That gorgeous, lazy, hazy, read-till-the-last-light-fades feeling of summer is upon us.

It inspired me back to my book shelves where all my friends live. The ones who have made the journey with us every time we’ve moved. Which has been quite  a lot. And no matter how much the boxing them up and unpacking them all might drive us crazy, I’m still a books-with-real-pages fan all the way.

So here’s what I’m grabbing to shove in a pool bag, or travel suitcase, or diaper bag any time I head out the door this summer. Maybe something will strike your fancy too.

In no particular order – my 23 Summer Reads (some for the 1st others for the 21st time):


Oh how I chuckled my way through this slice of awesomeness about parenting FIVE boys! How Do You Tuck In a Superhero?: And Other Delightful Mysteries of Raising Boys by Rachel Balducci will echo all the crazy you’ve heard yourself say – like no, you can’t lock your brother in the fridge. It will sympathize with the fear that some kid, some day will “fly” off the roof and understands the profound love language that a Costo size pack of hot dogs can speak into a boy’s heart.

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Some days we feel less like super heroes and more like we’ve met our Kryptonite and it’s that pair of cool blue eyes staring out from four-year-old obstinacy. This is the book to get you through. Devotions for Sacred Parenting: A Year of Weekly Devotions for Parents is what I grab off my nightstand when I need to be reminded parenting is supposed to hard. It’s supposed to be growing me into a better version of myself and not just figuring out ways to keep all 3 kids in bed come 9pm. Parenting is a lifetime of unlearning the habits of self and learning the habits of the Father God.

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I start to get nervous about Mondays on Sunday nights. I call it the Sunday night blues. The layers of expectation and laundry can eat us alive before the week even begins. This year, leading (in)courage’s first worldwide meetup of women called (in)RL I battled fear on a daily basis. This honest and ultimately brave book by my friend Angie Smith, What Women Fear: Walking in Faith that Transforms, changed how I think about success and failure and helped me breathe through months of Mondays leading up to (in)RL.

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For those days when you lock yourself in the bathroom just so you can have five minutes in peace and quiet to check email on your phone. Seriously, my friend Kristen knows crazy. She pretty much wrote the book on being *that* family. You know the ones. Don’t Make Me Come Up There!: Quiet Moments for Busy Momswill make you feel like finally there’s another mom who understands. And can laugh with you, encourage you and maybe bring over a cup of sweet tea too.

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If you’ve got spring cleaning fever – this is the book for you! Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living is an easy peasy checklist to each room of the house and all kinds of other nooks and crannies of life that Tsh from Simple Mom helps you sort through. You can jump into any chapter and make the book work for you. User friendly, encouraging and simple. Win-win-win. The only thing that would make it better is if Tsh would come over and do all the spring cleaning for me!

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Did you ever think that parenting is as much about teaching you as it is about teaching your children? Sacred Parenting: How Raising Children Shapes Our Souls is the most beautiful book on the art and sacrifice of parenting I’ve read. I keep re-reading it. Here is the challenge that we are meant to feel bent, exhausted, stripped of ourselves and empty. That it’s not a mistake. It’s an on-purpose gift to parents. Those who learn what sacrifice looks like from Jesus’ perspective – often at 2am while someone is up with a tummy bug.

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The first parenting book in three kids that hasn’t made me made me want to throw it out the window. I raved about Spirit-Led Parenting: From Fear to Freedom in Baby’s First Year over here. If you’re a new mom and feel like motherhood is a test you’re failing – seriously, please read this book. On giving up what “they” say and embracing a gentler way.

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Before there was Stuff Christians Like there was Adrian Plass. The funniest Christian satire written from the perspective of woefully inept Adrian – I’ve owned this book for decades. Anytime I need to remember to laugh at myself and love the messy Church for all its foibles and follies I read this. The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass, Aged 37 3/4 is good medicine for any cynical Christian’s soul.

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I read this the first time when my first born was only nine months old. I’ve come back to it many times since. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk is chock full of practical examples of what it looks like when kids and parents hit a communication speed bump {or a whole parking lot full of them}. Nothing has been as practical as this book for understanding how kids think. And how I sound to my kids. Wonderful, helpful, funny, encouraging advice with loads of examples here.

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That book you want to write? That blog you want to start? That art show you want to have? This short, practical book might just be the pep talk you need to get you there. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles talks you through the “excuses” we sometimes let get in the way of our dream. Read, then go – do that thing you’re being pulled toward.

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The Internet has created an even playing field for all of us. Suit up. We need your voice. And we need leaders. This piece of social media smarts from egghead extraordinaire, Seth Godin,  Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us is a must read for anyone who has a voice they want to turn into a megaphone and megaphone they want to convert to a platform.

 

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Fair warning: this book might spoil your summer. It may give you an itch to try that thing you’ve been putting off as crazy. Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption is a book about a 21-year-old girl who loved her life as a popular high school senior and left it because she felt an itch. Yea, you know the one. And she ended up in Uganda mama to 12 adopted kids. Yea, you read that right. Craziness – don’t say I didn’t warn you. Hot dog this is a great read!

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I’ve been a huge Wess Stafford fan since I heard him speak about the most painful and vulnerable memories of his childhood. Our Compassion International team all read Too Small to Ignore before we traveled to Guatemala. Wess is President of Compassion International. I’m half way through Just a Minute: In the Heart of a Child, One Moment … Can Last Forever and it’s making me rethink moments with my kids I would have otherwise rushed through. A collection of stories from over 60 grown ups about a key moment in their childhood that changed the course of their story. Great reading for when you want to try out a new brand of waterproof mascara.

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Remember the time I told you how I had a temper tantrum over some bratwursts? And then had to lead a Bible study? That Bible study was written by Jennie Allen who also wrote this book, Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul. Jennie’s the real deal. She wants her faith to make a difference in her everyday, pick up the groceries, car pool life. This book is the story of what happened when she said yes to God’s anything. Read at your own risk.

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This book is by one of my dearest online friends, Emily who blogs at Chatting at the Sky Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life is for anyone who worries their faith journey is on the vanilla side. And have worked hard at making sure they live up to what they expect from themselves, forgetting that grace is for all of us. Also, it has one of my favorite book trailers of all time. And Emily’s hosting a book club this summer – so grab a copy and join them!

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One of the most talked about books from 2011. Still on the NY Times best sellers list 18 months later. But what makes One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are special to me is that it’s by one of my best friends who happens to be a farmer’s wife, mom to 6 kids and exactly my age. It’s about what happens when you start to wish you had a different life. How the daily grind can grind the joy right out of you. And what Ann discovers when she starts a journey into the heart of loving the moment she’s in instead of wishing for anywhere else.

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This is on my book shelf and waiting for a slow summer evening to dig into. Empty Promises: The Truth About You, Your Desires, and the Lies You’re Believing is by Nashville pastor and blogger Pete Wilson and a response to that hungry hole in our hearts that thinks if we had a bigger house, or Pottery Barn living rooms, or perfect kids we’d finally stop wishing for something else. Yea, so in other words this book was written for me. Looking forward to digging in.

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This one intrigued me because Bob Goff is an attorney who finds time to write stories instead of just legal briefs. And since I had a brief stint in the legal field and find myself now tapping out life on a keyboard, I couldn’t resist. I’m only a few pages into Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World and enjoying the snapshot style of story telling – a person here, a moment there – the beautiful kaleidoscope of ordinary. And how nothing and no one is ordinary at all.

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Did you know that Madeleine L’Engle spent nearly a decade getting rejection letters for A Wrinkle in Time? Most of them during what she calls “the tired 30s.” She is my hero because, like me, in A Circle of Quietshe worried about her lack of house keeping skills and inability to make a decent pie. She felt guilty for writing and yet couldn’t give it up. If you’re a mom to young ones who tries to juggle motherhood with another passion, this is the book for you. Encouragement, deep thinking on the nature of words all wrapped up in a grand sense of humor. One of my all time favorites.

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OK so honestly I thought 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess was going to be all naggy-naggy, preachy-preachy and painfully annoying. It was so not. Jen Hatmaker is like that hilarious girlfriend who tells it like it is and makes you laugh at yourself in the same sentence. She’s funny, she’s real and she wears only 7 articles of clothing for a whole month. Seriously – this is a read that’s good for the soul and the funny bone.

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I got to write an endorsement for You’re Already Amazing: Embracing Who You Are, Becoming All God Created You to Be. I said, “When you’re wondering who you are and why you are, this book is like the good friend who takes you out to coffee to help figure it out. Holley understands all the expectations we heap on ourselves and shows us how to lay them down one by one in favor of the relationship God is inviting us into. It’s a welcome relief.” And I meant every word.

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I’ve always had a crush on Twitter. I love how it gives everyone the same voice, the same access, the same microphone. And Twitter for Good: Change the World One Tweet at a Time is full of fascinating examples of how people have used that microphone to change the world. If you have no clue what Twitter is or how to use it this is a great starter kit. And if you’re wanting to stretch your Twitter legs, this will suggest new routes to take. It’s a fun and fascinating foray into the power of 140 characters.

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Have you noticed how reading a book from start to finish is becoming harder and harder the more time you spend on the Internet? The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains is a snap shot of how we’re becoming new email/Tweets/Facebook notification junkies. It’s scary and fascinating at the same time. And one of the reasons I’m determined to read more books this summer!

 

OK, whew. Those are my picks – what are a few that you’ve got stuffed in beach bags, back packs and baskets this summer?

{Amazon affiliate links used.}

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