For me, reading is a therapeutic, relaxing, mind-sharpening, and often deeply spiritual discipline. Unless, of course, I am reading criminal suspense novel, and then reading is often a riveting exercise that plays with my anxiety and elevates my blood pressure. But that’s a different story.
My affinity for reading was slow to develop. However, when it emerged, it flourished. During my teenage years, I perceived reading to be a nuisance and necessary evil. At some point during my college years, however, I learned to enjoy reading, not just for assignments or entertainment, but for personal growth.
As a minister, writer, and pastoral counselor, I need to read widely to stay current and relevant. More importantly, in my current stage of life, I need books like I need food, to satisfy cognitive hunger and to probe intellectual curiosity. Books stimulate my thinking, exercise my memory muscles, and challenge my presuppositions.
Typically, I read a variety of genres including fiction, spirituality, theology, history, and biography. I concur with Diane Duane who argued that, “Reading one book is like eating one potato chip.” Therefore, I usually keep from three to five books going at the same time, a discipline that was recommended by Opal Lovett, one of the most influential faculty members from my college years. This practice invites a variety of authors to be conversation partners in my internal dialogue.
Summer is prime reading time for me, especially this year. I am privileged to be serving wonderful congregation in another state as interim pastor, and I have a little more time to read and reflect in the airport, on the plane, and in the hotel. Here are the books on my summer reading list this year:
1. The Rooster Bar by John Grisham.
2. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote for Chaos by Jordan Peterson
3. In Our Lives First: Meditations for Counselors by Diane Mandt Langberg
4. The Courage to Teach by Parker Palmer
5. The Fallen by David Baldacci
6. Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly
7. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves
8. The Virtues of Aging by Jimmy Carter
9. The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma’s Table by Rick Bragg
10. Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons by Frederick Buechner
11. On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity, and Getting Old by Parker Palmer
12. Learning to Speak God from Scratch: Why Sacred Words Are Vanishing—and How We Can Revive Them by Jonathan Merritt
Reading books across a variety of genres and books written by authors who write from diverse perspectives stretches my thinking, challenges my presupposition, and expands my capacity to relate to people for a variety of life situations.
Harper Lee gave us good advice: “The book to read is not the one that thinks for you but the one that makes you think.”
Happy reading this summer!