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16 Recommended Summer Reads


Summer’s a great time to slow down and catch up on reading! Are you looking for ideas for what book pick up (or listen to!) next? This list of recommended Summer Reads from members and staff of The Crossing is a great place to start. You’ll find a mix of fiction, biographies, books to encourage you in your faith, and books to challenge you to think about different areas of life. Enjoy!

Recommended by Robin May, member at The Crossing

A Gentle Answer: Our Secret Weapon in an Age of us Against Them
By Scott Sauls

Often the problem seems too big. 

It seems impossible to make “them” understand “us,” and hopeless to think we could heal deep hurts that have extended for years – even centuries.

In A Gentle Answer, Scott Sauls takes these complex problems and offers simple, Biblical suggestions for a better way of life. Beginning with the example of Jesus and the gentleness he offers to us as sinners and skeptics, Saul challenges Christ followers to mimic His example. Tackling the big issues of anger, forgiveness and criticism, Saul offers hope for reconciliation to a severed world. 

If you’re ready to challenge your heart to change, then this read is for you. 

The End of Your Life Book Club 
By Will Schwalbe

Addressing the elephant in the room is hard – especially when the elephant is death.

An accomplished professional and activist, Mary Ann Schwalbe had a lifetime of wisdom to share. This book, authored by her son, is a beautiful memoir about how Mary Ann – in her final days – connected her life lessons to her son and the world around them as the two of them read and discussed books together. 

Reading like a series of eloquent book reviews, this story reminds me of the power of literature – inviting us to experience shared emotions and discuss the deeper meaning of life. And if nothing else, you’ll be inspired by the life of Mary Ann and have a reading list to last a lifetime. 

Recommended by Keith Simon, co-lead pastor

Even in Our Darkness: A Story of Beauty in a Broken Life 
By Jack Deere

Everyone has a story. Jack Deere was a seminary professor with a dark story—a painful story of addiction, suicide, and grief. But in this beautifully written memoir, the light of Jesus shines through all the heartache and dysfunction. 

Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World 
By Tara Isabella Burton

With more Americans identifying as “nones”—those claiming “no religion”—it’s easy to assume that people are less interested in spiritual things. But that is to get the cultural moment exactly backward. Burton shows how the new spirituality manifests itself in everything from wellness and Soul Cycle to astrology and witchcraft. Americans aren’t abandoning religion but remixing it to meet their personal needs.

Recommended by Rachel Tiemeyer, Crossing Kids Team member

Becoming Elisabeth Elliot
By Ellen Vaughn

As one of the most influential women in modern church history, you’ve likely heard part of Elisabeth Elliot’s story: her husband and four other missionaries were violently speared to death by an Amazon tribe. Elisabeth’s response? She left to live with and share the Gospel with the people who murdered them. 

I wondered if reading about a woman whose life path couldn’t be farther from my own might “put me under the pile” as a Christian. The opposite happened. Through every chapter, I saw God magnified and at work through her imperfect yet inspiring story. I found myself longing and praying for more faith, for a greater love for those who don’t know Jesus, and was reminded that “to live is Christ, to die is gain.”

Recommended by Grady Frazier, audio & tech manager and Worship Team member

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
By Cal Newport

Deep Work is about creating rhythms and habits that help you efficiently use your hours on the clock to produce work with substantial value. Though written by a non-Christian computer science professor, the principles of this book parallel biblical views of spiritual disciplines. Newport’s strategies for cutting out unnecessary distractions and using times of deep focus well, along with other practical tips, were game-changers for me. 

Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading
By Eugene Peterson

Inspired by Revelation 10:9, this is not a book about knowing more about the Bible. It’s about digesting it, going beyond just an intellectual level. I’m a big fan of Eugene Peterson. He brings his pastoral experience together with his seminary-professor intellect and knowledge of the Bible. And he gives practical strategies for how to fully engage with God’s word in a way that leads to real change.

Recommended by Emily Pilkington, content producer for The Crossing

Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep 
By Tish Harrison Warren

Can we trust God in the dark? What do we do when suffering, doubt, and anxiety feel more real than his presence? How can we pray when we can’t seem to muster up the words (or the faith) to do so? Warren explores each of these questions by sharing her own painful experience of wrestling with truth that sustains.   

I loved this book because the theology and the humanity were equally present. And the words were just as honest as they were beautiful and true. It has both the strength and the tenderness to bear the weight of the big questions and pain all of us will ask and experience if we live long enough/are honest with how brutal life on this earth can be. 

By Yaa Gyasi

Set in eighteenth-century Ghana, this book tells the story of two half-sisters. One marries and lives a life of comfort in Cape Coast Castle. The other is captured, imprisoned in the same castle, and sold into slavery. Few books have caused me to wrestle with the atrocities of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and its far-reaching implications as viscerally as this novel. Gyasi’s words are brutal, poignant, and complex. It was a book I couldn’t get out of my head even months after reading. It’s best read when accompanied by the opportunity to talk about it with others.  

Recommended by Brent Beshore, member at The Crossing

Glittering Vices: A New Look at the Seven Deadly Sins and Their Remedies
By Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung

Ever wanted to deep dive on the “deadly sins” or “capital vices?” Yea, me neither. But this book was a wellspring of thoughtful, winsome, and helpful reflections on life’s primary temptations.

Union with Christ: The Way to Know and Enjoy God
By Rankin Wilbourne

The concept of being united with Christ can seem too vague to be practical. Yet, it is the core of the Gospel and central to our faith, producing true heart change through the power the Holy Spirit.

Recommended by Audrey Sharp, Crossing Music and Creative Arts team member

The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World
By John Mark Comer

I can’t say enough good things about this book. I soaked up the words on the page like a sponge because Comer’s story is so relatable. While I haven’t worked in ministry my entire career, I have experienced serious burnout that caused me to distance myself from people. I first read this book at a time in life when I knew my pace wasn’t sustainable. This book helped me take a step back, evaluate how important my yeses were, and see for myself how important it is to make time with God a priority, even if it meant saying no to other good things.

American Dirt
By Jeanine Cummins

American Dirt opened my eyes to a reality of life I’ve never had to worry about (or even think about). It follows two main characters, Lydia Quixano Pérez and her young son Luca as they, like other migrants across Central and South America, flee drug cartel violence. The pace of this book is fast from the start and each chapter offers a roller coaster of emotions from anger and fear to excitement and empathy. I read this book faster than any other in 2020!

Recommended by Shay Roush, co-lead pastor

The New Man: Becoming a Man After God’s Heart
By Dan Doriani

It’s hard to recommend a good book written for guys to help them grow in their faith (apart from the Bible). Dan Doriani’s book is the exception. With a focus on growing in character rather than techniques, The New Man helps men reflect God’s character in marriage, singleness, friendships, wealth, work, fitness, play and more. 

What I like about this book is you won’t find checklists for self-improvement. But you will find your life transformed as Doriani helps see Jesus as our example of manhood as well as our freedom-giving Savior. This book is a gem. 

Bitter Brew: The Rise and Fall of Anheuser-Busch and America’s Kings of Beer
By William Knoedelseder

Bitter Brew is the fascinating, often scandalous saga of the wealthy Busch family of St. Louis. It describes how they grew a small brewery at the start of the Civil War into the multi-billion-dollar corporation it is today. If you like reading history (especially when it comes to Missouri) as well as biographies that show the greatness and wretchedness of mankind, then this book is for you. I recently purged my book collection, but this is one I kept and would read again.  

October, 1964
By David Halberstam

You can’t miss this book if you’re a baseball fan. October, 1964 chronicles the 1964 World Series between the Cardinals and Yankees and how baseball and society struggled, but changed for the better, because of racial integration.

What are you reading this summer?
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