Writing stories to pass values from one generation to the next

Reviewing My Summer Reading

Summer Reading

Reviewing My Summer Reading

Earlier this summer, I posted a list of books that I intended to read this summer. Now that in-service days have started at my school, I suppose that the door has closed on my summer reading. For the sake of my own accountability, I have posted updates below as to how I did.

For each of the books on my summer reading list, I have included an Amazon link. This allows you to discover more about the book without my having to go into great detail. These are affiliate links, which means that for anything you purchase on Amazon through my links, I will receive a small commission. You don’t pay any more for the products, but my Amazon commissions help keep the blog up and running.


Books on My List That I Completed


Water from My Heart (Charles Martin)

Summer Reading ListCharles Martin’s Water from My Heart was the first book up on my summer reading list. I say was because I started it on Thursday and finished it on Saturday. This book was a birthday gift from a colleague who knows my love for the nations…and how much I enjoyed Martin’s A Life Intercepted. (I finished that one in two or three days, also.)

Great read. Mrs. Right finished it even more quickly than I did. If you have ever done mission work in Central America, I think you would really enjoy Water from My Heart.

Clara’s War: One Girl’s Story of Survival (Clara Kramer)

Having Summer Reading Listvisited the Auschwitz concentration camp museum twice, I am fascinated with stories of Holocaust survivors. The world geography book from which I teach allows a paragraph for the Holocaust, but I make sure my students know of its atrocities as well as its far-too-few stories of survival.

Really glad I read this book. Vivid details about the hiding place and accommodations for the author’s family make the reader realize just how amazing a thing it was to survive the Holocaust.


Books on My List That I Partially Completed


Summer Reading ListThe Story Grid: What Good Editors Know (Shawn Coyne and Stephen Pressfield)

I bought this book several months ago and have read through part of it already. My goal this summer is to read the rest of it and press down into what will make me a better writer and a better teacher of writing. This is textbook reading but because the book is compiled in the blog format in which it was originally written, I have found it very readable.

I only made it through another chapter or two of this one though I have the best of intentions to make progress in it this fall.

 Summer Reading ListOn Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (Stephen King)

Okay, I will admit that I have never been a big Stephen King fan. Sorry, just not my genre. However, after years of studying the craft and reading from seemingly every other writer that this book is the transcendent book on writing, I gave in and added it to my summer reading list.

This book is both a biographical sketch of Stephen King’s younger life and a treatise on writing. I have just begun on the writing section. The stories are very interesting, but the volume of vulgar language have made this a difficult read for me.

Summer Reading ListReflections of a Mississippi Magnolia & Magnolia Musings (Patricia Neely-Dorsey)

Finally, I’ll be reading a little Mississippi poetry. Since I began writing and speaking at various events across the Mid-South, I have met all sorts of interesting people. I met Patricia Neely-Dorsey at a library event in Olive Branch a couple of years ago and found her work fascinating. I have read many of her poems already, but I plan to take in the rest of them this summer…at a leisurely pace in keeping with the spirit in which they are written.

I read a few more of my favorite positive Mississippi poet’s works this summer. Did you know that her poem “Country Living” can be found in a German textbook used in classes teaching English to German students as a foreign language. (Check out the Values Storying Spotlight I did on Patricia earlier this summer.)


Books on My List That I Didn’t Quite Get to…Yet…


Summer ReadingThe Stranger on the Road to Emmaus (John R. Cross)

I am following up on this book that I read last year with the short “and Beginning with Moses…” companion piece. No one has ever told more gripping stories than Jesus. Who better to study to learn to connect people right where they are to timeless values and truths through the vehicle of story?

Best of intentions…

Summer ReadingRemembering Willie

This collection of tributes to famed Mississippi writer Willie Morris was a giveaway at the Mississippi Book Festival that I attended last August. At my favorite breakout session–the sportswriters–almost all of the presenters had personal Willie Morris stories that were so powerfully engaging that I have made it a point to read the “Willie” stories of other Southern writers.

Short read…that I still didn’t get to.


Books NOT on My List That I Completed Anyway


The Way of the Shepherd (Kevin Leman and William Pentak)
Summer ReadingThis was our required summer reading for teachers at my school. I read it last weekend and discovered on the first page that it was actually a re-read for me. Three things I enjoyed most about this book were its narrative style, its powerful object lessons, and its brevity. (After all, I was a teacher on summer break!)


Summer ReadingThe Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Robert Louis Stevenson)

I picked up a couple of classics this summer that I had somehow managed to never have read. This was like reading a mystery for which I already knew the ending. The popular phrase from the book’s title pretty much gives it away. At the very least, I can mark this one off the unread classics list.


Summer ReadingA Study in Scarlet (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

I read Doyle’s more famous Sherlock Holmes novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles, along with my sophomore class last school year. It proved to be a great book for teaching readers prediction skills by paying attention to details. A Study in Scarlet was the first book to feature Holmes and lays the foundation for his relationship with Dr. Watson. The characters are more raw in this book, which proved to be an interesting read.

And finally, a summer reading book that I should finish before my students show up to class next week having finished their own summer reading…

Summer ReadingOf Secrets and Sorcery (Chris Solaas)

This one was written by my friend and fellow writer, Chris Solaas. Chris has kindly reviewed several of my books, and I was more than happy to offer to return the favor. I can see using this as an example when I teach the secret door/alternate universe writing unit next semester. I’m at a critical point in the book now, so I’ll close this post on my summer reading, pick up my Kindle, and get back to that reading.

That’s five read, five partially read, and two good intentions. How many books have you crossed off your reading list lately? Whether it’s on my list or not, pick up a good book of your own and read!


About Al Ainsworth

Al Ainsworth is a values storyteller. He works with individuals, businesses, churches, and other organizations to pass along their values through the stories they tell…and re-tell.

Al is the author of Lines in the Gravel, Stories from the Roller Coaster (of a Faith Life), and the Coach Dave series. Subscribe to his email list for more values storying.

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