The Books of the Summer

Honestly, summer just may be the best season for reading. Without the busyness of normal semester classes, the lure of on-campus activities, & the wonderful distraction of all your friends living on your hall, you have quite a bit more time on your hands. Not only that, but summer also provides the perfect occasions to get lost in a book: long car rides, poolside afternoons, & homework-less coffee shop visits. 

Even though you may work a job or take summer classes, hopefully you've been able to take advantage of the season & its opportunities to fill your mind with the stuff of books. If you haven't though, no worries, because you've still got time! For the last remaining month of summer, make it your goal to get through at least one book. If you're wondering where to begin, read on to discover some of the favorite books of the summer from me & some of my bibliophilic friends.

Ever heard of The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe? Most people know C. S. Lewis simply as the author of The Chronicles of Narnia. They're not wrong, but to reduce him to only that is an obscuring understatement. Lewis was a prolific author & among his many books are three works of fiction known collectively as the Space Trilogy: Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength. 

All are incredible reads, but Perelandra in particular asks countless intriguing questions about the fall of man, outer space, & how extraterrestrial life could exist alongside Biblical truth. My friend Charlton found it to be truly an enjoyable read as well as extremely thought-provoking; I'll testify to that as well! It's a conversation-starter for sure & it would make for a perfect book to then discuss with friends back at school in the fall.

The world is so much larger than I thought. I thought we went along paths—but it seems there are no paths. The going itself is the path.
— C. S. Lewis

Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book
Here's a bit of philosophy for your summer's end. The German philosopher Frederick Nietzsche once said, "We are unknown, we knowers, to ourselves." Author Walker Percy takes that idea & creates the premise to his ironically subtitled "self-help book." The overarching claims that Percy makes are these: the human self cannot understand itself, & the main problem of the human self is its attempt to know itself.

Percy eloquently, & quite humorously at times, explains that because we so often tend to look to ourselves to satisfy our deepest longings, we forget our position as humans. The self cannot define itself, lest it find itself "lost in the cosmos." Instead, the human self finds true meaning in the third facet of the triadic relationship, life rightly ordered toward God in Christ...but I'll let Percy explain that one himself. According to my friend Samuel, Lost in the Cosmos is "some of the most fulfilling, & yet the most convicting & conscience-building literature one could ever read." I'll take his word for it for the moment, but as you ought to, I plan to read it soon!

You live in a deranged age—more deranged than usual, because despite great scientific and technological advances, man has not the faintest idea of who he is or what he is doing.
— Walker Percy

Snow Falling on Cedars
If you're in the mood for a good novel, check out this award-winning best-seller by David Guterson. This was my favorite fiction read of the summer (so far) & I would highly recommend it for a number of reasons. First, it deeply explores the topic of racism & portrays the psychology of a community that practices it. Guterson pulls you into his compelling narrative, & you will be very much awakened to the power of indifference. Secondly, the book demonstrates the disheartening effect of war upon young men & their families—in this case, in the shadow of the Second World War.

Guterson effortlessly weaves together the many facets of what it means to be human & to love—because of course, I can't forget about that fact that the book is more or less a love story. Don't be alarmed though if love stories aren't your thing; Snow Falling on Cedars is far & away more than a romance. It is an easy read, one that you could both pick up & finish on vacation. A warning though: once you begin, you will scarcely be able to find time for anything else, so carve out some quality reading time for this book. 

There are things in this universe that we cannot control, and then there are the things we can... Let fate, coincidence, and accident conspire; human beings must act on reason.
— David Guterson

Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out: Evangelism the Way You Were Born to Do It
Have you ever felt like you wanted to talk about Jesus with someone but never knew how? Well then, this book is definitely for you. Author Alvin Reid writes about how believers already have all the tools to share the Gospel. It's about connection & conversation, relationships that reach across borders & demonstrate Christlike love. Reid teaches you how to align the Gospel story with the redemptive story of Christ's work in your life, & then equips you to readily & confidently tell that story to the glory of God. In her own words, my friend Amy Caroline "reeeeally enjoyed" this book this summer. She found it insightful & well worth the read. It's not very long, so make no excuses & sit down reading some truth with this one.

Lost people are more amazed at our silence than offended at our message.
— Alvin Reid

The Unsubstantial Air: American Fliers in the First World War
I'd be a disappointment to my major if I wrote a blog about books & didn't include one of the historical genre. However, that's not even close to the real reason I'm adding this read. Hands down, this book simply deserves to be read by anyone & everyone. It doesn't matter whether or not you're a history major, or even whether or not you like history (though if you don't, you certainly will change your mind after this book).

Written by a Marine pilot, this is a story of countless individuals who were involved in the field of aviation in World War I. It's enthralling, informative, & everything else that a good history book should be. In reading this book, you'll learn about the dangers & exhilaration of flying, of the tragedies alongside the victories in flight. You'll come away more acquainted with the sacrifice that war involves & the young boys who became men in the greatest war the world had ever known to that point in history. I can promise you though; it won't feel like a history book when you pick it up because you'll feel as though you're witnessing it all. 

Hopefully one or more of these books has piqued your interest, but the books above are just a starting point for what could be a future lifetime of reading. Even if you've never been much of a reader, what better time to start than now, than summertime? Pick up one of these titles, borrow a favorite of a friend, or grab that one that's getting dusty on your bookshelf & dig in. I can't imagine you'll regret it.

Here's to happy reading!