Summer is the season of outdoor BBQs, ice-cold drinks, splashing in the pool, lying by the beach — and for many of us, a time to catch up on our summer reading. Biola Magazine is here to help curate your book list with recommendations by our esteemed faculty.

Check out this eclectic list of must-read books — books from various academic disciplines, life-changing books, books you won’t be able to put down — and find the perfect one to read at the beach, at the park, on a plane or on your comfy couch in your air-conditioned living room.

Recommended by: Maria Su Wang, Assistant Professor of English

  • A Book I Couldn’t Put Down
    The Namesake
    , by Jhumpa Lahiri
    This is a novel about a particular Indian American family in the Northeast, but somehow it captures the immigrant experience in universal ways. I've read the novel many times and still cry every time.
  • Best Book for the Beach
    Atonement
    , by Ian McEwan
    I’m not sure this is what you might think of when you think of a “beach book,” but I did read this novel on a vacation to Maui many years ago and I couldn’t put it down. It’s a love story and a meditation on the power of the imagination and writing, as well as a tragedy, all set in the years prior to WWII in England. It’s lovely.
  • A Book Every Christian Should Read
    Silence, by Shusaku Endo
    The universal problem of where is God in the midst of suffering is explored in this novel within the context of the persecution of Japanese Christians in the 17th century, adding a multicultural twist to an enduring question.
  • A Book from My Academic Discipline
    Middlemarch, by George Eliot
    This is the best novel written in the English language of the 19th century. Period.
  • Favorite Classic
    Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
    Reading this novel my senior year in high school led me to choosing to become an English major!


Recommended by: Dean Yamada, Associate Professor of Cinema and Media Arts

  • A Book from My Academic Discipline
    Imagine
    , by Steve Turner
    As an artist and a filmmaker, I recommend this book to anyone who wants to explore the Christian’s role in art as well as his or her engagement with art.
  • A Book Every Christian Should Read
    The Divine Conspiracy, by Dallas Willard
    I took a class with Dallas Willard as an undergraduate at USC and recently decided to read two of his books, The Spirit of the Disciplines and The Divine Conspiracy. Both resonated deeply, but The Divine Conspiracy changed the way I pray.
  • Book I’m Currently Reading
    Creativity, Inc., by Ed Catmull
    If you love Pixar, you will love this book by one of Pixar's co-founders. It is about how the founders created a winning culture of collaboration and honesty within their company.
  • Favorite Classic
    To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
    As relevant today as when it was published in 1960. And yes, it’s better than the movie (even though I love both Gregory Peck and the musical score by Elmer Bernstein).
  • Best Book You Can Finish in a Day
    The Way of the Heart, by Henri Nouwen
    Biola faculty were given this book a few years ago, and Nouwen’s words on solitude, silence and prayer spoke deeply to my soul.

Recommended by: Arianna Molloy, Associate Professor of Communication Studies

  • A Book from My Academic Discipline
    Make Your Job a Calling, by Bryan Dik & Ryan Duffy
    My particular field of study is organizational communication (communication in and about the workplace), specifically looking at how we communicate about work as a calling. This is the best book that addresses work as a calling. It provides depth, but is easy to read. It’s written by two top vocational psychologists who provide steps to take when considering how to find work that feels like a calling, but also how to experience a sense of calling in the work you already do.
  • A Book Every Graduating Senior Should Read
    Sacred Pathways, by Gary Thomas
    I don’t know about you, but I love taking personality tests and learning more about how we all work! Sacred Pathways is like StrengthFinders or Myers-Briggs, but for your relationship with God. The author provides nine different ways we might experience closeness with God. At the end of each chapter, the reader takes a self-assessment that reveals the degree to which this approach rings true. It not only illuminated why I felt closer to God in certain spiritual practices, but helped me learn how to support different needs in those around me. I love this book!
  • A Book Every Graduating Senior Who is Single Should Read
    How to Get a Date Worth Keeping, by Henry Cloud
    After graduating college as a single person, I realized I had no idea how to date as an adult Christian. There are all sorts of weird rules that the Christian culture puts on dating, and ways of thinking that aren’t healthy or helpful. While the title may feel a little silly, this book was unbelievably helpful for me in my own dating journey. Later, I found out that my husband read it when he was single, too. I think that made a huge difference. The author shares how we can learn more about ourselves and our relationship with God when we know how to date in a healthy way. It’s like having your own personal dating coach.
  • Favorite Classic
    The Great Divorce, by C.S. Lewis
    If I was stranded on a desert island and could only choose one book from the classics to read over and over again, this would be the book! I read it about every three to four years. The metaphors and descriptions, the characters themselves, all speak right to my heart. It’s an unusual book, not thick in page numbers, but certainly deep and rich. It changes me just a little, every time I read it.
  • Favorite Book by a Colleague
    Polycentric Missiology, by Allen Yeh
    Even if I wasn’t married to this amazing man, I’d suggest this book! Yeh writes in a winsome, academic tone, describing his experience attending five internationally famous conferences about missions — one on every continent. He discusses an important shift in understanding missions, explaining that while it used to be “from the West to the rest,” it is now “from everyone to everywhere.”

Recommended by: Michael Longinow, Professor of Journalism

  • Best Audiobook
    Becoming Dallas Willard, by Gary Moon
    This audiobook was one my wife and I listened to during our drive from Atlanta to California last summer. It took me into the life of a thinker and believer that I’d been far distant from in the past. I heard Dallas at a faculty retreat a few years back — a retreat I helped organize. He took me aback then, and I was stunned at how this bland, dry lecturer could hold the entire gym at this university in the palm of his hand, or should I say God’s hand. This is a must-read (or listen) if you love Willard’s writing.
  • A Book from My Academic Discipline
    From Yahweh to Yahoo: The Religious Roots of the Secular Press, by Doug Underwood
    This book was the ammunition I’ve needed over the years with students, parents, family members — anyone who questions the moral basis for journalistic inquiry in a democracy and within a Christian context. Underwood’s historical research has resonance in the unfolding 21st century.
  • A Book I Couldn’t Put Down
    The Book of Lights, by Chaim Potok
    Chaim Potok has a perspective on cultures of faith rooted in a family structure I grew up with (Eastern European) that helps me look into my own upbringing. He has a clear-eyed grasp of how old-world faith tradition intersects with doubt, postmodern thinking and the life of the mind.
  • A Book That Changed My Mind
    To Know As We Are Known: Education as a Spiritual Journey, by Parker J. Palmer
    This book, given to me by Provost Deborah Taylor in a workshop years ago, took me to a whole new level of grasp of what it means to be in spiritual relationship with my students. Vulnerability to the teaching encounter is what this book explores. And it’s an intensely biblical exploration, yet one rooted in a psychology of learning. Fascinating and heartwarming (and not in a Hallmark way).
  • A Book Every Christian Should Read
    Power Through Prayer and Purpose in Prayer, Two Books in One, by E. M. Bounds
    This book was one among a few I read during a sabbatical a few years ago. Though some of it was review, I went beyond merely reading and took its ideas into real prayer adventures with God. I’m still on that journey of discovery.

Recommended by: Ken Berding, Professor of New Testament

  • A Book That Changed My Mind
    Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot, by Elisabeth Elliot
    This biography challenged my teenaged faith in more ways than I can list. In particular, it challenged me to pursue a single-minded devotion to Christ, think about becoming a missionary (which I did) and be willing to give my life for the sake of the gospel (which I hope I still am).
  • Favorite Book of the 2000s
    Safely Home, by Safely Home
    This book is a captivating novel that includes profound reflections on the persecution of Christians and heaven. It’s not only one of my favorite books of all time, but also a favorite of my wife and one of my adult daughters — and we all have very different taste in books.
  • Best Book You Can Finish in a Day
    A God-sized Vision: Revival Stories that Stretch and Stir, by Collin Hansen and John D. Woodbridge
    Two Christian historians explain how God has worked in the past as a way to encourage revival in the present.
  • Book Everyone Keeps Telling Me I Should Read, but Haven’t
    The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected, by Nik Ripken, with Gregg Lewis

Recommended by: Eundria Hill-Joseph, Assistant Professor of Sociology

  • A Book From My Academic Discipline
    The Souls of Black Folk (Unabridged), by W. E. B. Du Bois
    Du Bois, an American sociologist and founder of the NAACP, gives a lens into the experience of black America with poetic prose and an unapologetic claim that even a marginalized people possesses rights and dignity conferred by God alone. Every believer who supports racial reconciliation in the U.S. will gain greater insight into the work that has been done and the work that is yet to be done through the reading of Du Bois’ pivotal work
  • A Book That Changed My Mind
    This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (Fourth Edition), edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa
    An anthology of essays by impactful activists and scholars who are women of color, this book gave and continues to give voice to experiences that many of us leave unspoken. I recommend this collection for every reader regardless of sex or race/ethnicity who wants to “hear and understand,” which is the first step of being a true ally or friend.
  • Best Book to Read With Your Family
    Nightjohn, by Gary Paulsen
    A story of an enslaved African American man who risks everything to teach other enslaved people to read and write. This piece of juvenile fiction encapsulates why I love to learn and teach. Nightjohn reminds us that education for many is a hard-earned privilege not to be stored up but to be shared with others.
  • Best Books to Remind You to Enjoy Life’s Simple Pleasures
    The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series, by Alexander McCall Smith
    Morality tales masquerading as detective capers, these books are set in contemporary Botswana and offer a simple escape from the day-to-day negativity we experience and witness in media. With attention to the minor and major moral failings of otherwise good people, each book in the series reminds us to simply do better and be better one day at a time.

Six Books for Leaders

Recommended by Jeff McHugh and Jake Aguas, Associate Professors, Crowell School of Business

  • Contemporary Leadership and Intercultural Competence, edited by Michael A. Moodian
  • HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Managing Across Cultures, by Harvard Business Review
  • Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-lived, Joyful Life, by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
  • The Five Dysfunctions of A Team: A Leadership Fable, by Patrick Lencioni
  • Dare to Serve: How to Drive Superior Results by Serving Others, by Cheryl Bachelder
  • Servant Leadership in Action: How You Can Achieve Great Relationships and Results, edited by Ken Blanchard and Renee Broadwell


Three Books We’re Currently Reading

  • Becoming, by Michelle Obama
    This is a great read because it is an opportunity to learn more about an influential first lady and someone who lived through a time of deep and dividing discrimination. This book gives you a window into the life a person who is committed to making life better for others. (Recommended by Carolyn Bishop, Associate Professor and Director of Elementary Education)
  • All You Can Ever Know, by Nicole Chung
    This is a book about adoption from a Korean adoptee’s perspective. Nicole has a deeply reflective and empathetic voice that draws the reader in immediately. It has gotten fantastic reviews and is short-listed for many prestigious book prizes. I have the honor of knowing her via social media, and she is extremely gracious. (Recommended by Nancy Wang Yuen, Associate Professor of Sociology).
  • Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, by Adam Grant
    Being original is often very ordinary. What sets original thinkers apart from others is that they don’t limit their ordinary ideas; they move forward. This book provides useful concepts for entrepreneurs, managers and even parents desiring to raise kids who are not afraid to act. (Recommended by Laureen Mgrdichian, Associate Professor of Marketing)


Two Books for Creative Types (and those who wish they were)

Recommended by Daniel Chang, Associate Professor of Graphic Design

  • The Senses: Design Beyond Vision, edited by Ellen Lupton and Andrea Lipps
  • Design: The Invention of Desire, by Jessica Helfand