Summer is almost here. College students are in the midst of finals or are wrapping up. Parents of school-aged children are suppressing panic at the thought of three months with the little hooligans at home. But summer also means vacation for many people, and vacation means more time to read. So here are six books for you to consider as a summer read. All are excellent.
by Andy Crouch
“Paradigm” is a WAY over-used word in describing books, but in this book Crouch genuinely presented a new and better paradigm that helped me think about all my interactions with others and with God. If that sounds overwhelming, keep in mind he did it in about 180 pages. That’s why I say he created a paradigm. It is a way of viewing and understanding interactions – parenting, marriage, work, leadership, ministry, neighborly, political, etc. I won’t give away or try to explain his framework for fear of cheapening it. Just buy and read this book. It is one the will genuinely reshape your thinking and, with a little effort, your living too.
by N.D. Wilson
I was introduced to Wilson’s writing through his non-fiction works (Notes From the Tilt-a-Whirl and Death by Living), but sometimes the way an author writes non-fiction screams “story-teller.” So I read his Ashtown Burials Trilogy which was excellent and enthralling and fun and all things stories should be. Well, Outlaws of Time was better. I loved it. Wilson’s imagination is unparalleled as exhibited by his weaving together of worlds and times and settings. His villains are heinous without being gratuitous or grotesque. His heroes are flawed without the flaws being over-played. His stories display honor, courage, friendship, honesty, perseverance, failure, redemption, and all the other things the best fiction does. He is not bound by genre, so Outlaws is a thriller/mystery/historical novel. In short it is fun and draws readers in. You will love it.
by Mark Sayers
The church has always been at it’s best when it is the desperate, creative minority, so why are we trying so hard to be the relevant cultural majority (especially since the Bible says people will be offended by the gospel)? Sayers poses this question then unpacks with a combination of theology, missiology, sociology, and cultural history that he is an expert at weaving together in an eminently readable way. Readers can tell that Sayers reads with incredible breadth and depth, not because he shows it off in an obnoxious intellectual way, but because he synthesizes an incredible about of knowledge into cogent, applicable points. He challenges readers with his ideas but not his verbiage. This book is one that any Christian who wants to engage their neighbor or pastor who wants to lead their church should read. It’s fantastic.
by Daniel James Brown
If you loved Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbreakable there’s a good chance you’ll like this because it has much of the same wonderful story telling, but with an athletic twist. It’s the story of one University’s rowing team coming together to try to win the national championship and hopefully compete in the olympics, the olympics overseen by Himmler, Goering, and Hitler. The personal accounts of key rowers are compelling. Brown even makes the sport of rowing interesting and that’s a feat since most readers (like me) know little about it and care even less. It’s a masterful narrative that inspires and pulls the reader along even faster than the crewmen could row.
by Michael Herr
If you are a history buff, especially if you are a Vietnam war buff (or rather one who loves to study the Vietnam War) you must read Dispatches. Herr was a columnist for a couple different U.S.A. publications during Vietnam, and this is a collection of his long form articles put together in a book. It is laced with profanity, dark, gloomy, and brilliantly depicts the feel of the war for both the men on the front and the people covering it. He writes with the cynicism of the era and magnificent prose. A second layer of the books brilliance is that it gives readers a sense of how writers wrote and journalists covered stories in a unique era. It isn;t just information about a contentious period in U.S. history – it’s a cross section of lives.
Under Our Skin: Getting Real About Race – And Getting Free From the Fears and Frustrations that Divide Us
by Ben Watson
During the events in Ferguson, Missouri Ben Watson, a tight end for the New Orleans Saints (now for the Baltimore Ravens) penned a poignant and pointed Facebook post with his thoughts on race, racial tensions, and the complexity therein. This book was born from that post. Watson is a faithful believer in Christ and writes from that perspective, with a clear understanding that Christ is the hope all races need and the balm for the wounds America has inflicted on itself. But he does not shy away form the complexities of racial conflict. He writes things white people, the majority culture, need to read and understand so we can better understand the perspective, pain, and lives of our minority brothers and sisters. But he does not pile on “white guilt.” He also addresses his own minority, African American culture and points out things that need to change. Watson writes fairly and with punch, but not with bombast or hyperbole. If you are trying to get your head and heart around issues of race in America Under Our Skin is a fantastic place to start.