The Official Summer Reading List

The Jesus Review

While summer may only offer the daydream of more reading time, many YCW prepare for a slightly slower season by gathering a stack of books to stuff in their beach tote or in their suitcase.  Some of these books seek to enhance our vocational calling while others offer a much-needed escape from the work we love.  Here is the official summer reading list for every YCW gathered from the bookshelves and reading lists of our members.  Please add your must-reads in the comments to complete this list.

Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks and A Writer's Life by Kathleen Norris

Even though the sun is shining, you may be struggling to find hope.  If so, this is a book for you. Kathleen Norris’s most recent book explores acedia – a slothful, soul-weary indifference long recognized by monastics – which she is careful to differentiate from depression.  Norris reflects upon her own marriage and writing discipline to offer a profound sense of hope for all her readers.

An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor

Every preacher needs an inspiration.  Barbara Brown Taylor is known for her fantastic sermons (though no report on her choice of shoes) and lyrical prose. In this most recent book, Taylor shares her spiritual journey by exploring the holy in all things. Without a church to pastor, Taylor seeks to find ritual in everyday activities to express her faith.

April 1865: The Month that Saved America by Jay Winik

Winik describes some of the personalities and events that made it possible for the United States to stay together after the Civil War. Equally accessible and informative, April 1865 is not just for Civil War buffs but for anyone who wants or needs to be reminded that the statement “Of course everything was going to work out!” is not always self-evident at the time. Winik wrote something that'll definitely preach, but the book is worthy outside of its potential usefulness as sermon fodder.

From Stones to Living Word: Letting the Bible Live Again by Debbie Blue

Debbie Blue offers an invitation to encounter the sacred stories of the Bible with new meaning. Blue resists literalism in favor of an interpretation through scholarship and her own personal story. After putting down both this book and Blue's other publication Sensual Orthodoxy, one YCW sighed: "I will never read the same way again."

Dame Frevisse Mystery Series by Margaret Frazer

There are many YCW that have found a soft spot for these mysteries about a medieval Benedictine nun. One YCW celebrates that this series offers “GREAT theological and spiritual insight!!!” Pick up the first book in the series entitled The Novice’s Tale and you may find that you too are relishing the whole series.

Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating by Mark Bittman

Cookbook author Mark Bittman takes on a practical challenge to conscious eating. Beyond Michael Pollan’s analysis (The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food), Bittman creates 77 recipes that celebrate compassionate eating. This summer, put down the books, step into the kitchen and act upon your faith.

Preaching as Testimony by Anna Carter Florence

This book was the basis of the first YCW conference in 2007 – but some YCW still haven’t managed to crack the spine. This gem written by one of the more popular and moving preachers in America uplifts the experience of women preachers using a historical, theological and practical approach. It’s a must for any YCW.

Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream by Adam W. Shepard

For any pastor that struggles to find hope in the current economy, Adam Shepard's story might help.  A recent college graduate sets out with only a sleeping bag, the clothes on his back and $25 in cash to work his way out of homelessness and into a life that would give him the opportunity for success. 

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

This book follows the previous title The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in which this author follows both Michael Blomkvist, a journalist, and Lisbeth Salander, a brilliant, socially withdrawn woman with a troubled past.  Without giving any plot away, the twists and turns are as exciting as the social commentary against racism and sexism. One YCW warns, "They are pretty graphic, so not for the weak of heart or stomach, but they are exciting rides!"

3 replies
  1. maria
    maria says:

    But I don’t like the Stieg Larsson novels… I think the description of Lisbeth Salander is too much of a middle aged man’s wet dream about the alternative chick… (spoiler alert!) especially when she without any explanation falls for the author’s alter ego Michael. The books are supposed to be anti-sexist, but falls into the same trap as many others before.
    Ah well. They are exciting. Granted. And for a pretty well-written fast Summer read, if you don’t get as annoyed as I do by those things – sure.

  2. Maria
    Maria says:

    Right now, I’m totally and nerdily into the Temeraire novels (British Marine officer meets dragon and thus joins the British early 19th century airforce to fight against Napoleon from the air) by Naomi Novik. Well-written, fast-paced and exciting. I love alternative history, and throw in some pretty cool dragons and exotic locations, and I’m hooked.
    Otherwise it’s all very serious: The Religious Potential of the Child by Sofia Cavalletti (highly recommended for liturgy buffs who work with children) and various books on work law, leadership and organization theory.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *