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What I’m reading this summer

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by Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and is currently 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.

One of my favorite things about summer is finding extra time to read. The days are longer, there’s not as much go go go from one place to the next, I slow down my work, and my kids enjoy a lot more free play (aka, Mom gets to sit in a chair nearby with a book and intervene only in near-imminent threats).

So I thought it’d be fun to share with you what I’ve got on my reading dock (and at the end, I want you to share with me what your summer reading list, too!). I’ve already got my recommended reading list, and I review new books monthly. So the following are books I’m going to read—and if I really dig ‘em, I’ll add them to my recommended list, too.

Also—my friend Anne from Modern Mrs. Darcy just released her annual Ultimate Beach Reading summer reading guide, and you can find great stuff there. It’s kind of annoying, really, because from her guide alone I’ve added about 10 more books to my mental list (which I’ve excluded below, because who needs repetition?).

Also, these girls keep distracting me from writing this post. Such talent.

Okay, onward. Here’s my to-read list.

I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t)

Brené Brown

I Thought It Was Just Me by Brené Brown

Thought It Was Just Me is one of Brené’s earlier books, but I haven’t read it yet. From the back: “What fuels this unattainable need to look like we always have it all together? At first glance we might think it’s because we admire perfection, but that’s not the case. We are actually the most attracted to people we consider to be authentic and down-to-earth. We love people who are real.”

A-to the-men.

How to Read Literature Like a Professor

Thomas C. Foster

How to Read Literature Like a Professor

I just finished reading Deconstructing Penguins, a lovely book about how to discuss great books with kids (specifically in a book club format, but it can be translated to the everyday home as well). So it got me to thinking—what about taking it a step further and teach myself how to better read and understand literature?

So I’ve found How to Read Literature Like a Professor. From the back: “In this practical and amusing guide to literature, Foster shows how easy and gratifying it is to unlock [literature's] hidden truths, and to discover a world where a road leads to a quest; a shared meal may signify a communion; and rain, whether cleansing or destructive, is never just rain.”

The Paris Wife

Paula McLain

The Paris Wife

I love me some historical fiction, and I feel like I’m one of the last people on earth who haven’t read The Paris Wife yet. You too? Glad to have you join me in that. Anyway, this book is about a 28-year-old living in Chicago in the twenties who happens to meet and then marry a guy named Ernest Hemingway. They then move to Paris and immerse themselves in that awesome historical era—Paris during the Jazz Age.

I can’t tell if this will ultimately prove a bit depressing, but I’m all about novels set in Paris. Speaking of…

London

Edward Rutherfurd

London

Yeah, I know, that’s not speaking of Paris. But Rutherfurd’s thing is to write novels with setting as a primary character—books like Paris, New York, and Russka. And I hope to eventually read them all. London moves back and forth between time periods, spanning 2,000 years, and makes history come alive through the stories of different families. It’s a huge book—over a thousand pages. We’ll see how long it takes me.

The Lost Husband

Katherine Center

The Lost Husband

When I’m homesick for Texas, I choose to read stories set in it, and The Lost Husband is set smack dab in the middle of the Texas Hill Country. Supposedly it’s a great summer read. From the description: “Libby Moran, who—after the sudden death of her husband, Danny—went to stay with her hypercritical mother. Now her crazy Aunt Jean has offered Libby an escape: a job and a place to live on her farm in the Texas Hill Country. Before she can talk herself out of it, Libby is packing the minivan, grabbing the kids, and hitting the road. …And despite everything she’s lost, Libby soon realizes how much more she’s found. She hasn’t just traded one kind of crazy for another: She may actually have found the place to bring her little family—and herself—back to life.”

Every Good Endeavor

Timothy Keller

Every Good Endeavor

I’ve heard really good things about this one. In Every Good Endeavor, Keller explores how we can connect our work to God’s. From the inside jacket: “What is the purpose of work? How can I find meaning and serve customers in a cutthroat, bottom-line oriented workplace? How can I use my skills in a vocation that has meaning and purpose?… Keller shows how excellence, integrity, discipline, creativity, and passion in the workplace can help others and even be considered acts of worship—not just self-interest.”

Abundant Simplicity

Jan Johnson

Abundant Simplicity

A blog reader sent Abundant Simplicity to me years ago (are you still reading this? Say hi if you are!), and it’s continually been on my to-read list. I think it’s time I finally dig into it. It sounds wonderfully welcome. From the description: “Which activities give you energy and connect you with God? Do you know what behaviors are life-draining for you, separating you from God? Simplicity is about choosing the engaging, relational life we were meant to live. It means shedding obligation and pretension. It means spending in ways that help us become clear-headed. It means being intentional about what we do and how we live. These choices allow God’s power to move through us and bless others as we have space to do good.”

Kinda sounds like something I’d like, right?

So yeah, this is a lot of reading, but this list can just bleed right over in to the fall. I’ll also be sharing with you the new books-of-the-month I’m featuring this summer, but more on those later… I’ve read them all already, and they’re stellar. You can thank me later for your library hold list that will never die.

Anne Lamott on the value of books.

Alright, it’s your turn—whatcha reading this summer?

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Comments

  1. I’m thinking of reading some Jen Hatmaker this summer, some Hugh Halter and some Susie Larson :-)

    • avatar
      Melissa says:

      Love Jen! She cracks me up, perfect for a summer day. I could get through 7 faster if I wasn’t constantly re-reading it outloud to husband because he’s asking why I keep laughing out loud!

  2. I haven’t read Paris Wife yet either but I bought it when we first moved here thinking I’d have all this time to read a stack of new books! I just gathered them up again and am excited to dig in.

    Steph

  3. I am a fairly new commenter here, but I have been listening to your podcast for the past few months and love it! I would like to read some more Wendell Berry this summer….possibly Jayber Crow. But it looks like their are some great ones on your list!

    • Thanks! I love making the podcasts, so it’s a win-win. :)

      I love Wendell Berry but Jayber Crow never interested me much—UNTIL I saw Anne’s recommendation of it. So I’m gonna try and tackle it sometime this year, too.

  4. I’ll be reading my clinical board review books. I am about to finish naturopathic medical school, and I absolutely CAN NOT WAIT for a life where I can kick up my feet and read a book. Seriously! All your book picks sound awesome, especially the one by Brene Brown. Love her.

  5. Eh, I bailed halfway through Paris Wife. But I think I’m the only person on earth who didn’t like it, so you’ll probably love it. ;)

    I’m planning to read Simplicity Parenting (which I heard about on your podcast!), some Maggie Stiefvater, the new Deanna Raybourn, probably some sort of YA dystopic, because I just can’t resist, and then all the random assortment of books I get sent for review.

    My favorite summer reads so far (I live in Tucaon so I have a significant head start on you) ;) were the Birthmarked trilogy, What Darkness Brings by C.S. Harris, and The Twelfth Department by William Ryan.

    • Jessica, I bailed on The Paris Wife, too. It was so depressing, and the writing didn’t do much to redeem it. For me. So at least that makes two of us. :)

    • Yeah, I don’t feel the need to finish a book if it’s not great, so I’ll let you know if I bail, too. We’ll see what methinks…

      • avatar
        Brandi s says:

        I haven’t read it either, but am opposite. I always hope it gets better and have to find out what happens so keep reading.

  6. Thanks to you and Modern Mrs. Darcy my reading list is ridiculously long. I just finished re-reading The Secret Garden (such a lovely book) and am working on Bread & Wine and Grace for the Good Girl. I’m also about to dig into It Starts With Food – have been putting off a Whole 30 for months now.

    • It Starts With Food will definitely motivate you to do that W30! It’s a good kick in the pants for me as well, whenever I start sliding away from paleo…

      And Bread & Wine and GFTGG are excellent!

  7. I have never really made a list of what I want to read before, but then starting just yesterday I had a brilliant (well brilliant to me) idea! I decided each time I see someone post a book review that I love I am going to click through to amazon and then pin it to my just created yesterday “books to read” list then before I go to the library I will write down the titles and search for them instead of just heading to the new titles shelf like I normally do. Right now I am reading “Coming Home” by Karen Kingsbury (in real book version) On audio I have “More or Less” and I am loving it. On the iPad right new “Sparkly Green Earrings” and every time I read it I laugh out loud so hard all the children come running. On the iPod it is “How They Did It” a story of 20 freelancers and how their journey to success.

    • avatar
      Marilyn says:

      I read them with my library search engine open online, and click back and forth!

    • avatar
      Brandi s says:

      I have been reading everything I can get my hands on by Karen Kingsbury, she’s definitely one of my new favorites. I just heard of her a couple months ago and have finished the whole Baxter family series already, it’s one to read if you haven’t already.

  8. Great list! I am also on a Brene Brown kick right now – I finished The Gifts of Imperfection, and am now reading Daring Greatly. I may need to add “I thought it was just me to the list!” I also have some historical fiction on my way-too-long summer reading list (http://bit.ly/ZqlAOV). And I love your description of “free play” time for kids and mom! :) Thanks for sharing!

  9. The Paris Wife looks great!

    I hope to finally finish Paris In Love by Eloisa James. I love that book. It”s a memoir of the writer’s time she took her family of 4 to live in Paris.

    Someone gave me Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn for my birthday so I want to read that. And I bought 2 other books by that author.

    I also bought SALT SUGAR FAT: HOW THE FOOD GIANTS HOOKED US. By Michael Moss. If this is really true it will be a pretty amazing read.

    Also on my pile next to my bed is THE CASUAL VACANCY by JK Rowling. I believe it’s her first novel for grown ups! :)

    Not sure if I can read all these books this summer, but hopefully I’ll have them finished by the end of the year, which is more likely. I am not a fast reader. Thanks for sharing these books with us. I am adding some of them to my BOOK LIST.

    Sandy

    • I forgot to add THE END OF YOUR LIFE BOOK CLUB by Will Schwalbe. It is a beautiful book but got me a bit depressed. I put it away for another day. But I do want to finish it.

    • avatar
      Marilyn says:

      Sandy, I was excited to get “The Casual Vacancy” from my library after a long wait, but returned it after I read a page or so. If I recall correctly, it was because of the foul language. (or I may have considered it smutty. Can’t remember which.) At any rate, I was disappointed.

    • Read Paris in Love last summer! It’s definitely a good summer read, though it took me awhile to get used to its format.

      And I’ve been wanting to read that Michael Moss book, too!

      I’m torn on The Casual Vacancy—I adore Harry Potter, of course, but TCV has gotten mixed reviews…

      • I would skip Casual Vacancy. I too loved Harry Potter but had to skip/skim many parts od CV because even in written form the cursing gets on my nerves. It is extremely raw and not at all like HP in my opinion. I’ve decided I’m sticking with her children’s stuff.

      • I actually really liked The Casual Vacancy – but I never read Harry Potter (gasp!) so I didn’t really have her previous work to compare it to. I found the many characters interesting, and thought the look into British small town life, and social class, was intriguing.

      • avatar
        elle @ beingstepmom says:

        If you choose to read the casual vacancy, you can’t think about Harry potter. The characters are fascinating but the story had too much fun language and was really too raw for my tastes.

  10. I just finished the Paris Wife. I had a bit of a hard time finishing it, but overall really enjoyed the book. I’ve heard that it is very true to the voice of Hadley Richardson. But I did want to knock her upside the head a couple of times…enjoy your reading!

  11. avatar
    Aimee Mulligan says:

    I am reading Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick, and Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne right now. I hope to dig into some fiction this summer. Looking for some great thrillers. Probably will read Dan Browns newest, and my guilty pleasure, Sue Grafton’s Alphabet mysteries.

  12. Oh, I’m definitely adding that Katherine Center book to my list. She’s perfect summer reading–light, easy, fun. Plus, I just visited the Texas Hill Country for the first time, so the timing is right. :)

    I need to read a Tim Keller book, any Tim Keller book.

    Thanks for mentioning my guide! You’re welcome/I’m sorry for the abundance of book recommendations. My list is a mile long, and it feels kind of like a problem sometimes. But there are worse problems to have. :)

    • Well, you hardly steer wrong with book recs, so I’m happy you send em out to the world every summer. :)

      I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Hill Country sometime… I’ll be there in July, which is about the worst time of year to be there. At least I’ll still get in my quota of Tex-Mex for the year.

  13. I’m now scratching a couple off my summer list to add London. And just recommended the Tim Keller one to my husband. Thanks!
    I’m reading heaps of James Herriot, Eats, Shoots and Leaves (where have I been that I did not know of this fantastic book?! Thank you, Modern Mrs. Darcy), Unbroken (again, late to the game), some Sherlock Holmes, and some good children’s standbys (Little House, etc).

    • Love Eats, Shoots and Leaves!

      And I’ve wanted to read some Sherlock Holmes forever now, but never have. Maybe I’ll try this fall.

  14. I am taking Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed on an upcoming backpaking trip. I got it from the library last week and it’s killing me a little to wait to crack it open.

    Wishing for you many hours of interrupted (being realistic here) reading.

  15. I’ve read LONDON and am reading EVERY GOOD ENDEAVOR with a Bible study right now!

  16. I have read “Hinds Feet in High Places” by Hannah Hurnard. Awesome book! I am reading presently “Power of Positive Speaking” by Joy Haney that has been an eye opening book. Next I want to read “Intoxicated with Babylon” by Steve Gallagher. I haven’t read it yet but I have heard it is really good. I also want to read Abundant Simplicity and The Lost Husband! Hopefully I can get it all read by August!! Lol!!

  17. avatar
    Jo@simplybeingmum says:

    As soon as I’ve finished “The first 20 minutes” I’ll download Brene’s book!

  18. I am in the process of reading Jesus + Nothing = Everything by Tullian Tchividjian and believe it’s a book I should (and want to!) read over and over until I die. SO good! I also just started Parenting Without Borders: Surprising Lessons Parents Around the World Can Teach Us by Christine Gross-Loh, Ph.D. This book was just released last month and, after reading a few articles by her, I was really interested to read her book. So far it’s really interesting and already challenging some of the “why” behind some of the ways I approach parenting. Thanks for sharing your list!

    • I’m going to read Parenting Without Borders a few months before our round-the-world trip. I think our books will touch on similar subjects (while still being very, very different), so I look forward to cracking that one open!

  19. I have a LONG list of non-fiction books that I want to read and apply.. One of my strategies for this summer is to not just read but apply, where possible, at least ONE thing from each to my business and life.. Right at the top, I have The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, The War of Art, Rework by Jason Friedman and Organized Simplicity by ahem, Tsh Oxenreider:-)

  20. The Paris Wife is great. It can be a bit depressing at points but my favorite part of the book is the evolution of the main character from young and naive to confident and strong. I reviewed it here http://thecyclistswife.blogspot.com/2012/06/books-of-late.html
    Happy reading!

  21. I’m working my way through War & Peace. I thought it would be difficult and confusing, but once I got the main characters straight, it’s been really enjoyable!

  22. I have a summer list, but I keep adding to it. Ever sine I was 15, I always wonder if I am missing out on a wonderful book. I keep a running list on my computer, and slowly go through it. I really do not like to learn when I read. That is what my job is for. I like to read for entertainment and escape. Thanks for the ideas.

  23. Fabulous list! How horrible is it that the only things on my reading list are the books I can get for free on Amazon?

    • avatar
      Marilyn says:

      Lisa, Don’t forget your local library!

      • Although good to remember and not assume that everyone has access to a library with English books–I just got back to the US after five years in Japan and I only had a few options for English books at my nearest libraries there. Had to buy almost everything, which was expensive, so I didn’t get to read as much (in English) as I do now (I come out of the library every three weeks with a big stack of books the past couple months! So refreshing!) Although those online lending libraries are pretty nice, and I suppose if you were able to set up online lending before you went abroad that’s an option too, if your local library has that option and you make sure to hang on to your card!

        • Ashley, that was one of my favorite things about moving back to the U.S., too—the library! And yes, since they’ve now come up with online lending, I’ll definitely be taking advantage should we ever move back overseas. :)

  24. I’ve just finished Misfortune by Wesley Stace and I recommend it to everyone! “A fun book…full of orphans, decadence, flouncy skirts, greed, deception, amnesia, incest, murder, and all manner of meditation on sexual identity… Like some inspired collaboration between Charles Dickens and Pedro Almodovar.” Washington Post
    Believe me – it is all that!

  25. I LOVED the book “London” and learned so much from it. I also LOVED “Abundant Simplicity”…so much that I bought both books. Didn’t really like “The Paris Wife”. I am reading a book about the Roosevelts by Doris Kearns Goodwin…very good so far. I am also reading Ray Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine” which is semi-autobiographical about a young boy in summer. It will definitely bring you back to your youth!

  26. I really want to read the lost husband! I’ll have to put in on mt list of books to read this summer too.

  27. Thank you for getting me hooked on Elizabeth Berg! Def more of her this summer, just started Sugar Salt Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, just bought Bread and Wine and Freefall to Fly too. I recently really loved Barbara Kingsolver’s latest book, Flight Behavior. I’m excited to check out some more of your recommendations and I downloaded The Ultimate Beach Reading Guide! Looks like I’m set! Thanks for this post.

  28. Reading 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess right now and it is great, not heavy but full of humor.

    Considering reading Love Does and Barefoot Church this summer.

    May also have to check out Every Good Endeavor and Abundant Simplicity from your list =)

    If you like Tim Keller – Prodigal God is good – the definition of prodigal is one of my favorites.

  29. So happy I took the time to read this today. I am just finishing Bread & Wine and have so appreciated Shauna’s perspective – it was one I needed, right when I needed it! Thanks for the recommendation. I look forward to checking out some of the books mentioned here.

  30. avatar
    Kristina Morris says:

    Harry Potter….for the third time. By the way, do you recommend something that would give me some of the same feelings as these books? I have tried Aragon and did not like.

  31. Those all sound really good, I’m adding them to my growing reading list! This summer I plan on reading several books, but my top must reads are It Starts With Food, The Well Educated Mind, The Husband Project, and The Forgotten Garden.

  32. Ok, I guess this very list baecause they all looked fabulous and yes my holds list is getting longer by the minute. I am also going to read Quiet and probably a few ya books to review for my daughter who enters middle school in the fall and I want to be a step ahead of the game and know.what she’s reading (or not reading as the case may be) .

  33. Have you read “The Practice of the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence? An old classic that I have finally read, and it is just beautiful. A must read in my opinion. A very simple, uncomplicated but profound reflection on the importance of living life in tune with God’s presence at all times. It’s a short read (50 pages) so easy to tick off the list!

  34. What a great list! I remember last year for reading with your kids you recommended The Penderwicks (loved it) and for adults What Alice Forgot (fun and got me thinking!). I am trying to plow through Timothy Ferris’ The Four Hour Chef, finish up Lloyd Alexander’s The High King, and a just picked up a 50 cent copy at the Library book sale of Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping.

  35. Thanks for giving us your list and also the Modern Mrs. Darcy’s list! I’ve added so many to my “to read” queue…

    I’ve just gone through a reading spree…The Maytrees by Annie Dillard, was … unique. I’m slowly savoring Anam Cara by John O’Donohue. GULPED down Help.Thanks.Wow. by Anne Lamott.

    Getting ready to read Quiet and The Happiness Project and State of Wonder by Ann Patchett….I may get London, per your rec…I loved New York…I am needing some really good fiction. Forget where you are, feed the kids PBJ kind of fiction!

  36. avatar
    Kimberly says:

    I enjoyed The Paris Wife. But I have 2 words for everyone – Kate. Morton. If you enjoy historical fiction with Gothic mystery (or just enjoy mind-blowing-no-way-that’s-what-happened moments), you’ll love her books. They are set in England and span different time periods. The House at Riverton, The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours, & The Secret Keeper are unforgettable!

  37. Great list of good reading material!

  38. I am reading the latest Dean Koontz right now and waiting impatiently for the release of The Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen. I can’t recommend her highly enough!

  39. avatar
    Kristin says:

    I read the Paris Wife over the holiday break..and became OBSESSED! I now have an historical hero: Hadley Hemmingway! Since reading this book, I pursued all the biographies I could get from our local libray. From Ernest to Hadley to others close to them at the time! This book was AWESOME! My guess is you will devour it within days or even hours! Happy Reading Tsh!

  40. avatar
    Abigail says:

    My goal for this summer is to catch up on all the books I have on my shelf that I haven’t read yet: classics like Agatha Christie, Gulliver’s Travels, and the complete works of Shakespeare; sci-fi books like Hidden Empire and Revelation Space; and nonfiction books like Too Small to Ignore and Hope Lives.

  41. Tsh, I must say that your blog is my favorite (and I read a lot of blogs)! I am always inspired after I read one of your posts. I found you through Darren Rowse of Pro Blogger (I follow him on Twitter). I actually read your book Organized Simplicity before finding out that you had a blog.

    This summer I am reading Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood, Practical Paleo and Getting Things Done. It has been a long time since I have let myself get lost in some good historical fiction, but I think I’ll add your recommendations. Looking forward to some good reads!

    -Rachael

  42. Hi Tsh. I am going to show this list to my hubby – who is an English prof. I would love to get that book and see what he thinks about it :).

  43. I’d love to know what you think of the Read Literature Like a Professional book. I’ve had that on and off of my list for a while, but I think it’s something I should read.

    Also, London sounds good. I read New York and I loved it, but I don’t like reading books by the same author within a certain amount of time. I need to space it out to enjoy it.

  44. avatar
    Jessica says:

    I am reading Gone With The Wind this summer. I can’t believe I have never read the book or seen the movie. I think it’s going to take me until Christmas to finish it… Geez it’s long!!!
    Anyway…. I have been keeping a Pinterest board with my book list.
    I just discovered simple mom this week…. And I’m hooked!! Love it!

  45. avatar
    JoshTilsley says:

    I’ve just picked up Casualties of War by Bennett Coles. I absolutely loved Virtues of War and this latest has been recommended to me by a few people so I’m really excited to read. If you’ve never read Bennett Coles work before and you enjoy scifi and military fiction it’s worth checking out his website. http://www.bennettrcoles.com/works/casualties-of-war

  46. Hi, Tsh! I’m the one that sent you Abundant Simplicity. I’m glad you’re enjoying the book. I have a whole stack of books that keeps getting taller than my “read” stack. But currently, I’m finally reading 1000 Gifts, which is awesome, some books about Charlotte Mason (probably my preferred philosophy of Ed.–we homeschool), and listening to the Little House series on audio in the car with the kids

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