Ain’t no time like summertime to tackle some good books! In fact, I’m willing to bet you’ve got at least one or two just sitting on your bookshelf, nightstand, coffee table, or in your Amazon cart just waiting for you to remember they’re there. I’ve confessed it before and I’ll do it again: I’m a book hoarder. *Ahem…COLLECTOR* Chances are, I’ll probably always have more books in my house, car, purse, and office than I could ever read in a year and I’m 100% totally okay with that!
I typically go for faith-based, non-fiction reads that hold the potential to inspire, lead, and teach me how to live my life more intentionally and in a way that keeps the focus on what’s truly important. Launch a new book in that genre, especially with a beautiful cover, thoughtful title, or by one of my favorite authors and I’ll buy that thing faster than a piña colada flavored sno-cone on a hot Georgia afternoon!
My closest friends are usually bombarded by my text messages when I find a really good one, too:
“OMG! Just look at what I just read!”
*Insert screen shot of underlined paragraph*
“I’m reading this book and O. M. G! You NEED to read this one!”
*Insert picture of the cover with my laundry pile in the background*
“I picked this book up yesterday and I only have 27 pages to go! – #CantStopWontStop”
Other than the fact that, yes, I do use hashtags and over-use OMG in regular texting conversation, my friends have never – not once – been annoyed by my excited sharing. Their usual response is something along the lines of their complete bewilderment that I have somehow, yet again, found another incredible read that they had no idea existed. Responses like “Send me the link!” “Text me the details!” and “Let me borrow that book when you’re done!” make my book-loving heart swoon! I absolutely LOVE sharing good books with my friends! More times than I can count, I’ve had requests for book recommendations, links to my favorites, or curious questions about what is on my list right now.
One of my favorite weeks in the summer for reading is our annual family vacay to the beach. Most days are like clockwork: morning-lunch, kids play in the waves and sand, lunch in the house, then the hubs stays in while the kids rest and this mama gets about 2-3 hours of reading time on the beach. Last year, I discovered The Peachtree Bluff Series by Kristy Woodson Harvey. Even though it’s not my typical genre, I read the first novel in a day and fell so in love that I one-day shipped her others from Amazon to our beach rental and read two more! There’s a magic that happens when you read in the summer, I tell ya!
What I’m really trying to say here is that summer is the perfect season to get a jump on your reading. Whether you’ve got a book that you know you’d love or need a trusted source to give you some options (ahem, I know a gal *wink wink*), don’t let these days sneak by without getting some reading in! As a busy mama of three kids who seem to need bottomless snacks and entertainment during their summer break, I still manage to get some reading in. How? I have a couple shows that I watch (we Netflix and Hulu mostly), but the tv doesn’t come on unless we know what we’re going to watch. Aka: no mindless background noise. We’ve also started implementing “Quiet Time” in the afternoons. For at least an hour, the kids go to their rooms – to play, read, or rest – and it gives me a solid hour or two to read or work. If reading is something you want to do more of, you can totally make it work with your schedule – you just might have to be creative!
If you’ve read this far, you’re really all-in on wanting some good books to pick up this summer! Also, you are my people… and I love it! I’m going to list out some of my favorite reads from the past year or so and a little quip about why I loved it! *Each title will be linked with an affito my affiliate shop in Amazon, so you can click, snag that free PRIME two-day shipping, and get those good books in your hands! Ready? Here we go!!
1 | The Next Right Thing by Emily P Freeman
I. LOVE. This. Book! I’ve been a fan of Emily’s for years and when this book was released, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it! If you’ve ever had to make a decision, are facing a decision, or just want to live your life well…this book is for you. Full of wisdom and encouragement and solid foundation of living your life well, this needs to be your next summer read…or any-season read! I marked this copy up with all the scribbles and underlines and notes and there’s not a single doubt in my mind it’ll be one I pick up again and again! (PS: there’s a Podcast by the same name with incredible, bite-sized content as well!) Best compliment ever was from my friend Laura Knopp: “You always have an encouraging word…or Emily P Freeman quote.” Hahahaha! Seriously love it – Emily is full of wisdom and I secretly hope she keeps writing and podcasting and all the things because I can’t get enough!
“A big part of discerning your next right step is knowing and understanding what you really want to do. Knowing what you want isn’t selfish; it’s actually crucial to making decisions because it builds confidence, hastens healing, and is a gift to the people you love. The simplest benefit to knowing what you really want? It helps you choose your absence by saying yes and no to things without all the angst.” pg.178-179
2 | Own Your Everyday by Jordan Lee Dooley
This is one of those books I mentioned earlier that I read in just a couple of days. I love reading about purpose, passion, and calling – if you do too, this is one you’d really enjoy! Jordan Lee Dooley writes like she’s chatting with a friend and whether you need a big sister pep-talk, some gentle encouragement, or just a little bit of rewiring your heart to realize you were created to do amazing things…you’ll find it all here.
“In pursuit of your purpose, you will disappoint or let others down from time to time. Don’t let that discourage you. Don’t let it defeat you. You can’t do your best at what God designed you to do if you’re distracted with running about, trying to be everything to everyone.” pg.143
3 | Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
This one is itself, big magic. Elizabeth Gilbert has a no-nonsense, here’s-what-you-need-to-hear approach in this book. While I love reading the books with gentle encouragement, I absolutely ate up every chapter of Big Magic and it’s laugh-out-loud bluntness. Challenging and inspiring, it basically gives you every reason why you should pursue creativity and live creatively along with blowing every excuse you’ve been telling yourself out of the water. Also: read this one in a day during one of those awesome beach afternoons…it’s THAT good.
“I’ve watched far too many brilliant and gifted female creators say, “I am 99.8% qualified for this task, but until I master that last smidgen of ability, I will hold myself back, just to be on the safe side.” … We must understand that the drive for perfectionism is a corrosive waste of time, because nothing is ever beyond criticism. No matter how many hours you spend attempting to render something flawless, somebody will always be able to find fault with it. … At some point, you really just have to finish your work and release it as is – if only so that you can go on and make other things with a glad and determined heart.” pg.168-169
4 | Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist
This book is in my top 10 favorites of all time. Probably along with everything else written by Shauna Niequist. She has a way of writing that the words just seem to drip off the pages and come alive. If she writes about food, you can practically taste it. If she writes about an emotion, you feel it. Cold Tangerines was released it 2007, but I promise you, it’s one of those forever-relevant books! My copy is so marked up with pen and highlighter, you might think I was a book editor – but it’s just THAT full of good words that made me nod my head and whisper “YES!!!” This is a great, easy-to-read collection of stories that would be an excellent way to ease into more reading this summer, even if you’re not a big reader.
“I choose to believe there is nothing more sacred or profound than this day. I choose to believe that there may be a thousand big moments embedded in this day, waiting to be discovered like tiny shards of gold. The big moments are the daily, tiny moments of courage and forgiveness and hope that we grab on to and extend to one another. That’s the drama if life, swirling all around us, and generally I don’t even see it, because I’m too busy waiting to become whatever it is I think I’m about to become. The big moments are in every hour, every conversation, every meal, every meeting.” pg.17
5 | The Road Back To You by Ian Cron + Suzanne Stabile
Let it be known that this chick was not one of the ones eager to jump on the Enneagram train. I’m all about a good quiz and seeing what wacky results I get, but the Enneagram seemed intimidating, MUCH more detailed, and a little too much for me. Then, one night, I caved and took an online quiz. My results didn’t quite match up, I dismissed it, and went to bed. The next morning I thought, “You know, sometimes those things are wrong if you’re tired or hangry, etc…maybe I should try again. So I did. Type 2? MIND. BLOWN. Totally me! I ordered this book so I could start learning about more about myself and the people I love and it’s been – dare I say – fun! I will say, though, use things like the Enneagram as a tool to better yourself and your relationships; not as an excuse or easy out for unhealthy or bad behavior.
“Working with the Enneagram helps people develop the kind of self-knowledge they need to understand who they are and why the see and relate to the world the way they do…When that happens you can start to get out of your own way and become more of the person God created you to be.” pg.15
6 | Without Rival by Lisa Bevere
Girl. If you need a refresh in your faith, your confidence of who God created you to be, or just some clarity in a world of comparison…this book is for you! Lisa Bevere is a phenomenal writer and speaker and I have another of her books, Girls With Swords, sitting in my stack of “read these” books. If you’re in need of reassurance that you’re an incredibly love, uniquely created woman without rival…please grab this book! My most favorite passage from this one is too long to share the whole part, but I’ll share a portion:
“…in his eyes we are daughters without rival, which eliminates every reason that we should ever compare with one another. You are the only example of you! … God uniquely created your DNA and knit your frame in secret so he could surprise the world. He authored how your heart expresses itself; he was the architect of your smile and the melody of your voice; he made all of your features with the fondest thoughts of only you in mind. He celebrated along with your parents your first smile and watched with affection your first steps. … Marvelously loved one, there is absolutely nothing accidental about you.” pg.20-21
7 | A Love Letter Life by Jeremy + Audrey Roloff
I’ll admit that I was a regular watcher of the TLC show Little People, Big World. What can I say? I’m a sucker for good reality shows! I’ve followed Jeremy and Audrey on social media and love their heart for living intentionally, they have a suuuuper adorable daughter, Ember, and I’m a huge fan for positive encouragement when I’m scrolling Insta. The Roloffs have a marriage ministry called Beating 50 Percent and have a heart for seeing marriages thrive. This book highlights their own love story and their creative pursuit of one another. Skeptical? Don’t be! They share their story like two friends around a campfire and it’s not all fluff and sunshine – they share the struggles, the doubts, and the fears, too. It was a beautiful testimony to what God can do with a couple devoted to living for Him and it has encouraged me to be intentional in my marriage.
“Love that lasts isn’t something we can easily fall in and out of. Nor is it something that just happens to us. Love that lasts is an unconditional pursuit full of uncompromising sacrifices. All this to say, choosing the person you will love for the rest of your life is the most pervasively life-altering decision you will ever make. It will influence everything – from your work, home, family, and finances to how you endure heartache and experience joy.” pg.160
8 | An Intentional Life by Karen Stott
This was definitely one of those books that I was texting snippets of to my unsuspecting friends and each chapter, I found myself thinking, “Me too!” If you’re a mama, who loves her littles, her spouse, her home…but also has a dream, the desire for more, or a creative idea that won’t leave you alone…this is like a refreshing glass of water. Encouraging and full of reminders about your value, worth, and the undeniable potential that you hold to change the world. Listen to this snippet:
“What is your seed? What is the idea that keeps nagging you, the dream that keeps you up at night? What is the “Maybe I should?” that is coming to mind right now? Whether it’s the urge to write, move, bring justice to a situation, start a nonprofit, learn another language, or bring a meal to your neighbor, it all starts with a seed that holds more possibility and more power than you can comprehend. And you owe it to yourself, and to the God who planted it there to pay attention, give it some water, and take the first step toward bringing that seed to life.” pg.38
9 | Kill The Spider by Carlos Whittaker
I read this book in one day. Legit – 24 hours from cover to cover. I could NOT put it down! I had followed Carlos on Instagram (@loswhit) for a while before I even realized he had written a book. He had referred to the idea “Kill the spider” in his stories a few times and when I found it I ordered it immediately, not knowing what to expect, but figuring if he wrote like he talks on IG, I’d like it. When you long to be a “better person”, only to find yourself caught in the same patterns of behavior, you have to stop cleaning cobwebs and kill the spider. Carlos shares his journey of discovering this truth and the transparency of his If you want to read something that will make you laugh, catch your breath, and cry actual tears…here it is, friend.
“You may have heard the saying “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to make you think he doesn’t exist.” When we sit in denial of the reality of spiritual warfare, we are denying the enemy exists and that he is trying to distract us from the work God wants us to do to clean out the cobwebs and get rid of our spiders. So much of the struggle we face comes from the enemy feeding us lies and us buying into them. The sooner you stop allowing him to have control, the sooner you can get on to living without cobwebs in your life.” pg.87
10 | Do It Scared by Ruth Soukup
Full disclosure: I haven’t finished this one yet, but I knew I had to put it on the list! Everyone struggles with fear…it just looks differently for each of us. This is the newest book by Ruth Soukup and I can guarantee that it’ll challenge you to push through the fears that are holding you back and to ditch the lies that you aren’t good enough, smart enough, brave enough, or ____ enough. It’s changing how I think when it comes to my fears and I’m totally loving it!
“I decided to stop letting fear stand in my way. I realized it was okay to be afraid – that everyone is afraid sometimes – but that it wasn’t okay to let fear prevent me from doing all those things I really wanted to do. I realized I needed to leverage fear to my advantage. So I decided that from then on, I would just do it scared.”
Shop some others on my “Read Next” and Favorite Books List:
The Ministry Of Ordinary Places by Shannon Martin
Looking For Lovely by Annie F Downs
The Gratitude Jar by Josie Robinson
Liturgy Of The Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren
You just read through ALL those recommendations and quotes and thoughts on summer reading…so you’re officially in the “inner circle” now! You’re dedicated, you love your books, and you’re reading to discover some new ones. You want good books, you’re tired of the Pinterest rabbit hole of looking for reading lists, and even more tired of ordering ones that sound great and just aren’t your vibe. If you’re team “no more dusty books” (and I’m pretty sure you are!) there’s something in the works for this fall that I think you’ll love. I’ve been busy dreaming up a little book club for you, for me, and for all of us book collectors to come together in a fun community – to read, to laugh, to connect. The Lettered Grace Book Club is launching in early fall and I can’t wait to share my favorite reads with you, get to know you better, and share some good, good conversations about the books were discovering! You can click here to jump on the list to be the first to have access to and learn more about the LG Book Club when it opens! Eeeeek!!!!
There are SO many amazing books out there and I have SO many more I could recommend. I’d love to know if you grab one of these I shared above (or if you’ve already read one) and what you think about it. Leave a comment and let’s get a conversation goin’ about some good books! And don’t forget to tell me one of your favorite summer reads – because I’m always adding to my reading list, too! I LOVE to hear what you’re reading!
Let’s make this summer intentional by setting aside time to invest in ourselves so we can be all He created us to be! Women of promise, with purpose, and on mission! For our good and His glory, we’re claiming this season together by living our legacy…faith, family, home.
That gorgeous image was captured by the beautiful and talented Anna of Anna Filly Photography! You can discover more of her work at www.annafillyblog.com!