Category Archives: classics

Wednesday Reads: Summer Has Entered the Building

Summer has entered the building. Okay, well maybe not all the way in the building for some of you, but at least he/she is in the parking lot. That means graduations (from Pre-K, K, 5th grade, 8th grade, 12th grade, college), family vacations, kids repeating “I’m bored”, and a myriad of other “things” that make summer so great and sometimes so exhausting.

So to fill those days with some purposeful even frivolous reading, here’s a few books to consider for the people in your life.

For the female graduate (middle or high school):

9781414375243_p0_v1_s260x420Popular: Boys, Booze, and Jesus by Tindell Baldwin – the title alone will grab most girls’ attention. Flip over to the back cover and they’ll be even more interested:

All I wanted was asking for at fifteen was to belong, to be love, and to be a part of something. Deep down, I wanted to be loved, not for a night but for a lifetime. I wanted to be found beautiful because of who I was, not what I looked like. I wanted so much, and my Christian life seemed to provide me with so little. 

Tindell’s vulnerability oozes through the pages. She speaks to young women as if she was the best friend they never had. One who tells the truth about high school, friendship, boys, and sex. It isn’t preachy; it’s honest and raw. She reveals the “ugly side of sin and the amazing redemptive power of a Savior who” loves us desperately. As a women who has worked almost exclusive with teens all of her life, I cannot recommend this book enough.

The-Selection-Series-768x1024 Selection Series by Keira Cass – This four-book (with a promise of a 5th) is a cross between The Bachelor and the book of Esther. In true dystopian fashion, Cass has given female readers less gore and more romance. The female lead is strong yet feminine, while the male lead is dashing and masculine. Their characters are not without flaws including stubbornness and secret scars. Aside from the four novels, there are several novellas which depict side stories told from different characters points of view. With just the series alone, the girl in your house could fill and entire summer with reading. (Click here to see a Wednesday Reads dedicated to the first book.)

For the Adult Female (this could be you)

me_before_you_final3Me Before You by Jojo Moyes – Fair warning: I’m two-thirds of the way through with this book and I’m pretty sure it’s gonna end sadly. However, I am intrigued by the two main characters: a 20-something female who lives a uneventful, normal life and a 20-something year old male quadriplegic, who lived a fascinating, adventurous life before his injury.  Both characters are multi-layered and the heart of the plot is controversial and thought-provoking. While it sounds like a heavy read, I have found it to be more of just great story telling. Read it and let me know what you think.


7244809_GGo Set a Watchman: A Novel by Harper Lee – This is the “assumed to have been lost” novel that Harper Lee tried to sell to publishers before To Kill a Mockingbird was published. Since TKAM is one of my all-time favorite books, I will be purchasing my copy in advance. In fact, I will be getting a physical book just as a keepsake.  Here’s a brief summary provided by the publisher:

Go Set a Watchman features many of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird some twenty years later. Returning home to Maycomb to visit her father, Jean Louise Finch—Scout—struggles with issues both personal and political, involving Atticus, society, and the small Alabama town that shaped her.

Exploring how the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird are adjusting to the turbulent events transforming mid-1950s America, Go Set a Watchman casts a fascinating new light on Harper Lee’s enduring classic. Moving, funny and compelling, it stands as a magnificent novel in its own right.

For the Men in Your Life (sons, husbands, etc)

Unbroken-MovieUnbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand – if the man in your life have seen the movie, they will still enjoy the book. In fact, the movie didn’t even do justice to Louis Zamporini’s story.  The historical facts surrounding WWII that Hillenbrand presents alongside Louis story are utterly fascinating and will increase your appreciation of not only veterans but what our military sacrifice even today. So worth every page that is written. (Can’t get the men in your life to read, try the book on DVD. It’s wonderful too! Side note: Rory’ Gilmore’s TV grandfather reads the audio version.)

41NHKOqQHqL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_A Dangerous Faith: True Stories of Answering The Call to Adventure by James Lund and Peb Jackson – (Great for male graduates) The publisher’s summary says it all:

Meet the called: mountain climbers, deep-sea divers, fighter pilots, and jungle missionaries who follow God into the adventure of a lifetime. Dangerous Faith tells their dramatic true stories, revealing incredible truths only risk can inspire.

Each of these trailblazers rejects security to reach for a perilous place few Christ-followers dare. Their stories will thrill and amaze you. What they discover just might revolutionize your life–because He’s calling you, too, into a life of risk.

Adventure. Passion. Freedom. Truth. Are you prepared for a Dangerous Faith?

For the Kiddos in your Life (elementary age – to read themselves or to be read aloud by you)

A_wrinkle_in_time_digest_2007A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine l’engle – What a classic that should be shared generation after generation. A touch of magic, blended with deep truth, and loads of plot twisting suspense. Possibly the best book to ever start off with “It was a dark and stormy night.” Read it with the kids and share in its amazingness all over again.





wonder_rj-palacio_coverWonder by R.J. Palacio – a powerful tale of a young boy with a disfigured face. Full of life-lessons that will offer hours of family discussions. Here’s a summary provided by the publisher:

August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face.


Hope this gives you a little nudge to get the family reading this summer.  I know I will be “encouraging” it around my house.

And to get you started, I’m having a book giveaway for a book I’m planning to read this summer. Just leave a comment below letting me know your summer reading plans, I will pick a random winner Friday morning.

51buYyRFFtL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The winner will receive a copy of Thief of Glory by Sigmund Brouwer. Check out the book information by clicking here.

Don’t forget to leave a comment!



Wednesday Reads: coming-of-age edition

adjective: when a person is initiated into adulthood through knowledge, experience, or both, often by a process of disillusionment

For the past six years, I’ve read the same book every spring. Many times I read the same chapter multiple times in a day.  At one point, I estimated that I had read the entire book at least 30 times. Truth is this year’s spring has been lacking simply because I’m not reading it. Before you begin thinking no book is that good, let me explain.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton is a classic and was required reading for my 8th grade classes. In six years of teaching, I never had one kid say they didn’t like the book (By estimates that would be around 680 students.). I guess the spring habit of reading The Outsiders feels a little cheated this year because for the last two weeks, I’ve been mulling over why the book means so much to me. 

I read the book in eighth grade, which was probably one of the most traumatic years of my life.  Most girls would agree that any year in middle school was one they WOULD NOT relive. The summer before eighth grade, my family moved from Georgia to Alabama. I left childhood friends, a captain position on the cheerleading squad, my first love, and the comfort of acceptance. My next year was filled with trying to find my place in a school of very wealthy and privileged kids, missing my life in Alabama, enduring severe injuries from a car wreck, wading through constant humiliation from a friend, and deciding whether or not God was going to be a part of my life. Needless to say, it was a rough year for me – a sort of coming-of-age year.

Ponyboy, the main character in The Outisders is 14 and struggling to make sense of the world around him.  His world contains two very distinct social classes: the haves and the have nots or as he labels it, the Socs and the greasers. In the novel, Ponyboy personally experiences a wrong in his world, stumbles through processing it (with the help of Neverland-type friends) and then decides to right the wrong.  His social and familial status doesn’t change but his view of it does. It deals with the frustrating ties of family intrinsically connected by both love and anger as well as acceptance and understanding. 

The book is a thought-provoking knot of paradoxes. Teenage stereotypes are both confirmed and negated.  The juvenile deliquent is a hero and the good kid is a societal Dr. Jekyl Mr. Hyde. Love is shown through both sacrifice and selfishness. Most of all, it authenticates the pain and the beauty of growing up. 

One reason The Outsiders perfectly portrays teenage angst and crisis is that Hinton wrote it when she was sixteen.  She was angered after seeing a friend brutally beaten by a rival social gang and decided to write away her anger, to give a voice to an unspoken injustice. She later signed the contract for publication on graduation day. But even more interesting is the fact that Hinton (a girl of 16) wrote a book where every character, save one, is a male. In fact, it was written from a male perspective so well that the publisher’s would not let her use her full name Susan Eloise Hinton; thus, the book was published under S.E. Hinton. 

Middle school, just like The Outsiders,  is full of tragic characters. Characters searching for the same things: acceptance, love, and respect. Teenagers trying to figure out who they are in an unjust world. Ponyboy, Johnny, Darry, Dally, Sodapop, and Cherry are just like the Chris, Mike, Payton, Mark, and Sarah of my teenage days. Our teenage lives were cast with friends filled with flaws and dreams; some of them even ended tragically. However, the powerful message in The Outsiders celebrates the power and beauty of friendship and growing up. Both are forever entwined and become part of who we are as adults.  

The same can be said of a great book: its story weaves with ours and changes us. So it is with The Outsiders.