What Will You Be Reading This Summer?

Beach reading in Vancouver

Kitsilano Beach – also known as the “Regent College Reading Room.” Click above to see the full photo.

Today is official the first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, which means, of course, it’s time for summer reading lists.

Before I get to my own list:

What’s on your summer reading list?

I tend to follow Alan Jacobs’ advice and read according to whim, but here are a few books or series that I want/hope to read this summer. I’m notoriously bad for failing to follow through on reading commitments and for losing focus partway through a book, so view this list as merely aspirational.

Photo credit: Mark Hamilton via Flickr

Emerging Scholars Related

Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa. This book (in actuality, a long monograph) has been the talk of the town among higher education pundits. Arum and Roksa analyzed various datasets for approximately 2,300 freshmen and sophomores at 24 colleges and universities around the country, and their findings aren’t terribly encouraging if you think students should learn something by going to college. I’m about halfway through, but it’s a fairly slow read for me – lots of numbers and charts.

Crisis on Campus: A Bold Plan for Reforming Our Colleges and Universities by Mark C. Taylor. This seems like a logical follow-up to Anthony Kronman’s Education’s End. Taylor is the chair of the Department of Religion at Columbia, so I look forward to seeing how his analysis and proposals differ from Kronman’s.

Finding God Beyond Harvard: The Quest for Veritas by Kelly Monroe Kullberg. A personal, intellectual, and spiritual memoir by the founder of The Veritas Forum — who is now an InterVarsity colleague working with Women in the Academy and Professions. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I haven’t read it yet, so if you see Kelly, don’t tell her.

Digital Disciple: Real Christianity in a Virtual World by Adam Thomas and Friending: Real Relationships in a Virtual World by Lynne Baab. I’ve been looking for some resources to help me think through the “virtual” nature of the Emerging Scholars Network, and these two books seem like a good place to start. Friending, an IVP publication, came recommended by CIVA Executive Director (and former GFM Director) Cam Anderson, and I’ve been planning to read it for a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, yesterday during my run, I heard John Wilson and Stan Guthrie favorably review Digital Disciple on the Books & Culture podcast.

Theology and the Bible

The Resurrection of the Son of God by N. T. Wright. Another slow read. This is Wright’s 800-page scholarly examination of Jesus’ resurrection and the surrounding cultural and religious context, both before and after. It’s also Volume 3 in Wright’s as-yet-incomplete Christian Origins and the Question of God series — I read Volume 2, Jesus and the Victory of God, in graduate school, and it has profoundly shaped my understanding of Jesus’ life and work. (And I owe a big thanks to my friend Shane Cass for giving me a copy of this and Volume 1 in the series.)

The Deeper Journey: The Spirituality of Discovering Your True Self by M. Robert Mulholland, Jr. Last year, I read several books on knowing yourself and found the process very rewarding. This book came highly recommended by several colleagues at the InterVarsity national staff conference in January.

Pleasure, aka “Beach Reading”

I don’t plan on going to a beach (though I may go to The Beach) and I can’t do much reading even if I do go to a beach because of chasing/protecting/chastising my children, but if I did any beach reading, here’s what it would be. These are also the books that I’m most likely to actually read.

George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series. I’ve already burned through A Game of Thrones, I just started on the second book, A Clash of Kings, and book #3, A Storm of Swords, is on request from the library. My next goal will be figuring out how I can watch the HBO series without subscribing to HBO.

Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files and Codex Alera series. My InterVarsity colleague Lorrey Thabet recommended Butcher to me a couple of weeks ago. A blurb on one cover described the Dresden Files as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer starring Philip Marlowe,” which pretty much sums up my pulp fiction sweet spot. My library didn’t have the first book of either series in stock. So I picked up a random book from the middle of the Dresden Files series (White Night), figuring that a detective noir mystery didn’t need much continuity to be enjoyable, and I was right. Now I’m waiting for Storm Front (Dresden Files #1) and Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera #1).

OK — that’s my aspirational and likely unrealistic reading list for the summer.

What’s on your summer reading list?

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Micheal Hickerson

The former Associate Director for the Emerging Scholars Network, Micheal lives in Cincinnati with his wife and three children and works as a web manager for a national storage and organization company. He writes about work, vocation, and finding meaning in what you do at No Small Actors.

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  • davidwhumphries@gmail.com'
    David Humphries commented on June 21, 2011 Reply

    I miss those Vancouver beaches for summer reading….

  • wildgoose@telus.net'
    Becky Bonham commented on June 21, 2011 Reply

    I’m still trying to get through last year’s books! Mine are always a mix of commentaries, spirituality and juvenile/young adult fiction (a lifelong love largely inspired by Mary Ruth Wilkinson’s Children, Books and God class). Btw, depending on how recent the HBO series is, you can rent it from a video supplier – we subscribe to Zip and order a lot of series through them – we do this a lot since we have no tv service, cable or otherwise (just movies!). Happy reading!

    • mikehickerson@gmail.com'
      Micheal Hickerson commented on June 21, 2011 Reply

      Thanks, Becky! The HBO series is currently ongoing, but doesn’t seem to be available from any online video sources (Hulu, iTunes, etc.). I’ve added it to my Netflix queue, but no idea when the DVDs will come out.

      We LOVE Mary Ruth’sA Time to Read book and rely on it for birthday and Christmas presents. When did you take her class? My wife Elizabeth took it in 2001-02.

      • wildgoose@telus.net'
        Becky Bonham commented on June 21, 2011 Reply

        I took it in the spring of 2000. Even though it was among my favourite Regent classes, I got my worst Regent grade ever – due to a certain future-husband I started dating! 😉 I just couldn’t find time to do all the reading when there was romance to be had – but I’ve made up for it since then!

        Let me know if you get the HBO thing figured out – I have a few currently-running series I’d love to watch sooner than it will take to get them on DVD.

  • hannaheag@comcast.net'
    Hannah commented on June 21, 2011 Reply

    I’m looking forward to J. Mark Bertrand’s second crime novel, Pattern of Wounds. I really enjoyed the first, Back on Murder. Bertrand has a noir streak and does a nice job of balancing the gritty and the hopeful. That, and I found the first one very hard to put down.

    I’ve also agreed to tackle City of God with a few friends, though I suspect it will take us much longer than the summer.

    • Tom Grosh IV commented on June 21, 2011 Reply

      Hannah, I am interested in borrowing ‘Back on Murder.’ Let’s be in touch. Looking forward to your thoughts on the ‘City of God.’ I agree that it will probably take you more than the summer. How about a “finish by year end” challenge? Of course, getting started is an important first step 😉 Let me know when you’re “out of the gate.”

  • Dwight Schwartz commented on June 21, 2011 Reply

    Here is an excellent book:

    Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard


    • mikehickerson@gmail.com'
      Micheal Hickerson commented on June 21, 2011 Reply

      Yes – that is an excellent book. Thanks, Dwight!

    • Thomas B. Grosh IV commented on June 21, 2011 Reply

      Dwight, You keep mentioning this title. Any chance I can borrow it from you sometime this summer?

  • caroleejam@comcast.net'
    Lee Richardson commented on June 21, 2011 Reply

    Had the best of good fortune at a senior center used book sale a week ago. Life’s readings are basically about catching up and getting better grips on interests (fiction and nonfiction)that have grown over the years. Reading latest releases seems like responding to marketers selling books at full price. 1944 history on Hitler(” Der Fuehrer” by Heiden) typifies several histories

  • janinegiordano@gmail.com'
    j.g.d. commented on June 22, 2011 Reply

    I’d love to hear your review on _Academically Adrift_, especially as it relates to Christianity and the academy, and especially as it relates to Christian colleges. Are Christian college students different in any way from the majority trends?

    • mikehickerson@gmail.com'
      Micheal Hickerson commented on June 22, 2011 Reply

      Thanks! I’ll probably post something on it. I don’t think any Christian colleges were included in their sample, and so far, the authors seem oblivious to religious issues. I could write a great deal about their assumptions about the purpose of education, but there’s a gap between the public perception of their book (and the purposes of education) and the reality. The authors are upfront in saying that theirs is only ONE way of assessing educational outcomes, but in the absence of other, competing assessments, their method is likely to dominate the conversation. I thought Kevin Carey made a good point here.

  • jmulholl@uchicago.edu'
    John Mulholland commented on June 23, 2011 Reply

    Prompted by a note from Randy Isaac, I learned of Katherine Hayhoe, climate scientist and Texas Tech and evangelical Chistian – married to an evangelical pastor.

    I will be reading her book A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith Based Decisions.

    Hayhoe is featured on PBS’ Secret Life of Scientists.

    Interesting and disturbing are her remarks about evangelicals being targeted with misinformation on climate science and climate change. The BioLogos Forum picked up Hayhoe’s PBS presentation and has a blog running. Take special note of Hayhoe’s remarks on May 28, where she speaks directly about people and groups what she considers misinformation.

    Since the truth is such a crucial issue for Christians, I need to spend some focused time on this issue and major Christian scientists working on this problem. Hayhoe mentions John Houghton in her PBS piece, so he is next.

  • sdadams25@gmail.com'
    Stephen commented on June 23, 2011 Reply

    Ha! I’m so glad to come across someone else who has enjoyed the Dresden files. They are film noir fantasy, and reasonably clean with a reasonable moral order (two things I prefer in my books). They are great beach reading.

    On my list:

    The Life of St. Thomas Aquinas by G.K. Chesterton,
    The Magic Mirror (a history of American law)
    The Tempest by Shakespeare (and maybe other plays as well)
    Aquinas’s Summa Theologica (actually, Kreeft’s Summa of the Summa, and I hope I can manage even that)

    I’ve already read Keller’s Generous Justice and it was excellent. I highly recommend it.

    Happy hunting!

  • Tom Grosh IV commented on June 24, 2011 Reply

    Hard to pull together a full list of summer reads, so here’s a few. Please remind me if I’ve mentioned one earlier and didn’t include it here 🙂 After I organize my office library in order to host friends over the course of the next several weeks, maybe I’ll have to do a second post anyway. Note to Mike: let’s be sure to do a follow-up “What did you read over the summer?”

    New releases
    Philip W. Eaton’s “Engaging the Culture, Changing the World: The Christian University in a Post-Christian World” (InterVarsity Press. 2011, http://www.ivpress.com/cgi-ivpress/book.pl/code=3929). ESN blog post coming. Anyone interested in an on-line book discussion on this title? Check out Eaton’s book lists at http://blog.spu.edu/eaton/bookshelf/ 🙂

    John Dickson’s “Humilitas: A Lost Key to Life, Love and Leadership” (Zondervan. June 2011, http://www.zondervan.com/Cultures/en-US/Product/ProductDetail.htm?ProdID=com.zondervan.9780310328629). ESN blog post coming. Anyone interested in an on-line book discussion on “Humilitas”? It will be humbling 😉

    Debby Read’s “Prescription for the Doctor’s Wife: Hope and Help for Your Unique Marriage” (Dawson Media. 2011) — For my work with PSU-Hershey Medical Center Christian Medical Society/CMDA. I’m sure I’ll loan it out as soon as I’m finished (if not before).

    Books I’ve “dwelled in”
    Craig Atwood’s Community of the Cross: Moravian Piety in Colonial Bethlehem. Pennsylvania State University Press. 2004.

    Keri Wyatt Kent’s “Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity” (Zondervan. 2009) — My wife Theresa and I are leading a Sunday school class on this book over the summer. Notes posted at http://groshlink.net/category/reflections_on_drawing_closer_to_christ

    Daily readings
    “Ancient Christian Devotional: A Year of Weekly Readings.” Edited by Cindy Crosby, General Editor Thomas C. Oden. InterVarsity Press. 2007.

    “The Business of Heaven: Daily Readings from C.S. Lewis.” Harcourt. 1984.

    Eugene Peterson’s “My First Message: A Devotional Bible for Kids” (NavPress,2007) — Morning devotions with my younger children.

    J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit: or There and Back Again.” — a reading with one of my 11 year old twin daughters. We just finished Calvin Miller’s “The Singer Trilogy” (InterVarsity Press. 1992). Provoked the curious mind 🙂

    J. Mark Bertrand’s “Back on Murder” — Hannah’s recommendation

    “Vision for God: The Story of Dr. Margaret Brand” (Dr. Margaret E. Brand with Dr. James L. Jost. Discovery House Books. 2006) in preparation for a fall Sunday School class based upon some combination of material the series by Paul Brand and Philip Yancey, http://www.zondervan.com/Cultures/en-US/Authors/Author.htm?ContributorID=BrandP. Powerful stories about medical ministry among those with leprosy in India.

    Chip Heath and Dan Heath’s “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard” (Crown Business. 2010) — Dwight’s recommendation. Maybe I’ll even read their “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” (Random House. 2007).

    Stuart Murray’s “Planting Churches in the 21st Century: A Guide for Those Who Want Fresh Perspectives and New Ideas for Creating Congregations” (Herald Press. 2010) to write a “Brethren in Christ History and Life” book review. If you have thoughts on church planting please forward them my direction. Note: recently heard Murray speak at Elizabethtown College.

    Children’s books and devotional materials: lots of them with our four girls 🙂

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