A summer reading list to challenge you

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The summer before my senior year of high school I had a list of required reading to complete for my A.P. English class. Being a big time reader who's been checking out towering stacks of library books as far back as I can remember, this wasn't daunting to me in the least.

So I am going to give you credit as being a fellow reader and offer up a reading list for your summer. I will warn you, these aren't fluffy beach reads. Instead, they're important reads. They're books that have challenged my worldview (heck, they made me realize I had one!).

I grew up white and middle class and I interacted with a lot of people who were pretty much exactly like me. My school, my neighborhood, and my church were all pretty homogenous. Being surrounded by similar people is a pretty common experience in the United States so for a lot of us there's room to grow and expand our understanding of the life experiences of others.

All of these books are memoirs, which I find a lovely and entertaining way to appreciate and learn from the experiences of others. Our stories are powerful gifts.

If you do read any of these, please circle back and comment on this post here on the blog or on Facebook. There is nothing I love better than a juicy book discussion!

My favorite memoirs:

These are written by white women realizing the American middle class values don't align with following Jesus. So amazing to read what God can do with a willing heart.

Falling Free: Rescued from the Life I Always Wanted by Shannan Martin

She also recently published a second book: The Ministry of Ordinary Places: Waking Up to God's Goodness Around You.

Rhinestone Jesus: Saying Yes to God When Sparkly Safe Faith is No Longer Enough by Kristen Welch

She also wrote not one but two parenting books: Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World and Raising World Changers in a Changing World.

Recent reads about racism:

I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown

Memoir of a black woman's experiences working in churches and Christian settings. Read my review.

White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin J. DiAngelo

This one is slightly more academic but told with so many personal stories it reads easily. The author is a white woman who facilitates diversity training classes professionally. Read my review.

Recent reads about racism in the United States criminal justice system:

The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton

Memoir of a wrongly convicted black man on death row. I know it sound heavy -- of course it is -- but there is humor in the writing as well. I enjoyed reading it.

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

Memoir of a lawyer working to establish an organization that provides legal counsel to people on death wrong or imprisoned without parole. The book has one main case but many other stories are referenced as well. His organization helped the author of The Sun Does Shine. Read my review.

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