7 Books I Read in June

The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy

The second installment of his Borderlands trilogy, this book is a three-parter in its own right, with teenager protagonist Billy Parham taking three journeys to Mexico from his home in New Mexico. It’s melancholy, with all the McCarthy standards — land, horses, animals, and a journey. It’s all McCarthy really writes about. But I’m not complaining. No one does it better.

The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel

Speaking of land, this peek into the life of a modern day hermit by journalist Michael Finley was perhaps my favorite book all month. Shortly after high school in 1986, Christopher Knight disappeared into the woods of central Maine and did not re-emerge for 27 years. How he did it, how it ended, and the persistent question of why made this a super fun read.

Mindwise by Nick Eppley

I heard about this book from a recent class I took called The Science of Well-Being. Eppley’s subtitle says it all: How We Understand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want. Spoiler alert — we don’t understand it as well as we think. In fact, we may not understand what we think, believe, feel, and want all that well. If you’re the curious sort that doesn’t mind an academic (though certain accessible) read, this is worth picking up.

Merton’s Palace of Nowhere by Jim Finley

Jim Finley is one of my favorite authors and speakers right now and his summary treatment of Thomas Merton’s work, under whom he lived and studied at The Abbey of Gethsemane in northern Kentucky, was beautiful. It’s the kind of book I’ll definitely revisit. As I continue to unearth Merton’s life and teaching, I’m constantly reminded that there are deeper waters I’ve yet to plumb in my relationship to Jesus.  This book isn’t for everybody, but it might be for you more than you think.

The Killing Floor by Lee Child

Even if you haven’t seen the films themselves, you’ve likely seen advertisements for Jack Reacher movies. They are the natural extension of a series of novels by British author Lee Child. The Killing Floor was the very first Reacher story, written in the late 90s, and I’d never read any of his books. Child has a unique style, and I appreciated his explanation of that in the author’s notes nearly as much as I liked the novel itself (which I liked quite a lot). This is a beach or poolside read, for sure. Fast-paced, plenty of twists. You could kinda tell it was his first one — there were parts I thought were a little corny or cliche — but that might also be because this book was over 20 years old already. Either way — it’s like the Reacher movies, only better. Because it’s a book.

Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Doris Kearns Goodwin is one of my favorite authors. A historian by training and someone who has had deep access to American political life (she was a key part of LBJ’s staff), I’ve read some of her presidential biographies (famously, Lincoln’s Team of Rivals). This was completely different — a coming of age story in post-WWII America that focuses on her beloved Brooklyn Dodgers. With page after page filled with colorful descriptions of an era that we often think of in black and white, I absolutely loved this memoir. And dang, can this woman write. I loved it. If you have a nostalgic bent, love baseball, or follow Kearns Goodwin but have never read this one — do it.

The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby

Full disclosure: I finished this book on July 1st. Still, I mostly read it in June. With all that is unfolding in our midst on the civil rights front, I was pleased to work through this title with a group from my church. Our weekly discussions anchored this content in lived experience, but the content itself is enough to challenge, educate, and motivate. Tisby is a brilliant author with a solid grasp of church history, and he plainly lays out the trail of racism embedded in the (mostly white, American) church. I deeply recommend this book to anyone who is searching for how to engage as a Christian in the work of civil rights and racial reconciliation. Here’s the answer if you’ve recently wondered or asked someone “What do I do?”

Get this book and read it.