Another video installment of “Byron’s Summer Book Club.” Six books on sale now.

We hope you enjoyed the video I did a few weeks back for CCO college students called “Byron’s Summer Book Club.” (WATCH IT HERE if you want to see me enthusing for a few minutes about some great books or see my BookNotes description of the books, HERE.) Our campus ministry friends at the CCO wanted to send out into their world of social media my fast-paced summary of a handful of good titles that would serve to inspire young Christians to do some fun reading over the summer.  We were glad that some of our Hearts & Minds regulars found this a bit helpful, too. Although at BookNotes we often reflect a bit more carefully on select titles, giving a bit of quick, live enthusiasm to a handful was a fun experiment. I hope the authors didn’t mind my quite and sincere spiel.

So, here’s another installment of Byron’s Summer Book Club. Six books in about nine minutes. You can watch the video (or just read my summaries) and order any for 20% off the regular retail price by using the order link shown below.

Our order form page is secure so you can safely enter your credit card digits.  We’ll confirm everything and send the books out promptly. Whether you want these for yourself or want to send them as a gift to others, as that big box home improvement store says — let’s do this!

This is, for the record, the unedited version of my 9 minute ramble.  CCO will tidy it up a bit and send it out to their social media followers soon.  Consider this an authentic sneak peak. If you can’t see it, please visit my own facebook page where you can view it in all its book-loving glory.

Do Something Beautiful: The Story of Everything and A Guide to Finding Your Place in It  R. York Moore (Moody Press) $13.99  York is a great, great communicator and author of several books on evangelism. His own story from despair to Christian faith is itself remarkable and he has become a legendary evangelist for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. He has partnered with CCO on occasion and is known for some innovative justice work (organizing against sexual trafficking) that is integrally related to sharing the gospel with non-believers. This brand new book is upbeat and exciting and very handsomely designed;  in it York invites us to realize we live in a big, big story and that it is more than just this. Using notions of beauty and goodness, York helps us find our way to a colorful, good lifestyle that itself carries evangelistic overtones.  Do Something Beautiful is a heartfelt invitation to a missional lifestyle, to make a difference, to spread the gospel with grace and abundance. It is easy to read, an engaging delight and I think offers a ton of much-needed  inspiration. I really, really like this book, good for anyone but ideal for younger adults trying to discern their own vocations and role in God’s redemptive work in the world.

(Re)Union: The Good News of Jesus for Seekers, Saints, and Sinners Bruxy Cavey (Herald Press) $16.99 Bruxy is the author of The End of Religion and a pastor at The Meeting House in Ontario, Canada. He’s an upbeat speaker, a beloved pastor, and here offers a great invitation to the real deal, the authentic full gospel of reconciliation – reunification, if you will, the message that could be recaptured and once again impact the world. As he says, “the message of Jesus changed the world, until the world changed the message.” Think about that: how have we fragmented and distorted the good news? Is there a sense that the culturally-co-opted view of religion these days is merely a masquerade of the full, forceful and gracious gospel of Christ?  Have we (as Dietrich Bonhoeffer lamented in his years resisting Hitler) lost the “cost of discipleship”?

Debra and Alan Hirsch (who are known world-wide for their missional work and visionary approach to wholistic, risk-taking discipleship)  say (Re)Union is “iconoclastic, irreligious, intriguing, and super insightful.” Contemplative writer and pastor Ken Shigematsu says it is “filled with wisdom, humor, and penetrating insights.” Our friend Shane Claiborne wrote the forward, which makes sense – both have a lot of fun and are witty and passionate. From chapters like “The Good News in a Tattoo” and “The Good News in Thirty Words” to “God’s Love Life” you are sure to learn much and be inspired to participate in Christ’s community and be launched  into redemptive work in the world.

Know any seekers, saints, or sinners? Bruxy Cavey is an author you should know and (Re)Union is a fresh, solid way to easily invite them to a deeper awareness of God’s goodness and the transforming vision of Christ’s way.

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness Austin Channing Brown (Convergent) $25.00  There is little doubt that this is one of the most talked about books within certain circles this season.  Austin Channing Brown has a huge following on the internets and there are several reasons why: as I’ve said before, she is an excellent writer and her story of being a young black woman in a largely white setting is helpful for everyone. I know that some of my own friends who are persons of color have had very similar experiences and have told us that this book really tells their story well. Obviously, many black folks have loved it but I am glad that many white readers have been open to really hearing her perspective, entering her world, realizing how it feels to be a minority in a culture that many have shown is still laden with institutional racism, white privilege, and sometimes overt racism.

Channing Brown has been called “a leading new voice on racial justice,” and I’m Still Here is described as “an eye opening account of growing up black, Christian, and female amid white America’s expressed loved affair with ‘diversity.’”

Christena Cleveland (professor at Duke University and author of Disunity in Christ) writes:

What a stunning debut from a seasoned racial-justice leader. Austin does double duty by fiercely affirming Blackness while simultaneously unveiling and demystifying the subtle effects of white supremacy among Christians. I trust Austin. I listen to Austin, and I learn from Austin.


The Sound of a Million Dreams: Awakening to Who You Are Becoming Suanne Camfield (IVP) $16.00 . This is one of the most intriguing and nicely written books I’ve read this season and I can’t recommend it enough. Although it is written almost as a memoir – a set of personal reflections – it isn’t a full-on autobiography, but a glimpse into the interior life of a woman trying to figure out her place in the world. It’s great for young adults, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and commend it to you.

She grew up on a farm in Western Pennsylvania and her stories of being a tomboy and athlete are fabulous. Camfield ends up married to a rising pastor who takes a call to a large, evangelical church in Chicago and even as she mothers her young children she longs to write, to be a writer, to author a book.  Through a variety of experiences and friendships she starts a writer’s collective (for women authors) and watches as her friends all get books published. She doesn’t take it that well. The Sound of a Millions Dreams isn’t only a cheery story of self-discovery. There’s some hard stuff here.

What is her dream, she wonders – she loves helping others reflect on their deepest desires and how their own callings reflect who they are and who they are to become. What is the relationship of one’s call and one’s job? How can busy young adults discern what they want to do when they grow up? How does love and sex and marriage and parenting and church and Christian service and our hurts and failures shape us? How do we awaken to who we are becoming? What if we hear the sound of a millions dreams, but few are coming true?

Suanne Camfield is a poet and good writer but more, she gives voice to the longings and foibles and fears and hopes of many modern young adults. As Elisa Morgan (author of riveting memoir The Beauty of Broken) says, The Sound of a Million Dreams “embraces me right where I am while beautifully beckoning me one step further.” Jen Pollock Michel (the must read author of Teach Us to Want and Keeping Place) writes: “Suanne Camfield’s writing is vivid and lyrical…this book has enriched my life, daring me not just to dream but to become.”

The elegant writer and brilliant public intellectual Os Guinness doesn’t endorse that many books. Of Ms. Camfield he writes:

Part poet, part philosopher, part penitent, and always a keen-eyed observer and exquisite writer… The Sound of a Million Dreams is a book to read slowly and savor long.


Reframing the Soul: How Words Transform Our Faith Gregory Spencer (Leafwood) $15.99  If you are a careful reader of BookNotes you might recall that I’ve raved about this beautiful book before. I held it up in this CCO video not only because I think it is a wise and helpful book but because it is an excellent follow-up to the popular book To Be Told by CCO friend Dan Allender. Many staff and students within the CCO have been reading Allender and learning how to pay attention to our own life stories, even the hard stuff that has plagued our past. To Be Told has been a very, very important book for this season of CCO ministry. Reframing the Soul could be equally as influential if only folks knew of it and spread the word.

Gregory Boyd is an eloquent and thoughtful writer (who is a professor of communication at Westmont College.) He has published novels, a book for college students, and a lovely, wise volume of interior formation called Awakening the Quieter Virtues. In his most recent, Reframing the Soul he helps us consider four words, offering several chapters on each. These are words that help us understand and articulate our life story and with them we will be better equipped to consider our lives and to talk with others.  This is really good stuff, a book about words, about life, about our worldview, our story, how we lean into the past, present, and future.

Dr. Boyd offers us four words (verbs, I might note) with which we can choose to frame our life story — remembering, anticipating, dwelling and engaging. In Reframing he guides us to four other words that show us how to do these things well.  We can:

  • remember the past with gratitude
  • anticipate the future with hope
  • dwell  within ourselves in peace
  • engage with others in love.

As John Ortberg says in a great endorsement of Spencer and Reframing the Soul, “its framework for daily life is brilliant.”

King of the Campus Stephen Lutz (House Studio) $14.99  There are a few books we always, always tell college students about. You probably know about our friend Derek Melleby’s little primer for first year students, Make College Count: A Faithful Guide to Life and Learning.  And I hope you know that one of the books I think is most important for any student is Learning for the Love of God: A Student’s Guide to Academic Faithfulness by Derek Melleby & Donald Opitz. I regularly and insistently recommend the fabulously interesting booklet called Your Minds Mission by campus worker Greg Jao. These are staples but I will have to remind you about them another day.

In the closing minutes of the video, I mentioned King of the Campus by Steve Lutz (of State College, PA, where Penn State University is located.) This is also a must-have resource for Christian college students and is, as I say on the back cover:

…a book unlike any you’ve read before. Steve Lutz knows students and understands your campus and your young adult life situation. Get it. Read it. Live it!

I stand by that – I simply don’t know of any other book that “gets” campus life as well as this does and invites students to serve God in all that they do in their college years.

Lutz is gracious and yet serious. He calls us away from idols and wrong-headed ideas about life on campus. His very title suggests that Jesus is Lord and therefore He is the true King. In fact, Steve shows that Christ is the Lord over five key areas of university life:

  • The church and Christian fellowship – Yes, collegiates should be involved in a local church and a college fellowship group. This is a great portion of the book and really helpful.
  • Relationships  -From friendships to dating, from sexuality to relationships with other races, this is huge.  Huge.
  • Academics and a calling into work  – We simply know of no other general book about Christian discipleship on campus that covers this topic so well. That Steve used to work for CCO and has been influenced by the likes of Steve Garber is evident;  that he draws on Learning for the Love of God  is beautiful to see.)
  • Organizational leadership – Not too many students think of themselves as leaders but all should be stretching themselves to be involved in campus organizations and offer helpful leadership. This is really good stuff.
  • Partying and pleasure – I know, most religious books warn students not to get carried away. Sure. Obviously. But you might be surprised how Lutz unfolds a Christian view of the goodness of pleasure and fun and why followers of Jesus should go to parties.  


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