2020 Staff Summer Reading List

2020 Summer Reading & Podcast List

Compiled by Christ Church’s Staff Members

A meaningful but not overtly Christian read…

(The Rev. Mary Davila) The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Twin girls are considered Black when they are born, but one’s skin is light enough to be seen as being White. This is a beautiful story about identity, raising questions about the choices we make and how our lives transpire based on those choices.

(The Rev. Mary Davila) The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy
Just read it!

(The Rev. Mary Davila) American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
I was hooked from page one of this captivating, though controversial, narrative of a mother and son who flee for their lives from Mexico. The book builds empathy and understanding, while serving as a serious page turner.

(The Rev. Daniel J. Reeves) Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell
An intriguing and powerful telling of how we interact and perceive “strangers,” and how we often get this wrong.

(The Rev. Daniel J. Reeves) Waking up White: And Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving
A non-fiction account of Irving grappling with her white privilege and understanding of her life as a white woman in the United States.

(The Rev. Jennifer C. Brown) Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
A novel of the plague in 17th century England. Beautifully written piece of historical fiction.

(The Rev. Jennifer C. Brown) A Maze Me (poems for girls) by Naomi Shihab Nye
Lifts my spirits and makes me smile.

(The Rev. Jennifer C. Brown) The Choice: Embrace the Possible by Dr. Edith Eva Eger
An astounding memoir by a holocaust survivor. She teaches what real courage looks and feels like.

(Kate Oldham Keenan, Director of Youth Ministry) Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
“I want to live in a world with braver, bolder leaders, and I want to be able to pass that kind of world on to my children.”

(Kate Oldham Keenan) Educated by Dr. Tara Westover
This book can be sad and difficult to read at times but is a true story of self-discovery and forging your own path, and just how difficult that can be.

(Sarah Wolf, Director of Finance and Administration) Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
Defeated, crushed and driven almost to extinction, the remnants of the human race are trapped on a planet that is constantly attacked by mysterious alien starfighters. Spensa, a teenage girl living among them, longs to be a pilot. When she discovers the wreckage of an ancient ship, she realizes this dream might be possible – assuming she can repair the ship, navigate flight school, and (perhaps most importantly) persuade the strange machine to help her. Because this ship, uniquely, appears to have a soul.

(Loftin Johnson, Youth Ministry Coordinator) Delicious! by Ruth Reichl
A pinch of history and heaping spoonful of food.

(Sloane Brooks, Director of Children’s Ministry) The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

A Christian book…

(The Rev. Mary Davila) Ash and Starlight, Prayers for the Chaos and Grace of Daily Life by Arianne Braithwaite Lehn
I feel as if Lehn’s words were written just for me, just for this season. The right book at the right time!

(The Rev. Mary Davila) The Blue Book, A Devotional Guide for Every Season by Jim Branch
This work offers a devotion for each day, organized by weekly themes. I appreciate the combination of Scripture readings and reflections from theologians such as Henri Nouwen, Robert Benson, and Julian of Norwich.

(The Rev. Daniel J. Reeves) The Story of Christianity, Volume 1: The Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation by Justo Gonzalez
An approachable and concise telling of the early political and social context in which Christianity grew and a look into early Christian thought.

(The Rev. Daniel J. Reeves) Faith Unraveled by Rachel Held Evans
From the late Rachel Held Evans, a telling of her background and rethinking how to view her faith as she grapples with what she learned growing up in the church.

(The Rev. Daniel J. Reeves) The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James Cone
James Cone offers a theological lens through which to see the cross as a lynching tree, exploring what it means to worship a crucified savior, especially in the American context.

(The Rev. Jennifer C. Brown) The Flowing Grace of Now: Encountering Wisdom Through the Weeks of the Year by Macrina Wiederkehr, O.S.B.
I love anything by this spiritual guide and retreat facilitator. She is a nun by profession and a beautiful writer.

(The Rev. Jennifer C. Brown) Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
An oldie but a goodie – modern day classic of elegant and wise meditations on youth and age, love and marriage, solitude, peace and contentment.

(Liz Stroff Howes, Director of Parish Programs) To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings by John O’Donohue
Beautiful prayers for every part of life.

(Loftin Johnson) Live in Grace, Walk in Love by Bob Goff

(Loftin Johnson) Help, Thanks Wow by Ann Lamott
A book about the three essential prayers.

(Loftin Johnson) The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton
A gripping true story that is both heartbreaking and hopeful.

(Loftin Johnson) Same Kind of Different as Me by Denver Moore and Ron Hall
A true story of an unlikely friendship that reminds me we’re a lot more alike than we are different.

A book I want to read this summer…

(The Rev. Mary Davila) The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd
I’m currently listening to this one. It’s odd but refreshing to listen to a fictional story of Jesus as a real, live, married, human being!

(Liz Stroff Howes) For All Who Hunger by Emily M.D. Scott

(Liz Stroff Howes) I’ll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa De Los Santos

(Kate Oldham Keenan) Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner
Like most of us, Lauren Winner wants something to believe in. The child of a reform Jewish father and a lapsed Southern Baptist mother, she chose to become and Orthodox Jew. But as she faithfully observes the Sabbath rituals and studies Jewish laws, she finds herself increasingly drawn to Christianity.

Children’s Books…

(The Rev. Mary Davila) The Three Questions by Jon Muth
Based on Leo Tolstoy’s story, this is a lovely book about what is most important in life.

(The Rev. Mary Davila) The Little Tree by Loren Long
A sweet story about letting go in order to grow.

(The Rev. Jennifer C. Brown) Horace by Holly Keller
Beautiful story of two tigers (striped) who love their child who is a leopard (spotted) because family is not because of blood ties but heart ties!

(The Rev. Jennifer C. Brown) A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza
Choco is a little bird who lives all alone… until Mrs. Bear comes along!

Favorite Podcasts…

The Rev. Mary Davila

  • Kate Bowler’s Everything Happens
  • Nadia Bolz-Weber’s Confessions (language alert!)
  • Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations

The Rev. Jennifer C. Brown

  • The Atlantic Social Distance
  • Ian Morgan Cron’s Typology – using the Enneagram system of personality to help us become our best, most authentic selves
  • Cheryl Strayed’s Sugar Calling – this best-selling author conducts comforting interviews in this difficult time
  • On Being with Krista Tippett
  • NPR Living on Earth
  • Bishop Michael Curry’s The Way of Love 

Liz Stroff Howes

  • Zach Braff and Donald Faison Fake Doctors, REAL Friends (if you were a fan of the show Scrubs, it is so great!)
  • Kate Bowler Everything Happens
  • Brené Brown Unlocking Us

Loftin Johnson

  • Annie F. Downs That Sounds Fun