Rachel’s Summer Reading Spectacular

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free
Highlight of Summer 2013 was this moment at Glacier National Park

Highlight of Summer 2013 was this moment at Glacier National Park

Did you ever participate in those summer reading competitions for kids at the local library? The ones where you racked up points for every book you read and won prizes in August for all your credit? 


Well, I was the kid beating you at it. 

Never has an Enneagram 3 been more happy to be alive and winning things than when summer finally rolled around and it was Revenge of the Nerds for us book worms. Oh how I relished the scent of those book pages. Oh how I loved filling those giant plastic tubs full of new stories.  Oh how mad I got at my parents when they had the audacity to take us on a trip to Yellowstone National Park, which interrupted my total domination over the competition. 

I perhaps took things a bit too seriously. 

While we don’t (usually) get prizes anymore, the onset of summer still triggers the compulsion to READ, READ, READ. So below I’ve listed some of my favorites if you’re looking for suggestions this summer. I tried to mix in lighter reads with heavier ones. Enjoy! 



Lit: A Memoir (P.S.) by Mary Karr 

Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me by Ian Cron (see my review

Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion  by Sara Miles 

Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint by Nadia Bolz-Weber (see my review

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Northwest Trail by Cheryl Strayed 


Christian Classics 

For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy by Alexander Schmemann

Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer 

An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor 

The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann 

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard 


The Story of Christianity, Volumes 1 & 2 by Justo Gonzalez (see my reviews here and here

Birmingham Revolution: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Epic Challenge to the Church by Edward Gilbreath

The Civil War as a Theological Crisis by Mark Noll (see my review here

A People's History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story by Diana Butler Bass

Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion by Edward J. Larson           


Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver 

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant 

And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving 


The Honest Toddler: A Child’s Guide to Parenting by The Honest Toddler 

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson 

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh 

Bossypants by Tina Fey 

xkcd: volume 0 by Randall Munroe

Contemporary Issues 

The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity by Soong-Chan Rah

God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships by Matthew Vines 

Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays vs. Christians Debate by Justin Lee (see my review)

Why did Jesus, Moses the Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road?: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World by Brian McLaren

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sanberg 

Science, Faith, & Genesis 

The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology & The Origins Debate by John Walton (see my review

The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn't Say About Human Origins by Peter Enns (see my review

Death Before the Fall: Biblical Literalism and the Problem of Animal Suffering by Ronald E. Osborn 

The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief by Francis Collins

Coming to Peace with Science: Bridging the Worlds Between Faith and Biology by Darrell R. Falk 

Gender Equality 

Beyond Sex Roles: What the Bible Says about a Woman's Place in Church and Family by Gilbert Bilezikian

Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible's View of Women by Sarah Bessey (see my review)

Half the Church: Recapturing God's Global Vision for Women by Carolyn Custis James 

Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity Without Hierarchy, edited by Gordon D. Fee

Are Women Human? By Dorothy Sayers 

More Than Serving Tea: Asian American Women on Expectations, Relationships, Leadership and Faith by Asifa Dean, Christie Heller de Leon, Kathy Khang, Nikki A. Toyama, Tracey Gee, & Jeanette Yep (see my review/interview


Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail: Why Evangelicals Are Attracted to the Liturgical Church by Robert E. Webber and Lester Ruth

Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart by Christena Cleveland (see my review

Down We Go: Living Into the Wild Ways of Jesus by Kathy Escobar 

The Sacred Meal by Norah Gallagher 

Prototype: What Happens When You Discover You're More Like Jesus Than You Think?  by Jonathan Martin (see my review

Writing/ Creativity 

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott 

Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L’Engle 

The Crowd, The Critic, and the Muse by Michael Gungor 

The Writing Life by Annie Dillard 

How to Tell a Story and Other Essays by Mark Twain

Bible & Theology 

Inspiration & Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament by Peter Enns

The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited by Scot McKnight (see my review)

Bible, Gender, and Sexuality by James Brownson 

Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewish Words of Jesus Can Change Your Life by Lois Tverberg (see my review

The Benefit of the Doubt: Breaking the Idol of Certainty by Greg Boyd (see my review/interview


Poetry & Prayers 

This Day: Collected & New Sabbath Poems by Wendell Berry 

Selected Poems: Anne Sexton 

In the Sanctuary of Women by Jan Richardson 

A Prayer Journal by Flannery O'Connor

A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver 

Favorite Classics

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee 

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain 

Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy 

In Memoriam  by Tennyson 

The Complete Stories and Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor


From Favorite Bloggers... 

The Slavery of Death by Richard Beck

Girl at The End of the World: My Escape from Fundamentalism in Search of Faith with a Future by Elizabeth Esther 

Found: A Story of Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer by Micha Boyett

When We Were on Fire: A Memoir of Consuming Faith, Tangled Love, and Starting Over by Addie Zierman 

Something Other Than God by Jennifer Fulwiler 


From Yours Truly... 

Faith Unraveled: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions by Rachel Held Evans

A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans 


So, what's on your summer reading list? What do you recommend? 

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