By Andrea Nwabuike
I remember playing Scattergories one summer while working at a camp. Each round of the game requires players to write down items from a pre-determined list of categories. The trick is, all the items must start with the same letter. When it comes to Scattergories, I’m not the type who plays for fun; I play to win.
While playing with my camp kids, I could feel the competitiveness taking over. As we were taking up answers during one round, we got to the “countries” category. I can’t recall what the selected letter was, but one poor camper proudly shouted out a place that started with the wrong letter and was not in fact a country. I was appalled!
“How could you think that would be a good answer?” I screeched.
Her reply: “I don’t read during the summer. Summer is for fun, not learning.”
I was mystified. But upon further reflection, I realized I was guilty of holding the same belief. Instead of using my summers to grow in my faith and develop a greater understanding of the word, I spent them lazing in front of the TV or scrolling through Facebook. As a self-professed book nerd, I knew I had to get my act together.
Since then, summers have become opportunities to focus on my own growth, with books as my tutors.
Here are some books I recommend as excellent summer reads to get you thinking, learning, reflecting and growing.
- God Has a Name by John Mark Comer – I had the privilege of hearing John Mark Comer speak at a young adults’ conference last year. He has a gift for espousing deep theological truths with an approachable and conversational style. Comer’s writing is no different. God Has a Name studies the character and nature of God with a line-by-line exposition of Exodus 34:6-8. Comer’s depth of biblical and historical knowledge challenges the reader to develop a fuller understanding of who God is and how He relates to the modern world.
- The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis – This book is a satirical composition of 31 letters from a senior tempter instructing his nephew, a new employee of “Our Father Below.” It’s essentially an old demon giving advice to a young demon on how to mess up humans and use their weaknesses against them. Brilliant…right? This book had me cracking up, snapping, mhmm-ing and getting lost in deep thought. The wit and skill Lewis uses to craft this book demonstrates the power of fiction to hold a mirror to reality and expose what we would prefer to keep hidden. The Screwtape Letters will forever be one of my all-time favourites!
- Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Minds by Jen Wilkin – This one goes out to the ladies! To be honest, I’m not a fan of most Christian books marketed to women. They’re often very surface level and fluffy. I love Proverbs 31, but there’s a lot more in the Bible! Women in the Word equips women to push past surface level, self-satisfying ways of reading the Bible. With a clear process, examples and personal stories, Jen Wilkin challenges women to expect more of themselves in their pursuit of greater faith.
- Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe – In the age of Wakanda, I would be remiss not to include a novel by an African author. This African classic, written by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe, celebrates its 60th anniversary this year! Things Fall Apart tells the unfortunate story of Okonkwo, a proud Ibo wrestling champion in the fictional village of Umuofia. Okonkwo fights to establish his family’s honour while encountering the forceful influence of Western missionaries, whose culture and religion drastically differs from his own. Rarely do we hear stories about colonization from the perspective of the colonized. Before Black Panther, this story gave Africans the confidence to take charge of telling their own stories.
- The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer – This certainly isn’t the type of book you sit down and finish in a couple of hours. The Cost of Discipleship demands that its reader pays attention. Dietrich Bonhoeffer boldly points out the hypocrisy of passive, comfortable Christianity and exhorts men and women to take up their crosses and follow Christ. The Cost of Discipleship presents the Sermon on the Mount as more than just words to be read but commands to be obeyed.