Summer Reading List

As our program year ends, Faith Formation usually winds down until the fall. Since many of us are finding ourselves with more time on our hands and vacations may seem beyond our reach, we have compiled a list of books for your summer enjoyment. You can choose from history, fiction, contemporary topics, theology, philosophy, and more. Books have been chosen by Rev. Butler and members of the Faith Formation Ministry. Of course, you can also fill your soul by reading God’s word directly from the Bible, but we hope that you will also enjoy and be uplifted by the other Christian-themed books suggested below.

All books can be found on (click on book titles to go directly to Amazon) or you can visit the Lakewood Public Library at The Lakewood Public Library drive-through window is open at the main branch and curbside service is available at the Madison Branch. Digital and audio books can also be accessed on the Cuyahoga County Public Library page .

A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss by Jerry L. Sittser (Non Fiction)

Loss came suddenly for Jerry Sittser. In an instant, a tragic car accident claimed three generations of his family: his mother, his wife, and his young daughter. While most of us will not experience such a catastrophic loss in our lifetime, all of us will taste it. And we can, if we choose, know as well the grace that transforms it. A Grace Disguised plumbs the depths of sorrow, whether due to illness, divorce, or the loss of someone we love. The circumstances are not important; what we do with those circumstances is. In coming to the end of ourselves, we can come to the beginning of a new life—one marked by spiritual depth, joy, compassion, and a deeper appreciation of simple blessings.

Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther by Roland H. Bainton (Biography)

A vivid portrait of Martin Luther, the man of unshakable faith in God who helped bring about the Protestant Reformation. The Reformation of the sixteenth century was a vast and complicated movement. Since first published more than fifty years ago, Roland H. Bainton’s Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther has sold millions of copies, and it remains the definitive introduction to the great Reformer and is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand this towering historical figure. “The most readable Luther biography in English.” —Time Magazine

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu (Contemporary Topics)

Nobel Peace Prize Laureates His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have survived more than fifty years of exile and the soul-crushing violence of oppression. Despite their hardships—or, as they would say, because of them—they are two of the most joyful people on the planet. This book offers us a rare opportunity to experience their astonishing and unprecedented week together in April, 2015 from the first embrace to the final good-bye. In this unique collaboration, they offer us the reflection of real lives filled with pain and turmoil in the midst of which they have been able to discover a level of peace, of courage, and of joy to which we can all aspire in our own lives.

The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism by Jemar Tisby and Lecrae Moore (Contemporary Topics)

In The Color of Compromise, Jemar Tisby takes readers back to the roots of sustained racism and injustice in the American church. Filled with powerful stories and examples of American Christianity’s racial past, Tisby’s historical narrative highlights the obvious ways people of faith have actively worked against racial justice, as well as the complicit silence of racial moderates.

The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity by Willian P. Young (Fiction)

In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant, The Shack wrestles with the timeless question, “Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?” The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. Mackenzie Allen Philips’ youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack’s world forever. This book was also adapted into a movie in 2017.

Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard (Philosophy)

The infamous and controversial work that made a lasting impression on both modern Protestant theology and existentialist philosophers such as Sartre and Camus. Kierkegaard expounds his personal view of religion through a discussion of the scene in Genesis in which Abraham prepares to sacrifice his son Isaac at God’s command. Believing Abraham’s unreserved obedience to be the essential leap of faith needed to make a full commitment to his religion, Kierkegaard himself made great sacrifices in order to dedicate his life entirely to his philosophy and to God. Kierkegaard wrote on a wide variety of themes, including religion, psychology, and literature. He is remembered for his philosophy, which was influential in the development of 20th century existentialism.

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (Fiction/Jim’s Pick)

A delightful and deeply spiritual adventure story of 11-year-old Reuben Land, an asthmatic boy in the upper Midwest who goes on adventure with his sister and his Christian mystic father to find his brother who has been charged with murder. Enger’s prose is beautiful and deeply respectful of religious faith and the realm of the spirit.

The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe by Richard Rohr (Theology/Jim’s Pick)

“Christ was not Jesus’ last name. Most of us know something about Jesus of Nazareth, but who/what is “the Christ?”  Rohr can help us to understand that “the Christ/Word” existed long before Jesus was born. John wrote: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the word was God…”   

The Bible in English: Its History and Influence by David Daniell (History)

The greatest of the earlier translators of the Bible into English, William Tyndale, was martyred in 1536 for his work. Immediately after him, however, translations proliferated: the whole Bible, or significant parts, has now been translated into English from its original Greek and Hebrew more than three thousand times. This major new book tells the extraordinary story of the Bible in England from approximately the fourth century, and its later translation into English in Britain and America to the present day. Encompassing centuries of change—from a time when no one except priests had knowledge of the Bible beyond a few traditional stories mixed with saints’ lives, through later years when ordinary people were steeped in Biblical doctrine and language, to the present, when popular knowledge of the Bible, we are told, has disappeared—this eloquent book reveals how the endeavor of translating the Bible into English has changed religious practice, the arts, society, and the English language itself.

The Space Trilogy (Perelandra · ‎Out of the Silent Planet · ‎That Hideous Strength) by C. S. Lewis (Christian Fiction and Youth Book Recommendation)

Though known for his classic series The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis created a second fantasy series known as The Space Trilogy—Lewis’s classic science fiction trilogy featuring the adventures of Dr. Ransom on Mars, Venus, and Earth. Called to join the universal battle of good vs. evil, Dr. Elwin Ransom, a renowned scholar, fights demonic forces with the help of heavenly messengers. Follow his out-of-this-world adventures in Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength.

Children’s Recommendations

The Wemmicks Books (You Are Special/ You Are Mine/ Best of All) by Max Lucado

Max Lucado’s beautiful story reminds us that we are special to God just the way we are. Parents and children alike will enjoy this touching portrayal of an eternal truth.

You Are Special: In the town of Wemmickville there lives a Wemmick named Punchinello. Each day the residents award stickers―gold stars for the talented, smart, and attractive Wemmicks, and gray dots for those who make mistakes or are just plain ordinary. Punchinello, covered in gray dots, begins to feel worthless. Then one day he visits Eli the woodcarver, his creator, and he learns that his worth comes from a different source. 

You Are Mine: Bigger, better, more is how the world determines who’s special and who’s not. It’s a message your kids are hearing every day. But it’s not God’s message. His truth is simple and never-changing: It’s not what you have, it’s Whose you are. Punchinello’s lesson in love will help you speak God’s heart to the heart of every child: You are special, not because of the things you have, but because you are Mine.

Best of All: Bess Stovall is famous for being famous. “When it comes to Wemmicks, she’s the best,” they say. Who wouldn’t want to join her Wonderful Wemmicks Club? The catch is this: only Wemmicks made of maple can join―the best wood from the best forest. But Punchinello can’t join since he is made of willow. “Willow is weak wood,” says Bess. “No one wants to be a willow.” And Punchinello is the only willow in Wemmicksville. Everyone looks down on him, even his friend Lucia. Punchinello learns a valuable lesson when Eli the woodcarver helps him see that he is special because the Maker made him―the Maker even chose his wood.