Love books lists? Me too. So, in the spirit of the Summer 2016 Reading Challenge, I contacted 13 authors I know and asked them to share a book recommendation with us. This is what I love about book recommendations: the combo of old friends (“Yes, yes, I love that book!”) and new friends (“Oh, that sounds good!”). I’ve already requested a few of these from the library.

Without further ado:

Your next read main

1. Wonder by R. J. Palacio—A book I’ve just read for my local book club, and which my nine-year-old daughter is reading too. It’s a multi-point-of-view story of a boy who goes to middle school for the first time – that’s hard enough, but he has a rare facial deformity. It’s a sensitively written novel that will get you thinking about grace, acceptance, and love.

—Amy Boucher Pye, author of Finding Myself in Britain: Our Search for Faith, Home & True Identity

2. Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr—He is the author of the wildly acclaimed All the Light We Cannot See (another one I would recommend!) but this is a memoir of his time writing ATLYCS. Doerr is a writer’s writer, drawing you into the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of Rome with turns of phrase you want to write down in a journal so you won’t forget. It takes place during a one-year fellowship to write to write ATLYCS in Italy while sleep deprived with newborn twin boys. It is about seasons—of life as a parent, spouse and a professional writer while navigating new culture and marking moments with keen attentiveness.

—Shelly Miller, author of Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World(due to launch on October 4 but is available for pre-order on Amazon.)

3. Broken Hallelujahs: Learning to Grieve the Big and Small Losses of Life by Beth Allen Slevcove— She writes engagingly, interweaving her own experience with good psychological and emotional wisdom, and because she’s a qualified Spiritual Director, her creative exercises and prayer suggestions at the end are incredibly helpful. She’s someone who has been into the pit and out the other side again, and it drips with gentleness and heavenly wisdom. Highly recommended


4. Night Driving: A Story of Faith in the Dark by Addie Zierman—This beautifully crafted memoir is all about how to survive a ‘dark night of the soul’. She makes a road trip across America (with two young children hollering in the back) read like a gripping story, and her observations are always subtle and wise. Great for anyone who’s struggling with feeling like God is far away and their faith is dry.

Tanya Marlow, author of Coming Back to God When You Feel Empty which intertwines Tanya’s story with the book of Ruth. You can get a free copy here.

5. The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning—It’s his most refined work in my opinion, and it’s written with a breath-taking, holy passion that illuminates the deep love of God for us.

Ed Cyzewski, author of The Contemplative Writer: Loving God through Christian Spirituality, Meditation, Daily Prayer, and Writing

6. Tent Life in Siberia by George Kennan.  This is my all-time favorite travel book, about a group of intrepid adventurers who are dropped off along the frozen shores of the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia in the mid-1800’s, with instructions to find a route across Siberia for a telegraph line. They hire some local guides and dogsledding teams, and off they go.

—Joann Pittman, author of Survival Chinese Lessons

7. So B. It by Sarah Weeks—This coming of age book is about Heidi, a thirteen-year-old girl who lives with her mother, a woman whose vocabulary consists of twenty-three words, and Bernadette, a woman who takes care of Heidi and her mother, all while managing her agoraphobia. Longing to know who she is, Heidi sets out on a cross-country trip in hopes of finding answers to the questions that haunt her. Thoughtful, intelligent writing that resonates with readers young and old.

Amy L. Sullivan, author of Gutsy Girls: Strong Christian Women Who Impacted the World: Book Two: Sisters, Corrie and Betsie ten Boom

8. Impossible Love: The True Story of an African Civil War, Miracles and Hope against All Odds by Craig and Medine Keener—If you love missionary stories and enjoy hearing how God brings two people together, pick up Impossible Love. Part agony with fistfuls of grace, this story changed my perspective on the power of God in the lives of His people.

Mary DeMuth, author, Worth Living: How God’s Wild Love for You Makes You Worthy

9. Have a Little Faith: A True Story by Mitch Albom—I love anything and everything by Albom, but this book captured the essence of what it means to have faith. The book centers around a relationship between two men, one a Jew, the other a Christian. A story about serving others in a time of need, and the type of strong bond one can gain, simply by opening up to another soul, while yours is searching for greater meaning.

JD Dudycha, author of Sitting Dead Red

10. Bettyville: A Memoir by George Hodgman—The book that affected me the most might not be to everyone’s taste because it’s written by a gay man who went through a period of drug use, but it’s a memoir similar to mine in that he had to leave a flashy life as a big time NYC editor (he worked at several major book publishers and Vanity Fair) and go home to care for his mother. It’s tough and sad and funny. I loved it.

—Carolyn Jourdan, author of Medicine Men: Extreme Appalachian Doctoring

11. Promise Me This by Cathy Bohlke—A fictional account of a trip on the Titanic. A very touching story of a stow-away and how his live impacts those he meets on the ship and after his rescue.

—Penelope Carlevato, author of The Art of Afternoon Tea: From the Era of Downton Abbey and the Titanic

12. The Inner Voice of Love by Henri Nouwen is a perennial favorite. When I’m distressed, strung out, and generally cray-cray, I always find the calm center again with this book.  It’s traveled around the world in my hand luggage, never entrusted to airline baggage handlers.

—Kay Bruner, author of As Soon As I Fell: A Memoir

13. The Dean’s Watch, my favorite recently read book, by Elizabeth Goudge—One of the things I love most about her writing is the way she makes places almost like characters in her books. The cathedral and the city in TDW are as richly rendered and realized as the people.

Kimberlee Conway Ireton, author of Cracking Up: A Postpartum Faith Crisis

14. Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China by Evan Osnos—Drawing upon his years of experience as a press correspondent in Beijing, Evan Osnos presents vignettes of many of the people he interviewed while in China. These people represent a remarkable cross-section of modern Chinese society, drawing attention to many of the major issues that threaten to derail China’s future development.

—Andrew Kaiser, author of Voices from the Past: Historical Reflections on Christian Missions in China


How is your summer reading going? The book I have planned to read for months, I still haven’t gotten to. Instead I’ve been, as is my norm, reading other books that seem to keep finding me. Which book from this recommendation (or written by an author) caught your eye?

Thank you to everyone who contributed!