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Rev. Alicia's Summer Reading Guide


When I was in grad school, I had to work really hard to squeeze in some leisure reading, and when I picked up a book just for fun, I wanted to make it count! A lot of clergy folks I know spend most of their reading time with nonfiction for their vocational work. Fiction can be just as rewarding and inspiring, but it’s hard to know where to start or how to make it count (especially if you're not regularly reading a lot of it). Here are a few of my personal favorites that I whole-heartedly recommend for a variety of summer moods and readerly tastes, specifically curated for those who might need a break from ministry-focused non-fiction. I loved all these books, but please remember that not every book is for every reader, and not every reader is sensitive to the same things, so it’s always wise to do some homework to check out content warnings for yourself. Happy reading, friends! - Rev. Alicia


Short classics that are adventurous, fast-paced, and full of sun– perfect for a summer’s day!

  • Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne. Globe-trotting and a high stakes bet!

  • Death on the Nile, by Agatha Christie. Classic golden-age mystery set on a river cruise down the Nile. Glamorous travelers, dusty desert scenes, high drama– perfect summer reading.

  • True Grit, by Charles Portis. Maddie’s nerves of steel and Rooster’s adventures are legendary– you’re left lingering with the question, “What is true grit?” Read the book, then watch the film (starring Hailey Steinfeld & Jeff Bridges). You won’t regret it!

  • The Odyssey, by Homer. Most classic of classics! Sea-faring adventure, full of twists & turns, tragedy & triumph. Emily Wilson’s translation is amazing–Clare Danes narrates the audiobook!


Long classics that every pastor should read (at least once)– we love a giant floppy paperback!

  • The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Three brothers respond to their father’s untimely death (and their relationship) in different ways: Dmitri (the pleasure-seeker), Ivan (the intellectual), Alyosha (the monk). I recommend the Pevear & Volokhonsky translation.

  • Middlemarch, by George Eliot. A web of interconnected characters and the beauty of doing ordinary things with love– “for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts, and… the number who lived faithfully a hidden life and rest in unvisited tombs.”

  • East of Eden, by John Steinbeck. A retelling of Cain & Abel, generational sin, the chance of redemption & forgiveness– an American classic full of soul & beauty & power.

  • The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver.A fiery baptist preacher takes his family to a (failing) mission in the Congo– he’s a pretty despicable character, but the real story is about his wife and his daughters. Pay attention to biblical allusions and impact of misguided missions.


Award-winning novels about prescient issues– devastating, but in a good way, I promise!


Short, life-affirming novels celebrating humanity’s resilience and the power of showing up


Reflective nonfiction that celebrates beauty & holiness in the midst of the ordinary


Audiobooks great for road-tripping (or even summertime walks in the neighborhood)


Books for little ones (that also speak to adults!):


Alicia's Summer Reading Guide
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