Summer To-Do List Part 1: My (hopeful) Summer Reading List

Since I am a school teacher and headmaster, summertime basically means one thing: I finally get to do all the things I have not had time for throughout the year.  So far, I have done a lot of around the house type things, like installing some built in bookshelves but also some fun things like competing in a tennis tournament and stringing my first tennis racquet.  One of my big projects this summer is releasing some of the music I have recorded online as well as recording some new music for another project I am starting (more on this in a future post).  But one "project" equally important as my music is my summer reading list.  During the school year I simply have no time to read the books I want to read.  Nearly all of my evenings are caught up in lesson planning and reading ahead for my Literature/History/Bible class (which we assign the fancy-schmancy term of “Omnibus”). 

I am really only half complaining here because I’ve had the chance to read some excellent books this year.  I taught a biology class and a Civics/Economics class, both of which consisted of an excellent mixture between a review of things I learned in high school as well as material that was entirely new to me.  Then, in Omnibus I was given the opportunity to read some amazing books.  We did a Slavery/Civil War section which consisted of the speeches and essays of Abraham Lincoln, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, firsthand former slave narratives, the epistle of Philemon, and the historical novel The Killer Angels.  Then we did a Reformation/Colonization section that consisted of The Westminster Confession, an excerpt of Pilgrim’s Progress, and Of Plymouth Plantation. We transitioned into the modern era by reading some Poe and Hawthorne short stories as well as more Scripture (1 John and 1 Peter) and then finished out the year by reading the syrupy-sweet lighter fare of The Communist Manifesto, Mein Kampf, Animal Farm, and Nineteen Eighty-Four (talk about your warm-fuzzies).

It was a great year, but still, I did not really get to read what I wanted.  So now I present to you my summer reading list.  Hopefully I will get through all of them.  I am really excited about getting to these books.  Reading is such a solitary act but at the same time it causes us to want share and discuss with others what we have immersed ourselves in through self-induced solitude.  I would love to hear what everyone else is reading this summer as well as to hear any summer projects you have in the works.

Here is my list, broken up into categories.

Category 1: The Boring and The Useful
These are the books I would never ever read of my own volition.  These books are the medicine I know I need to take to get well.  I do not really enjoy the process of reading through these books, but I relish how they challenge me.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

I will prove how highly effective of a person I am by actually finishing this book!!!  Actually, this book is amazing.  I totally did not want to read it when I first started it but if there is any "self-help" book that needs to be read it is probably this one.  Essentially, this book is kicking my butt and whipping me into shape.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni 

Actually, two "self-help" books should be required and this is the second one.   It is actually a very enjoyable read and helped me to see leadership in an entirely new way the first time I read it, which is why I am reading it again for a review.

The Art of Servant Leadership by Tony Barron

I got to meet the author of this book and sit in on a workshop he was teaching at a church conference this year.  I hope to absorb more of his wisdom!

Strengthsfinder 2.0!!!!!!!! by Tom Rath

This is a quick little read our church leadership is going through.  The test they have you take at the end is well worth it.  Essentially, it helps you find out what your natural (i.e. God-given) strengths are and then it encourages you go out and actually use those strengths.

The Seven Laws of Teaching by John Milton Gregory

This one is supposed to be a classic.  Interestingly, the author was the first president of the University of Illinois.

Future Mennnnnnn!!!! by Douglas Wilson

It might sound like sci-fi, but it is actually a book about raising up and teaching boys to be awesome men.  There are a lot of young men at my school and I am raising two little boys myself, thus this is a very useful book.

Category 2: Scholarly Type Books
Since seminary I have not spent nearly enough time actually reading the long list of books I compiled during seminary so that I might one day actually get smart.  This is my attempt to catch up.  Most of these are of the liturgical theology variety.

Beyond Smells & Bells by Mark Galli

I am going with the most basic one first.

For the Life of the World by Alexander Schmemann

Then I am moving on to the most influential and classically revered.
Ancient-Future Worship by Robert E. Webber

Next I am moving on to one of the most respected contemporary liturgical theologians.

Desiring the Kingdom by James K.A. Smith

And finally I will tackle a book I know very little about but that  comes with high praise from those who recommended it to me (Hi there Amanda, Robert, and Eric!).

God's Empowering Presence by Gordon D. Fee

I am reading this book a little bit at a time with a pastor friend of mine (sup Dan!).  It is basically a commentary on every verse where the Apostle Paul mentions the Holy Spirit, which basically means it is awesome.

OK Computer by Dai Griffiths

This album helped me to hear music differently.  I hope to demolish these formative musical experiences by going through the arduous task of reading about music. Yay! (Actually, thanks Greg for the lend and for getting me those Radiohead tickets. Way cool!)

Category 3: Fun With Fiction!
If left to my own devices I would read fiction all the time.  Here is what I have patiently been waiting to read.

Nineteen Eighty-Four by Georgy Orwell

We read through this for school but I did not quite finish it before the year ended.  It was the third time I read it and it gets better each time.  Is it acceptable to love a book so much that is this dark?

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'brien

A favorite book from my childhood and a palette cleanser before I move on to denser fare.

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

The literary centerpiece to my summer.  I have hear that it is epic. I expect good things. Wish me luck, it is kind of long.

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

Another touted literary masterpiece.  I hope I can get to it before summer is no more.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

A student of mine just got through reading this and was telling me I should read it too. I told him I would if I had time...we shall see...

NOW.  What is on your list for the summer?  I would love to hear about it.  I am always up for making my impossibly long Amazon wishlist even longer!

Related Articles:
Lists 2011!: Week #2—Movies
Lists 2011: Week #3—Absolute Favorites and Books
Summer Reading List (2013)


DJGreenway said...

Hey Chris, I am on my 4th book in the Martin series and am basically at the point where I'm just reading because I'm too stubborn to quit after reading so much of it already. Not a good place to be.

PostConsumer Reports said...

Deb, what's the Martin series?

Brandon said...

Don't be a dummy

PostConsumer Reports said...

Ah...The Song of Fire and Ice. I get it.

Unknown said...

This is an admirable list - thanks for sharing! I'd be interested to hear what you think of the smells and bells book. Five courses in my winter (in the southern hemisphere) degustation:

finish the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy (to the high-falluntin' literatzi who turn up their noses at this series: it's your loss)

we've been reading through Sticky Church by Larry Osborne during our growth group leader training time for church (a worthwhile example of a church who effectively closed their back door)

i just purchased At the Heart of the Universe by Peter Jensen to read in prep for this semester at theo college (i've heard it's a clear and creative approach to systematic theology)

my ereading standby is grantland.com (a bevy of offbeat writers: much enjoyment to be had from reading Rembert Browne gush over the new Les Mis teaser trailer or digesting a typically observant Bill Simmons commentary)

also hope to spend a handful of minutes dwelling on the liner notes of The Lumineers' debut disc

happy summer!

PostConsumer Reports said...

Thanks for the response Tyler.

I definitely want to read The Hunger Games. I'll get there someday.

The Osborne and Jensen books look good. Happy reading!

Thanks for the grantland and The Lumineers recommendations.

Les Mis looks interesting doesn't it? The movie I can't wait to see is P.T. Anderson's The Master.

I'm excited for school to start for you!

Jeff A said...

Chris - Let me know when you get through Infinite Jest and we'll have to discuss. It is too long but totally worth it.

Jeff A said...

Chris - Let me know when you get through Infinite Jest and we'll have to discuss. It is too long but totally worth it.

Jeff A said...

Chris - Let me know when you get through Infinite Jest and we'll have to discuss. It is too long but totally worth it.