Ten Christian books for the summer holidays

For all our enthusiasms for the web, Twitter, Facebook and now Google+, we think books are brilliant.

If you're heading away to the sun, or just grabbing a few days off, reading a book to encourage you in your faith can turn a break into something even more deeply refreshing.

It can be baffling to know where to start, so here are our top ten suggestions from a variety of perspectives:

1. Women and Men in Scripture and the Church - A Guide to the Key Issues Authors: Steven Croft, Paula Gooder

What does it say about the place of women in the Christian faith that, at a time when they had little social status, they were the first witnesses of the resurrection and the first to be commissioned by Jesus to carry the good news? Women went on to exercise a significant ministry in the early Church, but not without debate about the respective roles of women and men in society, church and family - a debate that continues to divide the Church today. The heart of the question is not whether women should exercise a particular ministry. It is about how we view each other as sisters and brothers within the Body of Christ, how we structure our family lives, and how we relate to the wider world. This accessible guide will enable readers to look again honestly and carefully at what the Bible says about the roles of men and women in family life, in ministry and in society.

2. Choice, desire and the will of God: What more do you want? Author: David Runcorn

In this text, David Runcorn talks openly and honestly about the real problems experienced in life. Runcorn looks at the implications of free will, its excitements and its burdens. He also faces head-on tough questions of desire, of feeling overwhelmed, of feeling far from God. His writing should attract those looking for a deeper prayer life and a faith with true integrity.

3. Faith in the Public Square Author: Rowan Williams

In this, the final published work of his Archepiscopate, Dr Williams has assembled a series of chapters on matters of immediate public concern and the relationship of Christianity to these issues. Among his topics are ’Has Secularism Failed?: Europe, Faith and Culture’, ’Human Rights and Religious Faith’, Changing the Myths We Live By’, ’Housekeeping: The Economic Challenge’, ’The Gifts Reserved for Age: Perceptions of the Elderly’, and ’Analysing Atheism’.

It isn't an argument that Christianity is true - because how could anyone know that (or indeed its opposite)? It's an argument that Christianity is recognisable, drawing on the deep and deeply ordinary vocabulary of human feeling, satisfying those who believe in it by offering a ruthlessly realistic account of the bits of our lives advertising agencies prefer to ignore. It's a book for believers who are fed up with being patronised, for non-believers curious about how faith can possibly work in the twenty-first century, and for anyone who feels there is something indefinably wrong, literalistic, anti-imaginative and intolerant about the way the atheist case is now being made. Fresh, provoking and unhampered by niceness, this is the long-awaited riposte to the smug emissaries of New Atheism.

5. What am I Doing Here? A Beginner's Guide to Church Authors: Hilary Brand, Dave Walker

Have you ever wondered what church is all about? Ever found yourself in a service wondering what on earth is going on? And what the point of it all is? Whether you're completely new to church or have been coming to church for a while, this little book is here to help you! With a down-to-earth style and subtle humour, What Am I Doing Here? takes you through an Anglican Holy Communion service, demystifying what happens - and why. Subjects covered include: What are you doing here?: The need to meet your maker Worship: The need to celebrate and count our blessings Confession: The need for accounting procedures and a clean slate Sermons: The need for wise words and challenging questions The Creed: The need for a basic belief system Prayer: The need to engage with the wider world and ask for help The Peace: The need to live in right relationship with others Holy Communion: The need for strength, comfort and delight Being sent out and the after-church chat: The need to share the journey.

6. Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality Author: Richard Rohr

In this exploration of central themes of Scripture, Richard Rohr transforms the written word, discovering in these ancient texts a new and vital meaning, relevant and essential for modern Christians. He uncovers what the Bible says about morality, power, wisdom and the generosity of God in a manner that demands a life-changing response from believers. Rohr offers his readers a Christian vision of abundance, grace and joy to counteract a world filled with scarcity, judgment and fear a vision that can revolutionize how we relate to ourselves, others and the world.

7. Creation, Power and Truth: The Gospel in a World of Cultural Confusion Author: Tom Wright

Tom Wright raises searching questions about three key aspects of our culture: neo-gnosticism, neo-imperialism, and postmodernity. Employing a robust Trinitarian framework, he invites the reader to reconsider key aspects of the biblical story while drawing out unexpected connections between ancient and contemporary world-views. The result is an incisive critique of common cultural assumptions and controlling narratives, past and present, and a clarion call for Christians to give fresh voice to God's truth in today's intellectual and political arenas. Essential reading for all who want to understand how the Gospel can be heard clearly in a world of doubt , scepticism and confusion.

8.  Mere Christianity Author: C S Lewis

In 1943, when hope and the moral fabric of society in Britain were threatened by the relentless inhumanity of global war, an Oxford don was invited to give a series of radio lectures addressing the central issues of Christianity. Over half a century after the original lectures, the topic retains its urgency. Expanded into book form, Mere Christianity never flinches as it sets out a rational basis for Christianity and builds an edifice of compassionate morality atop this foundation. As Mr Lewis clearly demonstrates, Christianity is not a religion of flitting angels and blind faith, but of free will, an innate sense of justice and the grace of God.

9. God at Work: Living Every Day with Purpose Author: Ken Costa

As an investment banker in the City of London, Ken Costa has read The Financial Times and the Bible almost every day for thirty years. To Ken Costa, the God who created and sustains the world is also the God of the workplace. If the Christian faith is not relevant to the workplace, it is not relevant at all. Fully updated for this new edition.

10. The Bible

Until the advent of e-book readers, it was quite a chore to pack a whole Bible for a holiday trip. A decade ago, those who found themselves incarcerated in hotel rooms due to sunburn might have been able to find a Gideon Bible in the bedside drawers but sadly, that can't be relied on anymore. Still, there's no reason not to read God's word while you're away. Ask one of our ministry team for a free single-gospel paperback that will turn a dull flight into something richly rewarding, or try an electronic Bible in a fresh translation.