My Summer Reading Plan

My summer reading plan is more of a how and when, than a what. But first, some background is in order. I love to read, it is an inherited trait from my mother. She was my first storyteller, the first person to read to me and the first person to take me to a book store and buy me grown up books.

We went to Saltmarsh’s, a book and stationary store in downtown New Bedford. New paperbacks cost an average of 35 cents in those days. She decided that I would like to read “Jane Eyre,” by Charlotte Bronte, and she was right. I also came home that day with a copy of “Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell,” and I loved reading Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women.”

Fast forward thirty plus years: one of the many blessings in my marriage is that my husband and I are both readers. There were times in our early marriage when we would read the same book. I called it a game of “dueling bookmarks” because I could read when he was driving, he read when I was cooking. In general though, we do not have similar tastes in books. But we have often sat at the dinner table or in the living room reading, and it has always struck me as feeling very companionable.

Clergy, and other Professionals Need to be Readers

In college and seminary, much of my reading was limited to course work and sermon writing. Each class syllabus contained an average of five to six books that were required reading. Unfortunately for me, I never learned to skim or speed read. I was too afraid I would miss something important. So I did my best to read everything that was required, skipping some things, I am only human.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Other resources that were used to write papers, I read just what was necessary. In addition to that reading though, a certain amount of reading is necessary in sermon preparation. There I do not attempt to read entire books, that would be impossible, but I do my best to read the relevant sections of three to five resources (commentaries).

That being said, much of my professional life has left little time for recreational reading, except…except for my audio book addiction. The first few years of college I listened to recorded lectures. By the time I graduated from college (at 49 years old) and started seminary (a three hour drive one way) I had three library cards to support my books on tape habit. In those days they were cassettes.

I would listen to history and some theology or philosophy, but most of my listening while driving was a variety of fiction books. Vacations were made for fiction, my favorite detective novels are a must and if they contain recipes, so much the better.

Being a pastor who preaches on average forty-eight Sundays a year, I have to be a reader. Sermons do not write themselves

Writers Need to be Readers; Bloggers Need to Read Other Bloggers

At this semi-retired stage of my life, I have more opportunity to read, but frequently struggle to make the time. I continue to listen to audio books when driving, even driving short distances when I am alone. Vacations are still made for fiction, although my recent vacation I made an uncharacteristic switch to non-fiction.

I still try to use at least three resources for sermon writing. I try to read at least five other blog posts, some weeks pushing it up to a lot more, depending on how many link parties I join. A link party is a meet up where bloggers share a post and hope that other bloggers will read and comment on our writing. In return, we do the same. While I consider this due diligence, it is not a dull or dry experience at all. Reading other bloggers had net me a sense of community made up of writers from around the world, that never would have happened any other way.

My Summer Reading Plan

Have I told you that I love television? Anyone who knows me well, even many of my parishioners could tell you what my most watched television shows are, and I do not mind watching repeats repetitively. Sometimes when you do that, you catch nuances that you missed the third or fourth time around. There is this other complication. I am easily distracted. When I sit down for some downtime, I am likely to bring along choices, as many as three or four possibilities and still reach for the remote.

This summer I have decided to turn over a new leaf. While I will continue listening to audio books when driving, I need more actual reading time. So my summer reading plan is this: to simply substitute watching repeats of my favorite shows with reading. That should net me eight to ten hours each week, of sitting with a book or e-book in my hand., enriching and feeding a need in my life. That is my how and my when.

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

One of my goals is to list the books I have read, title, author and date read. I know there are apps for this, but I am an old-fashioned girl. While I use technology to the best of my ability in pursuit of contact with family and friends and also for ministry needs, I like nothing better than to take a pen and notebook and write. I write my sermon research notes, and I handwrite my much shorter preaching notes. I hand write my journal entries, so I will do that with at least a log of my summer reading.

This may be a recurring post and I may tell you what I am reading and what I like about it. If so, it will not be a traditional book review. There are many bloggers I know who do those very well, and others who will still read rings around me, despite the addition of eight to ten hours of reading time each week.

Vacation afforded me the opportunity to finish reading a book I had begun several months ago, but set aside. It was the story of the marriage of Martin Luther and Katherina Bora. Katherina and Martin Luther: The Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Radical Monk, by Michelle DeRusha I was able to find a quote from Martin Luther that I heard in seminary, but out of context, and the book filled in some information about the harshness of women’s lives in that time period and gave me a greater sense of gratitude for the freedoms I have. But I also found much of it shocking. I may have set the book down initially because I found it slow going, but this time around I was captivated. Favorite quote from Martin Luther? “Marriage is a chancy thing.” Agreed.

The first book that I started and finished! in this regime is blogger Liesbet Collaret’s first book, Plunge: One Woman’s Pursuit of a Life Less Ordinary (I tried, valiantly, to be able to post the book covers for these two books, but got stuck on the technology. I hope you will take the time to look them up.)

I hated to put it down and couldn’t wait to pick it up again, to see what happened next. In the course of reading this book I have smiled, smirked, laughed, wept, worried and wondered. She has a way of bringing you into the story and sharing a bit of interior monologue as well. You just might want to read it with a handkerchief, to wipe away the salt water from the waves and wind, to wipe the occasional tears from your eyes, or to cover your mouth in mock shock. Seriously though, I was struck with admiration for her knowledge and ability to do the work of sailing, in partnership with her husband Mark. Liesbet blogs at Roaming About.

Wish me luck?

Not holding back the tide,


Copyright 2020-2024 Michele Somerville, The Beach Girl Chronicles and

Linking up with Denyse Whelan (#Life This Week) Natalie the Explorer’s #Weekend Coffee Share and Esme’s Senior Salon

Published by msomerville2014

About: Michele Somerville is a wife, mother, stepmother, grandmother, sister, aunt, cousin and friend. She lives with her husband and their dog Sheba. Sheba is their fourth rescue dog in 30 years. She is a retired ordained United Methodist Elder and serves two churches part-time in North Central Pennsylvania. She obtained her Bachelors’ Degree in 1999 from Mansfield University and her Master of Divinity in 2004 and Doctor of Ministry in 2016, both from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, New York. My Doctor of Ministry Thesis was:” Prophetic Words of Grace: Biblical Storytelling in the Local Church.” Michele began writing and performing character monologues for worship in 2008. She began by asking the question about nameless characters in the Bible, “What would they say if they could speak for themselves?” and then using her theological education and experience of the human condition to attempt an answer that is both academic and creative. Much of what you will read here are memories from growing up in a tourist town, in a bar, in the 1960’s, shaggy dog stories about our rescue dogs, life in a small town, and stories of faith and hope. Throughout her life she has lived in many states, including small towns, large towns and cities. She lived in Rota, Spain, for nine challenging months. Despite all the places she have lived since moving away from home in 1970,Michele is at the heart of all things Jack and Maggie’s daughter, and a beach girl from Onset, Massachusetts.

22 thoughts on “My Summer Reading Plan

  1. Lucky us Michelle.
    We both have spouses who share our love of reading but we rarely share the same book as our tastes are too different. You know I blog some, while she doesn’t but we both like to write. I’m more consistent as I have a blog I’d like to build out some.

    But neither of us need to produce sermons. In this area we are consumers only. We both used to teach which is not unlike preaching but, of course, the spirit of the message is very different.

    But our favorite way to spend a relaxing few hours is in our chairs, tea or coffee nearby and, most likely, our kindles in hand, sometimes a real book. Quietly passing words and images and great thoughts through the gray matter.

    I enjoyed the thought you shared about your reading 📚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. HI Gary, thanks for taking the time to read and share. Do you two agree that it is a companionable act? I never feel left out when we sit together reading. Time to read makes any vacation more enticing, second of course to rare family visits. When we are lucky, we can do both. And for fun let me add, we also stay to the end of the few movies we see in theaters and are reading credits while people are filing out and we read those blue historic signs and monuments, etc when we are playing tourist. It takes u s a long time to work our way through museums!


      1. Hi Michelle.
        Reading your writing is my pleasure. You always have insights and observations that intrigue and move me forward. I think the pastor in you compels to write this way & I want to be in the wake of your gifting.
        About reading together with a spouse; I can only speak for the one wife I’ve ever had, but know that God selected her for me well before I knew it. So in a larger sense, I already expected compatibility and was not disappointed.
        We both need the quiet that reading brings and love sitting together doing so. We talk about what we’re reading, but don’t really dig deep as one might in a book club. She’ll tell me how her authors craft their work and it the result was enjoyable, and I do the same.
        My life and time spent reading is all better for her presence, so, companionable ?
        I think so. She’s the reality I return to when I set my book down and I’m blessed to have her there.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you Gary. You may be correct, hard to separate the pastor from the rest of me. I don’t think I am preachy, but you are correct, my preaching/writing voice is intimately tied together. As to your wife, how lovely, I hope she reads what you wrote there. Blessings for the day. Michele.


      3. To be clear, I’ve never found your essays preachy (and trust me – I’m too talented in the detection of someone being preachy). Instead I’ll offer that I find your writing smart, caring and accessible.
        May new blessings overflow for you today.


  2. I also enjoyed Liesbet´s book, Plunge. I find I have to carve out time to read as well. Cutting out TV is a good one but I did that so I could write my books. I make sure to sit outside and read with a cup of tea every afternoon for an hour at least. It works. I get fresh air, a relaxing tea and reading time! Happy summer reading, Michele.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My current read is “Mennonite Daughter” which I only came across through hosting “Amanda>..”I struggle to find time for my writing, though it is often easier to fit in writing for my blog than for the book I want to publish and the book a friend and are are trying to get written! Baby steps and possibly full retirement:)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Darlene, it is very good and sad. I was shocked in the beginning when I read about her dad’s behavior, but the storyline keeps moving and I am enjoying the read.. I am near the end of Chapter 8. Thanks for the advice too. Blessings, Michele

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Michele, I love books, but my desire to read them comes and goes. A month or two can pass and I will realize that I have only read blog posts and news articles that Malcolm sends to my inbox each day. I love your review of Plunge. It is spot on.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Suzzane, I am hoping that this new discipline will carry me beyond summer. But I confess when the new tv season returns in the fall, there are a few shows I will watch. But I hope in the future my tv watching is more limited. Right now the reading i am doing feels good. Glad you agree about Plunge. Hoping Liesbet sees the post.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Good luck, Michele. Now I have added 2 more books to my TBR list. Did I ever mention that I am a Lutheran? The Martin Luther book seems like a must-read. One of my reading joys is to find a book where a theologian describes how finding a later-in-life love affects his religious views. Books by C.S. Lewis (admittedly not a favorite author) and Dietrich Bonhoeffer come to mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, that is really cool. They book really showed more of ML as a person, and similar to Wesley, but in different ways, a very practical theologian. Any man who writes about the blessings of diaper duty, ya gotta love. When I grow up, or as my book reading continues, I need to pull Bonhoeffer’s letters and papers from prison off my shelf and read it. Although Martin Luther King’s newspaper letter to local pastors is much shorter, I would love to read them both and write something. I like Lewis but wish his theology was as easy to read as Narnia, lol.


  5. I remember many library visits with my mom when I was a child and teenager. She reads so much and is still a member of the libraries of three towns. In Belgium, you could “only” take out five books per person and keep them for three weeks, hence the multiple library cards. I read a lot when I was young, but, even though I still enjoy this hobby, I rarely find time for it now. Instead of watching TV, I read blogs and leave comments. Way more than five a week. 🙂

    Thank you so much for mentioning “Plunge,”:Michele. I’m honored you picked my book as your first summer read and I really enjoyed your “review” here. It was my mission to pull readers into my story and evoke emotions as they come along for the ride.

    If anyone is interested in more information about “Plunge – One Woman’s Pursuit of a Life Less Ordinary,” feel free to have a look at

    The first three chapters can be read for free via the “Look inside” feature on Amazon:


    1. Thank you so much Liesbet. I was hoping that you would see the post and wasn’t sure how to get it to you. I had forgotten that you follow my blog and would see it when it popped up. Seveeeeeeeeeeeeeeral years ago, when our college junior grandson was under 10, we had given him books for Christmas. We were so tickled that he walked out of the room to the kitchen while reading, came back into the room with some cheetos, still reading. We knew it might have seemed rude to anyone else but we just celebrated the fact that he was a reader.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Corinne, when your committments wind down I would love to hear more. Are you still working with Hope Writers? I checked them out a bit bece I saw something about them on your site, and I took a short course, but in truth because of busyness, I haven’t followed up. Did not even finish the first video.


  6. Very nice to meet you here on the blog, Michelle! I live in southeastern MA myself. I love synchronicity because I was just in Onset visiting a friend, at Independence Point, a couple of days ago. I saw you lived in Onset in your “about me” section. I don’t think I am following anyone in Massachusetts, I am following you now and look forward to your blogs. I agree that writers need to be readers. I have loved reading since I was a young child. Now, being a psychotherapist, it is essential to stay on top of relevant health topics.
    Many Blessings,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. HI Lisa, nice to meet you here too, and thank you for following my blog. Curious about where you where in Point Independence, thought not asking you to give personal details. Before my parents bought the Union Villa (now the U.V. apartments) we lived in the piece of land on the corner of Maple Street. There is (now) a yellow house in the center and eight condo/cottages around the horseshoe. My dad built the original cottages in the late 40s early 50’s but they have been greatly improved over the years. There are a lot of stories about Onset, and my parents, Jack and Maggie, the Beach, the Canal, etc. and cannot wait to go back, hopefully this fall. You might find the post “A Short Trip to Onset is Better Than No Trip to Onset” interesting. Best and blessings, Michele


      1. There is alot of history there. My friend was telling me all about their neighborhood, when we visited. I looked up Maple St, it’s only 2 minutes away from their place. I will look into your blog post about Onset!
        Many Blessings

        Liked by 1 person

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