Six summer reads to stretch the mind and restore the soul


brenton beach SA“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”  Oscar Wilde


The kids are breaking up from school and the holidays are upon us. Hopefully you’re looking forward to a break. Time to head for the beach, catch some sun, put the feet up and forget about schedules, commutes, chores, and deadlines.

Since the New Year you’ve been longing to get some space; maybe you haven’t picked up a good book for ages, you may be feeling spiritually stale, perhaps you need some inspiration for future direction.

For myself I like to take a selection of books away with me: both lighter reading such as a novel or a biography but also some meatier tomes to stretch the mind and feed the soul.

So here are a few books that I’ve read personally that I’d recommend. These are for anyone who wants to explore what it means to live more simply and generously and how to discover a deeper and more satisfying spiritual and emotional life.

‘Consumer Detox’: Mark Powley.

An accessible, thought-provoking and quite amusing introduction to how to live authentically in a consumer saturated society. The book has some quite profound insights into contemporary society and how we can avoid the pitfalls and live more ‘richly, simply and generously’. A great holiday read; ‘helping you become everything you were made to be’, as the back cover puts it.

‘”L” is for Lifestyle”: Ruth Valerio.

An informative, lively and challenging look at how our modern lifestyles impact both the poor and the planet. Lots of practical advice for living more sustainably and responsibly and presented by someone who is very honest about both her successes and failures.

‘Ordering your Private World’: Gordon MacDonald.

This is a classic that I first read back in the 80’s but have recently revisited. This is a great resource for anyone who feels a disconnection between their inner spiritual lives and their outer world of work, relationships, church etc. Our lives can look serene and successful on the outside but it’s the inner life that hold’s the key to real growth and transformation.

‘Present Perfect’: Gregory A. Boyd.

Ever wished you could be more aware of God’s presence throughout the day? Boyd draws on the thinking of three classic contemplative authors; Brother Lawrence, Jean-Pierre de Caussade and Frank Laubach, and comes up with some inspiring and creative ideas to help us to ‘practice God’s presence’ every moment of the day.

‘Emotionally Healthy Spirituality’: Peter Scazzero.

Scazzero learned the hard way that you can’t mature spiritually without dealing with emotional immaturity. Unless we address our emotional issues such as conflict avoidance, poor boundaries, anger responses and crippling guilt we will never see ourselves, or those around us, becoming more like Christ.

Scazzero draws on psychology, scripture and the historic disciplines of contemplative spirituality to discover the resources that have transformed both his own life and that of his church.

‘The Life you’ve always wanted’: John Ortberg.

Subtitled ‘Spiritual disciplines for ordinary people’, this is a book I often recommend for friends who want to explore the classic spiritual disciplines but adapted for a modern context. My favourite chapters are on ‘hurry sickness’ where he urges us to ‘ruthlessly eliminate hurry’ and one called ‘Dee dah day’ on the discipline of celebration. Witty, engaging and life-changing!


Why not come back from your holidays with something more lasting than a tan: renewed vision, inspiration and direction!