A Summer Full of Good Books

BY JULIE BALL

BY JULIE BALL

Hello, summer! Time for sitting on the beach with a good book, sitting by the pool with a good book, sitting on the porch with a good book, sitting in the car on a road trip with a good book… did I mention sitting with a good book? In case you don’t already have a precariously tall stack of books waiting for you (not that I do, ahem), here are a few of my favorite good books that you might enjoy reading this summer.                                     

Wonder by R. J. Palacio - This book is so good that I have actually walked up to total strangers eyeing it at the bookstore and told them to get it! Wonder is about a fifth-grader named August who was born with severe craniofacial deformities and is going to school outside the home for the first time. Meanwhile, his older sister is going into high school and has challenges of her own that sometimes go unnoticed. It’s told from the different perspectives of the tweens and teens in the story – but believe me, they have something to say to people of all ages. It’s uplifting, inspiring, and will make you think about the way you treat others. After I first read it myself, I read it again with my kids. It sparked some good conversations!  (One word of warning: August loves Star Wars, so if you do not know as much about Star Wars as I have come to know while parenting two boys, you may not get all of the Star Wars references… but read it anyway!)

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks - People of the Book was my favorite book that I read last year, and I could read it again already. Inspired by the real-life Sarajevo Haggadah, a medieval illuminated manuscript of the words spoken during the Passover Seder, People of the Book simultaneously tells the stories of rare-book expert Hanna Heath, called to Sarajevo in 1996 to repair damage to the book, and the various people who passed the book along in its 800-year journey. A tiny insect wing, a white hair, a wine stain, and salt crystals offer glimpses into the book’s rich past.

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe - I’m about half-way through this book right now, but it only took a few pages for me to love it. It's the memoir of an adult son and his mother during the last months of her life. Will and Mary Anne had often talked about books, but over the course of her terminal illness their book discussions became something more. “[Books] reminded us that no matter where Mom and I were on our individual journeys, we could still share books, and while reading those books, we wouldn’t be the sick person and the well person; we would simply be a mother and a son entering new worlds together” (p. 31-32). Each chapter title is the name of a book or poem (including People of the Book!). Although the entire Schwalbe family seems to be composed of remarkably accomplished people, they are just like you and me in that, in some way or another, they have to deal with illness and death, fear and hope, disappointments and dreams, doubt and faith. 

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee - This long-thought-lost manuscript from Harper Lee will be released on July 14. It’s set twenty years after the events of To Kill a Mockingbird and features a grown-up Scout. As someone who grew up loving To Kill a Mockingbird, I can hardly wait to go back to Maycomb with the Finch family.

 

What are you reading this summer? Have any good recommendations to share? My stack can take a few more...

Julie is the new Minister of Discipleship and Administration at HERITAGE. We're thrilled to have her! You can follow her on Twitter at @gottabejulie or email her at jball@heritagebaptistfellowship.com.