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What summer reads do you recommend?

Share your summer book recommendations, and see what others suggest.

Web Feature Posted July 6, 2012

Summer Reading: SPU Faculty Picks


We asked our faculty at Seattle Pacific University to recommend books for your summer reading list. Pack them up for the cabin or beach or your own front porch!

When I Was a Child I Read Books

When I Was a Child I Read Books by Marilynne Robinson (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2012)

Robinson's new book has been categorized as biography, yet that rubric fails to describe her exquisite writing. In this collection of 10 essays, the Pulitzer Prize winner explores the intuitions of her soul: an erudite and cultured "writerly soul" from hard-scrabble Idaho, who quotes Cicero and Calvin and extols solitude as the writer's terroire. Her theologically astute musings admire the beauty of "The Human Spirit and the Good Society," as one essay is titled. In her examination of culture, democracy, capitalism, education, and the soul, she urges us to cherish and protect faith as the lifeblood of virtue. Bruce Baker, Assistant Professor of Business Ethics

Neon Panic

Neon Panic by Charles Philipp Martin (Vantage Point, 2011)

This mystery brilliantly layers in music and culture with the plot. Every musician is completely realistic with the witty dialogue one would find in an orchestra. The use of Chinese words and slang add to the rich cultural theme. A must-read for every musician who loves mysteries. (Martin, a Seattle-based musician and writer, is married to Cathy Chutich M.A.T. '05. Prior to moving to Seattle, both played in the Hong Kong Symphony.) Ramona Holmes, Professor of Music; Music Department Chair

Monsignor Quixote

Monsignor Quixote by Graham Greene (Vintage/Random House, 1982)

Monsignor Quixote stands with The Power and the Glory and The End of the Affair as one of Greene's most overtly spiritual and Christian novels. Set in Spain during the communist uprisings, the book is a wonderfully comic road trip through the countryside with a distant relative of Cervantes' famous "knight of faith" who has mistakenly been elevated from country priest to a monsignor. Accompanying the monsignor is a deposed Marxist mayor named for Cervantes' companion, Sancho, who quizzes the monsignor about all manner of faith and life. The book offers a compact snapshot of the challenges of communicating faith in turbulent times. The road trip brings a smile to your face and yet is filled with serious questions that will be wonderful points of conversation for your summer road trip as well. The search for purple socks itself will bring a chuckle! Jeffrey Keuss, Professor of Christian Ministry, Theology, and Culture

After Shock: Searching for an Honest Faith When Your World Is Shake

After Shock: Searching for an Honest Faith When Your World Is Shaken by Kent Annan (IVP Books, 2011)

If "summer reading" is supposed to be light reading, then this is a book for January or February. On January 12, 2010, tectonic plates in the Caribbean shifted, causing an earthquake of a magnitude of 7.0. In Haiti, nearly a quarter of a million people were crushed to death. In this book, Kent Annan asks, How do people of faith live in a world that "might crash down on you at any moment?" Most of the time, the world seems solid. It's easy to believe that God is good until we experience a radical tectonic shift. Like Job in the midst of doubt, Annan demands a response from God ā€” but the book provides no easy answers. Instead, Annan describes a faith that struggles to walk with God in a world where the ground beneath us can disappear. Kevin Neuhouser, Associate Professor of Sociology


Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (Random House, 2010)

From the author of Seabiscuit comes this gripping true tale of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic athlete who met Hitler in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. In 1942, he was serving in the U.S. Army Air Force when his B-24 Liberator bomber crashed in the South Pacific. He survived a harrowing and record-setting ordeal in a life raft before he was captured by Japanese forces and placed in a prisoner-of-war camp, where he spent the rest of the war. This is a story about how his determination to survive brutal conditions and to remain "unbroken" led him to eventual freedom. Donald Peter, Associate Professor of Engineering

Light Force

Light Force by Brother Andrew and Al Janssen (Revel, 2004)

Dutch missionary Brother Andrew became famous in the 1960s with his book God's Smuggler, which documents his work smuggling Bibles to communist countries during the Cold War. He's dedicated much of the last 30 years to bringing the Gospel of Jesus to the leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah, while also ministering to the struggling population of Christians in the Middle East. In this book, he discusses how Christians can offer the love of Jesus to their Muslim neighbors and thus humanize the Gospel for those in need of the God who loves and forgives. Donald Peter, Associate Professor of Engineering

What summer books do you recommend?

Share your suggestions in this moderated board, and check out recommendations from others.

Posted Wednesday, August 1, 2012, at 2:43 p.m.

I'm tackling the classic Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier.

Clint Kelly

Posted Thursday, July 19, 2012, at 8:46 a.m.

Calico Joe by John Grisham (yes, that John Grisham) is the quintessential summer baseball read. Even if you're not a baseball fan, you will find much to like in a young man's struggle with hero worship, tragedy, and the messiness of family. Lots of grace to go around.

Marie M.

Posted Wednesday, July 18, 2012, at 10:05 a.m.

What Happened to Sophie Wilder by Christopher Beha, out this month from Tin House Books, is a wonderful exploration of religious conversion in the spirit of Graham Greene's The End of the Affair.


Posted July 6, 2012, at 2:30 p.m.

This summer, Iā€™m reading The World Without You, a new novel by Joshua Henkin.

Hope McPherson '92

Posted July 6, 2012, at 11:04 a.m.

I find summers are great months for rereading old favorites. This summer I'm rereading a few of the Narnia Tales and The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker, with a few Dick Francis mysteries thrown in.