This past week I spent time on the North Carolina coast with my family and had my version of a perfect vacation. I sat in my beach chair with a front row view of the ocean and spent the entire day reading. I read one book for every day I was there. It was heaven on earth friends! I would have preferred the sharks not come out to play in mass numbers, but nevertheless, the ocean looked lovely from the safety of the shore and the sand.

With a few months left of summer and beach vacations still to be enjoyed, I thought I’d share a couple of my favorite reads so that you too can enjoy the sound of roaring waves and sunshine while reading some great books!

Beach Music | Pat Conroy

Pat Conroy is my all-time favorite fiction writer. His novels are rich and deep, and his prose is lyrical and simply beautiful. I’ve had this particular book for some time and finally decided to take it off my shelf and delve in. Let me tell you, I was far from disappointed! The story is about a man who moves with his young daughter to Rome after his wife commits suicide, and there was a nasty family fall-out. He gets a call from one of his brothers a few years later that his aging mother has cancer, so he reluctantly returns to his hometown in the low country of South Carolina with his daughter. With delicious twists and turns, this story spans multiple generations and will weave you through the Holocaust, the Vietnam war, and even more. I got all sorts of nostalgic reading about my alma mater, University of South Carolina, in the pages of this book too. Five stars y’all, you won’t be able to put it down, and it is simply the perfect beach companion.

Jesus, my Father, the CIA, and me…A memoir of sorts | Ian Cron Morgan

This book wrecked me in all the best ways. I haven’t read such a powerful story in a long time. Morgan is an exceptional storyteller and writes with a tenderness that will leave you longing for more after you’ve turned the final page. He writes about his childhood with an alcoholic father who also happens to be in the CIA and the struggles that ensued as he journeys to become a man. Forced to face the demons of his childhood as an adult, he recounts his journey of finding God, who indeed had been along his side the entire time. Can’t recommend this book more!

If you find this letter: My Journey to Find Purpose Through Hundreds of Letters to Strangers | Hannah Brencher

Y’all. If you haven’t heard of Hannah Brencher, it’s time you do. As a fellow twenty-something trying to figure out her place in the world, she gives a voice to our generation in a profound way. She has one of those rare gifts where she can express exactly how you feel but don’t have the words for, in this romantically poetic way. This book is her story of how she began leaving love letters all over New York City as she was struggling with a debilitating depression and craving connection among the millions hustling by her every day. The love letters have turned into a worldwide movement over the past few years. I think you’ll just love her story!

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead | Brene Brown

You may have watched Brene Brown on one of her TEDx talks on shame and vulnerability. If you haven’t, I strongly suggest you spend the next twenty minutes of your day doing so. You won’t regret it. Reading her book will obviously take you longer than twenty minutes, but I don’t think you’ll mind one bit! She uses years of research to show us the importance of courage and vulnerability. The title is based on Theodore Roosevelt’s famous speech…

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

She dispels the myth that vulnerability is a weakness and instead casts a vision for a courageous life full of vulnerability. Regardless of your age, the truth she shares in this book is timeless.

Mere Christianity | C.S. Lewis

Had to throw in a classic for good measure. Mere Christianity will always top my list of need to read and then read it again every year for the rest of my life books. Although I don’t know if I would necessarily call this a beach read as you’ll need to come fully prepared with a handful of highlighters to read this book. I more or less ended up marking up my entire book. When you read quotes like the one below, how do you not underline every word?!

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

And Mr. Lewis drops the mic.

So that’s my little list for great reads to finish out your summer. We would love to know what page-turners you’ve devoured recently. Drop us a comment below. Happy summer reading friends!

Blake Snyder, Outreach Coordinator

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