Ah summer … ah books


By Melissa Miller, secretary of MennoMedia board

Musician Frank Zappa lamented, “So many books, so little time!” For some of us, summer slows down enough that we can indulge in our love of reading, nearly to our heart’s content. I am one of the fortunate few who finds enough time for books during the warm months of the year, and even more fortunately, a professional obligation to read.

Herald Press often fills the bill. This summer that has included the lighter, yet still meaningful fare from the Plainspoken series, Called to be Amish: From Head Majorette to the Old Order (by Marlene C. Miller) & Chasing the Amish Dream: My Life as a Young Amish Bachelor (by Loren Beachy)

CalledToBeAmish ChasingTheAmishDream

I’ve enjoyed these up close reflections from writers who speak out of their personal experiences. I’ve had little contact with Amish over the years, except through visits with my in-laws in the Amish-saturated Kishacoquillas Valley of Pennsylvania (where there are actually four separate tribes of Amish among the 13,000 inhabitants).

For denser material, and to aid in sermon preparation, I am working my through the Believers’ Church Biblical Commentary on John by Willard Swartley. I am grateful for the work that Swartley and other scholars do on our behalf, bringing the riches of their research and knowledge to us that we may deepen our understanding and appreciation for the treasures of the Bible.

BCBC JohnJohn has been one of those books I have puzzled over with its complex, intertwined themes. As one professor said, “John is like a bowl of spaghetti. You try to pick out one noodle (one theme) in a passage, and the whole mess comes out with it.” Swartley’s diligent, loving exegesis enables me to identify the different themes in “the pasta bowl”. It also leads me to appreciate the biblical author’s extraordinary skill and passionate call to faith in Jesus.

Last fall, when I jumped into teaching Sunday School with our church’s young children, I was delighted with the still-new Shine curriculum. In the busy-ness of life, I had just a few moments to skim the teacher’s manual, Shine Together: The Essential Guide for Leaders and Teachers.

ShineTogetherWhat I encountered there warmed my heart and brought tears to my eyes, like these words from the introduction, “Let children’s imagination, sense of mystery, creativity, and boldness inspire Christ’s church today…Children’s spiritual wisdom can be found in the midst of exuberant play, settling arguments, work, mealtimes, and conversation. The child’s spiritual learning environment is everywhere, anytime. Where the child is, God is already there.” (p 9)

With the slower pace of summer, I look forward to savoring the manual’s nuggets mined from the writers’ deep faith and insight.

May your summer include gems such as these. And thanks to MennoMedia for continuing to provide them!


To purchase any of the above books or other resources, check the store. (Although currently closed through June 30 for inventory. Sorry. But sign up here to receive timely email news and specials from MennoMedia and Herald Press)


What is on your reading list for this summer? Anything from Herald Press or MennoMedia? We’d love to hear and may feature your comments in a follow up post or on Facebook. 

MelissaMillerPorchSwingCroppedMelissa Miller fulfills some of her love of summer reading while seated on a swing (ted by her husband from Pennsylvania oak) at her Winnipeg, Manitoba home. She is a Canadian member, and secretary of, the MennoMedia board.