I realized last week that I posted a summer-specific reading list, then never did one for the fall. Which is a real shame, because there have been some good ones since. So that's what this post is going to be.
- Eat This Book, Eugene H. Peterson. Everything I've ever wished to articulate about Scripture, and then a million times more. I think I scrawled "WOW" in the margins of every page. So good. So important. If I could make it required reading for every Christian, I would.
- Restless, Jennie Allen. I read Jennie's book Anything the summer I worked in Colorado, and while its message had an enormous impact on me spiritually, the writing didn't really strike me in such a way that I was rushing out to grab her next one. I honestly just picked up Restless because, one, I liked the cover
("But Ryley, you can't judge a book by it's cov-"
and two, the word is one that too-often describes how I feel. I planned to just skim it out of curiosity, but instead it turned into a powerful, encouraging deep-dive into calling, with solid theology to back it up. I have incredible respect for the vulnerability and growth Jennie has let people in on through her work and books, and I think this is her best yet, for sure. It far exceeded my expectations, and I'd highly recommend it for anyone who feels like they're in a transition season of life.
- Brave Enough, Cheryl Strayed. Okay, so first I need you to know a few things. The first is that it doesn't really count as a book book, because it's just a book of quotes Cheryl pulled from her existing writing. The second is that it contains a good bit of language (and some quite flawed theology, not that she'd claim otherwise), so proceed with caution. And the third is that I do not actually own this book, I just sat down on the floor of Book People in Austin and read it in one go.
But afterwards, I rose and marched out of the store in a blaze of creative inspiration and authority and power, like yes, I am going to take on the world, I can do anything.
And that is why I am including it on this list for you.
- In a Sunburned Country, Bill Bryson. This is another one that's going to start with a confession, and the confession is this: I never finished this book. The parts I read were lovely, and I probably will finish it, eventually; but I think that Bill Bryson's career as a journalist makes the chapters of his books feel like standalone pieces, and sometimes I just kind of get my fill before the whole thing is actually over. He's super funny, though, and it definitely made me want to go to Australia even more than I already did before, so you should peruse it if you're in the mood for a little travel writing.
- When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi. This book got a lot of hype, and you know what? It deserved every last bit of it. The first half is the author giving a look into the depths of his life and work as a neurosurgeon; the second, a look into the depths of his life and work as a neurosurgeon with terminal lung cancer. It's beautiful and jarring and it will definitely make you cry. Not because it's overwhelmingly depressing — which it somehow, amazingly, is not — but because it makes life feel really big and small at the same time. Incredible work of art.
- Help Thanks Wow, Anne Lamott. The G.O.A.T. Every writer secretly wants to be at least 20% Anne Lamott. This is a quick read (it took me a day), but relatable and it will make you want to both pray and write, which are two on a very short list of things that are never a waste of time.
What are you reading these days?