Summer reading recommendations...

Looking for a good book to get stuck into over the summer? Then let the St Peter's family help you...

(This blog post will be updated throughout the summer as suggestions come in, so keep checking back!)

For those looking to live fully...

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
(review by Charlotte Bruce)

At its heart, Ann Voskamp's book 'One Thousand Gifts' is a dare to live fully where you are, and thankful in the midst of life's struggles and sadnesses. 

Ann speaks out of her own disabling experiences of trauma and loss, and how each has shaped her view of life and of God - as the reader follows her brave journey. 

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It is a rewarding read - but not necessarily an easy one. Ann writes in quite a poetic style which can be a bit hard to follow, but if that isn't too distracting there is a lot of encouragement to be found from this woman who learns to overcome despair with joy. 

Probably the best legacy of the book is how Voskamp practices the art of gratitude through keeping a journal of things she is thankful for - a list which includes new toothbrushes; forgiveness of a sister; plasters and pain relief! Now at no. 42 and 43 of my own thankfulness journey I find I am grateful for a friend's blackout curtain, and a bag of apples from the Wilkins' tree! Next to come....44....

Ann Voskamp also writes about everyday wonder at her website.

For the young at heart...

Titanic (Survivor) by Stephen Davies
(review by Zach Bruce, age 8)

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'Survivor - Titanic' by Steve Davies is a fantastic story about a boy called Jimmy who is on the Titanic when it hits the iceberg and sinks!

The book is great and I like that it is very descriptive. My favourite part is when Jimmy and Omar (his friend) are in the hold and the sailor chases them out! 

'Survivor - Titanic' is written for children, but is suitable for people in between 6 and 106!

For those who love a good story...

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
(review by Charlie Davies)

Don’t we all love a good story to get into over the holidays? The Hiding Place is certainly that, albeit a harrowing one in places. Corrie Ten Boom tells of her life before, during, and after German occupation, during which she helped hide Jews from the Nazi authorities . She was caught and sentenced to imprisonment in a concentration camp with her sister, Betsie. 

This is a compelling and faith-building read. We learn how Corrie and Betsie’s faith was not diminished, but flourished in the darkest of times. 

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Extracts from the book may seem familiar, such as their father’s analogy of God’s grace in times of need being like the train ticket that he gives his little girl just as she steps on the train. "Our wise Father in heaven knows when we’re going to need things too. Don’t run ahead of Him. When the need comes, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need – just in time."

Betsie’s unquenchable optimism and love for her enemies is extraordinary. She also knew the importance of sharing their testimony. "We must tell people what we have learned here. We must tell them there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still. They will listen to us, Corrie, because we have been here."

If, like me a few days ago, you’ve heard the excerpts but never read the book then I urge you to do so.  You will feel moved, encouraged and grateful. What more could we want from a summer read? 

For the history buffs...

Patterns of Evidence: Exodus by Timothy P Mahoney
(review by Dee Hersey)

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I’ve been interested in Egypt and its history since I was 8 years old. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve visited the country, but from when I was 15 I was going two to three times a year for anything from a week to two months.

I started to get to the stage where I felt like I knew everything about Egypt and was getting a bit bored of the subject! However, then I became a Christian and started reading the Bible, and realised that the story of the Bible goes with the story of Egypt.

I started to want to use my knowledge of Egypt to prove that stuff in the Bible could have been real and where it happened. The author of Patterns of Evidence: Exodus was asked to prove that the Exodus really happened. He went to Egypt and has found evidence not only of the Exodus but also Joseph, Jericho, lots of stuff about King David – and how they line up with the unofficial history timeline. Where I’ve been to in Egypt I could see these things – where Jacob might have been, or where Moses could have parted the Red Sea – and it brought the Bible to life for me.

(And if you’re interested in the history of Egypt in general then I would also recommend 'The Lost Tomb' by Kent Weeks. In the 1800s a tomb in the Valley of the Kings was discovered but then lost. Then in the 1990s Kent Weeks rediscovered the tomb, which is triple the size of any other tomb in the Valley of the Kings! It fascinates me how big this tomb is - which wasn’t even for a Pharoah but for the sons of Rameses II – and how much detail, love and care went into it. It’s also amazing how it was lost for so long.)

For those given to a bit of introspection...

The Introvert Charismatic: The Gift of Introversion in a Noisy Church by Mark Tanner
(review by Sarah Lewney)

Have you ever felt uncomfortable about approaching a complete stranger to talk to them about your faith?
Have you ever experienced a stubbornness rising up in you upon being told to ‘lift your hands in worship’?
Have you ever needed a bit more time to process what’s going on, rather than immediately move on to the next exciting thing that’s happening?

If so then you may find this book both an encouragement and a challenge, as it looks at how the church has bought into the myth that to be charismatic you must be an extrovert.

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Bishop Mark explores the challenges that can make the charismatic world hard for introverts, but also explores why it is important for introverts to engage with the charismatic world – both for their good and for the good of the church. I had plenty of “oh, that’s why I feel/act like this” moments whilst reading this, and found it a real blessing to be told that my expression of my faith has an important part to play in the church. I was also prompted to reflect on where I might be using my introversion as an excuse, and how I might find the energy to keep stepping out of my comfort zone.

If you are an introvert, or know an introvert whom you love and want to learn how to better support, then I would definitely recommend reading this book - to gain both deep spiritual insight and super practical advice.