What I’m Reading Over Summer Vacation

This post is mainly because someone referenced a previous post where I did something similar, and was wondering if I’d be doing it again.  Plus, I just saw Jesse Buchman’s post about “Book Challenge 2012,” so I figure if all the cool people are doing it…

During the summer months I like to take a step back and read pretty broadly.  So this isn’t a “recommended” book list or anything, just a list of books that are on my own personal reading list for this summer.  I doubt I’ll get to all of them; I’ll leave that up to the availability at the local library.


Wendell Berry, Jayber CrowWendell Berry has become the posterchild for hipster fiction.  I don’t know that I qualify as a hipster; I’m mainly just appreciative of his lucid yet poetic writing style and ability to tell a good story.



Stephen King, Salem’s LotThis is one of King’s earliest works and arguably his best.  Yes, I’m re-reading it.  It’s a postmodern novel, where the malaise of the 1960’s gets translated into a series of vampire attacks in small town America.  But I mainly love it for King’s excellent command of metaphor and a literary style I don’t think he ever improved upon.


Chuck Dixon et al, Batman: KnightfallYes; it’s a comic book, at least some of which I read when I was younger.  I just wanted to revisit the story of Bane before the next Nolan installment.



Suzanne Collins, Hunger Games trilogy.  Had to see what the fuss was about, especially since I’ve been told that this series has replaced guys like Orwell and Huxley in some public school classrooms.



John Steinbeck, To a God UnknownSteinbeck has been a long-term favorite, so I was surprised that I only recently learned that this novel existed.  From what I gather, the short novel explores the way that faith affects different people, so it should be good food for thought.



Samuel Beckett, MolloyGodot aside, I haven’t read much from Beckett, so I figured I’d dive into Molloy at some point this summer.




Douglas Coupland, Shampoo PlanetCoupland is a recent favorite.  This novel continues some of the themes in Coupland’s groundbreaking Generation X.  Coupland has always had a knack for describing our postmodern culture with both humor and a strange form of sincerity, and though some form of atheist, his works contain some surprising insights on human spirituality.


Chris Bachelder, Bear vs. SharkNo, not the band.  This is a satirical novel about a family on the road to a game show where the audience watches a bear fighting a shark.  This has been on my reading list for years…do you have to ask why?



Rob Stennett, The End is NowI don’t read a lot of “Christian fiction,” so I was appreciative that one author was doing Christian satire.  This novel is a parody of Christian end-times novels.  The satirical nature can be a bit biting, but that’s part of the fun.



Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons WhyA recent young adult bestseller about a girl listing her reasons for suicide.  The book’s multiple awards and potential film adaptation sparked my curiosity.




Sharon Draper, Out of my MindAnother young adult novel.  This one’s about the power of the human mind in the life of someone with a disability.



F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great GatsbyJust re-reading it before the movie ruins everything.  I suggest you do the same.




Arthur C. Clarke, Rama series.  With Prometheus in theaters this summer, I found myself wanting good sci-fi.  Clarke always delivers.  I’d read this series in college, but thought it’d be worth revisiting.


Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human SocietiesOk, sue me for not having read this by now.  But I’m going to.  I promise.




Anne Lamott, Bird by BirdA book about writing – which sounds boring, I know, but Lamott is just too much fun to put down.  Besides, anyone who writes needs to read a book or three about the writing process.



Peter Biskind, Easy Riders, Raging BullsThis is a book about how Hollywood was shaped during the 1970’s.  I like learning how the arts shape our culture (and vice versa), but I don’t necessarily like watching lots of movies, so I appreciate books like this for helping me understand history in a concise and enjoyable way.



Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Million Years: How I Learned to Live a Better StoryNo, I’m not re-reading it.  I seriously just haven’t gotten around to it yet, ok?  Ok.  With Blue Like Jazz in theaters this summer, I finally decided to pull it off the shelf (yes, I even own it…) and give it a read.



Robert  M. Poole, On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National CemeteryNo idea how I heard about this book, but as a Maryland resident I thought it wise to read up on a landmark that is local in geography, yet nationwide in its impact.



Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, SpyDietrich Bonhoeffer is one of my favorite writers and historical figures.  This biography attracted widespread attention on its release.  While I’m familiar with his life, I’m looking forward to learning the details.




Bill Bryson, At Home: A Short History of Private Life.   Bill Bryson is a genius.  I really don’t know anyone who can write so broadly.  This book discusses the history of the American “home.”  I’m not a huge history guy, but Bryson I can’t put down.



Peter Kreeft, The Philosophy of Tolkien: The Worldview Behind Lord of the RingsDon’t forget that The Hobbit comes out in theaters within the next year.  Kreeft is an excellent philosopher, who better than most can unpack the various themes in Tolkien’s series.



Toby Lebster, Da Vinci’s Ghost: Genius, Obsession, and How Leonardo Created the World in His Own ImageI’ve always wanted to learn more about Da Vinci, so I was pleased to see this on an Amazon bestseller list.



William Irwin, ed. Metallica and Philosophy: A Crash Course in Brain SurgeryPhilosophy?  Check.  Heavy Metal?  Check.  You either get it or you don’t.  Having grown up listening to metal, I’m deeply curious.  I’m just hoping they stick to the band’s pre-“Black” era…



Steve Turner, Hungry for Heaven: Rock ‘N Roll and the Search for RedemptionTurner is one of the best entertainment writers around – some may know his work from when he was on staff with the Rolling Stone.  He always has a very incisive look at the spiritual dimensions of the music world, so while this book is more than a decade old, I’m excited to hear his analysis.


Tom Farley and Tanner Colby, The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three ActsThis was a recommendation from a friend of mine, so it better be good.




Paul Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American CultureMy church will be doing a series to parallel the hype of the whole Mayan calendar thing.  So I figured I’d take a look at Boyer’s excellent history of the way end-times predictions have influenced our culture.



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6 thoughts on “What I’m Reading Over Summer Vacation

  1. You’re reading so many good books I don’t even know where to start. I love love love Bird by Bird though – it’s probably my favorite book on your list. She has a twitter if you do also – you should follow her!

    1. Totally following her now, at your behest. I just got Twitter so I’m still trying to figure out how to work it. And your blog certainly looks intriguing…remind me later to dig through it some more. Thanks for stopping by.

      1. When you figure Twitter out let me know, I love technology and am Facebook nut, but the purpose of Twitter isn’t dawning on me. I am going to steal some of these books from your blog to my summer reading list.

  2. I just stole a bunch of these to add to The Stack.

    Also. Easy Riders, Raging Bulls is awesome. Did that recommendation come from me? I know Chris Farley must’ve, I tell everyone to read that one. Start there! Blame me if you don’t like it. But you will.

  3. woot woot I got a shoutout! I love the Great Gatsby… but I didn’t know they were adapting it to film? In fact, I think there already is a movie version. I added a few to my list, thanks for sharing them!

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