While this summer looks different than most, with fewer vacations and more uncertainty about the future, it still seems to be going by just as fast as ever. At IFWE, we enjoy sharing some of our favorite books to read over the summer, and that is a tradition I’m excited to continue today. Here are seven non-fiction books that we recommend, even if you read them in your backyard this summer instead of at the beach.
Why I Love the Apostle Paul: 30 Reasons
By John Piper
While certainly not Piper’s most famous nor most influential book, this short read makes an impact all on its own. In only about 200 pages, it covers topics ranging from “perseverance through suffering, love for unbelievers, and God’s work through weakness” that “will encourage readers to imitate Paul’s example of unwavering confidence in God’s grace and love toward others.” While not designed as a devotional, it would make an excellent thirty-day study.
The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction
by Justin Whitmel Earley
This season of quarantine and lockdown has provided many of us the opportunity to reset. In this book, winner of the Christianity Today 2020 Book Award, Justin Whitmel Earley recommends a set of habits and spiritual rhythms that are “designed to form us in the love of God and neighbor.”
Becoming Whole: Why the Opposite of Poverty Isn’t the American Dream
by Brian Fikkert and Kelly M. Kapic
In this eagerly-awaited follow-up to the influential book, When Helping Hurts, economist Brian Fikkert and theologian Kelly Kapic offer an explanation of why the “American Dream” isn’t the answer to poverty. Real hope, they explain, comes from God’s story and the reality of the four-chapter gospel.
Free to Believe: The Battle Over Religious Liberty in America
by Luke Goodrich
This book made waves when it came out last year, winning both The Gospel Coalition and WORLD Magazine 2019 Book of the Year Awards. It is impactful because Goodrich speaks directly to the Christian church in America which feels its influence waning and reminds each of us that our right desire for religious freedom ought to be extended to all faiths. We should seek this outcome, he explains, because when all faiths are on “a level playing field” in the public square, the truth of the gospel can flourish.
The Economics of Neighborly Love: Investing in Your Community’s Compassion and Capacity
by Tom Nelson
At IFWE, we believe that there are economic principles that we can understand and integrate into our way of thinking, leading to personal fulfillment and societal flourishing. Those ideas are captured well in this book by theologian Tom Nelson, which seeks to marry “biblical study, economic theory, and practical advice.” In particular, this book shines a light on how these ideas can bring out flourishing in local communities, including for it’s “poorest and most marginalized members.”
Work: A Kingdom Perspective on Labor
by Ben Witherington III
This book is best read in partnership with the next, as this title tackles how Christians should understand our work and the next tackles the “rest of life.” While we discuss the meaning of our work often at IFWE, it is always worth returning to the foundational concepts and reminding ourselves of why our work matters to God. Consider this book a primer on why work is “something good that God has given us to do.”
The Rest of Life: Rest, Play, Eating, Studying, Sex from a Kingdom Perspective
by Ben Witherington III
After you’ve read the above book on work, I recommend reading Witherington’s follow-up book about the “rest of life,” which addresses topics ranging from rest (pun intended), to education, to sex from a biblical perspective. This book is perfect for a summer read because it reminds us that even these other activities—which we may want to pursue more in the summer months—can, and should, bring glory to God.