What I Read on My Summer Vacation

27 Aug

Okay, so I didn’t exactly have a summer vacation. And when I did actually go on vacation, I did more “traditional” vacation reading of the sacred (and theological, according to the Very Reverend Jill Henning) PEOPLE Magazine.

But I set a goal for myself for this summer to just read. Fiction, non-fiction, theological, worship, whatever I could consume, because I’ve had a bit of a dry spell as far as reading goes, and I wanted to remedy that. The extreme rain in Atlanta this year helped, also.

My children both had to read books this summer and write a short summary, so I thought that I’d do the same. Don’t grade it, please; but do respond with what YOU read this summer and any other recommendations!

Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown

I kept hearing about this author and sociologist, and finally listened to her podcast with Krista Tippett and then went ahead and bought her book. Basically, she was researching people’s connection to each other, and realized they couldn’t talk about connection without talking about shame and how they work through it in relationships. And she then goes to the “flip side” of shame, what she calls Wholeheartedness, and writes about being resilient to shame (which we all have) by practicing Whole hearted living. It’s pretty stunning…I’ll just give you number 7 of her markers for Wholeheartedness: “Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth.” YEAH. It’s all like that. There are SO many theological implications here…grace and shame (which was a class I took in seminary) and how we internalize grace or shame when we hear one or the other communicated in our churches, and how to practice grateful, wholehearted living as part of our discipleship. And how do we communicate to our children (and all of us, really) that they are deeply WORTHY of being loved and belonging, as she says it’s guided by our choices and daily practices?

New Interpreter’s Bible, “Ecclesiastes,” 1953 edition

I was gifted this set of volumes by a retired pastor who is a member of my congregation, and to be honest, I didn’t use them for quite a while. When I was stuck on a text even after translating and such I might crack one open, but they were a little….old. But when I was preaching a string of Ecclesiastes texts this summer, I read the whole commentary, and it was really a beautiful observation on the brevity of life and the futility, especially for pastors, to consider our lives as a means to an end.

Lean In, by Sheryl Sandburg

I’ll be discussing this book more on our podcast very soon, but this was the one book I read this summer (a VERY close second to Daring Greatly!) that actually changed my life. It’s not theological or even religious at all, but it’s about female leaders in all aspects of life, and I am WAY familiar with that. Much has been written about Lean In, but to me, it named phenomena that needed to be named. Mainly, she names the fact that we aren’t “way past all that feminist stuff,” and that we have much more work to do and a responsibility to the women who come after us to go ahead and “lean in” to our careers. She also points out that when women do become senior leaders of organizations, policy changes that are good for families tend to follow as well as other women in leadership. She got backlash for this book as well as for her TEDtalk, letting us know that the work isn’t finished, but it’s well worth reading no matter what your gender or what you do for a living.

In other news, I read some crazy good fiction this summer!

Dark Places and Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn

This is the writer of Gone Girl, and her first two novels are addictively insane. Both also involve an unreliable narrator who has certain….um…realizations, and yet again you don’t know what’s going to happen until THE. VERY. END. Delicious.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

I adore Mr. Gaiman, and I read this book as an allegory for the things we remember as frightening in childhood, and the things that protect us. It’s beautiful and will stay with you in a good way, even though it has some scary stuff.

Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer

Amazing science fiction/mom-lit novel! When do you ever hear THAT combo?

Up next for me to read:

Wide Welcome by Jessicah Krey Duckworth

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

Game of Thrones (as I also watch the series as it’s available for us non-HBO types!) by George R.R. Martin

PLEASE tell me…what are YOU reading? What do you WANT to read?

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2 Responses to “What I Read on My Summer Vacation”

  1. Phillip August 27, 2013 at 10:09 pm #

    I’ve hit a dry spell in my reading, too, Beth. However, I did find time to read “Wonder,” a youth/young adult novel by RJ Pallacio. Good story. Quick read. A good reminder about how all youth (all people) bear scars, whether or not they are visible. Also read Annie Dillard’s “Teaching A Stone to Talk,” and the last essay in that collection, Aces and Eights, knocked me on my butt.

    • chickpastor August 29, 2013 at 10:50 am #

      Thanks for the recs! I bog down in Annie Dillard sometimes, but that sounds very interesting. And I have looked into “Wonder” as someone recommended it for my 10 year old. Family reading, perhaps?

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