summer reads

My Recommended Summer Reads

Jun 28, 2017

You’ve heard it said: Leaders are readers, and readers are leaders. I’m now one month into my summer sabbatical, and you can bet that I’ve voraciously devoured a plethora of books. Often many different ones in a single day.


Recently, a member of my Inspired Life Mastermind asked me how I go about choosing books to read. She noted from social media and our conversations that my taste in reading material seems to be quite eclectic.

She’s correct. I read a wide variety of books, for a wide variety of reasons. Some books I read for my own personal development. Others I read to gain some type of business insight. Some I read to gain helpful insight about my children, spouse, or good friend. And others I dive into simply to escape, to lose myself in a beautiful story and complicated characters that, in the process, teach me something about life, faith and myself.

For those who wonder, my reading routine for the past several years is simple: I read spiritual non-fiction books in the morning, usually some kind of self-discovery/personal growth/business book while going for a run or walk, and then a novel or memoir right before bed. This satisfies my desires for multiple flavors throughout the day, and keeps me engaged with various writing forms and styles.

How do I find time to read, you ask? Simple. It’s important to me. Thus, it’s not hard to give up other time-consumers to make it possible, such as television, social media and phone games.

Since January, I’ve read a total of 40 books. That includes hard copies, digital copies, and audio versions. Here is a small sampling of my 2017 favorites to spice up your summer reading list while you sink into the beach, lose yourself in the mountains or, curl up in a quiet hammock in your backyard. The ones I enjoyed most are highlighted with Bold Text. Enjoy!






{NOTE: This post may contain affiliate links. See my full disclosure here.}

[reminder]I’m always on the hunt for new reads. What books have YOU enjoyed in 2017 (or years past)? Leave your recommendations in the comments![/reminder]


  1. Kimberli Wicks Freilinger

    Loving Whispers of Rest by Bonnie Gray and Pursuing Christ. Creating Art by Gary A. Molander

  2. Amy Sorrells

    Wonderful list, with many of my favorites on it! Based on several of your selections–especially your nonfiction ones–you might really like my novel How sweet the Sound, re-releasing with Tyndale this September 1. It’s a contemporary novel inspired by the story of Tamar in 2 Samuel 13, as well as years of research I’ve done regarding trauma and body memories and related subjects. It is a lament, a prayer, and a praise for those who have survived trauma of any kind, especially childhood sexual abuse.

    • Michele Cushatt

      I believe I’ve already read it? But I’ll look … I have three children from trauma. So I’m always reading up on trauma, PTSD, brain development, etc. Truly fascinating subject, and helpful as we love and related to so many others, too. Thanks, Amy.

      • Rachel

        Michele, have you read “The Mystery of Risk?” At the suggestion of many of my fellow foster/Adoptive parents, I’m about to read it.

  3. Tamara

    The Servant by James Hunter

  4. Jerolyn

    How did you like Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus?
    I have started Goliath Must Fall by Louie Giglio. I’m almost part way through Prodigal God, by Timothy Keller for the second time. My daughter keeps telling me to read A.D. 30 so will tackle that this summer. It will be my first novel in a very long time. Way over due!
    Crazy Busy by Kevin DE Young stepped all over my toes, much needed.
    I used to be an avid reader. I’m slowly making my way back.

    • Michele Cushatt

      LOVED it. Great writing, solid information, and very moving. I know the author, which made it even more rich and profound.

  5. Connie

    Prodical God by Tim Keller

  6. Jamie

    So glad you shared these! I have 2 recommendations for you that are some of the most insightful non-fiction books I’ve ever read.

    #1 How We Love by Milan and Kay Yerkovich.
    Don’t be misled by the tag line: Discover Your Love Style, Enhance Your Marriage. It’s actually invaluable for all relationships, especially with our children as it helps us better understand attachment issues.

    #2 No More Faking Fine by Esther Fleece
    This body of Christ has been desperate for this book. I’m so thankful for it!

    • Michele Cushatt

      How You Love is excellent! As you mentioned, great resource for any relationship. Thanks, Jamie!

  7. Arisa Rice

    Can you please double check the book An Invisible Thread? I can only find it by Laura Schroff, and I’m wondering if it’s a typo. Thank you

    • Michele Cushatt

      Corrected! Thanks for letting me know, Arisa. 🙂

  8. Nancy Zeiger

    Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

  9. Jenny Mosier

    LOVED A Man Called Ove! Such a charming surprise!

    Have you read The Light Between Oceans? Hauntingly beautiful. I couldn’t put it down, and it affected me for some time after. Excellent, excellent read.

    Thanks for explaining how you read multiple books at once! I want to read more non-fiction, but sometimes it’s a challenge to stick with them with the same enthusiasm as a great fiction book!

    Enjoy that much-deserved sabbatical!

  10. Nancy E. Head

    How Dante Can Save Your Life by Rod Dreher

  11. Becky Hadaway

    Get Out of That Pit by Beth Moore
    Still Waiting by Ann Swindell
    Scary Close by Don Miller

  12. Cynthia Server

    I am enjoying Goliath Must Fall by Louie Giglio. Right before that I read I Am by YOU! It was great as well.

  13. Dawn Vaughn

    All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
    The Nightingale, Kristen Hannah
    Before the Fall, Noah Harley

    As you can see, I’m a fiction reader. I love mysteries, but I do love to challenge myself with historical fiction.

  14. Emily Nelson

    We’ve talked about it before, Waking Up White by Debby Irving. Not light reading but riveting! And eye opening and compassion building! Thanks for your list…I’ll grab a few!

    • Michele Cushatt

      Added it to my list! Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

  15. Ellen Cole

    I LOVED “A Man Called Ove”! I actually listened to the audiobook and I laughed and cried (not my usual reading behavior) and loved every minute.

  16. Emily @ everydaymom

    “When Breath Becoms Air,” the autobiography of a neurosurgeon diagnosed with lung cancer in his 30s…

    • Sharon Murphy Dodd

      I loved that book (“When Breath Becomes Air”). I saw his wife interviewed (I think by Eric Topol) and she explained that when he died, the book was still on his computer, and he made her promise to get it to a publisher.

  17. Audrey

    Trusting God Even When Life Hurts, Jerry Bridges

    Oh Love, That will not let me Go, Facing Death with courageous confidence in God, Nancy Guthrie

    Suffering and the Sovereignty of God. John Piper

    Broken Down House Paul David Trip

    The Good News We Almost Forgot Kevin DeYoung

    God’s ways are not your ways..Don’t Follow you Heart Jon Bloom

  18. Susan

    My Name Is Mahtob by Mahtob Mahmoody
    Fervent by Priscilla Shirer
    Emotionally Healthy Leader by Peter Scazzero (currently reading)

  19. Aldyth Thomson

    1. The Hospital by the River: A Story of Hope by Catherine Hamlin.
    Gynaecologists Catherine and Reg Hamlin left Australia in 1959 on a short contract to establish a midwifery school in Ethiopia. Over 40 years later, Catherine is still there, running one of the most outstanding medical programmes in the world. An amazing and inspirational story. Loved it!
    2. Fleeing ISIS, Finding Jesus: The Real Story of God at Work by [Morris, Charles, Borlase, Craig].
    A wonderful book. Inspiring story of the church there. Highly recommend it.
    3. Autumn Leave by Michele Guinness.
    In this frank and funny account of their ups and downs, based on Michele’s diary of her husband’s three-month sabbatical, we meet a host of extraordinary characters as she pursues the truth behind some of the hamlet’s tortuous relationships, and meets the beleaguered French church. Charming book, and funny.
    4. Impossible Love: The True Story of an African Civil War, Miracles and Hope against All Odds by [Keener, Craig, Keener, Médine Moussounga].
    I really enjoyed this book…an amazing story!
    5. At Home in this Life: Finding Peace at the Crossroads of Unraveled Dreams and Beautiful Surprises by [Jackson Greer, Jerusalem].
    Jerusalem Greer tells her story of finding redemption in what is rather than what could be, by practicing the presence of God through rediscovering ancient contemplative teachings and practices (solitude, study, work, prayer, and service) and pairing them with domestic arts (baking, gardening, sewing). I loved this book!
    6. Call of A Coward: The God of Moses and the Middle-Class Housewife by [Moston, Marcia]. She promised to follow where God led, but she never thought the road would lead to a Mayan village on a Guatemalan mountainside. I really enjoyed this charming missionary tale.
    7. Upstairs at the White House: My Life with the First Ladies by [West, J. B., Kotz, Mary Lynn].
    A New York Times bestseller: A fascinating behind-the-scenes look at life on Pennsylvania Avenue with America’s first families, by the man who spent nearly three decades in their midst. A really fascinating read.

    • Aldyth Thomson

      Sorry Michele. Only saw after I had posted that I should have only posted the titles. Please delete my post. xxx

      • Michele Cushatt

        Actually, I LOVE your descriptions! Perfect! I’m going to leave it, if you don’t mind. You always have great recommendations. xoxo

  20. Rayna

    Love this, thanks for sharing! I highly recommend Esther Fleece’s No More Faking Fine.

  21. Abby Ecker

    If you liked “A Man Called Ove,” you have to read “Beartown” by Fredrick Backman. SO good.

  22. Damon J. Gray

    Michele, I trust you are enjoying your sabbatical and milking it for its full value. I’m a little late to this party as I had an unexpected trip to Missouri this past week.

    That said, I’d add a book to your NonFiction list: TrueFaced by Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol, and John Lynch. I would “bold” that one. Another one I do recommend, though not bolded, is Secrets of the Secret Place by Bob Sorge. Both of those are on my short list.

  23. Debbie

    I am currently reading “Whispers of Rest” by Bonnie Gray. It is just what I need to quiet my soul. Rebekah Lyons also has a book that is good called “You Are Free”. I recommend both of these books.

  24. Sharon Murphy Dodd

    Michele. I was blessed to be able to hear Nabeel Kureshi speak a few years ago when he came to Edmond, OK. He spoke at the First Presbyterian church about how he came to Christ. He was a powerful speaker. I was just watching his vlog when he explained about his cancer.


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