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World Magazine: Summer Reading for Refreshment

To guide your summer getaway book selections, try this formula: E=FB2

by MARVIN OLASKY illustration by Krieg Barrie

June 29, 2019 World Magazine Pages: 34-39

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I tend to walk on beaches rather than sit on them, but my suggested formula for those who read as

the tide rolls in is E=FB2, with E standing for entertainment (which is sometimes educational),

F for fiction, and B for Bible and baseball.

My top fiction recommendation is a clever series from InterVarsity Press that combines readable plots (featuring gutsy Christians) with explanations of the ancient world that can deepen understanding of New Testament writing. The series includes A Week in the Life of Corinth, A Week in the Fall of Jerusalem, A Week in the Life of a Roman Centurion, and A Week in the Life of Rome (2012-2019) by theology professors Ben Witherington III (the first two), Gary Burge, and James Papandrea.

I’ve learned much about first-century customs without picking up any ancient swear words or breaking a sweat while carrying the 160-page paperbacks on the beach. A new book is due out on July 2: John Byron’s A Week in the Life of a Slave.

Sandy Barwick, who every three months writes a WORLD page about fiction from Christian publishers, says “most Christian fiction seems to be written for women from a woman’s perspective.”

She praises three such novels

for beachgoers:

  • Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan (Thomas Nelson, 2018)

  • The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers (Tyndale, 2018),

  • The Space Between Words by MichèlePhoenix (Thomas Nelson, 2017).

In past years I’ve read and enjoyed novels by Angela Hunt (The Novelist, WestBow, 2006) and some male Christian authors: Tim Downs, Steven James, Ray Keating, and John K. Reed.