A woman reading on a beach.
Photo by Dan Dumitriu on Unsplash
Summer reading: A selection
I’m a big genre fiction reader (you know, mystery, romance, and science fiction). These books can be great summer reading material, so let’s start there:
“Murder in the Park,” by Jeanne M. Dams (Severn House, 2022). In Oak Park, IL in 1925, a young war widow gets involved in racial politics along with a murder. Two lovely priests are in the story, one Episcopal and one Roman Catholic. First in a new series. “Music and Murder,” the second title, comes out in September. Dams also has written the excellent Dorothy Martin series starting with “The Body in the Transept,” set mostly in England in the more-or-less present day. Multiple volumes. I like the way Dams takes church seriously in her books, and she attends worship regularly herself. Plus, she’s a great storyteller.
Romance (don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it):
“Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband?” by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn (Pamela Dorman Books, 2022). A Nigerian-British young woman navigates relationships and family life. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the Nigerian community in London. Blackburn is also respectful of the Nigerian church community her character Yinka (and she herself) grew up in. The romance genre is increasingly diverse, and I’ve enjoyed exploring it. I’m a sucker for a happy ending!
Sci-fi (don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it):
The Monk and Robot series, by Becky Chambers, “A Psalm for the Wild-Built,” (2021) and “A Prayer for the Crown-Shy” (2022). I was enticed back into science fiction after decades with these gentle novellas, with their thoughtful exploration of religion, technology, and nature. Recommended to me by Christian Citizen contributor Mindi Welton-Mitchell.
“The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure,” by William Goldman (Harper, 2007). You probably saw the movie. The book was originally published in 1973. By the standards of my classics book group, 50 years old and still in print makes a classic. Despite multiple views of the movie with my kids, I had never read the book before. I found it a page-turner and laugh-out-loud funny in spots. The big joke is that Goldman pretends it’s an abridged version of a much older “classic” book. A fun read.
“Evangelical Anxiety” (HarperOne, 2022). A gloriously written memoir by Charles Marsh. Marsh writes about his experience of faith, theology, mental illness, sex, and the racial politics of the Deep South. He thoughtfully shares his journey toward greater psychological and spiritual health. The book is also steeped in his work as a scholar of religious studies and a biographer of Bonhoeffer. Another page-turning read.
“Fierce Conversations,” by Susan Scott (New American Library, revised edition, 2017). Subtitled, “Achieving Success at Work & in Life, One Conversation at a Time.” Having conversations that are both candid and productive isn’t easy, at home, at church, or in the workplace. In church especially, “nice” sometimes wins over “honest.” Drawing on her deep experience working with executives, Scott lays out principles and practices that can make individual and group conversations more meaningful and productive.