25 suggestions for your summer reading list

June 21, 2019

What would summer be without a stack of good books? We polled some of the most avid readers from the staff of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and compiled a list of their picks. With page-turning thrillers, biographies, in-depth theological works and more, there’s something here for everyone. Happy reading!

Title: The Landmark Julius Caesar
Author: Edited by by Kurt A. Raaflaub & Robert B. Strassler (2017)
Recommended By: Tom Knight
Category: History
Have you ever wanted to read the works of Julius Caesar but were put off by books with small prints and a lack of nice maps? Then this book is for you. It’s a real jewel in large print, with wonderfully clear maps, copious footnotes, a glossary and various essays. If you enjoy ancient history, this series is a must. Check out its other volumes on Xenophon, Herodotus, Arrian and Thucydides.

Title: A Canticle for Liebowitz
Author: Walter M. Miller, Jr. (1959)
Recommended By: Tom Knight
Category: Fiction
Recipient of the Hugo award in 1961, Canticle focuses on a Christian monastery during three epochs in post-apocalyptic America. Sweeping in its time frame, the theme of the church’s mission in history is given a futuristic edge after nuclear war. This is science-fiction exploring religion at its best.

Title: When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment
Author: Ryan T. Anderson (2018)
Recommended By: Tom Knight
Category: Cultural Issues
This book is an omnibus of sorts, educating the reader on a wide range of topics regarding transgenderism. Anderson explores the medical, philosophical, moral and political issues regarding this topic which are ubiquitous in American life. A fascinating read.

Title: Making Sense of God: Finding God in the Modern World
Author: Tim Keller (2018)
Recommended By: Tom Knight
Category: Cultural Issues
Keller masterfully weaves the foundational work of Charles Taylor, showing the soft underbelly of the modern predicament. This book helps one see oblique avenues in helping the unbelieving diaspora see a way forward to God.

Title: Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible
Authors: Brandon O’Brien and Randy Richards (2012)
Recommended By: Mark Smith
Category: Biblical Studies
The authors shed light on the ways Western readers often misunderstand the cultural dynamics of the Bible. They discuss nine key areas where modern Westerners have significantly different assumptions about what might be going on in a text.

Title: Pat Nixon: The Untold Story
Author: Julie Nixon Eisenhower (1986)
Recommended By: Ashley Allen
Category: Biographical
This book is a biography of Pat Nixon, written by her daughter Julie. It tells of her humble upbringing and the difficulties she and her brothers faced after their parents died when they were young. One story details how Pat worked as a janitor at a bank during high school and was mocked by her classmates, which embarrassed and humiliated her but also led her to relate to and seek out the downtrodden. The book doesn’t shy away from difficulties in Mrs. Nixon’s life. It does, however, tell the story of a life lived with joy and a love for people. Reading this book is time well-spent.

Title: Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race
Author: Margot Lee Shetterly (2016)
Recommended By: Ashley Allen
Category: History
Two years ago the movie Hidden Figures was released and told the story of the African-American female human computers who worked at NASA’s Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. The three ladies highlighted, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson, worked in various computer and engineering areas in the country’s efforts to allow John Glenn to orbit the earth during the space race of the 1960s. While the movie is great, the book is so much more.

Title: John Adams
Author: David McCullough (2002)
Recommended By: Ashley Allen
Category: History
McCullough details the life of the country’s second president and the great trials this lawyer from Boston endured to help form a country independent from England. Adams spent much time apart from his beloved wife, Abigail, as he did his part to ensure freedom and rights for colonists. When the book was released, it was so well-received it sparked the HBO miniseries of the same name. Admittedly, as much as I love history and reading about people’s lives, this book is a rather dry read until page 250, when it picks up and becomes much more interesting. If you choose to read this book, endure to the end. You will be glad you did.

Title: Personal History
Author: Katharine Graham (1998)
Recommended By: Ashley Allen
Category: Biographical
Katherine Graham was the long-time publisher of The Washington Post. Personal History is Graham’s Pulitzer Prize winning autobiography. Graham’s story parallels the history of the United States in the 20th century, including but not limited to World War II, the civil rights movement, the Kennedy assassination, the women’s movement, the Vietnam War, Watergate and the Reagan-Bush 1980s. Graham enjoyed personal connections with many powerful men and women in Washington, and she speaks rather frankly regarding her perspective of events of the day and the people involved. This book is well-worth your time.

Title: When Breath Becomes Air
Author: Paul Kalanithi (2016)
Recommended By: Mary Beth Wortham
Category: Biographical
Kalanithi started this memoir after he was diagnosed with lung cancer in his last year of neurosurgical residency. It is a beautiful story of what matters most in your life when you know your days are numbered. Fair warning — you’ll need tissues.

Title: The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery
Authors: Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile (2016)
Recommended By: Mary Beth Wortham
Category: Non-Fiction
This book looks at the Enneagram, which is a personality typing system based on what motivates you. Cron and Stabile look at every number and discuss motivations, struggles, how they relate to other numbers, what they look like at work and in relationships, and what their spiritual transformation looks like when they are at their healthiest. The Enneagram has helped me tremendously to relate to those around me and understand myself better.

With page-turning thrillers, biographies, in-depth theological works and more, there’s something here for everyone.

Title: Christ & Culture
Author: Richard Niebuhr (2001)
Recommended By: Mike Parry
Category: Non-Fiction
This book observes categories and the different ways Christians interact with the world. While Niebuhr has initiated the conversation with broad categories, others have written follow-up books.

Title: God, Why This Evil?
Author: Bruce Little (2010)
Recommended By: Mike Parry
Category: Theology
This concise book presents the predominant “greater-good” view of the problem of good and evil. Not only does Little analyze the view, but he also offers a wonderful critique to it as well. The book concludes with Little sharing his own perspective.

Title: God and Time: Four Views
Author: Gregory Ganssle (2001)
Recommended By: Mike Parry
Category: Theology
In this book, Ganssle brings together a variety of views on God and time from their biggest supporters. Acquiring one of these views will help you understand how the rest of your theology (God’s omniscience, sovereignty, immutability and omnipresence) come together.

Title: The Untamed God: A Philosophical Exploration of Divine Perfection, Simplicity, and Immutability
Author: Jay Richards (2003)
Recommended By: Mike Parry
Category: Theology
This difficult read is weighty enough to challenge those willing to put in the effort to read it. Similar to the great writer Anselm, Richards addresses the essentials of classical theism and puts forth the ontological argument. The book observes the coherence of God’s attributes as well.

Title: Biblical Foundations for Baptist Churches: A Contemporary Ecclesiology
Author: John S. Hammett (2005)
Recommended By: Mike Parry
Category: Theology
Hammett has written an excellent ecclesiological book. His biblical support for what he presents is spot on and addresses notable topics such as regenerate church membership, church ordinances, and a biblical understanding of elders and deacons.

Title: Introduction to Old Testament Theology: A Canonical Approach
Author: John H. Sailhammer (1999)
Recommended By: Mike Parry
Category: Theology
What makes this book so important and impactful is where Sailhammer places his emphasis — the biblical text. While the text is central, the discussions that surround his view include how it should be interpreted. Scripture examples make this somewhat hefty theological read easier to consume.

Title: The Soul of Shame: Retelling the Stories We Believe About Ourselves
Author: Curt Thompson (2015)
Recommended By: Lauren McCall
Category: Christian Living
This book looks at shame within the grand narrative of God’s story, helping us to see the beauty of why God created and allows shame as a corrective tool for His glory and our good, as well as how shame can corrupt our sense of self through Satan’s lies and tactics. In a world where we tend to hide from God in our shame, this book reminds us of the freedom and tangible hope that we have in Christ who “despised shame” as He victoriously conquered death once and for all. With excellent study questions included, be prepared to be challenged and stretched, and maybe even for a deep soul-journey of restoration and healing.

Title: The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery
Author: David G. Benner (2015)
Recommended By: Lauren McCall
Category: Spiritual Journey
There are a lot of books about knowing God but few about knowing God through knowing ourselves. This short but profound book looks at how we become more authentically who we were created to be as we become more like Christ. Through the journey of self-discovery, experience an even deeper knowledge of God through a deep knowledge of self.

Title: Use of Force: A Thriller
Author: Brad Thor (2017)
Recommended By: Rick Hughes
Category: Fiction
Thor is exceedingly well researched in global issues and terrorism. This book gives deeper insight into “black ops” of the United States and other countries around the world. A great book for a relaxing read.

Title: The Imperfect Disciple: Grace for People Who Can’t Get Their Act Together
Author: Jared Wilson (2017)
Recommended By: Rick Hughes
Category: Christian Living
In The Imperfect Disciple, Jared Wilson cuts through the pristine bubble of the cultural Christian mindset and programs to disciple people in the messy midst of ordinary life. This book was a mirror to first reflect my life and the grace of God. A must read if you have a heart to disciple/coach others.

Title: Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World
Author: Michael Horton (2014)
Recommended By: Rick Hughes
Category: Christian Living
This book provided me with a renewed appreciation for living a gospel-centered Life. It is a great encouragement to people who feel they don’t make the cut to live in a vocational ministry world. The call of God in ordinary places where we live, work and play are just important as the pulpit on Sunday morning.

Title: Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom
Author: David W. Blight (2018)
Recommended By: Rick Hughes
Category: Biographical
Few scholars have chronicled the life of Frederick Douglass like David W. Blight. An eminent Yale historian, Blight provides details of trials, imperfections, highs and lows of a man struggling for freedom for African-Americans in the United States. This book is a great read that was featured on Barack Obama’s reading list.

Title: Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility
Author: Patty McCord (2018)
Recommended By: Rick Hughes
Category: Non-Fiction
This is a wonderful book to understand the emerging workplace culture in organizations and companies that move from surviving to thriving. Great read for those who are creating teams or organizations.

Title: Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
Author: J.D. Vance (2016)
Recommended By: Rick Hughes
Category: Biographical
Hillbilly Elegy voices J.D. Vance’s unyielding and painful account of the hopeless life he left behind. This is an account of his achievement to overcome huge unfavorable conditions to achieve academic and career success. This book great for relaxation and self-reflection.

by Staff writers  /  Communications  /  Baptist State Convention of North Carolina

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