Vacation Reading: What does a Student in Theology Read on Vacation?


Dear Friends and Family,

As you’ve either seen from my wife’s blog or my reposting here and here, Lauren and I were on vacation last week. This was a kind of early anniversary gift to ourselves. We haven’t been on a vacation since we moved here in 2011, so we decided to go the Lake District. I have to be honest, Lauren planned the whole thing and did an amazing job. I didn’t want to leave. I could have stared into those fells and walked round those lakes all day every day for the rest of my life.

Those of you who know me, know that I love to read, and not just theology. So that begs the question, what did I take to read on this vacation? I decided early on that I wouldn’t take any research reading with me. I wanted my time spent reading to be a time of intellectual and spiritual renewal, not a time spent worrying about my work. I brought five books in total with me.


As I wrote here, my usual routine is to get up every morning at five and begin the day with prayer and Scripture reading. Now, to be completely honest, I was not up and moving at five once on our vacation. My usual wake up time was between six and seven. I still, however, tried to start with Scripture reading and prayer and thus, my Bible was the first of the five books.

The second book was Augustine’s Sermons on the Liturgical SeasonsI’ve been, quite rightly, reading his sermons from Eastertide. I have to admit, I still find the topics covered by ancient preachers refreshing. I wish we had more sermons that dealt with the importance of the incarnation, the Trinity, and so on and how those things affect our daily lives. I definitely recommend giving these sermons a peruse.

The third book, discounting both my devotional and personal journals, was William Morris’s The Wood beyond the World (click the link to see my review). Ever since I began reading biographies on C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien I have wanted to read this book. Well, now I have and can highly recommend it.

Over the past few months I have been slowly working my way through William Wordsworth poetry, at least everything that’s included in the Selected Poems of William WordsworthI brought Wordsworth along not only because I like poetry, but because I have a profound appreciation for poetry but because Wordsworth grew up in the Lake District, but he died in Ambleside. Now, sadly, we did not get a chance to go to Dove Cottage, but still, there was something wonderful in reading Wordsworth’s poetry in the Lake District, that area that inspire many of his poems.

The final book that came on this journey with me was A Book of Strife in the Form of The Diary of an Old soul by George MacDonald. This book is a collection of prayers in the form of poetry, one for every day of the year (in a leap year). These prayers were moving and earnest. They reminded me of my sinfulness, the greatness attached to humanity because of the Image in which we were made, and God’s mercy and justice.

See my wife’s blog for all the beautiful things we saw and did. I would have to write a story or poetry of my own (and I may do both) to express how renewing and sublime this trip was for me beyond the reading. Suffice it to say that in the end a combination of the books I brought, the landscapes I breathed in, and the companion with whom I shared all these experiences I have come back refreshed and ready to begin again at my work. Nevertheless, there will now always be a longing in my heart for the Lake District and the little village of Ambleside.