One of my favorite things about packing for vacation is figuring out what books to bring. What novels will bring the landscape and the culture to life? What spiritual text will start my mornings on the right note? What memoir will bring me a little closer to feeling at home in my own skin and mind and heart?
Of course you can read throughout the year, but there’s something about summer that gets me extra excited to fill out my to-read list!
Whether you’re a bibliophile or just in search of a book for your beach bag, these summer reads will both soothe and shake your soul.
- Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist
- Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle
- Searching for and Maintaining Peace by Father Jacques Philippe
- Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
- Counted With The Stars by Connilyn Cossette
As a general rule, I’m not one to read a book more than once, but this book is the exception. Shauna is funny and honest and everything important in a storyteller. She reminds us that this everyday, ordinary life is good, that it is worth celebrating and paying attention to. The way she talks about God brings Him close when I lose sight of Him.
This is true for Cold Tangerines and every single other word she has written. Read or listen to, slowly or in one sitting, and then move on to everything else you can find with her name on it.
There are books that are good, books that are great, and books that are just so beyond description that all you can do is talk about them to everyone you meet. Gregory Boyle is a living saint. There, I said it.
Like any good witness, on the stand or in the world, he tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. He doesn’t preach or patronize, he simply introduces us to the people he has known and has loved, the kids he’s worked with who have taught and instructed him. I read this while walking my dog, while brushing my teeth, and while watering the garden, because I just couldn’t bear to put it down for even a few minutes. I stayed up too late several nights in a row falling in love with the homeboys and homegirls of Los Angeles and crying my eyes out when their stories were too short, too violent, too unfair.
Gregory Boyle does not spare our feelings or dress up the truth to make it easier to handle. Like the very best storytellers do, he trusts us with the whole thing.
“All the reasons that cause us to lose our sense of peace are bad reasons,” he writes. Full of one liners, you’ll want to keep a pen nearby when reading this “small treatise on peace of heart.” It is the perfect morning companion for all of us who tend to be impatient, anxious, overwhelmed, and easily distracted.
If I were a doctor, I would prescribe this book to be read, in short segments, every morning with coffee or tea or whatever your beverage of choice may be in the most peaceful place you can find. For me, it’s with coffee in the grey armchair, by the window where the hummingbirds stop for breakfast.
I generally don’t like thrillers, but I loved this non-stop thrill ride by Celeste Ng. It’s not gruesome or graphic, which makes it easier for my overactive imagination to sleep at night, and yet it is utterly gripping.
This book will take hold of you right from the start, and you will spend every spare minute that may have otherwise been spent mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or checking your email for the billionth time, completely invested in the secrets and struggles of Celeste’s vivid characters.
Last but certainly not least, this biblical fiction trilogy is absolutely delightful. Connilyn’s plucky heroines bring the book of Exodus to life on their journey from Egypt to the promised land over the course of three books.
Strong female leads, suspense-filled battles, unexpected twists and turns, heartbreaks and happy endings. This series has all the makings of a perfect beach read and is best served with a cold beverage of your choice.
You may also want to invest in extra sunscreen to avoid lobster-level burns when getting lost in one of these books makes you lose track of time by the beach or the pool, at the park, or on the patio.