This week my sweet friend Sarah Mae came to stay with me for a few days, and as we were talking, our conversation inevitably turned to books. We love them. We write them. We can't stop reading them. As we pulled titles off my shelves left and right and snapping photos of covers, it became such a ridiculous flurry of pages flying that we eventually just said, "You know what, we just need a list."
So, of course, the list is going to be the form of a blog post, ahem.
I realized its so easy to spend time as homeschool moms talking about what books we have our kids reading or want them to read, that I forget how excited I am about the books I love- the ones that have shaped me, and taught me and become dear friends. These aren't the big tomes that make your head hurt, but they are thoughtful in their own way. They are poignant enough to stretch your soul,but light enough to take to the beach and still feel like you are on vacation. Fiction and non-fiction, they have caused me to pause, to think, to smirk, and I hope they do the same for you this summer as you sit poolside and let your kids splash or find yourself on the fringe of a ball field or tennis court. I hope your mind has a chance to wander just a bit and that the expanse of summer stretching out before you is better with these friends along for the journey.
(Psst- if you are an email subscriber, you may have to click through to the blog for proper links to these beauties)
Gift from the Sea
I pull this one out every summer. I am fascinated by Anne Morrow Lindbergh's life. She suffered so much after the loss of her first child, was a gifted aviator and one of the heroes that inspired me to learn how to fly. She was also a mother of five and endured a very public life with grace. She knew how to care for her soul and tucked away to the beach each year to be alone and to write. This book is a reflection of the shape her life takes, as compared to sea shells she gathers, through various seasons of caring for her family and experiencing the nuances of motherhood. Poetic, thoughtful and inspiring.
Flavia DeLuce Mysteries
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is the first of the Flavia DeLuce Mysteries-my favorite series to have read in a LONG time. Set in the post World War II English countryside, Flavia is a precocious eleven year old, with a knack for chemistry and mischief, and solving crimes. These books are just delicious. Especially for the Anglophiles among us who are desperately waiting for our PBS favorites to return this fall.
The Space Triology
I can not say enough about this series. Made up of three books, Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra and That Hideous Strength, these are a bit on the heady side, and the first book a wee bit of time to get into...but don't quit! Its so worth your time. Written before the space race and all the scientific knowledge we now hold, this series allows for pure imagination to soar as it explores Earth's place in the Universe, what else is out there, and in poetic mastery, offers a glimpse of what might have been before the fall of man. The third book is my absolute favorite, a fictional account of Lewis's acclaimed, An Abolition of Man. My copy is underlined beyond reason- just so many nuggets of truth and ideas to chew on!
What Alice Forgot
Not gonna lie here, when I picked up this book I thought it had something to do with the Alice of Wonderland fame and within the first few pages was thoroughly confused. But by then, I was hooked. After an accident at her gym, Alice wakes up with amnesia, having forgot the past ten years of her life. Children, marriage trials, friends....all of it forgotten. For those who live with a healthy dose of sentiment, or who wish they could do it all over again differently, this book is going to be your jam.
Where'd You Go, Bernadette?
I just found this book fun. Seattle, Antartica, Microsoft, a delightful daughter and a mother who loves her deeply, yet also struggles with wounds from her past. Written in a light style with unpredictable and endearing characters, reading this book felt like being on vacation- its the prefect summer escape.
I read Our Town every year. Its a quick read, a play in three acts, but it never ceases to change my perspective on life and family and my intention to live each day fully. My favorite quote, "Do human beings ever realize life while they live it?" Indeed. This is a great classic to enrich your everyday and remind you to live life to the fullest and love your people well.
The Bridge Of San Luis Rey
I have a soft spot for this book, another by Thornton Wilder. I recently found hardcover copies on the clearance table of my local bookstore and bought them out so I could give them away. I read this for the first time in the eighth grade after I found a copy in a box of things that belonged to my late grandfather. Set in Peru, a priest seeks to discover the meaning of life and death after a suspension bridge falls into a canyon, killing five, seemingly unconnected people. Why did these five people die? What meaning did this hold? What secrets did their lives hold that would lead to understanding God's mercy and sovereignty in their deaths? Thoughtful, poetic, philosophical and so beautifully written. Always a favorite.
In the Name of Jesus
I fell in love with the work of Henri Nouwen when I read his thoughts and reflections on the parable of the Prodigal Son and on the artistic depiction of the same name by Rafael. (Maybe add that book to your list as well?!) In a world where so many seem to be building their own resume's and personal kingdoms, Nouwen, already a renowned author and leader of the church, takes a position working with mentally disabled adults who couldn't care less about his credentials. His experience into true humility helps guide anyone in ministry to focus solely on the heart, solely on the people before them, and solely on all their work being done for the glory of God and not man, in a way that is both compassionate and convicting. A must read for anyone in leadership!
A Room With a View
Can't make it to Italy this summer? Why not travel there in via the pages of this classic instead. Set in the turn of the 20th century, the remnants of Victorian society are beginning to be replaced by more modern notions as a young woman and her chaperone take up residence in an Italian Pensione filled with a community of characters that become quickly beloved. A story of love and coming of age with ample descriptions of the Italy we all long to explore, this book feels like a rest from the fast pace of 21st century life.
The Scarlet Pimpernel
During the French Revolution, the Reign of Terror sent the blood of aristocrats flowing through the streets of Paris, indiscriminate of virtue or guilt, everyone with ties to the throne was in danger. A group of English noblemen offered aid to the innocent being hunted in France, secretly ushering many across the channel and risking their own lives in the process. This is the story of one of these brave men and his band, known only as The Scarlet Pimpernel. A tale of love, intrigue and disguise, and also of great historical importance, it is a delight to read! Also, easily followed up by the cinematic classic for a family movie night!