Summer Reading Ideas

IMG_2756Our Women’s Care Team is one of the greatest joys of getting to work at my church. Last fall, in preparation for our women’s retreat, they gave me a list of some of their favorite books, along with the reasons they enjoyed them. I thought their picks might provide a helpful list for summer reading. If you are seeking to grow in your theological understanding, gain wisdom for fighting sin, find a daily devotional, or strengthen your prayer life, they offer some excellent recommendations.


Women’s Care Team Member: Jessica Britt
Title: Voices from the Past: Puritan Devotional
Author: *Various Puritan writers, compiled by Richard Rushing
Type of book: Devotional

Why do you recommend it?
The Puritans had an incredible love and understanding of Scripture, a passion for purity in their lives, and a powerful way of connecting the mundane of life to the rich and abiding truth in God’s word. There is such reverence, such simplicity, yet such depth! These devotionals challenge me to live and love more radically, to steep in God’s word, to root out sin, and to be armed with truth for living out my faith daily. I am humbled reading these authors and the strong convictions they had! How I hope to be as passionate as they were for Christ!

One thing I have taken from this book: God’s word and truth IS living and active, and our Heavenly Father is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I am reminded again and again that God’s word is powerful to correct, train, teach, convict, and encourage. The same scriptures are speaking the same truths centuries from when these devotional were written, and oh how my life differs from theirs! Yet truth remains the same. God’s word pierces my soul with the same arrows of truth that His word did centuries ago. And that is because our great God never, ever, ever changes, nor does His word and truth. So much so that centuries later, I feel these authors were reading my journal over my shoulder, then speaking words my heart desperately needed to hear. I grow increasingly grateful for the never changing attribute of our Father in heaven and for the truth He pours down on us through His word and the saints of old.

Women’s Care Team Member: Cate Miller
Title: When People Are Big and God is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency and the Fear of Man
Author: Ed Welch
Type of book: Topical

Why do you recommend it?“The most radical treatment for the fear of man is the fear of the Lord. God must be bigger to you than people are.” This book was convicting and encouraging at the same time. I went through it with a friend and it opens up some great time for discussion. Welch unpacks this thought that is ages old: “What or who you need will control you.” So, what controls me? Having struggled with wanting others approval, the fear of man has been a constant companion in my life: ruling how I live and causing me to doubt choices I’ve made. When I’ve looked to other voices, rather than my Savior’s, I’ve cheapened the gospel. I’ve treasured something or someone’s voice more than the voice of Jesus. But I can’t stop there…It’s also not enough to say, “Jesus thinks I’m great! Who needs em!” While that puffed up feeling of “well-being” can seem encouraging, it’s also false. I can’t count on my own feelings of being great or my own truth to direct me, I can only look to the truth of God’s word. His is the voice that matters, the voice that convicts, the voice that changes and brings repentance. This book was one that caused me to consider hard truths and asks hard questions. I can’t say that I no longer struggle with people’s opinions or approval. However, I am learning that I can be guided and directed by the Word of God and that I can listen to the voice of my loving Savior and be controlled by Him and Him alone.

Women’s Care Team Member: Mary Kulp
Title:  Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins we Tolerate
Author:  Jerry Bridges
Type of Book:  Topical

Why do you recommend it?
In this book, Bridges addresses the sins that often go under-represented from the pulpit:  unthankfulness, ungodliness, pride, selfishness, worldliness.  In a world where the mature Christian can more sophisticatedly mask the ugliness of sin, this book pricks the heart to consider sinful patterns and connections and points to Scriptures that specifically address each sin.  This book has been one that I’ve gone to time and time again when looking for passages to pray through and memorize to combat my sinful tendencies.  He writes in a way that is both inviting and convicting.  All would benefit through spending time poring over these pages, being directed to Christ, whose kindness leads us to true repentance.

Women’s Care Team Member: Mary Kulp
Title: Uprooting Anger
Author: Robert D. Jones
Type of Book: Topical

Why do you recommend it?
Frustrated. Annoyed. Bothered.  Hurt.  These words are often only masking what lies beneath: anger.  Very little anger the believer experiences is truly righteous.  Jones defines anger and helps us examine it biblically.  He pushes repentance and acknowledges areas where anger often creeps in…..against God, ourselves, others.  I was particular challenged to see how I conceal my anger and was pushed toward repentance.  This is a great read for anyone who struggles to know how to battle a sin that so easily takes root and produces plentiful offshoots.

Women’s Care Team Member: Mary Kulp
Title: The Mortification of Sin
Author: John Owen
Type of Book: Topical

Why do you recommend it?
“Always be killing sin or it will be killing you” -Owen.  This book examines how believers need to aggressively and consistently pursue righteousness and the putting off of our sinful nature.  We, as believers, often come to a place of knowing our sin and becoming comfortable with our battle, acknowledging our sin but seeing little victory.  Owen pushes believers to know Christ’s conquering power over sin.  Fighting sin on our own will produce a complex mis of self-righteousness and anxiety.  Be encouraged to press into Christ in the midst of our daily battle.  The battle is ours in Christ.

Women’s Care Team Member: Anne Rogers
Title: Lies Women Believe
Author:  Nancy Leigh DeMoss
Type of Book: Topical

Why do you recommend it?
The battle we live out this side of heaven involves a constant fight with the enemy.  This book helps identify how the subtle lies of Satan can slowly sink into our thinking and dilute the truths of the gospel.  This book was a huge encouragement to me during a dry season in reaching scripture.  The book emphasizes that the most powerful weapon we have against the lies of the world is the Bible.  Reading this book has given me greater insight into my own sin patterns, but mainly motivated me to know God’s word better.  It has also helped me mentor other ladies, and identify better with non-Christians and how they might think about God and spiritual concepts.This book has also helped me as a parent to better guide my children when they are embracing lies of the enemy.

Women’s Care Team Member: Lindsay Dyar
Title of Book: A Praying Life
Author: Paul Miller
Type of Book: Topical

Why do you recommend it? This is one of the most impactful books I’ve read in my Christian life. It truly helped to revolutionize my prayer life and draw me into a deeper relationship with the Lord.  It convicted me in areas where I wasn’t praying: “If you are not praying, then you are quietly confident that time, money, and talent are all you need in life. You’ll always be a little too tired, a little too busy. But, if like Jesus you realize you can’t do life on your own, then no matter how busy,no matter how tired you are, you will find the time to pray.” It showed me how I needed the Lord and encouraged me to pray out of my sense of need instead of praying out of guilt or a sense of duty. It reminded me how I am helpless to do life on my own. Additionally, it is just so easy to read. Paul Miller writes as if he is having a profound conversation with a friend; I love that he does not put himself on a pedestal as one who is a great prayer, yet as one who is persevering in this life as we are.

What’s one thing you learned from this book that has stayed with you? Miller removes the idea that our prayers have to meet any type of formula in order to be effective. For me, having grown up in the church and having heard lots of acronyms about how to pray, I love this quote from the book about prayer: “I am starting to see there is a difference between “saying prayers” and honest praying. Both can sound the same on the outside, but the former is too often motivated by a sense of obligation and guilt; whereas the latter is motivated by a conviction that I am completely helpless to “do life” on my own. Or in the case of praying for others, that I am completely helpless to help others without the grace and power of God.” It is a fantastic book! You won’t regret reading it.

Women’s Care Team Member: Kate Willis
Title of Book:  What Christ Thinks of the Church:  An Exposition of Revelation 1-3
Author: John Stott
Type of Book: Theological

Why do you recommend it?
I love the way John Stott consistently and faithfully helps believers grow in their understanding of theology but in a way that is deeply devotional.  This book is one of my favorites because it unwraps a book that can seem confusing to many (myself included).  Stott helps the reader understand the marks of a true and living church by walking through the letters to the 7 churches in the first three chapters of Revelation.

What’s one thing you learned from this book that has stayed with you?
The letter to Ephesus begins with a commendation of the church’s good deeds and hard work.  But chapter 2:4 says “you have forsaken your first love.”  About the church at Ephesus and the church today, Stott says, ” The Divine Lover still sorrows when his love is unrequited, and pines for our continuing, deepening, maturing adoration.  Love, then, is the first mark of a true and living church.  Indeed, it is not a living church at all unless it is a loving church.”

Women’s Care Team Member: Winfree Brisley
Title of Book: Women of the Word
Author: Jen Wilkin
Type: Topical

Why do you recommend it? This book is a fantastic, step-by-step guide for how to study the Bible on your own.  It removes the feeling that studying the Bible is too daunting and overwhelming for a regular person by equipping the reader with a framework for how to approach Bible study and a process that can be easily replicated.  As a former English teacher, I can vouch for the fact that many of the author’s tips and tools are based on best practices for how to read and understand literature.  Wilkin teaches the reader how to engage her mind (as well as her heart) and be a good student of the Word.  And lest you think this book would be helpful but extremely boring, Wilkin is a fantastic writer who is able to keep the reader engaged!  I could not put this book down!

What’s one thing you learned from this book that has stayed with you? Wilkin believes that a lot of our apathy about the Word comes from being ill equipped to study it.  She writes, “I believe that a woman who loses interest in her Bible has not been equipped to love it as she should.”  Think about it: we don’t often enjoy tasks that we feel unable to complete with some success.  Being well equipped to study the Bible helps us learn more about the Lord, and the more we come to know Him, the more we enjoy Him!

Title: The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life’s Hard
Author:  Kara Tippetts
Type of Book: Topical

Why do you recommend it? Kara is simply a woman struggling in the midst of life’s pain.  Hers is stage 4 metastatic breast cancer while being a wife and mother of 4 young children.  What is yours?  This book will challenge you to examine your heart, your fears, your hopes, your expectations as you process life’s circumstances.  Where do you need to trust the Lord?  Where do you need to know his grace?  Where do you need Him to increase your faith?  She doesn’t offer all of the answers but points to the One who can bring comfort in pain.  I like how she points to Christ in the midst of the mundane and in the storm.  She’s relatable.  She’s not trying to win a contest for worst story- she invites us all to examine the story we’ve been asked to receive.  She knows strength only in her weakness.  She knows hope in despair.  I’m challenged to press into Christ and love those around me bigger- more honestly, with greater intention.

What’s one thing you learned from this book that has stayed with you? “Hard is not the absence of God’s goodness.”  He has numbered and ordered our days.  His story for us is best.  Though we shake our fist at times and want our way to best, Kara encourages me to speak truth that God is near to me in pain and difficulty.

Women’s Care Team Member: Lauren Palmer
Title of Book: The Reason for God
Author: Timothy Keller
Type of Book: Theological

Why do you recommend it? I have many non-Christian friends from college and high school. This book has equipped me to enter into very tough conversations with hard questions. Keller’s point of view on not only encouraging those who doubt, but appreciating them is like none I had ever heard before. Each chapter covers a typical objection to the Christian faith and mines material from literary classics, philosophy, anthropology and a multitude of other disciplines to make an intellectually compelling case for God. Tim Keller is absolutely brilliant and I am incredibly grateful for his ministries. While I don’t consider myself to be an intellectual, I appreciate an intellectual approach when ministering the Word of God. 

What’s one thing you learned from this book that has stayed with you? Even a lack of faith or atheism is a religion. If you deem that to be your truth, it is your religion. So much of our world prides themselves on not being religious. But whatever we believe, whether it is in the one true God, or no God, is our religion.

Women’s Care Team Member: Melissa Kruger
Title: Discipline, The Glad Surrender
Author: Elisabeth Elliot

What’s one thing you learned from this book that has stayed with you? While some may think of discipline as a negative concept, Elliot helps her readers to witness the beauty of a life lived following God.  The ultimate hope of discipline is righteousness and peace for those who have been trained up by it.  This book helps the reader to understand that Godly discipline leads to joy and freedom, not drudgery and duty.

Women’s Care Team Member: Melissa Kruger
Title: Crazy Busy
Author: Kevin DeYoung

What’s one thing you learned from this book that has stayed with you? We are all busy, but the question I often find myself asking is, “Am I busy with the right things?”  Am I overburdened with worldly cares that impede spiritual growth?  Have I said yes to too many things in order to please others? Have I been willing to put others before myself and sacrifice by serving them?  DeYoung addresses the complexities of our busyness with excellent understanding and insight, while encouraging us to faithfully apply Biblical principals in the choices we make on a daily basis.


      • says

        One of the things I’ve done in the past is to read about one country. So, read every book I can find, well-written or not on China or Ireland or India. It’s kind of fun to get a more comprehensive picture for what has gone on in that country. Or to read a lot of books about the same person, story, as each author will have their own voice.

        I remember liking God’s Smuggler, though it’s been a while since I’ve read it.

        Also, John Piper has talks you can listen to on biographies of people, which may be the route I talk this summer, as I haven’t been able to concentrate well lately. Haha, babies!

  1. says

    Thank you for this list! I got a copy of Voices from the Past after reading The Envy of Eve, and I frequently use that during my devotions. I’ve read some of these others, but I now have a great resource for choosing some deeper reading for the summer. Thanks!

    • Melissa Kruger says

      Hi Lauren – Voices from the Past is one of my favorites as well. I still read it most days and always find encouragement from the depth of thought and Biblical understanding. Glad you’ve enjoyed it also!