Almost every summer when I was growing up, I participated in the local library's Summer Reading Program. By reading a certain number of books, you could earn a coupon for a free personal pan pizza at Pizza Hut or other various prizes.
Nowadays, there's no need to even have the lure of a prize; reading itself is the reward. Each book is like a mini vacation, or at least most of my selections attempt to fit in that category.
So my main objective at the beginning of each summer is to make a summer reading list. The hard part isn't coming up with a list; the hard part is cutting it down enough to make it practical.
I start with books that I need to finish. Next, I write down the books that I've wanted to read for a long time and add in books that friends have recommended. Then, I add a few of the books that I've seen recommended on multiple blogs. And for the past two years, I've added in books from Modern Mrs. Darcy's Summer Reading Guide.
I kicked off my summer reading program by finishing Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges, which I have mentioned previously. It was eye opening to see how many of my daily behaviors are actually sins that the world has conditioned me to think are acceptable. In a word, convicting.
Next, I started a book that's been in my stack for quite a while called Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. This book has received rave reviews by just about every mainstream media outlet, and authors I've read in the past have spoken highly of the prose in this book. They were all correct. The prose is amazing, and the story is one that I wouldn't have thought would have received rave reviews from mainstream media. But that just goes to show that miracles appeal to all. [Note: The book has some dark characters and is a bit of a thriller, which I don't normally read, so I had to break it up and read it during the day.]
At night, I read The Little Book Store of Big Stone Gap by Wendy Welch. This was on Modern Mrs. Darcy's list for memoirs, and it is a treasure. It's a fun read about a couple who opened a used book store in a house in a small town. If you love small book stores or books in general, this is a great book.
Last summer, I found the genre of food memoirs and was instantly hooked. So when Modern Mrs. Darcy recommended Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl about a food critic in New York, I knew that I'd be reading it. I found this book fascinating, and it fostered an even deeper desire to travel to NYC some day and eat at the restaurants that she awarded three-star reviews.
As briefly mentioned in my previous post, I learned a great deal from The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith. It was the right book at the right time for me. But her theme of "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful" is one for every season of life.
One of the food memoirs I devoured last summer was A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg. It was recommended by both Shauna Niequist and Modern Mrs. Darcy. This summer, they both recommended Wizenberg's follow-up that just released in May entitled Delancey, which is about the pizza restaurant that the author and her husband opened. I didn't love this book as much as the first, but she ties it together well at the end, includes great recipes, and provides a whole new appreciation for those who run family restaurants and the work that goes into making them succeed. I kept thinking of Cane Rosso here locally and had to go pick up a Capricciosa pizza, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
I just started reading The Book Thief and will hopefully be able to finish it on the train in the near future, along with Love Idol that is on order from Amazon. And there are two other books on hold at the library. The old saying is true: Too many books, not enough time!
What books would you recommend for summer reading?