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What I Read this Summer

Ok friends, I’ve been waiting to write this post since summer started. This has been a lavish and lush season for me in the book world and I am excited to share what I read with you. Shout out to Modern Mrs. Darcy and my dear friend Erin for the suggestions that made this list, as well as the local public library for providing 27/30 of these titles.

Non-Fiction

The Emotionally Healthy Woman: Eight things you have to quit to change your life  by Geri Scazzero

So thankful that there are people addressing emotional health alongside with spiritual maturity and not pretending like they are mutually exclusive concepts. Certainly something I would recommend and read again.

Wild and Free: A Hope Filled Anthem for the Woman Who Feels She is Both Too Much and Never Enough by Jess Connolly and Haley Morgan

Reading this book was refreshing and revitalizing but not life-changing. I so appreciate any encouragement to live into our identities as children of God and am thankful for these women’s reminder to do so.

Out of Sorts: Making Peace with Evolving Faith by Sarah Bessey

I have been a fan of Sarah Bessey’s blog for years but this was the first time I read her thoughts bound between two covers. I was not disappointed. This woman’s journey through all the convoluted details of the Christian faith is beautiful and honest and met me in the middle of my own messy path.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story by Donald Miller

You guys. I am a Donald Miller fan. I know, I’m about a decade late to jump on this train but he is a fabulous writer and his books have given me a fresh perspective towards living life well and authentically. I did like his newest book, Scary Close, better than this one but this incredibly enjoyable.

When We Were on Fire: A Memoir of Consuming Faith, Tangled Love, and Starting Over by Addie Zierman

This book, by far, was the most provocative and transformative book I read this summer. Addie Zierman’s complex story of wading through the nineties youth group era and wrestling through what Christianity really is was incredibly relatable and painfully raw. I am recommending it to all my friends who also walked through similar eras and seasons.

Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

Hilarious. Also inspiring. Written by the creator of Grey’s Anatomy (let’s just take a second to be amazed that there are people that write multiple seasons of multiple shows), this is a story of saying yes – especially to the big, scary, never-in-a-million-years kind of things – and finding boldness as she went. I loved it.

The Real Thing: Lessons on Love and Life from a Wedding Reporter’s Notebook by Ellen McCarthy

Cute premise. Fun read. But nothing dazzling special or particular re-readable.

Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace by Anne Lamott

I love Anne Lamott, I love her short essay format of writing, I enjoy her humor, I appreciate her perspective on this world. This was all of that. I did have some deja-vu moments as I read it, thinking I’ve heard some of these stories before. Turns out this is a collection that borrowed essays from some of her other books as well as featuring new ones.

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker

I also love Jen Hatmaker. I am also intrigued by the idea of minimalism and seeking a simpler life of less. I quickly flew through this book and almost downsized my wardrobe to seven items.

The Writing Life by Annie Dillard

I’m wondering if I’m not intellectual enough to appreciate Annie Dillard. I’ve read other things by her and spend most of the time slightly lost and mostly confused. Sometimes her wording and phrases struck me as incredibly beautiful, but only when I go slow (which I am horrible at.) It is kind of like reading poetry, and I’m not intellectual enough for poetry either.

The War of Art: Break through Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield

This is another “go slow” kind of book. It is written in page long chunks, and I would want to own this and read one a day. Definitely worth reading for anyone pursuing art of any kind.

The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standard Text for Writing and Life by Marion Roach Smith

This is an incredibly helpful and practical book to keep on hand for anyone interested in writing memoirs – whether a full book or short essay/blog post format. I learned a lot and will want to read this again, probably with pencil in hand.

 

Adult Fiction

This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart

Mystery and romance and Grecian scenery. This was a perfect novel for summer pool reading.

Eligible: A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Curtis Sittenfeld

Jane is a yoga instructor, Kitty and Lydia are Cross-Fit junkies, and Mr. Bingley is the star on a Bachelor-esque reality show. I was genuinely disappointed when this charming retelling of a beloved story came to a close. (Though be warned, the Bennet’s encountered scandals that were certainly 21st century shock worthy.)

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

A pre-Civil War historical novel dealing with the tragedies of slavery and the scores of problems that came up on a Virginian plantation. I am glad I read it, I loved the characters, but it certainly wouldn’t go in the ‘light and fluffy beach reading’ category.

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

Books like these that are widely acclaimed and make the New York Best Seller list is the reason I don’t read adult fiction very often. The majority of this book, the characters, and the premise itself was unsavory and unsatisfactory. The compelling and intriguing plot based around a dysfunctional families fight over an inheritance kept me reading to the end but I wouldn’t recommend it.

The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

And this book is why I keep giving fiction a chance. A sweet story about an endearing boy scout, his twice-divorced parents, and an eccentric 104-year-old woman, and the way their stories ends up intersecting unexpectedly. It is sad though, so if you’re not a sad book kind of person I might not pick this one up.

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

How have I gone this far into my life without reading this delightful story by the creator of Anne of Green Gables? In Anne-fashion but with an older heroine this book captivated me and left me eager to live more fully and with greater abandon to ‘what everyone might think.’ (Also, I think this is shelved as adult fiction but I wouldn’t hesitate to give it to a young reader who appreciates the style of this beloved authoress.)

The Fine Art of Insincerity by Angela Hunt

I had the privilege of sitting under this author’s teaching for a few days at a writing retreat. Upon arriving home I went immediately to the library and checked out this audio book to see what her writing was like. The Christian fiction genre is something I’ve avoided most of my life – on the basis that the one or two books in that genre were generally cheesy and cheap knock offs of current ‘secular’ novels. I was pleasantly surprised and humbled.

The Atonement by Beverly Lewis

Continuing to explore the Christian fiction genre, and wanting another audio book for my driving time, I checked this one out. This one reaffirmed my perspective of this genre, but I am continuing to explore more by other authors because I want a better perspective before I make any more judgments. (And they make great listens for my five minute drives across time – they are simply written with quickly developed plots and easy to follow characters.)

 

Young Adult and Children’s Fiction

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

I loved the characters and was intrigued by this unusual mystery. I am on a mission to eventually read all the Newberry books, this was certainly justly awarded.

Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins

This quiet, summery novel (also Newberry) is among my favorite styles of fiction. The book follows loosely connected characters as they encounter every-day stories and adventures. Highly enjoyable as a front-porch, iced-coffee in hand, summer afternoon type of a read.

A Drowned Maiden’s Hair: A Melodrama by Laura Amy Schlitz

This was the only book I read this summer that kept me up far past a decent bedtime. A thrilling story twisting the standard “little orphaned girl gets adopted by kind old maids” plot. I COULD NOT put it down.

Gone Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright

Another sweet summer tale, another Newberry book. I don’t think I LOVED this book but it was a pleasant read.

Fifteen by Beverly Cleary

Sometimes cute, simple stories about normal fifteen-year-old girls change your life. I cried and declared to the world that I would carry the dang flowers across town no matter how many people stared, no matter how absurd it made me feel. (Read it – it will only take you an afternoon, and it will make you want to be yourself to the very best of your ability.)

Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery

Another wonderful story by this author of whom I’ve only noticed one character all this time. Emily is like an introverted version of Anne – so much more relatable but just as pithy and delightful. I can’t wait to read the next in the series.

Here’s Lily by Nancy Rue

This is another author I had the pleasure of learning from this summer, and after seeing her infectious joy and passion for life I was excited to read what she’d written for girls in the Christian fiction genre for young readers. I wish I had read this series when I was eight – I would have loved it.

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

Ehh…the cutest part of this book is the title and the premise. The rest is kind of a dull teenage love story.

The Penderwicks at Point Moutte and The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall

I read the first two in this series last summer and fell in love with this sweet family of sisters. The third installment is equally delightful – summery and full of childhood capers, and the fourth was among the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. I cried – wept rather – on almost every single page of this heart-tugging story. This is a series I want to own and read again and then read with every one of my future children.

 

__________________

I’m slightly depressed about summer’s end and need your help to compile a good book list to accompany me through the fall semester. What did you read this summer? What books would you recommend?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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25 Comments

  • Reply
    calebjwestbrook
    August 27, 2016 at 8:45 am

    You got through a lot of books. Kudos. I’d like to read Penderwick. I believe they are inspired by Dickens’ Pickwick Papers? One of my fav books of his. Anyway, thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      greeroharah
      September 6, 2016 at 10:29 am

      I don’t think there is any correlation between the Penderwicks and the Pickwick Papers, at least as far as I know. Thanks for reading!

  • Reply
    littlegreenraven
    August 27, 2016 at 9:30 am

    Hey,
    I also like to read a lot. 🙂 Sometimes there are just too many good book arounds. Right now I am reading the fifth part of Game of Thrones. Do you read that too? And will you read the new Harry Potter book?
    Yours, littlegreenraven

    • Reply
      greeroharah
      September 6, 2016 at 10:29 am

      LOVE Harry Potter. I re-read them last fall and loved them even more than the first time. I’ve not read Game of Thrones though.

  • Reply
    melissa
    August 27, 2016 at 10:03 am

    Laughs, I just wrote a long reply, then my internet disconnected. Boo! Anyways, thanks Greer, Oh I loved this. Make me smile to know there is another adult in the world that loves the Penderwick sisters, and feels the similar hesitancy toward adult fiction and christian fiction. Also, I found Marion’s memoir super helpful too, and you put words to my thoughts on how I felt when I started reading Annie Dillard’s book Writing Well too. Thanks for sharing all the book reviews; again so helpful!

    • Reply
      greeroharah
      September 6, 2016 at 10:30 am

      Melissa, I love your thoughts (and I love discussing books with you!) Always happy to hear from you!

  • Reply
    melissa
    August 27, 2016 at 10:05 am

    *meant Annie’s book The Writing Life

  • Reply
    Weekend Care Package – Melissa Hirshburg
    August 27, 2016 at 10:08 am

    […] What I Read This Summer by Greer Ohara @ Ordinary Epiphanies […]

  • Reply
    Krysann Joye
    August 27, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    Alright. You’re officially my reading hero. 30 books?! I am struggling to read like 3 over the last 6 months.
    Love several of those authors – thanks for the synopses and the reading inspiration! 🙂

    • Reply
      greeroharah
      September 6, 2016 at 10:35 am

      I’m a fast reader and found myself with a lot of reading time this summer. Three is great too! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Reply
    Browneyedgalabroad
    August 27, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    Great recommendations and you just totally assuaged my guilt over not reading The Nest before it was due back at the library. I did enjoy The Versions of Us – three versions of one couple’s lives, all depending on their first meeting. I really enjoyed it. I Let You Go was full of twists and turns and kept me up well past my bedtime. Thank you for sharing your list!

    • Reply
      greeroharah
      September 6, 2016 at 2:10 pm

      Those sound great! Thanks for the titles. Yes – I wouldn’t worry about checking The Nest again. I was confused why I’d heard so many good things about it. But I suppose everyone has their preference! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Reply
    Grace @ Cultural Life
    August 29, 2016 at 10:42 am

    Ooh, Jen Hatmaker’s book sounds interesting. Having just had a major de-cluttering session this weekend (inspired by Marie Kondo’s bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying), I’m definitely in the mood for paring down my belongings to the things I want, use and need.

    I was a huge Anne of Green Gables fan when I was growing up. The Blue Castle is going straight on my TBR list.

    I struggle with Annie Dillard too. Her writing is amazing, but I don’t always understand it. It’s quite esoteric.

    • Reply
      greeroharah
      September 6, 2016 at 1:46 pm

      Thanks so much for your comments! I love talking books. I very much enjoyed the Life-Changing Magic and 7 went along with it nicely – I feel like it added depth to the concept of decluttering! You will love Blue Castle if you are an Anne fan! Esoteric is an excellent way to describe Annie Dillard! Thanks again for stopping by!

  • Reply
    What I’m Into (August Edition) – Melissa Hirshburg
    August 31, 2016 at 12:01 pm

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    What I Learned in August – Ordinary Epiphanies
    September 2, 2016 at 10:22 am

    […] read 30 books this summer. (I reviewed them all over here.) I had several comments (wistfully) regarding the time commitment it would be to read that much. But […]

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    Saturday Shares – Ordinary Epiphanies
    September 3, 2016 at 6:04 am

    […] What I Read This Summer Because it was the summer of the books. […]

  • Reply
    Charlene
    September 5, 2016 at 6:13 pm

    Oh wow, this is amazing. I’d love to read a lot too, but always finding cliche excuses for myself like being too busy at work or too much stuff to do after work.;) This blog post is very inspirational.

    • Reply
      greeroharah
      September 6, 2016 at 1:57 pm

      I was the same way for a long time, and still sometimes find myself saying I’m too busy. I’m learning to read in snippets and that has helped a lot. I may not have an hour to sit down and read, but I have five minutes here and another ten there.

  • Reply
    halfcupful
    September 6, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    Wow you had a great summer! I posted a bunch of recommendations a few weeks ago.

    • Reply
      greeroharah
      September 19, 2016 at 10:17 am

      Enjoyed looking through your list! What did you think about Gift From the Sea? I’ve had it out from the library before but never got a chance to read it. Should I check it out again?

      • Reply
        halfcupful
        September 19, 2016 at 8:41 pm

        Unfortunately I haven’t read that one yet. I ran out of summer! It will probably be a while before I get to it.

  • Reply
    Cecily Joy
    September 23, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    Love these book lists!

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