Summer Reading List: 2017

This is not my usual Monday blog post, but I thought I would take a break from writing tips to share my summer reading plans. I am being a bit ambitious this summer, especially with my editing plans and full time job; however, I hope to finish most of these books, even though I have a total of 15-21 book goal. I have enough books on my reading this this summer that I decided to categorize them into writing research and classic/literary fiction. Ready?

My writing research centers around the question, “What does good Christian fantasy look like and how do I write it?” Pretty simple. So I am reading a good number of essays on Christian fiction in general and also on Christian fantasy. I am also reading two authors that I want to draw from for my own writing: Flannery O’Connor and George MacDonald. Finally, I am reading some Christian fantasy that has been published within the last two years by one of the publishing companies that I hope to query this fall.


Technically, I have already finished two of these books: Phantastes and King’s Blood, but I listed them here anyways since they were part of my early summer reading. Both were phantastic in different ways; I would recommend MacDonald to any reader who loves fairy stories and wants some beautiful and mature themes, and Jill Williamson’s series, Kinsman Chronicles, is the model of Christian epic fantasy for the college age group. The second part of this lists are books that I would love to get to but are lower priorities than the others.

The purpose of my second reading list is to spark conversation and explore some classics. My next door neighbor and I will be reading through these together, and so I hope to have some great conversations with her. Since she has great handwriting, I’ll use her note and put links below.

I may see if I can talk her out of A Tale of Two Cities and A Midsummer’s Night Dream— not because I don’t think they will be good (I actually have some limited experience with both and still hope to read them fully someday)– but because I want to prioritize some of my writing reading, and I may add a book on modern Israel.

So I am extremely excited about reading all these good books (even despite the fact that I have to barrow many of them from the library), but what are you guys planning on reading this summer? Have you read any of these books before? What did you think of them?

God bless,


Note: As of next Monday, I not have access to internet for about two weeks. I will still have scheduled posts on Monday (and maybe a guest post– we will see), but I will not be posting Open Pen Critique or be able to reply to comments until I return. When I do return, stay tuned for a special post about a topic that is very important to me but I have yet to write about on this blog 🙂


17 thoughts on “Summer Reading List: 2017”

  1. Great list! I’m curious about Phantasies- what did you like about it? I read it and it didn’t do much for me. I felt that I didn’t understand it… I liked The Princess and the Goblin, though.

    I’ve also read parts of Lewis’s The Dark Tower and Other Stories. The Dark Tower is super frustrating- because it’s so good, but it just ends! I really want to know what happens. I haven’t read all the other stories, but I remember liking the one I had.


    1. I loved so many things about Phantastes. I loved the progression of the main character in the fairy world and the themes woven into the story. The sheer wonder of the world reminded me of when I was little and obsessed with Narnia and every fairytale book I could get my hands on. I also loved the epigrams before each chapter and the poetry in the stories. Finally, I thought it was amazing how all the seeming unrelated adventures culminated together in the end.

      Ah! I can’t wait to read it then (but I suppose I will hate finishing it as well.)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. These are all great!! One of my reading goals for this summer is “Silence”, too!! Excellent film, too, by the way. And A Tale Of Two Cities is EXCELLENT! I hope you read it anyway.
    These all sound amazing. I’m curious about that last note: will stay posted!!


    1. Oh, good! I watched the movie first, too. It was such a hard and thought provoking film that I had to read the book now.

      I have watched an old movie version of A Tale of Two Cities years ago, and I loved the story and characters. I hope to read it some day, but sadly, I doubt I will have time this summer.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I thought I was being ambitious with ten books! The only two of these I’ve read were the Princess and the Goblin (though I don’t remember it that well; it’s been a while), and A Tale of Two Cities, which is actually the only Charles’ Dickens book I’ve ever managed to finish. Not that I don’t like Charles Dickens, but I really get into the atmosphere of books and some of his stories make me depressed. Tale of Two Cities is great, though.



    1. Yeah…. I just hope I can get to half of these.

      Interesting. Dark stories don’t affect me that way, though I could see different personalities being affected different ways by dark stories.


  4. I’m also interested to know what you thought of Phantastes, I’ve been wanting to read it for ages now, but haven’t been able to get my hands on a copy of it. I’m also interested in reading Lilith, but haven’t been able to get that either. The Princess and the Goblins is really good, I enjoyed it a lot and I’ve read it at least twice I think, but in my personal opinion The Princess and Curdie (the sequel) is better.
    I’ve heard of Shusako Endo, but never read anything. 😀


    1. Oh, you should! I may do a post on George MacDonald sometime this summer. He was a staple for fantasy writers 50 – 100 years ago, but now he seems to be mostly forgotten.

      I am glad to hear that the Princess and the Goblins is good. I didn’t know there is a sequel! I will have to find that.

      Silence is a really, really hard story and can be very controversial. But I would recommend it, if you can stomach torture and keep an open mind and strong convictions at the same time.


  5. Gospel According to Tolkien is one of my favorite books. ❤ I just recently added On Stories and Mind of the Maker to my Amazon wishlist (though once I get back to school I'll see if they're in the campus library). Phantastes sounds intriguing, I'll look into that. And I shall eagerly await this tantalizing-sounding blog post…. =D


    1. The Gospel According to Tolkien sounds so cheap and possibly heretical, doesn’t it? But I read one chapter last year for a school project, and I got to hear Ralph Wood speak at a conference last year, and I am really excited to read it. I expect it to be very well thought out.
      You should definitely check out Phantastes. I think you would really like it.


  6. Hi Gabrielle,

    Great reading list here. I’m trying to put together a list of books to get for the summer wish list and was wondering if you had any titles that you consider are must-owns. It’s so difficult to prioritize when buying books – so maybe you can help me out here.



    1. Hum. Till We Have Faces for sure. And the Gospel According to Tolkien is one that you will want to own. Oooh, Phantastes is definitely one to own. What books were you thinking about buying?

      Hope you are doing well– I’ll reply to your email soon.


  7. Hi Gabrielle,

    Yes! I do own Till We Have Faces and it’s my favorite fictional work from Lewis. Currently, my list includes: 1) Phantases, with annotations by Nick Page version since I’ve heard that MacDonald can be quite difficult to understand; 2) On Stories by Lewis; 3) George MacDonald Anthology by Lewis; 4) The Scottish Chiefs by Jane Porter – a historical fiction classic about Wallace, but I’ve yet to determine the actual degree of historical accuracy; 5) 10 Books on Theology, Tyranny, and Literature by GK Chesterton – including The Everlasting Man and Orthodoxy since the books have influenced Lewis; 6) The Book of Virtues by William Bennett; 7) and finally the updated NIV study Bible. If you have any thoughts on any of these, I’d love to hear them, or any additional ones that occurs to your mind to mention.
    Hope your summer has been pleasant so far!


    1. I don’t think you need an annotated version of Phantastes, and I think it might actually spoil some of the philosophical realizations later on. Knowing you, you will be fine, but you will probably want a reread regardless.
      That list sounds awesome! I’ll be reading Orthodoxy next semester for a class, and Lewis’ essays on stories are good. You might considering getting another study Bible, though. I heard the new NIV has some theological issues. Why are you in the market for a new Bible?
      My summer has been busy but good. Yours? I really do mean to email you this weekend, sorry for the long wait.


      1. Hi Gabrielle,
        Hmm – I’ll have to think about this. The annotated version with illustrations is almost the same price as the illustrated unabridged version on Amazon, so I might just resist the temptation to read the footnotes until after a first read. I really like reading about background and commentary notes; but they can distract one from forming original thoughts. You flatter me beyond my abilities, I think. I would not have reached a thorough understanding of Till We Have Faces were it not for your input and notes.
        Thank you. I’ve been thinking about the list from a while now and have it eliminated to those above. Really! What theological issues might those be? I might preview it with a library copy and then decide whether or not to buy it. My current version is a Teen Devotional NIV, and the cover binding is starting to wear.
        Crazy busy here as well; I’m looking forward to your reply in the inbox.


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