Okay, show of hands: who had a teacher who made you laugh on the last day of school?  You know the ones I’m talking about: those well meaning souls – typically with those hair bun things – who would say, “Now class, just because school is over doesn’t mean that you have an excuse to stop learning.  This summer I want you to find some good books to read – perhaps some classics with titles that don’t include the words ‘Captain Poopypants,’ and exercise your brain!”

…and then the entire class would crack up in laughter, dreaming of the moment when the clock would strike 2:55 and we could begin three months of activity where the most intellectual thing we would do is decide whether we’re watching reruns of Gilligan’s Island or reruns of Archie Funnies.  (Hint: Gilligan’s Island always won.  Mary Ann was a Betty.)

Nevertheless, we’re all grown up now – and while I still dig the episodes where Gilligan dreams he’s in Jack and the Beanstalk land, but it’s obvious that it’s just an eight year old kid dressed in a red shirt and white hat – we ought to be doing more reading and less meditating on how the Professor could build a fully functioning emergency room using four coconuts and a piece of bamboo, but he couldn’t patch a hole in the freakin’ boat.

So here it is, readers, my first annual list of books that you ought to be reading this summer (these are a sampling of my reading list from the last year or so), and a few of the reads I’ve picked out for myself:

  • The Best Question Ever, Andy Stanley.  Recommended for everyone.  If you struggle with decision-making, personal disciplines, or living a life of holiness, Stanley’s book will teach you the one question that will catapult you forward in the area of wisdom.
  • A Comedian’s Guide to Theology, Thor Ramsey.  Recommended for everyone. I reviewed this book here.  Looking for some hilarious, laugh-out-loud reading where you’ll learn something at the same time?  Pick this up.
  • Have a New Kid by Friday, Kevin Leman.  Recommended for parents.  I just finished this a few weeks ago.  Dr. Leman takes his usual witty style and applies it to producing positive change in your relationship with your kids.
  • Lasting Impressions, Mark Waltz. Recommended for pastors & guest services volunteers. This one was reviewed here.  Waltz continues to be the authority and my go-to guy for how to make church accessible to newcomers.  (Check back tomorrow for info on how you can get a free copy!)
  • Love That Lasts, Gary & Betsy Ricucci.  Recommended for married people. The Ricucci’s will turn your view of marriage on it’s head.  If you’re a Sacred Marriage fan, you’ll love this one.
  • The Question Behind the Question, John G. Miller.  Recommended for everyone. Dave Ramsey fans, this is a book he references often.  The subtitle is “practicing personal accountability in work and in life.”  ‘Nuff said.
  • Sacred Pathways, Gary Thomas.  Recommended for everyone. Wondering what your sweet spot is in the spiritual disciplines?  Thomas walks you through nine typical ways that we commune with God and how each of those disciplines can strengthen our overall spiritual walk.
  • Through Gates of Splendor, Elisabeth Elliot.  Recommended for everyone. Although this is the classic volume on overseas missions, I just read it this spring.  Read it.  Don’t pass go.  Don’t collect $200.

We’ll also be distributing a list of recommended reading specifically for parents over the next couple of Sundays.  Summit peeps, check your worship guides!

Finally, here’s a list of what I’ll be working on this summer.  If you have other suggestions I’d love to hear them: