Although summers change with every year of our lives, surely it’s the summers of our childhood that continue to cast the longest shadows over our expectations of how these warm days should be spent. That’s why I never fail to feel compelled to read stacks of books during the extended daylight hours from June through August. In fact, it takes everything I have to resist printing out an official summer reading chart on blue paper so that I can list the books I read one by one, turn it in at the end of the summer and receive a certificate signed by the public librarian in exchange. Instead, I’ll opt for sharing with you my summer 2020 reading list.
Like most writers, I’m a reader. I love to read serious fiction, silly romances, page-turning mysteries and inspiring non-fiction alike. At the same time, I’m a pretty picky reader. Yes, I often choose my books by their covers, so if the illustration on the front doesn’t pull me in I won’t pick it up…unless someone I trust tells me I must.
And that’s largely what this Summer 2020 Reading List is – a compilation of books I’ve been encouraged to read…either by you, my dear readers, the book club I recently joined or my daughter…because she chooses her books the same way I do.
Non-Fiction Books on My List
First, let’s check out the non-fiction books I’ve read recently or have on my list to get to this summer. I’m only including three non-fiction books because I tend to read more fiction in the summer.
It’s Not Supposed to be This Way – by Lysa TerKeurst
I recently finished this Christian self-help book by Lysa TerKeurst and I’m still mulling it over. Propelled to share biblical principles for dealing with the disappointments in life by her own broken marriage and life-threatening physical illnesses, TerKeurst offers both relatable raw emotion and sound counsel. She writes beautifully if not sometimes a little too exquisitely, and her profound statements stick in your mind like hand scribbled cherished notes you’ve received from a dear friend who knows you well.
This book is a must-read for anyone going through a difficult season – as we all do at one point or another – but it’s worthwhile for any woman who simply wants to be prepared for the next life disappointment. I appreciate that the book is bursting at the seams with scripture and the overall timbre is encouraging, straightforward and honest.
How Happiness Happens: Finding Lasting Joy in a World of Comparison, Disappointment, and Unmet Expectations – by Max Lucado
I’m about half-way through Lucado’s recent book, which is based on, what I call, the “one anothers” in the Bible. According to this prolific Christian author, true happiness happens when we diligently and consistently, by the indwelling presence of God’s Spirits, practice the “one anothers” – greet one another, serve one another, pray for one another, forgive one another, love one another, etc.
As usual, Lucado has a way of making big life changes feel doable and achievable. I enjoy reading this book at the end of my day as I prepare for sleep because he gives me positive, biblical challenges packaged in gracious and encouraging words.
One Day – The Extraordinary Story of an Ordinary 24 Hours in America by Gene Weingarten
I was recently invited by a friend to join her book club and, in fact, tonight will be my first time to attend…by Zoom, of course. We’ll be discussing Gene Weingarten’s One Day.
The author of this non-fiction book set out to tell the stories of ordinary people as they happened on one random day in recent history. He and and a friend gathered in a diner one day to draw numbers from a hat – a year (between 1969 and 1989), the 12 months of a year and 31 days. Allowing two children to do the drawing honors, they emerged from the diner with the date December 28, 1986. Do you know what you were doing that day? I do.
Weingarten proceeds to tell some fascinating stories of events that occurred throughout the hours of December 28, 1986. But he does more than that. He gives you the rest of the story. While not every story has held my attention like the one before it, all of them have given me plenty to think about. And several are utterly spellbinding. This book does include mature themes, raw language and graphic scenes.
Fiction Books on My List
Like I said, I like fiction books of all kinds. But I much prefer historical fiction. This list includes indulgent romances and fine literature alike. Remember, this is my summer reading list. I’m keeping it real. I enjoy lighthearted, silly books some days and heavier, thought-provoking novels on others. And I tend to alternate between the two so that I don’t spiral down with the weightiness of the latter.
Also, I’m going to include a list of general recommendations at the end of the post, but this list includes mostly newer books…those published in the last few years.
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
I recently finished reading The Alice Network with my Libby App. (Use the Libby App to easily navigate and read the audio or e-books you check out from your local public library.) It kept me mesmerized while walking through our neighborhood or washing dishes or just sitting on my back deck.
“In this enthralling novel from New York Times bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.” This book does include mature themes, raw language and graphic scenes.
The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
From the author of Me Before You, set in Depression-era America, The Giver of Stars is billed as a breathtaking story of five extraordinary women and their remarkable journey through the mountains of Kentucky and beyond. The women are recruited as Packhorse Librarians, delivering books deep into the hills of Appalachia to those who otherwise would never have them.
This book is on my to-do list, so I don’t have any personal insights to offer. But it comes highly recommended by DFMD readers and other book clubs.
A Week at the Shore by Barbara Delinsky
“In A Week at the Shore, New York Times bestselling author Barbara Delinsky explores how lives and relationships are forever changed when three sisters reunite at their family Rhode Island beach house.”
Delinsky is one of my favorite romance writers. While this isn’t fine literature, I find that Delinsky’s books do give me things to think about more deeply. And I especially enjoy books that take place at a beach during the summer.
The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni
This is the next book on the list for the book club I’ve joined. Actually, I accidentally started it last week before discovering I had taken the assignments out of order. I was hooked in the foreword and hated to put it down. So I’m looking forward to picking it up again later this weekend. I
“Sam Hill always saw the world through different eyes. Born with red pupils, he was called ‘Devil Boy’ or Sam ‘Hell’ by his classmates; ‘God’s will’ is what his mother called his ocular albinism. Her words were of little comfort, but Sam persevered, buoyed by his mother’s devout faith, his father’s practical wisdom, and his two other misfit friends.”
Cemetery Road by Greg Iles
And then in August my new (to me) book club will be discussing Cemetery Road. I have to tell you, this book club is going to be good for me. It’s challenging me to read books I probably would not pick up otherwise.
“An ambitious stand-alone thriller that is both an absorbing crime story and an in-depth exploration of grief, betrayal and corruption… Iles’s latest calls to mind the late, great Southern novelist Pat Conroy. Like Conroy, Iles writes with passion, intensity and absolute commitment.”— Washington Post
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
When I asked followers on Instagram for recommendations, this book came up frequently. And I’d heard of Where the Crawdads Sing before. So I think it’s time I read Delia Owens’ book about Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl on the North Carolina coast.
The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall
The Dearly Beloved was also recommended by Instagram followers…and my daughter. It’s charted as a beautifully written novel about relationships, faith, commitment and change.
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
Many followers also recommended The Dutch House. Now see. Here’s an example of how I miss out on some good books. This cover does nothing for me. But when I read the synopsis, I was intrigued. I’ll definitely be reading this novel about a family, a house and the troubles that marked them.
If I Were You by Lynn Austin
Lynn Austin is one of my favorite Christian fiction authors. She sometimes writes modern day novels, but her historic fiction is my favorite. This summer she released a new title, If I Were You. It’s the story of two friends – one wealthy, one not – who have survived World War II only to be thrown into a deeper battle because of the choices they’ve made since. The themes of jealousy and comparison are explored throughout the book.
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
“Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.”
Girls of Summer by Nancy Thayer
Here’s another summer indulgence romance novel. Nancy Thayer turns out a book most summers, and I enjoy the escape they provide. Girls of Summer takes place in Nantucket, where a single mother and her two grown children find their ways through summer romances and changes in family dynamics.
What are you reading this summer? I’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments below. Some of you have already sent your recommendations to me, but because of space and time limitations I couldn’t include them all. I do highly recommend all of the Mitford books by Jan Karon, if you haven’t read those. I love those darling, genteel books, and have read every single one of them.
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Blessed for My Day
Dear gal, I want to remind you today that the best book for any of us to read is the Bible. Without hesitation or shame, I believe the Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to mankind. It is without error and it is everything we need for life. I don’t apologize for that profession.
But more importantly, God’s Word is able to do something none of these other books can possibly do. Yes, any book can impact you, change your course or even enlighten you. But on the Word of God can change your destiny, your heart, your character…completely. While I love reading all kind of books during the summer, I highly recommend taking time to read systematically from God’s Word each day, too. It will truly prove to be the anchor you need to make it through each day.
Read it as a love letter from the Creator of this world to His beloved. Read it to learn, first of all, about God. Then, as you learn more about Him, you’ll discover more about yourself, too.
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. ~ Hebrews 4:12