Soul Mending Summer Reads
I love books. Fiction, non-fiction, young adult, mystery, adventure, classics, whatever.
And now with city libraries giving us access to vast audio libraries I always have books downloaded to my phone and playing in my pocket as I work throughout the day.
I’ve already read (listened to) almost 30 books so far this year. From heart wrenching stories like “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” to team-work and leadership books like “Creativity Inc” to popular best sellers like “Little Fires Everywhere”.
I love a variety! But sometimes I am in need of a book that refills my soul and reminds me that either I am ok….or that human race is ok…or both.
So today Elizabeth and I have put together a list of some of our favorite soul mending reads.
Here’s my list:
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
Ok, I know its a book about college kids learning how to row a boat…I was a little skeptical myself but I think it’s the best book I’ve read this year.
And it is more than just rowing, the depression, and the rise of Hitler to power….which does not sound soul mending…it is about how to choose who is “in your boat”, how to build trust and rely on others, and understanding that you don’t have to do all the hard pulling on your own.
I just really loved this book!
The Little Book of Hygee by Meik Wiking
I first listened to this book on audio last summer….and I was hooked. I actually finished it the first time while running a half marathon and I kept pulling my ear buds out and asking other runners if they had listened to the book. True story. Embarrassing but true.
I’ve listened to it twice since then…and I can still remember where I was on the race course when I hear certain parts. Or the confused look on one runners face when I was freaking out about the amazing book I was reading.
But really….I do think it is an amazing book.
I incorporated so many of the ideas during fall and winter…and then in our quarantine time this spring…I haven’t regretted a single incorporation.
Plus, the audio version of the book is written by the author himself and his voice is DREAMY!!!
When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Holt
One of my all time favorite young adult fiction books “When Zachary Beaver Came to Town” is told from the perspective of a 13 year old boy in a small town in Texas during the Vietnam War and the summer the “fattest boy in world” rolls into town.
It has everything I love in a book…unlikely friendships, underdogs, heart warming scenes, and a cast of charectures who are all so imperfect but so worthy of love.
I love it so much I have had two different book clubs read it with me.
You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero
I know…it’s a “self help” book. That might not be you jam.
BUT I LOVE THIS BOOK. It is downloaded onto my phone. And when I feel nervous walking into a city meeting or worried about a zoom conference or unsure about a new undertaking I really want to try but don’t feel qualified for I push play.
It is because of this book that I am sitting on a back patio that I had only dreamed of, sipping a soda while the sun sets, watching my kids run in a backyard that I never thought we could finish, while I write this.
Think Big by Ben Carson
I read this book over the holidays and it was such a fantastic read for the soul. It follows Dr. Carson’s journey to become (and his career as) a neurosurgeon. Along the way there were so many nuggets of goodness like this one:
“I am convinced that knowledge is power – to overcome the past, to change our own situations, to fight new obstacles, to make better decisions.”
But also there is an underlying theme of gratitude throughout the whole book. For his mother. For his teachers. For his colleges. It made me more grateful as I read for all the people who have and continue to help me along my path.
The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron
“Some aspects of life are strange or even terrible, but later something okay or even good happens that would never have happened without the bad/strange thing.”
Another young adult book this one follows a ten year old, living in a trailer park with her dog HSM Beagle. It includes AA meetings, sand storms, wards of the state, and snakes in the dryer all in a journey to find Lucky’s higher power.
And again…it has a pile of broken characters that you will fall in love with.
Rising Strong by Brene Brown
I have found value in anything I’ve read by Brene Brown but this book is a personal favorite. It’s about failing and trying again. It’s about taking risks and trying and doing our best.
“MANIFESTO OF THE BRAVE AND BROKENHEARTED There is no greater threat to the critics and cynics and fearmongers Than those of us who are willing to fall Because we have learned how to rise With skinned knees and bruised hearts; We choose owning our stories of struggle, Over hiding, over hustling, over pretending. When we deny our stories, they define us. When we run from struggle, we are never free. So we turn toward truth and look it in the eye. We will not be characters in our stories. Not villains, not victims, not even heroes. We are the authors of our lives. We write our own daring endings. We craft love from heartbreak, Compassion from shame, Grace from disappointment, Courage from failure. Showing up is our power. Story is our way home. Truth is our song. We are the brave and brokenhearted. We are rising strong.”
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
This book has gotten a lot of hype recently….and it is fantastic for a lot of reasons….but I listened to it back in January over a weekend while I was painting my basement.
“Sometimes we’re fractured by the choices we make; sometimes we’re shattered by things we would never have chosen. But our brokenness is also the source of our common humanity, the basis for our shared search for comfort, meaning, and healing. Our shared vulnerability and imperfection nurtures and sustains our capacity for compassion.”
It touched me so much I had my husband listen to it….and have recommended it about a million times since.
There is one part in particular that has replayed in my mind over and over again since listening when I have made decisions to move forward on certain projects. It comes from a conversation the author had with Rosa Parks and several other women. He had just explained to them his projects and goals:
‘Ooooh, honey, all that’s going to make you tired, tired, tired.’ We all laughed. I looked down, a little embarrassed. Then Ms. Carr leaned forward and put her finger in my face and talked to me just like my grandmother used to talk to me. She said, ‘That’s why you’ve got to be brave, brave, brave.’
That’s going to make you tired, tired, tired…..that’s why you’ve got to be brave, brave, brave….
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
I read this book every summer.
Sometimes there are just those stories you grew up with that fill your soul. This one is mine.
“Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. Although he loved her children and grandchildren dearly, none of the new spiders ever quite took her place in his heart. She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.”
Here is Elizabeth’s list:
The Gifts of Imperfection
The Gifts of Imperfection is a great book about letting go of a lot of the “perfection” qualities that we can sometimes get caught up in. And Brene has such a way with words, I found myself thinking about this book over and over again. One of my very favorite things she said is, “Here’s what is truly at the heart of wholeheartedness: Worthy now, not if, not when, we’re worthy of love and belonging now. Right this minute. As is.” It’s a good one!
A Man Called Ove
Ove is the quintessential grumpy old man next door. He is angry at the world and has basically given up on life. When a boisterous young family moves in next door and accidentally flattens Ove’s mailbox, an unlikely friendship forms. It is a touching story of loneliness turning into friendships that will warm your soul.
Puddin’ is a young adult novel that both you and your teens will love. It delves into the lives of two teen girls from completely different worlds who through a series of events (and funny circumstances) not only form an unlikely friendship but set about to change the world together. It is a feel-good story that you will remember for a long time.
Wonder is still one of our very favorite family read-alouds. It is endearing and sweet and teaches some amazing lessons. Auggie’s character is so well written as well as his friends and family and their unique perspectives in each of the chapters. If you haven’t read Wonder with your kids you need to. It’s one of the best!
It’s a wide range of different kinds of books.
Hopefully you will find something there that will help mend your soul….and…if you have a book that speaks to you PLEASE share it in the comments.
I’m always looking for more good books to read!