Photograph by Matias North via Unsplash

Summer reading: A selection

June 12, 2024

What’s on your summer reading list? I hope you’ve got some enjoyable books on the list. My husband, Karl, is a retired librarian. He firmly believes people get to read what they want to read! Whatever people say you should read, this summer I hope you read for pleasure. Here’s a selection of books you might consider for your own summer reading list this year, fiction and nonfiction. I’ve said before I’m a big genre fiction reader (you know, mystery, romance, and science fiction). Great for summer reading!


One mystery series I’ve loved this year: Bruno, Chief of Police, by Martin Walker, first in a long series. I just read #9, and they are all outstanding. The books are set in central France in a small community and feature small town life, French history and politics, religion, relationships, and descriptions of food you wish you could eat.

Romance (as I say, don’t knock it till you try it…): 

The Other Side of Disappearing, Kate Clayborn (Kensington, 2024). The story involves family secrets, parental abandonment, a former football star, and a true crime podcast. Plus a road trip, one of my favorites in any genre. And of course, romance. I’m a sucker for a happy ending. Clayborn makes it all work. A meaningful read.

Sci-fi (again, don’t knock it till you try it…): 

Christian Citizen contributor Mindi Welton-Mitchell has written a fantastic science fiction version of the biblical story of Ruth. It’s called Next of Kin (ARUS Entertainment, 2023). It’s an excellent sci-fi novel in its own right. Even if you’re not a sci-fi reader, give it a try. It’s fascinating to see what Mindi does with the biblical story. Highly recommended. (Find it under Mindi’s author name, Melinda Mitchell.) A review of Next of Kin by Jerrod Hugenot is available on the Christian Citizen website here.

Other Fiction:

Tom Lake, Ann Patchett (Harper, 2023). It’s the first pandemic-set novel I read. Patchett tells a story of family secrets in beautiful prose. The setting is a cherry orchard in Northern Michigan, in the depth of the pandemic. The main character, Lara, shares the story of her past with her daughters. They learn a new and adult perspective on their mother’s life—and their own. 

Whatever people say you should read, this summer I hope you read for pleasure.


My Name is Barbra, Barbra Streisand (Viking, 2023). I’ll be honest: It’s over 900 pages by Barbra, and about Barbra. But Barbra inspired me as I kept reading. She persisted in the face of pushback in many parts of her career. Even her mother never supported her, from beginning to end. She had a huge range in her work, from music to stage to screen (acting, producing, directing). I watched videos from her early career, including this stunning video of a duet with Judy Garland singing “Happy Days/Get Happy.” The book is too long, but it’s still worth reading. If you like audiobooks, I’ve heard Barbra reads it herself and occasionally breaks into song.

Other Nonfiction: 

Somehow: Thoughts on Love, Anne Lamott (Riverhead Books, 2024). Lamott’s usual thoughtfulness, candor, and beautiful storytelling inspire yet again.

Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds (Illustrated Edition Abridged by the Author), Merlin Sheldrake (Random House, 2023). This beautiful book is by a brilliant scientist who studies fungi. The book includes stunning photos of fungi, often at giant magnification. Sheldrake is also a beautiful and clear writer. You don’t have to love science to find this book interesting and inspiring.

The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown (Hazelden, 2022, 10th anniversary edition). Perfect for perfectionist clergy (myself included).

And OK, OK, one ministry-related book:

Reframing Ministry Leadership: New Insights from a Systems Theory Perspective, ed. Israel Galindo (Didache, 2023). True confessions: I’ve got several chapters in this one including, “Reframing Staff Leadership.” Other valuable chapters include, “Reframing Success in Ministry,” by Meg Hess and “Reframing Pastoral Care” by James Lamkin.

Happy reading!

Rev. Margaret Marcuson helps ministers do their work without wearing out or burning out, through ministry coaching, presentations and online resources. She hosts a free 30-minute drop-in book group, the fourth Thursday of the month from 3-3:30 PM ET. Sign up here.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of American Baptist Home Mission Societies.

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