This Saturday is the first official day of summer, although it has been summer since about March here in Central Texas.
Since bathing suits and tanning and humidity don't really do it for me, I'm focusing on summer's redeeming qualities- namely, summer foods and summer book lists. These are great to take with you to the pool, the beach, the backyard or to cuddle up with in the AC.
The Nesting Place- Myquillyn Smith
I recommend this to anyone who lives in any structure of any kind. New house, apartment, hovel, cave, parent’s basement, rent house, parsonage.... you get the picture. This book will reassure you that you are not, in fact, a failure at life because your house doesn’t look like you want it to yet. She offers great advice on thrifting, having fun with your home, and keeping it a place of beauty and function for your family. Also Myquillyn is just a precious human. Check out her blog at The Nester!
A Year of Biblical Womanhood- Rachel Held-Evans
Held-Evans explores the notion of “Biblical Womanhood” and what it would look like to literally undertake the job description of the Proverbs 31 woman. This experiment leads her to cook kosher, sit on the top of her roof for an afternoon, and camp out in her backyard, among other such ventures. Also, she offers great insight into the Jewish culture. This book is guaranteed to surprise and entertain.
The Kinfolk Table- Nathan Williams
I took this cookbook with me for a weekend away and read the thing cover to cover in less than two days. This book combines two of my very favorite things- recipes and stories. And great pictures. And cute people. The recipes are unfussy and comforting, and they emphasize the value of community and hospitality over just trying to impress people. In fact, two of our very favorite recipes from the book are two of the simplest- first, the peanut butter Irish Oatmeal I now eat every morning, and the cantaloupe bowls with yogurt and honey. (I’ll include recipes for both when I get our recipe tab up.) Their website says it best, this book is “One-third cookbook, one-third narrative tale and one-third international adventure...”
Bread and Wine- Shauna Niequist
Shauna is my muse. I creep on her. Legitimately. Read ALL of her books and then cook all of her food and then creep with me. Shauna’s writing has all the elements of a great dinner party- humor, vulnerability, warmth, and some great food. Her blueberry crisp, in particular, unites me and basically everyone I love. Team Shauna.
The Chronicles of Narnia- C.S. Lewis
Robin and I have committed to read all seven of the chronicles to each other before bed, on car trips, while waiting in drive thrus, etc. It’s become a simple pleasure that we get to look forward to at the end of the day, and it’s a much better escape than letting our brains disintegrate in front of the television. Just read them again because they add so much wonder to life and have so much to teach.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, A Year of Seasonal Eating- Barbara Kingsolver
This book led me to discover my true calling- organic vegetable farmer.
I know, none of you are surprised. But really.
Kingsolver and her family eat strictly local and seasonal for an entire year, right down to raising their own Thanksgiving turkeys. She also addresses the slow food movement, creation care, the danger of detaching from the natural rhythm of the seasons, and how we are basically poisoning ourselves by buying pesticide-laden foods in the name of thrift.
The Great Divorce- C.S. Lewis
Good Ol’ Uncle Lewis takes us on a bus ride from Hell to Heaven. In his typical yarn-spinning fashion, he unpacks some of the deepest spiritual realities and puts them in nice little boxes which play nice little songs while you crank them and then they pop up and punch you in the face and you realize you don’t know anything at all about God. But it’s a great book. So please read it.
OWNit365 One Story Bible Reading Plan
This isn’t me just trying to be all pastor’s wifey and holy and stuff, but seriously this plan is so awesome! It’s through the Bible app if you have a smart phone. It will take you through the Bible in a year (which is great) but it is unique in that it organizes the plan contextually (which is freaking awesome.) So rather than just flagellating yourself while you read through the Old Testament laws, you can read some laws, and then read about Jesus and how he fulfilled them. And also stuff like why it’s significant that Ruth was a Moabite and so on… Super cool.
I haven’t read the following yet, but they’re on my “to read” list. If you’ve read any of them, let me know what you think!!
Blue Plate Special- Kate Christensen
Paris Letters- Janice MacLeod
Still Life- Louise Penny
Winter Journal- Paul Auster
Hard Laughter- Anne Lamott
Delicious!- Ruth Reichl
Half the Sky, Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide- Kristof, WuDunn.