Nothing says summer vacay like plunging into a good fiction book while lounging by a beautiful beach. Unfortunately, my everyday life is so busy that taking the time to read fiction proves a luxury. Sure, I’m always reading something, but mainly I spend my time in the non-fiction world, in order to prepare for teaching or writing assignments. Trust me, I’ve earned these prescription glasses since my eyes are typically glued to small fonts and blue screens!
While I don’t always get the chance to escape into a good novel, I’m one happy girl when I do. But here’s the thing, I don’t want to waste my time with books that fill my mind with junk or make me feel worse for having read the story. Bottom line, I don’t want to be entertained by darkness. The world is dark enough, so I want to be careful to guard my mind and carefully choose the type of media I consume. I don’t want to fall asleep in fear or battle images that lead me into temptation.
In Ephesians, the Apostle Paul encourages us to “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:16.
Because I’m discerning about what I read, I often ask trusted friends for recommendations. I don’t want to waste my time on junk that feeds my flesh. Instead, I want a novel to captivate both my heart and mind and offer redemption. So, if you are anything like me and you also want to redeem your time, here are a few recommendations for your next summer read.
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The Paris Library
To be honest, I was hesitant to read this one because I was a little over the World War II genre. But after a few women I respect posted about it, I opted to give it a try. I was not disapointed. The Paris Library is based on the true World War II story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris. This is an unforgettable story of romance, friendship, family, and the power of literature to bring us together.
The Paris Library is set in the United States in the 1980s and Paris during WWII. It tells of two women, one lonely young girl and an older widow who are brought together for their mutual healing and redemption. If you love historical fiction and strong female characters, then this is the book for you. I truly loved this book and was sad to turn the last page.
The Lincoln Highway
In my opinion, Amor Towels is one of the most gifted writers living today. And his third book, The Lincoln Highway, is one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read. As with all of his novels, Towels presents characters who genuinely inspire you to be a better human. So much so, that half way through my reading of The Lincoln Highway, I actually sent him an email to tell him how much his writing glorifies God. I have no idea if he is a Christian or not, but I can tell you this, his writing makes me want to be a better one.
“Set in the 1950s, The Lincoln Highway is filled with nostalgia as well as the gentle naïveté and hijinks of those who are young, optimistic, and on a mission. The story follows four boys who set out to travel the country in search of a fresh start: Emmett and Billy want to find their mother who left them when they were young, and Duchess and Woolly are on the hunt for a stashed wad of cash. Sometimes their dreams are aligned but often they are not. In other words, adventure ensues: There’s train hopping and car stealing, and with that comes the inevitability of trouble sparked from both good and bad intentions. Each of these young men is chasing his dreams, but their pasts—whether violent or sad—are never far behind. “—Al Woodworth, Amazon Editor
Ordinary Grace is set in New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were selling out at the soda counter of Halderson’s Drugstore, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder.
Frank begins the season preoccupied with the concerns of any teenage boy, but when tragedy unexpectedly strikes his family—which includes his Methodist minister father; his passionate, artistic mother; Juilliard-bound older sister; and wise-beyond-his-years kid brother—he finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal, suddenly called upon to demonstrate a maturity and gumption beyond his years.
Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer, Ordinary Grace is a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God. (From the publisher.)
The Last Bookshop in London
The Last Bookshop in London was a delightful read! Not only do I love history, so that was a win, but if you know me at all, you know I love all things British. So a book that centers in London, England is just my cup of tea!
The Last Bookshop in London is about bookstores set during the horrific Blitz of London during WWII. Grace Bennett always wanted to move to London, but the life she finds is not nearly what she expected as she searches for work, endures air raids, and fights for normalcy. The only job she can find is at Primrose Hill, a dusty, old bookstore with a grumpy old owner. Grace, who is not much of a reader at first, organizes the bookshop and gradually develops a love for novels, enjoys a friendly relationship with a handsome and well-read customer named George, finds ways she can contribute to the war effort and the book community, and discovers the power of storytelling during the most difficult times.
Friends, I hope you find time this summer to put your feet up and enjoy a great read. I’d love to hear from you about some of your favorite books. Find me on Instagram @thisredeemedlife or comment below with your suggestions.
All my best,
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