wingfeather Series by Andrew Peterson (YA, but lots of fun and great stories). In nonfiction: Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Tim Keller.

  92. My favorite novel is Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher. She is a Scottish author, and this story is based in England right before and during WWII. I’ve read it many times and love it every time.

  93. Thank you so much for this post! I went and read Paris In Love on your recommendation and just loved it! Now for Echoes…. 🙂

  94. My recommendation is any novel by Charles Martin. I just finished The Mountain Between Us and literally couldn’t put it down once I started it. His books are like that, beautifully written, a “knowing” of the power of love in difficult circumstances, very moving – all I can say is read everything he has written! Also anything by Mark Buchanan – his book The Holy Wild led me to places in God’s character that took my breath away.

  95. I thought I was the only person that read multiple books at one time! So glad to have found this site and all the suggested books. I plan to read 7. I just saw Jennie Allen on TV with James & Betty Robison and was very impressed, so I want to read Anything. I have recently finished The Presence by T.Davis Bunn, Simple Gifts by Lori Copeland, Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer (re-read), and God’s Guest List by Debbie Macomber. I am reading A Confident Heart (Renee Swope), Indivisible by James Robison, Facts on King James Only Debate (John Ankerberg), and One Bite at a Time on Kindle. I have a stack of Christian fiction I bought at yard sales to read in the future: Robin Hatcher, Karen Kingsbury, Debbie Macomber. By the time you add in my Bible reading, internet reading, and newspaper reading, it’s a wonder I get any housework done!

  96. As I furiously pen my next book this year, I’m surprised how much I need to read as I write. It’s as though the words leave me, and I need to refill my soul with new words so that I’m not depleted.

  97. I’m reading The Bell Jar, it’s a quick read but you totally get lost in the story. It’s welcomed break from reality. I’m also going to be working on classics like Catcher in the Rye.

  98. i’m reading Imperfect Birds, Half Broke Horses, and James and the Giant Peach. Loving all…

  99. Thank you so much for this list!! I’ve ordered two of these on 🙂

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