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summer reading list

    I read a bunch last summer (here’s that list), and the summer before (see them here) and plan to do the same this year. I am a sporadic reader – sometimes going months without having a good book on my nightstand or ipad, and then I have this hunger and I can’t stop. The slowed-down pace of summer helps, for sure, and today marks our official first day (woohoo!!). So to celebrate, I’ve compiled a list of books I’m reading and ones I hope to read this summer.


    the locust effect // written by the founder of IJM (who I’ll be traveling with to Rwanda in just a few weeks), this book is opening my eyes in a new and uncomfortable way.

    While the world has made encouraging strides in the fight against global poverty, there is a hidden crisis silently undermining our best efforts to help the poor.  It is a plague of everyday violence. Beneath the surface of the world’s poorest communities, common violence — like rape, forced labor, illegal detention, land theft, police abuse and other brutality — has become routine and relentless. And like a horde of locusts devouring everything in their path, the unchecked plague of violence ruins lives, blocks the road out of poverty, and undercuts development. The Locust Effect is a wake-up call: Its massive implications will forever change the way we understand global poverty – and will help secure a safe path to prosperity for the global poor in the 21st century.

    pretty // a brand new e-book by a blog-friend that pretty much reads like the inside of my heart.

    In Pretty, Tammy Strait encourages readers to look beyond the superficialities we use to protect ourselves or to impress others. By Looking Back, Looking In, Looking Out, Looking Forward, and Looking Up, Tammy teaches readers to examine the illusions they are living under that prevent them from authentic connection with those around us. She guides us to a deeper relationship with ourselves, with those around us, and with God. A more abundant life awaits when we rest in the unconditional love of the Creator.

    left to tell // another book I read in preparation for my visit to Rwanda … the horror of the genocide plus the resolve of the survivors is heartbreaking and remarkable all at once.

    Immaculee Ilibagiza grew up in a country she loved, surrounded by a family she cherished. But in 1994 her idyllic world was ripped apart as Rwanda descended into a bloody genocide. Immaculee’s family was brutally murdered during a killing spree that lasted three months and claimed the lives of nearly a million Rwandans. Incredibly, Immaculee survived the slaughter. For 91 days, she and seven other women huddled silently together in the cramped bathroom of a local pastor while hundreds of machete-wielding killers hunted for them. It was during those endless hours of unspeakable terror that Immaculee discovered the power of prayer, eventually shedding her fear of death and forging a profound and lasting relationship with God. She emerged from her bathroom hideout having discovered the meaning of truly unconditional love””a love so strong she was able seek out and forgive her family’s killers. The triumphant story of this remarkable young woman’s journey through the darkness of genocide will inspire anyone whose life has been touched by fear, suffering, and loss.


    the secret keeper // I started this one last weekend and became mom-of-the-year on Saturday when I layed on the couch all day long and read. I’m close to the end and love it.

    During a picnic at her family’s farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson witnesses a shocking crime, a crime that challenges everything she knows about her adored mother, Dorothy. Now, fifty years later, Laurel and her sisters are meeting at the farm to celebrate Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday. Realizing that this is her last chance to discover the truth about that long-ago day, Laurel searches for answers that can only be found in Dorothy’s past. Clue by clue, she traces a secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds thrown together in war-torn London””Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy””whose lives are forever after entwined. A gripping story of deception and passion, The Secret Keeper will keep you enthralled to the last page.

    the invention of wings // I’ve heard that if you loved secret life of bees and the kitchen house you’ll love this new one. Well, I did love Bees and the kitchen house is one of my all time faves, so I’m excited to begin.

    Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women. Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.

    eleanor & park // this one just sounds fun. Plus, I like the cover.

    Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits””smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love””and just how hard it pulled you under.

    all the light we cannot see // Historical fiction + stories with characters whose paths collide are always what I’m drawn to. This one sounds amazing.

    From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, he illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.

    the guernsey literary and potato peel pie society // Another one of those characters-crossing-paths stories, that has super high reviews. Looking forward to this book as well.

    “I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb…

    (all book descriptions are from amazon)

    So that is what’s on my summer reading list. Have you read any of them? Or do you have any other suggestions? I’d love to hear …

    42 thoughts on “summer reading list”

    1. Ah! I JUST NOW finished the last page of The Secret Keeper, and I wouldn’t have read it had I not seen it as one of your suggestions! So, many thanks for that.
      And wowzers! I really liked it…cried at the end. That Kate Morton can craft a story! Thanks for the recommendation!

      Now I get to carry it with me for a few more days, like any good story you become absorbed in, turning it over in my mind as I relive the twists and turns and unexpected ending.

      : )

    2. Left to Tell is an amazingly brave book. Immaculee Ilibagiza is an incredible woman to have survived such an ordeal and still has love in her heart.

    3. Guernsey is one of my all-time favorites. I totally wanted to move there by the time I finished the book. Another great historical fiction series taking place in Scottland begins with another of my faves, Child of the Mist by Kathleen Morgan. SO good!

      I love how you do these lists every summer. I always love hearing recommendations for a great read.

    4. Loved Secret Keeper! One of my recent favorites. And I just finished The Invention of Wings. Soooooo good!

      I look forward to checking out some of the others you mentioned. I love a good read!

    5. Thanks for the reading lists. I listen to tons of books in my car from CDs but love to get the actual book in my hand and have time to read it. Always looking for good recs. Already had a couple of these on my list.

    6. Guernsey is an absolute delight — you will LOVE it! I received it for Christmas several years ago and it is pure joy. Love your summer book lists. You recommend great ones!!

    7. I always love your book lists! The Secret Keeper & Guernsey Literary Society are a couple of my favorite books!

    8. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie society is a wonderful book. Totally engrossing and charming. Thanks for the recommendations. My library list has just grown a little more.

    9. Guersney was one of the most cleverly written book I’ve ever read. The way the author writes all the overlapping stories is genius. Felt like the characters were all old friends or pen pals. Enjoy. :)

    10. The only one on your list that I have read is The Secret Keeper. It was fabulous and I read everything I could find by Kate Morton. I’ve added several from your list to my “must read someday” list that I try to get to a little at a time. I love to read, but my schedule doesn’t allow for much right now. Thanks for sharing your reading list!

    11. Thanks for your list! I’ve put a few on my Amazon wish list. Just finished the Kitchen House and loved it. I’m more than half way through Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon – this is a series not to miss! Her first book, Outlander, will be a series on Stars starting in August – wonderful historical fiction!!! My favorite series by far. Enjoy your summer reading!

    12. It’s always fascinating to see what other people are reading…kind of like a global book club! If you haven’t read anything from Charles Martin, I highly, highly recommend. His writing is incredibly beautiful, detailed and honest. Two of my favorites – The Mountains Between Us and Thunder and Rain. They are both perfect summer reads.

      Look forward to reading some of your recommendations and enjoy your blog tremendously. Have a delightful summer!

      P.S. I’ve read most everything from Kate Morton since you first recommended. Loved them all!

    13. Adrienne in Atlanta

      Have you read The Night Circus? It’s so not my usual thing to read magical realism at all, but the aesthetics of this book were completely riveting to me. It’s about a circus that opens at dusk and has the most fantastical tricks and carnies, and everything is BLACK AND WHITE – right up my alley (and I do believe yours, too). Gorgeous description. It made me want to have a theme party when I was finished. The plot is secondary to the hyper-visual prose, in my opinion. I was able to suspend my disbelief easily. I highly recommend it – and I am typically a biography/non-fiction lover.

      Thanks for the recommendations. I will check them out.

      1. I LOVED The Night Circus. I listened to the audio version read by Jim Dale (who could make a physics textbook sound riveting) and was swept away by the imagery and characters. LOVED it!

    14. I adored “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” – wonderful read! I have Eleanor & Park on my list but I still have left overs from my last list!

    15. GREAT list! I always love to see others’ summer reading lists! You’ll adore ‘Wings’ & “Guernsey”….. and I’m off to check out the others on your list!

    16. I’ve read both Eleanor and Park and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – both are great books, quick reads and you will love them! Good book club choices (if you’re in a book club!)

    17. LOVED Guernsey when I read it a few years back! I’ve thought recently how I would enjoy picking it back up again. Another good one in the vein of all things English, literature, and finding the Lord is Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber. Enjoy! I’ve got a focused book list for the summer that I’m going through for a side-project, but I’m hoping to sneak in Love Does by Bob Goff in this mix. :)

    18. Thank you for this list. We are leaving in a couple of weeks to spend 3 weeks in Colorado and my goal for my whole family is less electronics and more reading! :) I am going to put a few of these on my list. You will love Guernsey. It is a great book!

    19. In my cherished Top Ten, “Left to Tell”. I really don’t remember a time I needed a box of Kleenex next to me nor a more powerful ending of nearly any book I had read. The reconciling her time and life during the Rwanda genocide processed through and ending with love and forgiveness for the unthinkable, unimaginable and truly unspeakable horror that befell these people is inspirational. It is an amazing account of the days of and after the 91 days of bloody terror and death, told by her in recalling her transformation as a result of these atrocities. To read how she came to forgive those who committed these killings was the take away for me. May this history never repeat itself. Thanks Emily for bringing to the forefront of my mind today what a gift this book is and what it will be to those who choose to read off your list.

    20. Those all sound like very interesting books. I may have to grab a few of them. One of my favs is The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. It is a quick light read by a very enjoyable one with some historical fiction mixed in. One other book I love is These Is My Words by Nancy Turner. Thanks for the recommendations.

    21. I read “Left to Tell” several years ago. Picked it up at Costco I believe. Reading it made me wonder how she lived through it, and made me ask God, “Why did you choose me to be born in the United States of America rather than some 3rd world country?’

    22. I’ve read: The Secret Keeper, The Guernsey Literary, & Invention of Wings. The Invention of Wings was my favorite out of the three. Recently I read (or rather listened to on Audible) The Seamstress. It is about a holicoust survivor, and it is so good. I highly recommend it.

    23. Hi Emily! I have to tell you that I’ve read Left to Tell and met Immaculee Ilibagiza. I had the chance to meet her and photograph her at a Women Of Christ conference in WI. She is beautiful inside and out and it is so hard to believe what she has been through. The first thing I asked her was if I could hug her…to either give her comfort of feel the Spirit in her..i don’t know. She is an amazing woman.

      I also have The Guernsey Literary on my nightstand for this summer. Can’t wait to give it a shot. I adore your work as a graphic artist and have been enjoyed seeing what you are doing for SheReadsTruth! Can’t wait to hear the stories you bring back from Africa. Thanks for your list! Happy Travels, Sandy

      1. Me too Sandy! I was at that same conference and have loved reading the books by Immaculee Ilibagiza. She’s an amazing woman and speaker and such an inspiration.

    24. Love your book lists! Thanks! I jotted down a few from this post (and your previous ones) to add to my must-reads!

      Your references to Rwanda reminded me of an AMAZING documentary about the Olympic Rwandan Cycling Team that was created to bring hope and healing after the genocide. “Rising From Ashes”. It was made by Christians, but is not a “Christian” film. Powerful! I highly recommend you watching it! See the info here:

    25. I read All the Lights We Cannot See…so good! I tried listening to Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and honestly, I couldn’t get pasts the letters format. Might’ve been better if I were looking at it, but I’m not really big on conceptual writing – just give me a straightforward story, well-told, and I’m happy!

    26. Great list, thanks. I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society a few years back and loved it, too. I just read “what Alice Forgot” and enjoyed it. I hadn’t read for awhile either. The High School stage of life is just as busy as when they are young, if not more so! I’m excited to read some this Summer, too. I will read some of these for sure! I just ordered the Call the Midwife series and Jesus, My Father, the CIA and me from Amazon.

    27. Love this list! I have all of your other reading lists pinned and have gotten some great recs–thanks! I’ve heard that Eleanor & Park is great. We have the same reading habits–I will read 10 books in a month (usually over a vacation or holiday) and then go three of four without touching one. :) I’m a total binge reader–I have no clue how people read a little every night! Anyways–I’m about to start Where’d you go, Bernadette–it has amazing reviews and a fun cover!

    28. Love this list! I have all of your other reading lists pinned and have gotten some great recs–thanks! I’ve heard that Eleanor & Park is great. We have the same reading habits–I will read 10 books in a month (usually over a vacation or holiday) and then go three of four without touching one. :) I’m a total binge reader–I have no clue how people read a little every night! Anyways–I’m about to start Where’d you go, Bernadette–it has amazing reviews and a fun cover!

    29. Wow! 8 books to read during the summer … If you get there, it’s great! I read a little every night, but sometimes I put months to finish a book. And yes, the holidays are conducive to reading more. I’ll get this week, the books that I hope to have time to read this summer! Happy reading …

    30. You have a good list. ANYTHING by Kate Morton is riveting. Can’t wait until you finish it, it has such a twist!! And The Invention of Wings is absolutely so interesting. And it’s a true story about one of the earliest abolitionist/women’s rights activists who’s journey to that role is captivating. And The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is delightful! I’ve read it twice. So charming and just makes me smile. Very witty too.

    31. Thanks for this list. I LOVED Eleanor & Park, but I will warn you that it is not really a “fun” book. It is a pretty heavy read, but a really good book that helps you understand some of the issues high schoolers face. I love all of the books by Rainbow Rowell. Fangirl and Attachments are two other books by her that are really fun reads – maybe more enjoyable for summer.

      1. I will second Sarah – Eleanor & Park is absolutely wonderful, but rather grim and sad in some of the subject matter, so not just a bouncy, superficial read. I enjoyed Attachments and am looking forward to reading Fangirl.

        Guernsey is a delightful book. Along the same sort of British vein, I also thought Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand was quite lovely. I liked Kate Morton’s The House at Riverton, so I’ll have to check out this one, and All the Light We Cannot See is already on my request list from the library. Thanks for the ideas!

    32. If you’ve never read any of Francine Rivers’ books, I highly recommend her! I just read her series called Marta’s Legacy that consists of 2 books – Her Mother’s Hope and Her Daughter’s Dream. They follow several generations of women in a family, their relational struggles, and what ultimately brings them together. Francine Rivers is a Christian author, but a very talented, descriptive, and refined writer in her own right, something that unfortunately doesn’t seem to go together in a lot of cases. But even if you don’t read these two books, any of hers are fantastic! Her Mark of the Lion series is another of my all-time favorites. I think I’ve read them all about 4 times in as many years!

        1. Ladies, I agree. Mark of the Lion Series is my all-time favorite!

          Emily- great list! You will love Secret Keeper & All the Light We Cannot See is on my summer reading list as well. I also just finished Susanna Kearsley’s The Winter Sea. I couldn’t put it down!

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