My summer reading list

Even though it may not look like it here on the blog, I’m taking a little offline break as of today. I’ve prewritten all my posts for the next month, and I’ll be checking comments, Twitter, and Facebook only every few days. I did this last summer, and it was glorious.

So I’m doing it again, because I find that my writing is much better when I take a regular break. Summer is the best time for me, so… yeah. I’m taking a little break.

This doesn’t mean I’m doing nothing, of course. I have some specific goals for my break (finishing a quilt, working on a Blogging Basics course, writing a book proposal…), but one of my absolute favorite things to do during downtime is read. As in books. They still make them, did you know?

Here’s my summer reading list. I’d love to hear yours.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story

by Donald Miller

You know from the past few posts that I’ve already read this, and I absolutely loved it. It’s given me so much to think about, and I turned the last page encouraged, inspired, and wishing there was more to read. A must. He has a great blog, too. From the description on Amazon:

“Two movie producers contacted him about creating a film out of his life, but Miller’s initial enthusiasm was dampened when they concluded that his real life needed doctoring lest it be too directionless for the screen. Real stories, he learned, require characters who suffer and overcome.

Acedia and Me

by Kathleen Norris

Enough of you told me I’d love this book, so I’ll go ahead and read it. I’ve heard of the writer in other books I enjoyed, so I’ll take your word on it. From the Amazon description:

“Norris details her relationship with acedia, a slothful, soul-weary indifference long recognized by monastics. Norris is careful to distinguish acedia from its cousin, depression, noting that acedia is a failure of the will and can be dispelled by embracing faith and life, whereas depression is not a choice and often requires medical treatment. This is tricky ground, but Norris treads gingerly, reserving her acerbic crankiness for a section where she convincingly argues that despite Americans’ apparently unslothful lives, acedia is the undiagnosed neurasthenia of our busy age.”

Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

by Jamie Ford

As a delightful surprise, one of the results from one of my local book signings was meeting a reader who turned into a friend. She invited me to a book club, where I knew no one. I started attending, and quickly enjoyed reading books knowing I’d have people to talk about them with. This was June’s book, and sadly, I was unable to read it during our moving chaos. I almost never read novels, let alone Young Adult books. Here’s part of the Amazon description:

“Henry Lee is a 12-year-old Chinese boy who falls in love with Keiko Okabe, a 12-year-old Japanese girl, while they are scholarship students at a prestigious private school in World War II Seattle. Henry hides the relationship from his parents, who would disown him if they knew he had a Japanese friend.”

The Medici Effect: What Elephants and Epidemics Can Teach Us About Innovation

by Frans Johansson

I admit that I honestly don’t know much about this book, other than it sounds intriguing. As a total surprise to me, lately I’ve been really into business, management, and marketing books. Who knew? They’re great. From the description:

“Johansson… argues that innovations occur when people see beyond their expertise and approach situations actively, with an eye toward putting available materials together in new combinations. Because of ions, ‘the movement of people, the convergence of science, and the leap of computation,’ a wide range of materials available for new, recontextualized uses is becoming a norm rather than an exception, much as the Medici family of Renaissance Italy’s patronage helped develop European arts and culture.”

So this is what’s on my Kindle for the summer. I also have grand ambitions to read about a dozen more, such as Forgotten God, The Greater Journey, and A Praying Life… but I’ll be realistic here.

I’d love to hear what’s on your literary nightstand, digital and otherwise. What should I add to my fall reading list?

disclosure: this post contains affiliate links, and proceeds go to both helping run SLM and to Compassion International.

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 blogged my reading list here, yours looks interesting!

  2. Thanks for recommending A Million Miles In A Thousand Years. I just started reading it a couple day ago, and am more than half way done; it’s a great book!

    Unfortunately, I don’t get as much time to read as I’d like to. With kids the ages of 17, 4, & 3 – it’s pretty busy around here! However, I am planning more intentional family time this summer – BBQ’s, picnics, bike rides, gardening, running through the sprinklers, etc.

    I am also tackling a huge project – project declutter garage – and planning a garage sale this summer.

  3. I just bought a book from Jonas Jonasson called: The Centenarian Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared

    It is in Swedish though but it sounds really interesting:
    “On his hundredth birthday, just as the celebrations are about to begin out in the lounge in the old people’s home, Allan Karlsson hastily decides that he wants nothing to do with the party. He climbs through his window and disappears – and soon he has turned the whole nation on its head. He does have some experience in these matters. He has previously done the same thing with the world.”

  4. “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett (highly recommended by my daughter), “Jimmy” by Robert Whitlow, “The Cost of Discipleship” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I’m hoping to read a couple other books – one on prayer by Dutch Sheets and “Gift from the Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

    If I get the first three read, I will be grateful!

  5. Kris M. says:

    Thanks for sharing your list! I’ve been trying to get away from Romance novels to more purposeful ready. Thanks for the suggestions!

  6. i just finished Monkey Town by Rachel Held Evans. it was sooooo good. i felt like she was writing my story about growing up in the evangelical/fundemental south.

    i’m still reading 1000 gifts by Ann Voskamp. It’s one of those that i read slowly, bit by bit to soak it all in.

    also- bossypants by Tina Fey- it’s hilarious.

    creative family by Amanda Blake Soule

    enjoy your time offline:)

    • I hear great things about Monkey Town and I like Rachel’s blog, so that may go on my Kindle, too. Loved One Thousand Gifts and The Creative Family, and I downloaded and read Bossypants on Mother’s Day. Hilarious.

  7. “Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child” by Anthony Esolen. One of the best things I’ve read all year. And it’s not just for parents but for anyone interested in life-long learning and an interesting look at educational systems. Esolen’s style is delightful, witty, and full of wonderful literary references.

    Currently Reading: Thomas Merton’s “The Seven Storey Mountain” and Sigrid Undset’s “Kristen Lavransdatter.”

  8. I’m going to read The Help as soon as I finish the book I’m reading now. I might check out The Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet since I love it when umbrellas are used in pictures so the cover draws me in. No other set plans. When I need another book, I’ll just wander the library until I find one that strikes me as interesting.

  9. Oh my goodness, I just love A Million Miles. My favorite Donald Miller by far!

    I thought Acedia was really depressing. But her section on “Laundry, Liturgy and ‘Women’s Work’ is fantastic. (Actually, this segment has been packaged as an individual book and can be bought separately.)

    • Yes, I was just going to say this! I read Laundry, Liturgy, and Women’s Work – it’s such a short powerful read – about three years ago and still think of it often.

  10. I have GOT to read A Million Miles.

    So far for the summer, I’ve collected:

    * The Missional Mom
    * Just Moms
    * Practicing the Way of Jesus
    * Down We Go

    I think I am FINALLY going to read the Harry Potter series. Well, start it anyway.

    Enjoy your time offline! You deserve a nice long break, mama!

    • We’re doing Harry Potter on audiobook, just living them in the car (checked out from the library). It’s all we listen to in the car right now, and we are sucked. in.

  11. Forgotten God is really good! Try to squeeze it in. 😉

  12. DebbieRN says:

    I reread Jane Eyre and Hamlet. Just trying to go through the bookshelf and see what I could part with – nope, nope! I want to read Unbroken by Laura Hillebrand. Books – what a luxury!

    • Unbroken is sensational. She is an amazing story teller and the story is exhilarating. I want to read Seabiscuit by Hillenbrand but I’m a but nervous as the movie was do boring IMO.

      • Sorry. There are many typos in that comment – *Hillebrand but I’m a bit nervous as the movie was so boring IMO.

        • Cathy King says:

          I have read Unbroken and it was a fantastic book. Amazing what the human spirit can endure! He is an amzing man!! Reminds me of what my uncle went through being a prisoner of war in World War II. You will love it! Very inspiring!

  13. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet was the first book I purchased and read on my Kindle – it is wonderful! My suggestion for reading is to grab the first three Penderwick books by Jeanne Birdsall and read them – they are really for elementary aged but I can’t recommend them highly enough for a read aloud with girls. They are so good (and I loved them as much or more than my daughter did!)

  14. I also loved A Million Miles. I recently read and loved (and cried while reading) Radical by David Platt. Right now:
    *Relentless Faith by Beth Guckenberger (LOVED her first, Reckless Faith)
    *Forgotten God by Francis Chan
    *Revolution in World Missions by K.P. Yohannan
    *Organized Simplicity (author needs no introduction!)
    *Tribes by Seth Godin

    A couple favorites I’ve already read:
    *Dreamality by Bob Coy (if you’re dream-chasing a God-sized dream, this one is for you!)
    *Radical by David Platt (pushed my faith into action and outside of my comfort zone!)
    *Reckless Faith by Beth Guckenberger (if you have a heart for orphans, you will put this book among your eternal favorites and will wipe tears off the pages… then you’ll push harder after a more reckless kind of faith in your own life)
    *The Me Project by Kathi Lipp (another dream-chasing, goal-making must, and a fun, read – like having a chat over a good latte!)

  15. Tsh, you said you almost never read novels. Why is that?

    Thanks for your list. I love seeing what others are reading. I have some good leads from the comments too!

    • I have nothing against fiction — there’s just so much non-fiction I want to read, I don’t make the time for fiction. I like things that more directly apply to my actual life — I read for this reason more than to escape. Though I do admit there is fiction that can change your life, it’s just not as easy to find.

  16. Shellie says:

    I recently discovered Same Kind of Different as Me. A true story about a life-changing friendship. Challenging, inspiring, reads like a novel… I couldn’t put it down.

  17. Becki McAuley says:

    Thanks to you I just bought Donald Millers book. I’ve recently read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Loved it!! Also read Forgotten God. So good. Radical by David Platt was life changing for me and prompted me to o on my first international mission trip.

    I’m reading Rooms and So Long Insecurity this summer for a book club. I’m also interested in a couple of biographies: Tia Fey and Shania Twain. I’d love o read ome ore serious spiritual growth classics but may save those for the fall once my kiddos are back in school.

    Thanks for this post!!

  18. Acedia & Me was a revelation to me, and has taken me several months to read and ruminate over. Make sure you read sections out loud to your husband, like me and my sis-in-law did for ours. 🙂 This summer I’m reading Real Sex, by Lauren Winner and The Missional Mom by Helen Lee. And then for fun, the Hunger Games trilogy.

  19. If you like nonfiction, the other wes more and the immortal life of henrietta lacks! both on my table (one down, one to go). they are gripping, and really open your eyes o social issues (wes) and medial ethics (henrietta)

  20. Shelley R. says:

    “The Eve Tree” by Rachel Devenish Ford. Amazing ‘new’ writer, engaging novel from a mom of four living abroad. (I say new for some are writers by nature who happen to one day finally see some of their craft in print)

    “Real Love for Real Life: The Art and Work of Caring” by Andi Ashworth
    “The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction” by Alan Jacobs
    “refractions” by Makoto Fujimura
    “What is a Family?” Edith Schaeffer

    The non-fiction reading is for the rest of the summer… and Andi Ashworth’s book is a re-read for me, need the refresher and encouragment.

  21. I tend to read several at the same time…so I’m just getting into:

    Give Them Grace–Elyse Fitzpatrick
    Relationships, A Mess Worth Making–Paul Tripp
    Amazing Grace (Wilberforce)–Eric Metaxas
    Rereading– What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage–Paul Tripp for a SS class at our church.

    Want to read a few “fun” ones with the kiddos too…but haven’t decided on those yet…

  22. Thanks for the recommendations! I am adding “Million Miles” to my list! My book club just finished “Half the Church” by Carolyn Custis James. It is a great book for discussion. I think you would really like it.

  23. I just finished A Million Miles… it is absolutely breathtaking and I think you will love it. Hope everyone picks it up 🙂

  24. Yay for breaks!

  25. I ordered a Million Miles after one of your previous posts. I ordered it via CD as I really want my husband to read it and he is not a reader! We plan on a road trip next month and he WILL listen to books if we are on the road. I think Don’s story is one my husband needs to hear. He is having difficulty finding the story for his own life. I’m hoping it will really get him to thinking about living more intentionally.
    Hopefully I will get to pick up a book this summer without needing to do a review on it!
    Enjoy your time off!

  26. This spring I read through all of Jane Austen’s novels (some of them for the first time, some of them, again). It was so refreshing and stimulating for my brain after reading Dr. Seuss and Sandra Boynton board books all day long!

    Now I’m trying to decide what to do with my summer reading time! Several of the books on your list look interesting.

  27. I’m trying really hard to sneak some “pure entertainment” into my constant reading of non-fiction, by way of some good fiction. Planning to read:

    The Help; Stockett
    Still Alice; Genova
    The Hour I First Believed; Lamb
    What We Have; Boesky

  28. This summer, I am reading your book ~ Organized Simplicity, and continuing my year-long adventure of simple living. 🙂 , as well as The Well Trained Mind,
    Happiness Project and Bill Bryson’s At Home. I have a few simple ebooks on my mind as well. Should be a fine summer of reading.
    Enjoy your break!

  29. I’m going to read Drive by Daniel Pink next and highly recommend everyone read Spark, it’s fascinating research about the exercise – brain connection. Here’s my entire list for summer reading:

  30. Rebecca says:

    I get to read so little that my reading list for the year only has 3 books on it. I finished A Tale of Two Cities in May, and just started The Hobbit. With any luck I’ll be able to read A Christmas Carol by the holidays.

  31. I’ve almost finished reading The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, and I love it. Such a wonderful premise–spending a year getting happier! Fun to read, and lots of great ideas on how we can all undertake our own happiness project.

  32. …and next on my reading list is Ann Patchett’s new book “State of Wonder”, because I’m a huge fan, and her amazing, gorgeous book “Bel Canto” holds a permanent place on my desert-island list.

  33. Amanda G says:

    I’ve downloaded a bunch of the free classics onto my iPad. Working my way through Vanity Fair, and will be starting Jane Eyre soon.

    It’s so convenient to be able to get a book you are dying to read almost instantly and anywhere!

  34. I loved Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet…just finished Little Bee and have started Cutting for Stone (all novels- all about different cultures- even though they are novels they teach me a lot about lives that are very different from my own).

    We read Blue Like Jazz for my book club this year and I loved it- will definitely look into A Million Miles.

    I love that you are so intentional about what you need- have a great “break” this summer! (Though how can you really have a break when you are moving?).

  35. I’m in the middle of The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller. It’s the first book of his I’ve read and I plan to read more…a great thinker and writer.

    On the other end of the spectrum, my husband and I are eager to start Monster in the Hollows by Andrew Peterson, the third book in the Wingfeather series… the first two (On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness and North! or be Eaten were delightful)… just good storytelling.

    I’m sure there will be many more in between, probably some of the ones from your list! Thanks for sharing.

  36. Hannah D. says:

    Love you, love the fact that we met, loved having you in book club, and love your list.
    Hope you finish Hotel …!

  37. I just finished “My stroke of Insight” about a neuroantatomist who worked at Boston’s Brain bank and had a stroke. Her recount of what her brain did, how it tried to process, recover and thoughts on treatment were so interesting. Also, found the information about how she had to re-learn information fascinating and appliciable to parenting and the information we pass along to children and the assumptions we make based on our knowledge. Think it should be a must read for all parents.

  38. What a great list this page is turning out to be!

    I’m currently reading
    Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves,
    Refuse to Choose (A Revolutionary Program For Doing Everything That You Love),
    and How To Have Your Cake and Eat It Too.

    As you can see, I’m always trying to do alot at once. I’d like to fit in a novel this summer. I rarely read them either (ever since that English degree. . .), but find it a really nice escape sometimes. Or a good story. . . A Million Miles sounds good, and your posts where you mention it have been inspiring, so I think I’ll check it out.

  39. Desiree says:

    I devoured “Crazy Love” and am now enthralled in “The Forgotten God” both by Francis Chan. He is such an amazing and real person, Christian and author. I also gained many gems from Jill Rigby’s “How to Raise Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World.” and another book by her, “How to Raise Unselfish kids in a Self Absorbed World” “Love & Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerich is PHENOMENAL for marriage relationships. My husband and I made it through the “Love Dare” found it to be very good info and totally relevant. I thoroughly enjoyed “Organized Simplicity” by Tsh Oxenreider. All these books have such timely and neccesary information. They leave me feeling overwhelmed by my inadequacies but also very inspired to grow and move forward and be the best I can be!

  40. lol. I just went to the library this morning and picked up the first two books that are on your reading list. I, of course, heard about them on your blog in the first place. I just read my first eBook “The Husband’s Guide to Getting Lucky” over the past two days and I’m trying to finish up reading “The Mission of Motherhood.” This is the third time I’ve checked it out from the library. I hope I can find time to finish it before I have to return it again! Oh, and I”m really hoping to finish up reading some old issues of O Magazine and Parent Magazine so I can finally get rid of them. (By recycling them, of course!)

  41. My husband and I are going to be reading and discussing “Radical” by David Platt and “Waking the Dead” by John Eldredge. I’m also looking forward to reading “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp and “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan.

  42. I will re-discover Dean Koonz collection . I used to read him a lot. “The Watchers” and “Intention” where my favorite . While i was busy he kept on writing so my “to read” list is quite long now !

  43. This reading list makes me excited! Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Currently, I am reading Peter Hessler’s latest book, “Country Driving”. Hessler lived in China for a number of years, first as a Peace Corp volunteer, and then as a journalist. “Country Driving” is his account of his experience of driving all across the Chinese countryside. It a fascinating, often very humorous read.

  44. I’m reading “Radical Hospitality.” Can’t remember if I got that recommendation from your website or Ann Voskamp’s, but if you haven’t read it, you should. I also plan to read “Acedia and Me” and then maybe some more of Jan Karon’s Mitford series since I can get those at the library. I’m on book 4. When I’m ready to buy again, I’ll probably get “Walking from East to West” or “When Children Love to Learn”. Or “Farm Chicks in the Kitchen.” Or “Playful Learning” if it is out by then. I read lots of non-fiction too, except for read aloud time with my kids.

  45. Janelle Banta says:

    I know you don’t know me from Eve, but I’m pretty certain you would enjoy another book (a Notre Dame lecture actually, but available in book form) by Kathleen Norris called, “The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy, and ‘Women’s Work'”. She touches on acedia in that book as well. I’ve been meaning to pick up the one you mention above. I’m currently working through your book, “Organized Simplicity,” (thank you for offering it in Kindle form!), The Praying Life by Paul Miller and hope to tackle “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Kingsolver this summer.

  46. I’m an artist and I found “The Artist’s Way” while in Durango, CO this past week. So that’s #1 on my list for the summer. Here are the rest I hope to get through:

    #2 Follow – new book by Floyd McClung

    #3 Heaven – Randy Alcorn (have already started this one and it’s so encouraging!)

    #4 A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

    One Thousand Gifts – Ann Voskamp (tried to read this many times, but I can’t get past all the drama I get dragged into emotionally…tough to do with someone I don’t know and I’m not sure it’s worth it) have you read this? Is it worth the read?

    Knowing myself, I probably won’t get past 4, but here’s #5 for good measure.
    #5 What Alice Forgot – I actually forgot the author’s name! haha…what Lana forgot.

  47. Oh great list!! I’m going to have to add them to mine. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of true life gone bad and then the good shines type stories. Some of my favorites are:

    Life, In Spite of Me – Kristen Anderson
    One Thousand Gifts – Ann Voskamp
    Lancaster County Secrets (it’s a series of books) – Suzanne Woods Fisher

    I’m reading Everyone is Beautiful by Katherine Center next!

    • Yeah I like it when the world is the world and good is good and evil is evil. Have you ever read Picture of Dorian Gray? One of my favorites! Oh man…Enjoy your summer reading. 🙂


  48. ‘the poisonwood bible’ by barbara kingsolver. it’s the only book i’ve ever read that after i finished, i turned it over and started at the beginning again. and i couldn’t believe how much better it was the second time (and it was pretty good the first time anyway…)

    • wow, great suggestion. I’ve considered that book many times but didn’t want to waste the read if I wasn’t sure but since you thought it was worth reading TWICE! Well that’s a high recommendation. 🙂 Next time I pass by I will just have to follow my instincts! 🙂 Thanks for the suggestion.

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