I’ve Always Hated Summer Reading Lists

I always read other people’s summer reading lists and immediately feel guilty and dumb. Guilty because I don’t read nearly that much (especially not in the summer) and dumb because I don’t read at nearly the same academic level or with the same proficiency as them. Then you throw into the mix the fact that summers have historically been one of the busiest seasons for me, and therefore I don’t have much time to read, and I feel even worse. So typically I respond by refusing to come up with a summer reading list. Mature, right?

Anyway, this year my schedule is a little different through the summer and I’m trying to deal with some of the obvious sin in my heart of wanting to measure up to the intelligence of proficiency of others. So I’ve actually planned some reading to do over the next little while and I thought I’d share what my plans are here. I figure this will give me some accountability and hopefully some benefit to one or two of you who might be looking for something to read. (Or, you might just even be encouraged that there’s someone else out there who is happy to just read simple books.)

The Thoughts Behind the List

I can’t remember what happened first, but I had two realizations come into my mind around about the same time. One was that there were elements of my personal life that I felt were not well enough thought-through. Another was that I would actually have some time this summer, God willing, to do some reading.

So my reading list is determined here not by what is popular or new or making waves in the evangelical culture at large. Rather, it is based simply on an evaluation of my own need of help and correction. I’ve broken down the list into a few categories of life that I need to work on and then assigned myself a few books in each category.

Drum Roll, Please…

So here’s the list I’ve got. We’ll have to see how far I can get.

Life / Schedule Management

  • First Things First by Stephen R. Covey. I’ve worked through much of this book before, but feel that I need to be refreshed in its principles. It’s not written from a Christian perspective, but there is much wisdom to be gleaned, I believe, in how to structure our days.
  • Biblical Productivity by CJ Mahaney. Another book that I’ve worked through a number of times. I find this to be a tremendous little resource that I can zip through, and then spend much time in reflection and re-ordering my life. This is a great balance to First Things First because Mahaney is obviously operating from a Christian worldview.

Pastoral Ministry

  • Preaching & Preachers by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Much to my own embarrassment, I’ve never read this. I’ve been told countless times by others that this is a classic, but I’ve read only a few chapters from it.
  • Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor by DA Carson. In our technological age it’s easy to watch super-slick mega-personality-pastors build gargantuan churches overnight. That’s encouraging on one level. On another level, though, it’s easy to be discouraged at how ‘ordinary’ I am in light of what others are able to do. I look forward to being encouraged by Carson’s work.
  • Rescuing Ambition by Dave Harvey. While this book is not really related to pastoral ministry, I fully plan on relating it to mine. In my sinful, slothful, worldly-comfort-seeking heart, I’m all too quick to want to rest in how things are now, rather than pressing on for something better. I want to be challenged there.


  • When Sinners Say ‘I Do’ by Dave Harvey. I’ve read most of this before, but I need to hear it again. I’m quick to think my problems are grounded in circumstance rather than sin. I need help, and I’m hopeful Dave Harvey will help me see my sin problem more clearly in my marriage.
  • This Momentary Marriage by John Piper. While ‘practical’ is always good in marriage books, it’s ultimately useless if we don’t get the basic theology behind marriage. This is another book I’ve started and not finished.


  • Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick. I’m already part way through this book and am loving it. She does an excellent job at balancing the ideal of what we’re striving for as parents with the reality of her own (and my own) brokenness and failures. And she consistently applies the gospel to me before asking me to apply it to my children. I’m thankful for that.
  • Going Public by David & Kelli Pritchard with Dean Merrill. Our kids are beginning their adventure in public school this coming fall and I want to be prepared as best as I can to shepherd them and lead our family through the transition and into this new stage of family life.

Hitting the Books

All these books are good but, of course, I would be a fool to read these at the expense of the Bible. Since I’ve been spending so much time in the OT lately I want to move my Bible reading in the coming weeks to the epistles of Paul.

And now… I read. Depending on how things go I may post some reflections or reviews. Or not. We’ll see.

What about you? Is there anything you’re looking forward to reading this summer?