Summer 2020 Reading List

I have been getting some requests for a summer reading list, so I put together some of my favs with a little description and links to buy the books. Let me know if you spy any of your favorites or have any suggestions I should add to my list for the summer!

Easy, Beach Reads:

  1. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

My friend, Chloé Kitchens, recommended this read to me and I LOVED IT! I had been reading a lot of heavy books before this one. Attachments is such a fun, light read! It reminded me so much of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (another summer rec I’ll get to later!)

Summary: Beth and Jennifer work in a newsroom. It’s 1999. They’ve just gotten internet and e-mail, but their company knows people are using their access to e-mail for personal reasons instead of professional. Beth and Jennifer don’t care. Their emails are hilarious and keep getting flagged by the system. Lincoln is hired to basically monitor the emails throughout the company and send out warnings to those who aren’t using their emails for professional reasons, but he’s so entertained by Beth and Jennifer that he doesn’t send them any warnings. Instead, he begins to fall in love with Beth based off her emails and it gets to a point where it would be too creepy to introduce himself now… so what does he do? Read to find out!

Amazon Link: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

2. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

I read this book last summer and found it to be hilarious. Such a fun read and great for a day lounging by the pool.

Summary: Bernadette Fox is many things. A mother to 15-year-old Bee, a renowned architect, a wife, and she’s feared by the mothers in Seattle. There are always whispers about Bernadette. When Bee comes home with an outstanding report card, she hopes that as a reward that her family can go to Antarctica. Bernadette has become a recluse of sorts, so she enlists the help of a virtual assistant in India to complete all her errands. And then Bernadette disappears without a trace. Bee sets out on a mission to find her mother and finds emails, documents, etc. that will hopefully lead her to Bernadette.

Amazon Link: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

3. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

You’ve probably heard of this book. Hulu recently created and released a series starring Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon based on this book. But I am here to tell you the book and the movie are very different! Such a wild read.

Summary: Mia Warren is a single mother that doesn’t stay in one place for very long. The only things she seems to consistently bring with her from place to place is her artwork and her teenage daughter Pearl. When they move to Shaker Heights, they become tenants of a house owned by the Richardsons. Pearl quickly becomes friends with the four Richardson children, and Mia also becomes entangled in the web that is the Richardson family. The Richardsons have friends that are in the midst of adopting a Chinese-American baby and events unfold that leads to the division of this town because of the adoption and custody battle waging. Elena, the mother of the Richardson children and an adamant rule follower, takes side with her friends. Mia chooses the side of the birth mother. Elena is furious and works diligently to uncover Mia’s past and why she’s always on the run… there is so much to unpack in this story. Read for yourself to see what she does or doesn’t find out.

Amazon Link: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

4. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Summary: Oh how this one made me laugh last summer. Eleanor says exactly what she’s thinking and doesn’t really know appropriate social cues. Her relationship with her “Mummy” is very toxic. She doesn’t really have friends. Eleanor then meets Raymond, an IT guy from work. She’s not interested in Raymond though, she’s actually in love with a local musician named Johnnie. They’ve never met, but she is in love. Raymond keeps popping everywhere though. They end up saving Sammy, an elderly man who fell in public and the three of them become friends. Raymond’s big heart may end up helping Eleanor revive her own heart. Eleanor goes through a journey of healing throughout the book.

PS: The word on the street is that Reese Witherspoon is turning this into a movie!

Amazon Link: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

5.  One Day in December by Josie Silver

Why not have Christmas in July? That’s what I’m thinking.

Summary: Laurie is riding on a bus one day when she catches the eye of a man outside. Their eyes lock but before anything else can happen, Laurie’s bus drives away. For a year Laurie and her best friend Sarah look for the mysterious man Laurie saw but with no luck. Sarah then comes home with a new boyfriend that she claims is “the one” and it turns out…. it’s the man from the bus stop. Jack. One Day in December takes us through 10 years of turmoil, twists, and turns. And believe me when I say a lot can happen in 10 years. I will warn you this is a pretty cheesy book, but it did receive a 3.75/5 stars from me. I thought it would be similar to The Proposal which I was not a fan of, but I was proven wrong! I also did not vibe with Josie Silver’s latest novel, The Two Lives of Lydia Bird so if you have read that one just know these are very different!

Amazon Link: One Day in December by Josie Silver

Spiritual Living / Spiritual Growth Reads:

6. What If It’s True by Charles Martin

Summary: I can’t say enough good things about this read. I read it last summer and I think every believer and every person that is skeptical / has questions about Jesus should read through this one. It took me a while to read through it and not because it was boring but because it’s so heavy and really makes you think. This book is the “storyteller’s journey with Jesus” and it is POWERFUL. Charles Martin went through a journey of asking himself okay if every word of of the Bible is true how should believers, specifically himself, respond? Hard to explain this book, but if you’re looking to deepen your relationship with the Father this summer pick up a copy. And they’ve recently released paperback copies!

Also, Annie F. Downs had an incredible podcast episode with him last year. Check out That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs and search for the episode with Charles Martin!

Amazon Link: What If It’s True by Charles Martin

7. Get Out of Your Head by Jennie Allen

Very timely read. I started this book at the beginning of quarantine and I needed it. I often struggle with anxiety and toxic thoughts that spin out of control, but this book helped me find the root of that anxiety and work through it.

Summary: Jennie Allen said, “The greatest spiritual battle of our generation is taking place between our ears.” I couldn’t agree with that statement more. We are overstimulated, too informed, and are left feeling hopeless in our own minds because of the brokenness of ourselves and the world. Jennie takes each of us through steps in order to combat the lies we tell ourselves and I love the visuals she gives to help us better understand our thought process. Lots of research went into this book, and I’m not sure I’ve ever dog-eared so many pages of a book! She helps us transform lies into truth. For example, one lie we may tell ourselves is that we are victim to our circumstances. Instead, we transform that thought into our circumstances are providing opportunities to experience the goodness of God.

Amazon Link: Get Out of Your Head by Jennie Allen

8. The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer

I recently finished this book and wrote a review on it, but I cannot recommend it enough. Especially in the season we’re in with COVID-19.

Summary: John Mark Comer was a pastor for a huge megachurch preaching 6 sermons each Sunday. Finally, the constant hurrying and rushing caught up to him, and he decided to take a step back and lead in a less consuming role in the church. Throughout this book, JMC takes us through what he’s learned since he’s learned rhythms of slowing down. He goes through the history of increasing speed in our lives and what the problem with hurry really is, but my favorite section is when he walks through the four practices for unhurrying your life: silence and solitude, Sabbath, simplicity, and slowing. I believe it’s especially important for us to learn about these practices, especially Sabbath.

Our culture is so caught up with constantly running 24/7 but our bodies need a break. We need a Sabbath. He also walks through his detox from technology. He inspired me to delete my email app off my phone and only check it on my computer twice a day which has already been a game changer. He also talks about how he turns off the notifications for texts on his phone so he has to click the message app in order to see if anyone has texted him. I have decided to try that too in order to detox from my phone a little more.

Amazon Link: The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer

9. A Love Letter Life by Jeremy & Audrey Roloff

Gosh, I love this one. I read it last summer and okay maybe you’ll find it cheesy BUT man I loved it. These two are so authentic and open when it comes to talking about their pursuit for one another. I love their story. I love the advice they give when it comes to creating a fun, creative, intentional relationship. No matter whether you are single, dating or married check this one out!

Summary: Do these two look familiar? You may recognize them from Little People, Big World! They walk through what it’s like to start dating while also being on TV and how they navigated their relationship off-screen. They have faced many obstacles throughout their relationship, but they showcase how you choose to love someone and it’s a choice that you must make every day. Jeremy and Audrey give advice on combatting the disconnect because of technology in a relationship, purity, differences in dating for females and males, and so much more.

Amazon Link: A Love Letter Life by Jeremy and Audrey Roloff

Enneagram Reads / Podcasts:

10. The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile

If you’re new to the Enneagram, this is the read I always recommend! I also learn the best through storytelling and examples which this book gives plenty of throughout.

Summary: The Enneagram is a tool to further understand yourself and the people around you better. The Enneagram is a very old tool, but it has recently become extremely popular. There are 9 Enneagram types (if you’re confused think of this as another version of Myers-Briggs, DISC, etc.) Every Enneagram type has a wing number. For example, I’m an Enneagram 8 with a 7 wing. I could only have a 7 or 9 wing, must be a number touching mine. Anyway! this book is full of stories that make you think about the way you react to things and why you do the things you do. Can’t recommend this one enough!

Amazon Link: The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile

Bonus Enneagram Materials: Check out That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs. Her podcast is incredible and she recently started an EnneaSummer series. She also had an EnneaSummer series last summer that you should check out! She interviews various friends that are each number and they walk through their struggles and strengths in their numbers.

Also! I haven’t read this because, well, I’m not married BUT if you are I have heard great things about this book: Becoming Us: Using the Enneagram to Create a Thriving Gospel-Centered Marriage.

Self-Improvement Reads:

11. The Defining Decade by Meg Jay

I read this right after I moved to Nashville and thought it was a very practical and applicable read. Lots of people have raved about it and it lives up to the hype!

Summary: We hear all the time that “your twenties don’t matter”… but they do. Every year of life matters. This book gives you tools in order to make the most of your twenties and how our brains are molded when it comes to work, relationships, personality, identity, etc. throughout this decade. Such a brilliantly written book that will make you think twice about what you’ve learned should be true of your twenties. The book is broken up into three sections: work, love, and brain and the body. Meg Jay is a clinical psychologist, but her language is very relatable. I think every twentysomething needs to read this!

Amazon Link: The Defining Decade by Meg Jay

12. How To Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

This book is OLD. Written in 1936 by Dale Carnegie, yes some of the language is old but this book will make you better human, friend and employee. If I ever run my own business, all of my employees will be required to read this book.

How To Win Friends & Influence People is broken up into four parts: fundamental techniques in handling people, six ways to make people like you, how to win people to your way of thinking, and be a leader: how to change people without giving offense or arousing resentment. A very practical and important book. One of my favorite quotes in the book is, “Instead of condemning people, let’s try and understand them.” Another great quote is, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people to be interested in you.” How powerful is that?! I’m going to try and reread this one soon because writing about it has me thinking about how much I need to instill all of this into my brain even more.

Amazon Link: How To Win Friends & Influence People

Non-Fiction Reads:

13. Educated by Tara Westover

Once again, another read you’ve probably heard of, but I had to include it because it’s so important. You have to read this if you haven’t. It is moving beyond words and hard at some parts to read, but such a powerful story.

Summary: Tara Westover’s family are Mormon fundamentalists that live in the mountains of Idaho. She is not allowed to attend school and has to teach herself and figure out a way to get into college without any previous education.

Not only that, Tara has a violent brother and an unpredictable father. She has to overcome many obstacles pertaining to her family before she can move forward to become the person she is today. Tara goes on to receive a PhD from Cambridge University, but there is a lot to get through before she makes it to Cambridge.

Amazon Link: Educated by Tara Westover

14. Diana: Her True Story – In Her Own Words by Andrew Morton

I’ve had an obsession with Princess Diana for as long as I can remember. I did book report on her biography in 4th grade. Her story is so fascinating and this book takes you through so much more of her story than we ever knew. I flew through this read. It doesn’t have a boring biography feel to it, rather it’s very much her voice throughout. Her story is told with the help of Andrew Morton.

Summary: This was originally published in 1992 but has since been updated with new information. Diana speaks with no filter about her unhappy marriage, her hopes for her future outside of the monarchy, and her relationship with the Queen. I find the monarchy so fascinating, so I thought it was intriguing to get an insider glimpse into what it’s really like and it’s not all sunshine and rainbows according to Diana.

Amazon Link: Diana: Her True Story – In Her Own Words

15. Sisters First by Jenna Bush Hager & Barbara Pierce Bush

Huge fan of the Bush sisters. They spoke in Auburn a few years ago and I was amazed by their poise and humble spirits. These two sisters are very different, but I loved reading about their experiences growing up in the White House and how their lives have evolved since then.

Summary: Their grandfather became president when they were very young and then 12 short years later their father became president as well. Their college experience was far from normal. Secret Service agents following them everywhere. No privacy and no room to make mistakes without the public knowing. They experience love and loss together showcasing the importance of family. There’s no bond quite like a sister, no matter what happens throughout life. The Bush sisters are very open and honest giving a very personal and real glimpse into their lives.

Amazon Link: Sisters First by Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush

LAST BUT NOT LEAST.

I think everyone needs to read this book. Everyone. It’s so dang good. Yes, it’s long but DO NOT BE AFRAID. It’s my new favorite.

Summary: The Allbright family is a family of three: Cora, the mother, Ernt, the father, and Leni, the daughter. Ernt came back from the Vietnam War a changed man. He has PTSD, mood swings, can’t hold a job, and believes the government is corrupt. Ernt gets word that a friend of his that died in the war has left his house in Alaska to Ernt and his family. The Allbrights have been moving consistently every few months or so for a while now, but this time it’s different. They move to Alaska. There are very few people in the town they move to, and learning to survive Alaska’s long and harsh winters proves to be a factor that will either break you or make you a true Alaskan.

There’s so much to unpack, but I don’t want to ruin it for you! You’re going to LOVE IT, take my word for it! And it goes through so many topics: PTSD, abuse, isolation, toxic relationships. Not to mention the unbelievable imagery. I really can’t say enough good things about this one.

Amazon Link: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

And that’s all folks! Feel free to share this with your friends and drop a comment below or on social media if you read any of the books from this list! Would love to hear your thoughts.

xo,

msv

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