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4 Books You Should Read This Summer (June edition)

4 Books You Should Read This Summer

{Read the story behind this picture here.}

So, I know I’ve not been posting much about books recently. It’s mostly because I’ve kind of been up to my eyeballs in this thing called launching a course and, oh yeah, finishing up my own book.

I’ve still been reading, but I’ve been reading a lot more of my own words a lot while doing edits for the course and my new book and that’s been keeping me from voraciously being able to read as many of other peoples’ words as I’d love to.

But, the good news is that MY NEW BOOK IS ALMOST DONE!!

Yes, for real. Let’s pause for a moment of silence for that. Because, y’all, writing my third book has sort of gutted me. In a good way.

I feel like some of my lifeblood was shed in the writing of it. And while it may have aged me by a few years, it may have caused my eyesight to go down a little, and it may be the cause of why I now have arthritis in my hands, but it was worth it because I’m thrilled with how the final product is turning out.

(When my chiropractor broke the news to me that the pain in the joints of my hands is actually arthritis I wanted to holler out, “But wait, how can that be? I’m only 17!” And then I remember while I might still think I’m 17, I’m actually almost twice that age!! Yikes!)

4 Books You Should Read This Summer

At any rate, I have the next-to-the-last proof right now and am reading every single word to make sure it’s exactly just so. It is incredibly gratifying to be so close to the finish line with this manuscript.

We’re now in the middle of all of the fun stuff — planning out the marketing campaign, lining up media opportunities, and planning some exciting things for the launch. I can’t wait to share more once September and October roll around (the book hits stores November 3, 2015!)

So all that said, I’m finally coming up for air again and back to reading a lot more of other peoples’ books… and oh how I have missed it!

When I read Lisa-Jo’s Summer Reading List a few days ago, I was inspired to write one of my own. However, I thought maybe it’d be fun to break it up into a few different installments. So for the next few months, I’ll be sharing a post each month with 4 books you should read this summer.

These will be some of my very favorite recent reads, including read alouds our family has enjoyed. I hope it inspires you and gives you some new titles to request from the library this summer. And maybe you’ll even fall in love with them as much as I have. 🙂

4 Books You Should Read This Summer

4 Books You Should Read This Summer

Hands Free Life

Okay, so I’m sort of jumping the gun on this one since you can’t read this one this summer (unless you got a pre-release copy to review like I did!). But I just couldn’t help myself!

This book spoke to me at a deep, heart level. It challenged me to stop hurrying through life, quit worrying about what other people think, and start savoring the ordinary, everyday moments. I smiled through parts, cried through other sections, and came away from the book with fresh resolve to make each day count — not in more efficient productivity but in more meaningful relationships with others. Highly, highly recommended!

Note: Hands Free Life doesn’t come out until September, but I encourage you to go pre-order it or ask your library to order a copy. And while you’re waiting, be sure to read Hands Free Mama, if you haven’t already.

Me Before You

This book made it in my Top 10 Books I Read in 2014 list, but I had to share it here, too. This was one of the most heart-breaking, compelling, and thought-provoking books I’ve read in a long time. I thought it was very well-written and found it hard to put down. In fact, I read the entire book in one day!

Caveat: This book is not written from a Christian perspective, has quite a bit of language, and the plot line deals with suicide in a very raw form. I didn’t agree with the outcome of the book, but it made me dig deep and think hard… and books that do that are ones I feel are very worth my time.

4 Books You Should Read This Summer

Dear Mr. Knightley

Ever read a book that you just don’t want to end and when you finish it, you want to meet the characters in real-life? That was this book for me.

The first part of the book starts out slowly, but once I got to about page 40, I couldn’t put it down. Lisa-Jo highly, highly recommended it and now I know why!

It delves into some deeper issues of how past hurts and rejection can wound people so deeply that they hide their real self for fear of further pain and rejection. It’s a beautiful story of healing and redemption and of how to love and reach out to hurting people.

The Cricket in Times Square

This book was a huge hit at our house with all the kids. It starts out a little slowly but quickly picks up into a fast-paced adventure that all of our kids loved.

They would beg me to read extra every day because they enjoyed it so much. And we were very sad when we finished the last chapter.

What I’m Reading Right Now

4 Books You Must Read This Summer

What are YOU reading right now? What would be on your list of 2-4 books someone must-read this summer? Tell us in the comments!

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48 Comments

  • Kim says:

    I had no idea what Me Before You was about when I picked it up, so thanks for the warnings. I did enjoy it for the most part, it just wasn’t the light beach read I planned for.
    Two thumbs up for Dear Mr Knightley as well!
    My favorite new book I have read so far this year was The Martian. Language warning there too but so good, can’t wait for the movie!

  • I just finished The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippetts. Highly, HIGHLY recommend.

    I am just starting Longing for Paris by Sarah Mae. I am also looking forward to reading Reservations for Two by Hillary Manton Lodge. I read A Table by the Window by her and am excited to start the sequel.

    Hands Free Life looks great. I will put that on my list!

  • Amy S says:

    I really enjoyed Kathryn Cushman’s Finding Me about a young adult finding out her family was not who she thought it was. Also, Kay Willis Wyma’s newest book I’m Happy for You is a must read for women. I never felt like I compared myself to others, but after reading this, I realized how much I do. I am also reading her first book on making children help around the house.

  • L. Ann says:

    One of the better books I’ve read was My Enemy’s Cradle by Sara Young.

  • kariane says:

    I’m currently reading the extended Little House series out loud to my 6-year-old. They start back in Scotland with Laura’s great grandmother, and follow through the life of her daughter, Rose. They’re a fun way to take in some historical fiction aimed at kids.

    I posted a review of one of our favorite children’s books here: http://everydaymindfulliving.com/zen-shorts-by-jon-j-muth/

    There are others on the site as well.

  • daybreaking says:

    You might know this already, but Cricket in Times Square has several sequels. My children loved them as much as the first.

  • Bethany McL. says:

    My browser only shows one of your wide eyes popping out until I scroll down. Creepy!

  • Jody says:

    I’m looking forward to Hands Free Life coming out!

    I have really enjoyed the Bregdan Chronicles by Ginny Dye. It’s historical Christian fiction that takes place during the civil war era into the reconstruction. I love series because I always feel sad when a book ends and I have to say goodbye to characters I’ve come to love But with a series I can keep going with them. Ginny Dye says she knows how it is when a series ends so she’s keeping this series going as long as she can so readers don’t have to say goodbye to the characters right away. Really good books, they kept me captivated and entertained and I learned a lot from them. Definitely recommend.

    I just finished Jaded from the mended heart series and that was good also.

    Thanks for the recommendations I’m going to check out Dear Mr Knightly!

  • Bethany says:

    Just read Five love languages for children. Loved it. Hoping to read hands free mama this summer. Found it at my library.

  • Betsy Herman says:

    I love your book recommendations! A few that I’ve given five stars in the past year include:
    Rare Bird: A Memoir of Loss and Love – this was very good, although a sad story.
    A Good Indian Wife – an interesting insight into culture – especially fascinating since I have some Indian friends and family
    Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys – a fascinating (but not too heavy) read about the Soviet Union’s treatment of the people of Lithuania and other Baltic nations during the Soviet takeover

  • Lisa says:

    Dear Mr. Knightley sounds like a modern day version of Daddy Long Legs. Anyone else read that as a kid?

    • Leanne says:

      I recently read Dear Mr. Knightley and then had to read Daddy Long Legs to compare the two stories. Enjoyed them both!

  • Aseel says:

    I am a big fan of your blog , I was wondering when did you started to have more time for reading and working ? I know you have a good plan and schedule but what I struggle with is the time with the kids. How do you keep you’re kids busy during the day between 8 and 10:30 to get your things done? And how long do you stay up at night? And when did you start chores with your kids ? What type of chores you give them when they were 5?
    Aseel

  • Shelly says:

    Just an FYI for anyone looking for a clean read: The Rosie Project is not it. It has quite a bit of foul and crude language, adulterous relationships, and demeaning comments about women. I would compare it to a season of The Big Bang Theory but worse.

    • Yes, I started it yesterday and got 15 pages in and decided it wasn’t for me. Ugh! Always so disappointing when that happens!

    • Jennifer Tasker says:

      I’m not suggesting people should read The Rosie Project (though, I myself read it and thoroughly enjoyed it. I also live in Australia (am American-born) and understand their culture more, and there is a lot of Aussie culture in the book).

      However, I would like to point out that –
      A. The main character, whilst it is never said outright, actually has Asperger’s, which once you know that, and if you know anything about Asperger’s, you will understand him much better.
      B. Yes, there is an adulterous relationship, but this is actually worked through and reconciled in the end – led by a very strong, female character.

  • Billie Yates says:

    Crystal, congratulations on almost completing your book! You always seem so busy, I don’t know how you get so much done! About the arthritis…I would like to suggest that you try taking grains and sugar out of your diet for a while and see if that helps alleviate the pain. You can Google “arthritis and grains” and come up w/tons of information. Hope they are feeling better soon!

  • Kay says:

    I just watched the season finale for When Calls the Heart. It was fantastic. So I hope to get started on Janet Oke’s books. I love all the movies so I am thinking I will love her books.

  • Ann says:

    I read a lot of technical stuff for work, so I tend not to read for fun. But this year I signed up for the summer reading program at the local library; I figured that if I make the kids do it, I should too. I read a book called “Drive” by Daniel Pink; it was a very different view on motivating people (good for work for me).

    The other “must read” I would put on your list is “Praying Upside Down” by Kelly Stanley. It has, well, turned my perspective on prayer upside down. It draws on her personal experience and art background to paint a very different view on prayer. I think you would really enjoy it, Crystal. http://www.prayingupsidedown.com/

  • Carol says:

    I just finished a terrific book by Joel C. Rosenberg entitled “The Third Target.” It is a Christian action adventure novel that reads like it was taken directly from today’s news headlines. He has finished the sequel and I am looking forward to getting my hands on it!

  • Lizzy says:

    Crystal, going through your mornings course now, thanks. Just wondered whether you had heard of Dr Joel Wallach and the work he is doing with arthritis? I have reviewed his book, Dead Doctor’s Don’t Lie, on my blog if you are interested. We have seen some incredible results with couples in our church using his methods.

  • jess says:

    I loved the rosie project! while i’m not a fan of the professor/friend and his loose ways, the main character is so endearing! i enjoyed his personality so much! a great, great read!!

  • Sophie says:

    I loved Stepping Heavenward!

    Here’s my list of 10 books that have stuck with me – I’d recommend any of them, and they’re not all the same genre, so there should be something for everybody! http://sophiesmindset.blogspot.com/2015/06/10-books-that-have-stuck-with-me.html

    • Trudy says:

      I also enjoyed “Stepping Heavenward”. Far more than I expected to, actually. Not only was it inspiring but also a good story.

  • Leslie says:

    As a reader who has been here for 7 years (YES), what I’ve loved most about you over the past few has been your ability to branch out, be imperfect, and share your life- even when it’s messy. With that said, I LOVE the fact that you finished Me Before You and acknowledged that while it is not Christian based and you didn’t agree with the ending, it changed you in some way. Isn’t that our goal as a reader? To be moved, changed or even consider a different perspective?

    I encourage you to pick back up The Rosie Project. It was one of my favorite books simply because it allowed me to be inside (a little, at least) the mind of someone who thinks very differently than I do.

    All of the good stuff happens outside our comfort zones!! xo

    • Honesty, it seemed very demeaning towards women and just plain boring to me… not the kind of book that I could get into no matter how much I tried. I flipped through more chapters and it looked like it continued on like that. 🙁

      My philosophy is that if I try for 15 pages and am just completely turned off and uninterested, I’ve decided it’s okay to just move on. I’m definitely trying to move outside of my comfort zone with books, but I also have SO many great books I want to read that I don’t want to waste my precious reading time on books that aren’t filling my soul in some way or making me think, you know?

      I was disappointed, though, because it seemed like other people who loved other books I’ve loved really liked The Rosie Project. It just wasn’t for me.

  • Susan H. says:

    I heard Arlene Pellicane (author of 31 Days to a Happy Husband) speak at a conference this Spring and I loved her! I have that book, as well as 31 Days to a Happy Wife which was another great, easy, practical read. I got a lot of good ideas and encouragement from it. Can’t wait for her 31 Days to a Happy Mom book that comes out this summer!

  • eunice b says:

    When I saw your comment about arthritis & getting older, Crystal, I could SO relate! I’ve been dealing w/ arthritis pain for 10+ yrs, and it was so I couldn’t carry a gallon jug of milk in each hand w/o being in pain for days afterwards…now I can carry 3 gallons in 1 hand, and not feel a pinch. What a blessing after being told by the dr this past winter, I’m going to have to live with it, and he gave me an anti-inflammatory Rx. I’ve only ever had 1 houseparty in my life so that’s not my thing, but I decided w/ Plexus and their 60 day guarantee…it couldn’t hurt anymore than I was already! Would love to share this blessing with you! ~from an almost 40 yr old who thought that’s just how it feels to get old….:-) Eunice tigergal01 @gmail .com

  • Hannah Beth Reid says:

    I also found “Me Before You” very hard to read because of the subject matter. I am inters ted to try reading another book by the same author.
    I cannot wait to read “Nobody’s Cuter Than You” because her other books had me laughing out loud the whole way through!
    “Dear Mr. Knightly” is in my current “to read” stack from the library. Having loved “Lizzie and Jane” I am really looking forward to this one!
    (And I apparently put a lot of stock into other books by the same authors…)

  • Sara says:

    These are all great, thank you Crystal! I just finished a book I read many moons ago, but now as a mother I appreciate going back to books that may open my mind, heart and emotions differently today. Alex The Life of a Child by Frank Deford is a powerful book about the life of Mr. Deford’s daughter that suffered from CF (cystic fibroses). I cried throughout the entire book, it was so moving to hear this story from a father’s perspective. I often took my daughter and would hold her a little tighter, praying and thanking God for the blessings we have. Living in NYC life is filled with chaos and noise so books, like this one, are great ways to slow me down and not miss God’s beats for appreciating every magical thing around me. It’s a short read, finished in a couple hours, but it’s so powerful and I remember being moved by this a child when the Lifetime Movie came out back in the early 80’s. Another book I read recently was A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City: A Diary, translated by Philip Boehm. Also, does your husband read? Does he share any recommendations for men who are looking for books? My husband tends to focus on business related books, which are great!, but I’m always in search to recommend books that allow him to lose himself in something that would be uplifting, spiritual or enjoyable that doesn’t require him to worry, stress or continue to focus on “work” when it’s all he is consumed with daily already. It would be great to have some recommendations that would be geared towards husbands or even couples. Thank you so much!

    • Sheri says:

      I remember watching the movie “Alex” when I was young! I remember the root beer around the tree… I think of it often. I didn’t realize it was a book! I will be looking for it 🙂 Thank you!

  • debi says:

    Crystal, thank you for all you offer to your readers! Your words offer inspiration at just the right times.
    I will complete my last day of the MOYM class tomorrow. I’ve been able to make some minor tweaks that are having a major impact on my mornings. It has also initiated changes in other areas of my life (organizing and goal setting).
    Regarding the arthritis…look closer. Arthritis is a catch-all term and means inflammation of the bone. This can have many causes-overuse, food allergies, genes, etc.

  • Mariah says:

    I borrowed Dear Mr. Knightley from the library per your recommendation. I felt the same way, didn’t want it to end and wanted to meet the characters in real life! Fun book! Glad I read it.

  • Danielle says:

    I am currently reading your book, “Say Goodbye to Survival Mode.” I recently finished your “Make Over Your Mornings” course, and have purchased and been LOVING your Gratitude/Blessings Journal. I have read “Hands Free Mama” and look forward to Rachel’s new book when available. Thank you so much for inspiring me! It’s nice to know that there are women out there who have a very similar mindset as myself. God bless you and your ministry to all women!

  • Jennifer says:

    I just read Me before You based on your recommendation and I don’t know whether to be mad at you or glad that you suggested it. It was one of the very few books in my life that I’ve read that I know will stick with me forever! It touched me and broke my heart all at the same time! I look forward to reading more books by this author!

    • I’m not sure whether to say I’m sorry or I’m so happy. But yes, it’s a book that completely haunts you and really breaks your heart and makes you think.

      • Jennifer says:

        Yeah it sure does! Now I have to shake myself out of the “I’ve just read a really good book that my mind is still in” haze! And actually I just noticed online that they might be making it into a movie! Either way, thanks again!

  • Amber says:

    Just finished Dear Mr. Knightley after your recommendation and loved it! Thank you 🙂

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