Summer is coming, which means it's time to pick up a book and relax. 

In the United States, the Library of Congress contains over 18 million books, and publishers add nearly 200 thousand books per year. This means that in the next 50 years there will be another 10 million books. By adding what is already there, there will be 28 million books in 50 years. 

The sad truth is that the average person can only read 2600 books in their lifetime.

For every book you read, you would have to ignore ten thousand others if you used the sheer number of books at the Library of Congress! 

With so many bad books out there, where do you start? What books do you choose to read? 

Here's where I can help.

Here are the top 5 books to pick up and read this summer (not in any particular order): 

1. In Search of Deep Faith by Jim Belcher 

I consider this to be one of my favorite books.

This book won a Leadership Journal Book award in 2013 for its powerful writing and profound content. The discipleship journey of Belcher's family is interwoven with some of church history's most significant figures. Taking a year off to travel and learn, Belcher takes his family to some of the most prominent sites of historical figures. He teaches his children about Dietrich Bonhoeffer's legacy at the site where he was martyred. Their minds are opened to the story of Corrie ten Boom and the reality of suffering.

The book is a collision between the present and the past, and how faithful pilgrims from yesterday can help us follow Jesus today. 

This is a fantastic book that won't disappoint. 

2. Confronting Christianity by Rebecca McLaughlin 

Are you ready for a bold claim? 

Rebecca McLaughlin has authored a better book on Christian apologetics than Tim Keller.

You may not know Tim Keller, but he is one of the most thoughtful, engaging, and educated Christian thinkers alive today. A New York Times Bestseller, "The Reason for God" is a valuable guide to thinking deeply about big questions from a Christian perspective. 

My friends, McLaughlin has upped Keller; Confronting Christianity is my favorite apologetics book. 

McCLaughlin, with a Ph.D. in English Literature from Cambridge and a theology degree from Oak Hill College in London, has published such a clear and compelling case for Christianity. In books like this, she addresses relevant issues such as "Has science disproved Christianity?" and "How can you say there is only one true faith?" These topics are discussed with wisdom and clarity. 

She also discusses less discussed topics like, "Doesn't Christianity denigrate women?" and "Doesn't Christianity crush diversity?"

The chapter entitled, "Isn't Christianity homophobic?" is worth the price of the book. From the perspective of someone who has experienced same-sex attraction, she navigates this huge and challenging issue with grace. 

In light of the big questions that our culture is asking about Christianity, this is a very helpful guide for you. 

And it's written from a woman's point of view, which is refreshing. 

3. Water from a Deep Well by Gerald Sittser 

Christianity is profoundly historical, despite living in a culture that is anti-historical. For us to fully appreciate the beauty and truth of Christianity, it is critical to comprehend where we've come from. 

Sittser's book helps the reader to gain an understanding of the different thinkers and movements associated with Christianity and their distinctive contributions to its history. 

He looks at the testimony of the earliest followers of Jesus who were obedient to death. The author examines the monastic tradition and its emphasis on finding divine rhythms. He discusses the Reformers of the 16th century and their emphasis on the Bible. He provides a very useful analysis of Christianity's history from its earliest followers to the present day. 

4. The Gift of Being Yourself by David Benner 

I was recommended this book by a mentor before a personal retreat. At this retreat I read the book in one sitting. 

Benner points out that:

“In order for our knowing of God's love to be truly transformational, it must become the basis of our identity. Our identity is who we experience ourselves to be - the I each of us carries within. An identity grounded in God would mean that when we think of who we are, the first thing that would come to mind is our status as someone who is deeply loved by God.” 

How would your life change if you knew that God deeply loved you? No proof or defense would be required. No over-the-shoulder glances to ensure someone saw or didn't see. No inner turmoil rising from the noise of insecurity. Why? You are deeply loved by God. 

You can use this book as a devotional companion as you learn more about yourself and the God who loves you. 

5. Morality by Jonathan Sacks 

Who is up for a little moral philosophy this summer? 

Sacks, a philosopher, public intellectual, and former Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, wrote this award-winning book outlining ways that our fractured society can be repaired.

As a Jewish writer, Sacks explains that we are polarized because we no longer share a moral code. As we look to the state and economy for guidance, we are more lost than ever, as neither of them is able to offer a better vision. 

What's the next step?  Every one of us needs to do our part to rebuild a moral foundation. 

I did not agree with much of what he proposed as a solution for our society's ills. I, however, appreciate his diagnosis, and appreciate learning from someone who thinks differently than me. 

Once you've completed this one, you'll be better equipped to both analyze and discuss our current polariazed moment and some thoughtful ways forward. 

So what now? 

Use one of the links above to grab one of these books! 

Some are weightier than others, but all will engage your mind and help you dig deeper into culture, spiritual formation and theology! 

It will be a better use of your time than scrolling Instagram or watching cat videos. 

What books are you reading this summer that you think I should read? Or, do you have any thoughts or comments?

Use the contact form below, I'd love to hear from you! 

Has this post been helpful or encouraging to you? If so, feel free to grab the link and share it with your friends through your social media feeds! 

Chris Throness

Chris Throness


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