A good mix of fiction and non-fiction titles will keep our minds occupied this summer as we enjoy the warm weather and longer days!
Here in the mountains of Colorado, we recently received a foot plus of snow, but I know that in most places in the United States, people are gearing up for summer. While I’m sure everyone’s different work schedules play into things, it seems like summer is often the time when people kick back and relax more…and what better way to relax than with a good book!
Being a huge lover of story, I adore fiction and that often makes up the majority of my reading material. Even with that, I am the first to admit there are also many great non-fiction books to teach and encourage us. In this list, I tried to highlight both fiction and non-fiction, though nothing hugely technical. It is summer after all!
Fiction and Non-Fiction Titles to Get You Through the Summer
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As a teen, every time June rolled around and everything was bright green and blooming, I was struck with a need to read A Girl of Limberlost. This is the story of Elnora, a girl growing up in Indiana around the turn of the century (if you’ve read Freckles by Gene Stratton Porter, this is a continuation of that story) with a tragic family history and a rough living situation. Seeing how she rises above it all, amidst the beauty of the swamp area she lives in, is so inspiring. Porter’s lyrical descriptions of the local flora and fauna add much to the story and make it feel like you’re there with Elnora, experiencing it all.
If you love experimenting with flavors and want to think outside the box in your cooking, you’ll love Food52’s Big Little Recipes! I have most of Food52’s cookbooks, but if I had to choose one that’s perfect for summer, it would be this one. (Runner-ups were: Food52 Mighty Salads and Food52 Ice Cream & Friends by Editors of Food52; Food52 Any Night Grilling by Paula Disbrowe.) The sub-title of this cookbook is “Good Food with Minimal Ingredients and Maximal Flavor” and honestly, what more would you want for cooking in the summer?!
Book Girl: A Journey Through the Treasures and Transforming Power of a Reading Life by Sarah Clarkson
I first shared about Book Girl in my post called “6 Delightful Books that Celebrate a Love of Books”…but it’s definitely worth mentioning again! This book is perfect for the long days of summer because, along with being utterly delightful to read, it’s also full of curated book lists, ready to help you figure out more books to read. And more books is always a good thing!
I discovered Amanda Dykes’ books last year, and wow. Though I wanted to share about all of them today, I made myself pick my favorite and that is Set the Stars Alight. This story is one that will keep you turning pages long into the night, not wanting to set it down, so it might be good to plan for reading over your summer vacation. One of the most poignant and incredibly beautiful stories I have ever read, full of sacrifice, redemption, and true love. The writing is beyond amazing, every word woven into a delightful tapestry of story, always pointing me to the Master Storyteller.
If you’re a mama, then sometimes summer is a perfect time for an extra dose of encouragement in your role. M Is For Mama released earlier this year by one of my very favorite people to follow on Instagram (she’s at @misformama), and this is literally the book I’ve been wanting for years. Full of encouragement and conviction (and awesome practical tips too, from a mama of ten!), Abbie acknowledges that motherhood is hard (though “hard is not the same thing as bad”), but it’s also such a privilege and can be so full of joy as well. She approaches that whole tension with such grace and balance, and I recommend this to pretty much every single mama I know!
Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children by Angela J. Hanscom
When I was growing up, summers meant that my sisters and I basically lived outside. We played in our creek, spending countless hours building our own “Borrower houses” (from The Borrowers series by Mary Norton). Playing a myriad of imaginary games that ranged from pretty high drama involving orphans and scarlet fever to the much more basic “house”. Balanced and Barefoot is an incredibly fascinating book that highlights the many, many benefits of such “unrestricted outdoor play,” and then contrasts that with what happens when children don’t regularly experience that type of play. The statistics the author shares boggled my mind! After setting the groundwork for the importance of outdoor play, the author has multiple chapters addressing different concerns and ways to help you achieve this very needed outlet for your children.
Another book that will pull you into the story, Love, Paris will keep you wondering how things will turn out in the end. Paris was extremely relatable, and I was so encouraged by the threads of redemption running through every part of her story. Natasha Metzler is an incredible author (this book is actually the second in the Women of Promise series; the first, Emma and the Reasons, is just as good!), and I was convicted through her words multiple times.
I’ll be honest, as much as I love Christy Purifoy’s writing, I wasn’t originally going to read Garden Maker. I really enjoy gardening, but our current living situation doesn’t allow for it and I thought it would be too painful to read. I’m so glad I decided to give it a try anyway! Per her normal, Christy’s writing is like poetry and this book is delightful in every sense. Sprinkled liberally with gorgeous photos of her gardens and flowers, we read assorted musings on different aspects of gardening and how it ties into life in general, along with tips from a master gardener. Instead of making me sad, this book reminded me of the wonder of gardening, even if it can’t be experienced every year.
While the previous book focused on flower gardens, this one takes a different approach. The sub-title for The Art of Simple Food II is “Recipes, Flavor, and Inspiration from the New Kitchen Garden: A Cookbook.” Written by the woman who is considered the pioneer of the “slow food” movement and the concept of farm-to-table restaurants, this book is chock-full of recipes highlighting all the fresh garden produce of summer, along with assorted vegetable gardening tips.
No seasonal book list would be complete without at least one gem from L. M. Montgomery. The Story Girl takes place over a Prince Edward Island summer as two brothers visit a group of their cousins. Full of what L. M. Montgomery does best, it’s full of everyday domestic adventures, sweet and quirky tales, and exquisite descriptions of natural beauty.
The Aveline series: The Lost Art of Reverie, A Jar Full of Light, The Fire in Our Hearth by Rae Walsh
Summer is the perfect time to read an entire series, and the Aveline series would be one well worth your time! Rae Walsh is actually the pen name for Rachel Devenish Ford, an author I discovered years ago through her The Journey Mama Writings series that I so enjoyed (the first one, Trees Tall as Mountains, is perpetually free on Kindle!). (Also, her A Traveler’s Guide to Belonging is one of the most profound novels I have ever read.) So far she has written three books in her Aveline series: The Lost Art of Reverie, A Jar Full of Light, and The Fire in Our Hearth, and each is amazing! Unlike many other contemporary Christian fiction books I’ve read, these address real issues like crippling anxiety, compulsive behaviors, and racial injustice, all amidst great writing. (Disclaimer: though not used in a gratuitous manner at all, there are some sexual elements in these books so please use discretion if that bothers you.)
Summer is such a great time for some extra reading, and I hope this mix of fiction and non-fiction titles have given you a place to start.
Under His Grace,
Here at Club31Women, we recognize that not everyone has the same taste or point of view on books, music, or movies, but we offer these short reviews for your consideration. Our hope is that you will find something new and wonderful on this list of recommended resources!
~ Lisa Jacobson, Club31Women
100 Words of Affirmation Your Son/Daughter Needs to Hear
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