For me, summer is almost always all about novels and memoirs. So let’s take some time today to talk about books, movies, television shows, and podcasts! Let the relaxing begin….

My Top 5 Books – in 3 Words

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – Un-put-downable. Timely. Stunning.

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay – Bold. Unapologetic. Wise. 

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson – Beautiful. Lyrical. Captivating.

Birdie by Tracey Lindberg – Heartbreaking. Unbreaking. Funny. 

What is the Bible?: How An Ancient Library of Poems, Letters, and Stories Can Transform The Way You Think and Feel About Everything by Rob Bell – Provocative. Freeing. Healing.

And Other Good Books I’m Into

An Introduction to Womanist Biblical Interpretation by Nyasha Junior

The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew

I Found You  and The House We Grew Up In and The Girls in the Garden all by Lisa Jewell (great for fans of Liane Moriarty and Jojo Moyes, two faithful companions of my summers)

Brown Eggs and Jam Jars: Family Recipes From the Kitchen of Simple Bites by Aimee Wimbush-Bourque

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien

Eating Rome: Living the Good Life in the Eternal City by Elizabeth Minchilli

Ru by Kim Thuy

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson

The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King

Maud: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery by Melanie J. Fishbane

Company Town by Madeline Ashby

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi

Sex, God, and the Conservative Church by Dr. Tina Schermer Sellers

At Home in the World: Reflections on Belong While Wandering the Globe by Tsh Oxenreider

At Home in This Life: Finding Peace at the Crossroads of Unraveled Dreams and Beautiful Surprises by Jerusalem Jackson Greer

Rescuing the Gospel From the Cowboys: A Native American Expression of the Jesus Way by Richard Twiss

One: Unity in a Divided World by Deidra Riggs

Jesus Journey: Shattering the Stained Glass Superhero and Discovering the Humanity of God by Trent Sheppard

Never Unfriended: The Secret to Finding and Keeping Lasting Friendships by Lisa-Jo Baker

The Magic of Motherhood: The Good Stuff, The Hard Stuff, and Everything in Between edited by Ashlee Gadd :

TV & Movies

I’ll spare you all of my rhapsodizing about this past series of Doctor Who. *primal wail*

I’m currently in the middle of the new season of Poldark on BBC. George is such a satisfying villain and I am surprised by how much empathy I feel for Elizabeth.

But my newest obsession is Grantchester. Yet another PBS/ITV series currently running, I picked up the first series at the library and binged it over a weekend. Tagline is “Faith. Love. Murder.” so you knew I was all the way in. Set in post-war England, it features a curate just outside of Cambridge, a detective inspector, a murder, unattainable love, the gap between who we are and who we wish we could be, the long shadow of the war, and a delightful cast of characters who have become surprisingly dear to me. I can’t wait for the second series from the library so that I’ll be caught up.

Usually the only films I watch are on airplanes and out of all of them, the stand-out this spring was Jackie”  – a lovely and sad and thoughtful film if you’re looking for that sort of an ache and reflection.

And of course, I watched Wonder Woman. Of course! I have so many thoughts but almost all of them were encapsulated in Rev. Danielle Shroyer’s marvellous essay at Pop Theology so I’ll simply commend that to you.


A favourite Spotify playlist for us is Your Favourite Coffeehouse – laid-back folk music for the backyard evenings.

I’m not a big music listener because silence is so cherished and rare. But Podcasts now…


 Shauna Niequist just concluded the first season of her new podcast appropriately titled …. wait for it…. “The Shauna Niequist Podcast.” I adore everything Shauna does and this was no different. She interviewed Jen Hatmaker for Episode 8 and they talked about everything from parenting to food to books so it’s a perfect listen on a summer evening walk. I’ve never subscribed to a podcast so fast.

I’ve also started listening to NPR’s Invisibilia about the unseen or unconscious forces that shape us like our ideas, assumptions, beliefs, and emotions. Utterly fascinating. I’m still in Season 1 but I’ve been told Season 2 is incredible.

Episode 99 of Sorta Awesome is called “Leaning Into the Squirm: How to Talk to Your Kids About Bodies, Sex, and Sexuality.” It’s a fascinating conversation between the two hosts, Megan and Kelly, and licensed clinical social worker LeAnn Gardener. Sorta Awesome is my favourite “girlfriend chat” genre podcast but this episode was so helpful, so practical, and empowering. A good listen for not only parents but anyone who has children or teens in their life.

And finally, Osheta Moore’s Shalom Sistas is a consistently great listen but I wanted to recommend Episode 36: Shalom in the Home with Jerusalem Jackson Greer (whose book you’ll remember seeing from up above in Good Reads) with a dash of Benedictine Monastic traditions (who doesn’t love those??) and also Episode 37: My Sista’s Keeper which is about resisting the spirit of despair when talking about race especially on social media.


I’m not exactly a crafty sort of person but I’ll tell you what: I’ve had sick kids and we have been staying home a lot and that equals too much time on Pinterest yada yada yada voila! Our literary garden signage!

It is ridiculous how happy this little project made me. I used this Pinterest tutorial as a jumping off point.

I’d love to hear what you’re reading or listening to or watching as we head into summer, too! Always looking out for a good recommendation!

Popsicles and backyard twinkle lights,


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  • Goodness, what a book list!!! So much good stuff!!

    Thanks so much for the Sorta Awesome shout-out, too. I’m STILL thinking about that episode (and putting it into practice!) months later.

    • I could have listed a half dozen of episodes this past while – you girls have been hitting it out of the park!

  • Every time I see your book list or an update on Goodreads, I wish we lived closer so we could be in a book club together or at least meet up for a cuppa and book discussion. Wouldn’t that be the best?!

  • Sarah Allen

    i just finished a novel called “A Piece of the World” by Christina Baker Kline. She also wrote “Orphan Train” which I have just started. “A Piece of the World” was heartbreaking in many ways but also transformational in my view of the humans who live with chronic illness or any physical disability. I HIGHLY recommend. I finished it in 4 days and I have 3 kids ages 5 and under. I stayed up late for this one. 🙂

  • Joy

    Such a great list! I interviewed a new author (ok, she’s also my really good friend!) on my blog today because her first novel just came out. Everything about her is the real deal, and as much as I love her book, I also loved hearing about her journey to write it.

  • I just finished Year of No Clutter by Eve Schaub. I’m currently reading Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach. I just discovered that Netflix has added The Wonder Years and so I’ve started re-watching that series. I watched it when it was originally on in the last 80s and it’s just as good now as it was then. Some shows from the past don’t hold up well over time, but this one definitely does!

  • Abby

    Grantchester is fabulous. So is the real Grantchester. There’s a tearoom called The Orchards where you can sit in deck chairs among the trees, have afternoon tea and dream about what it was like when Rupert Brooke and Virginia Wolfe were there. Divine.

  • M.M.

    Wow… How do you find time to read so much with 4 kids? I find it very hard, finding time to read with 3 kids, so if you have any tips, I would be grateful!

    At this moment, I am reading books about gifted children and Dutch books (not translated in English as far as I know).

  • Love peeking at what others are scooping up and paging through!

    My favorite recent online reads …

    No surprise, you’re leading the pack, Sarah!

  • Jill

    I always appreciate your lists. 🙂 Some recent reads I’ve enjoyed include: A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman, Complications by Atul Gawande, Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder, The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan, Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner, and Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. I’m currently reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur, Letters From a Skeptic by Gregory Boyd, and I’m listening to The Fellowship of the Ring audiobook with my kids.
    The Hate You Give, What is the Bible, and At Home in the World are in my ever-expanding to-read list.
    I’m enjoying Shauna Niequist’s podcast too, and how she always fits in discussing books and food. I’ve also been listening to (new and older) episodes of On Being with Krista Tippett. I find cutting the grass is now some of my best podcast listening/deep thinking time. 🙂

    • I’ve been meaning to read “The Middle Place” and “Born A Crime” this summer – this got me to put them on my library queue! I adored Mudhouse Sabbath, Dark Matter, and a bunch of your other ones. We have similar taste! (And if you’re in the archives of On Being, check out her conversations with Eugene Peterson and the one with Mary Oliver – so brilliant.)

      • Jill Kio

        Just listened to the On Being episode with Eugene Peterson a couple days ago! Also this week, Thich Nhat Hanh, and James Martin. Next up: her conversation with Richard Rohr, and thanks to your recommendation, Mary Oliver. I can’t wait!

  • Books I Have Recently Finished:
    The Turquoise Table (now I want a picnic table for the front yard, and my husband is already exhausted by my enthusiasm, haha)

    It’s OK Not to Share (a great read on parenting toddlers/young children that is about all the “rules” that really aren’t useful with kids and how to let htem BE KIDS)

    A Family Shaped By Grace (this was a really sweet book about putting your family back together – or holding it together – despite the difficulties we face in our lives, written by a recovering alcoholic)

    A Year of Picnics (okay, okay, it’s a cookbook, but it has a lot of writing in it, too. I HIGHLY recommend this cookbook! It has great ideas for picnics along with recipes you make to go with them)

    It’s Okay About It (a GREAT book about the lessons the author learned from her high-functioning autistic son. Sweet, and memorable, I think about the individual “sayings” and their meanings all the time)

    The Magic of Motherhood (I love this book love love love. Also, I LOVE the trend of books with included bookmarks these days!)

    Books I Will Soon Be Reading:
    It’s OK To Go Up the Slide (the next book by the woman who wrote It’s OK Not to Share – meant for older kids but I want a head start, haha)

    Love Unending ( a lovely little book on marriage)

    The SuperMom Myth (I don’t know much about this one, but I read a LOT of motherhood books so it’s on my list, haha)

    Belonging and Becoming (been trying to read this one for a while, but I just haven’t found the time)

    As far as music, right now I’m listening to a LOT of Leonard Cohen. I don’t know if that’s a reflection of my current feelings about the world or not. Just… lots of Leonard Cohen.

    Watching: Twin Peaks! LOVING the revival, even if it’s a bit too much David Lynch Being David Lynch. Love it.

  • Thanks for the shout out! #IntroWBI

  • Katie Noah Gibson

    I love Grantchester. So much. And what a wonderful sign project!

  • Thank you for The Magic of Motherhood shoutout, Sarah! There are so many good things to bookmark on this list. Currently reading “This Is The Story of a Happy Marriage” by Ann Patchett (and loving it).

  • Have you heard of/listened to Witch, Please? It’s a fantastic amazing wonderful Harry Potter podcast. I love it.

  • Love your literary sign!

    Adding several of these books to my to-read list.

    P.S. Jesus Feminist is on my list of book and blog recommendations for Christian women <3

  • I just started reading Hunger based on your recommendation. And it’s fantastic. I’ve never had this emotional of a reaction to a book before. I rarely ever cry while reading books, but this book I was crying by page 14.

  • Natalie Frisk

    YES to Osheta! She’s such a gift to the kingdom!