June Reading Memo: Summer Recommendations

people reading books in library
Photo by BERK OZDEMIR on Pexels.com

I’ll start with a couple of great summer reads:

Spirit of St. Louis: Lindberg recounts his solo journey across the Atlantic. So many amazing lessons to draw from this book, like his relentless determination to do the impossible. His wisdom to buck the accepted wisdom of the time (most believed a multi-engine, multi-pilot plane had to make the journey) for what he believed would work best (solo-engine, solo-pilot). His ability to gather a team to equip and finance the endeavor, his utterly amazing fight to stay awake across the 33 hour journey. All said and done, he stayed awake for 68 consecutive hours (couldn’t sleep the night before because of excitement, couldn’t sleep after arrival because of the madness of it all). His willingness to see a problem as an opportunity for a better solution. It’s also a reminder to act when you are burdened to do something. So many others were pursuing the same feat (first flight from NY to Paris), that he likely beat out others by a matter of days or even hours. His meticulous planning and unfailing belief in his vision allowed him to position himself for this success. Though he was a no-name pilot before the flight, landing immediately made him one of the most famous people in the world, and of his generation. And no one remembers the names of the others that were also trying to make the flight. He wrote this book over a decade after the history-making flight, and won a pulitzer prize for it. Given the level of detail and philosophical reflection about each stage of the journey, one would think he had written it along the way. His power of recall must have been off the charts.

The World Is My Home. I’ve become obsessed with reading James Michener over the last few years. I read this memoir last year and I picked it up again this week. His life is so crazy inspiring. The things he experienced and accomplished are unbelievable. The book is one fascinating story stacked right up against another. The first few chapters dealing with his WWII journeys across the South Pacific, visiting over 100 islands, are worth the price of the book alone. Part of his job was to travel broadly and investigate/solve trouble areas. Thus the situations he encountered are mind-boggling and without category. Even if you know nothing about him or have any interest in his other books, you’ll find this engaging and at least entertaining. After first reading it, I’ve pondered one story in particular from this book almost every day since.

To me the book also serves as a reminder to “make the most of your time” (Ephesians 5:16). Near the beginning he says, “Between the years 1986 and 1991 I would write eleven books, publish seven of them, including two very long ones… It was an almost indecent display of frenzied industry, but it was carried out slowly, carefully, each morning at the typewriter and each afternoon at research or quiet reflection.” The plodding methodical process of creativity can bear much fruit over time.

Now a few others I read over the last month that I think would also make for a good summer read:

I re-read Fahrenheit 451, as I do almost every year. If you haven’t read it, it’s worth it, and it’s short. The audio book, performed by Tim Robbins, is FANTASTIC. One huge theme of the book is how an entertainment obsessed culture leads to a pandemic of forgetting. One of the final lines has rung in my head this week, “And when they ask us what we’re doing, you can say, we’re remembering. That’s where we’ll win out in the long run.”

Speaking of… Remembering by Wendell Berry was a different type of Berry novel, though still focused on the themes of community, love of a place, and… remembering.

In the Kingdom of Ice by Hampton Sides is a fascinating account of one of the early attempts to reach the North Pole. The author covers some pretty amazing ground and keeps the story moving. What’s most mind-boggling is how their journey was derailed by… ICE. The prevailing wisdom of the time (a theme for this memo) was that a warm streamed current carried across the pole. Oops.

While maybe not a normal “Summer” read, these last three were fun for me:

Re-reading Be Obsessed or Be Average for a podcast I’ve started with a friend. Haven’t fully launched yet, but hope to in the next few weeks. Basic premise: we’re summarizing books, especially those books you’ve heard of and though you should read yet just haven’t been able to find time to do so, and adding our own insights/reflections and applications from our realms of experience (mine: mostly family ministry, his: mostly business, but some overlap). So you can get the biggest nuggets from some of the best books in an hour or so. This book has the cheesiest title, but so many great insights. You’ll have to listen to the podcast when it comes out.

Finishing up Why I’m Still Surprised by the Power of the Spirit by Jack Deere. I can’t recommend this book enough. He was a seminary professor who didn’t believe God still healed people regularly, until he started getting involved in a healing ministry. So the Seminary fired him. The stories are encouraging and the care with which he explains his view makes for appealing reading. I’ve felt more burdened to pray for God to move in specific situations while reading this book than I have in some time.

BiblioStyle is a big book chocked full of pictures of various home libraries across the world. But it’s more than that – diving into the relationship each owner/collector has with their books. Decor, research, entertainment, artifact, each had a prevailing view of their  books.

Odds and Ends

  • I’ve been pondering this quote from the Atomic Habits author, James Clear, almost every day for the last few weeks: “If you have good habits, time becomes your ally. All you need is patience.”
  • Seeds Family Worship released an amazing song for our times based on Ephesians 4:4-6 It’s titled “ONE” – you’ll want to check it out here. Read about the inspiration behind it here.
  • If you haven’t seen this article on transgender by JK Rowling, you’ll want to.
  • Wayne Grudem says he now believes there are more than two grounds for divorce in the Bible. Whether you agree with him or not (I’m still figuring out what I think about it), I always appreciate how Grudem makes his argument from the greek language, taking great care to interpret words in their original context.

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