Summer Reading Recommendations ~ 2018 Edition

Today is a holiday in the United States and a day off from work is certain to evoke reminders that the summer leisure season is upon us. Without neglecting responsibilities, summer begins a time to drawback on duties. At the very least it becomes a time to maintain a more casual pace through days of vacations, evenings of relaxation, and weekends of recreation even in the midst of increased responsibility with children at home, maintaining yard work, and continuing deadlines at work. Hopefully, those leisure activities will include time for reading, perhaps the summer can be a time to take a break from the ‘required’ reading and look for some more casual reads for the sake of enjoyment.
In hopes of provoking others to read more, I look forward to being able to recommend various books. However, summer is a special time because it puts me out of my element by forcing me to look at books outside of the Christian studies discipline. This is the one time of the year that I try to make recommendations from different genres so as to encourage people to step outside of their comfort zones.
With that said then, here is my list of summer reading recommendations, the 2018 edition (in no particular order):
  1. Hue 1968 by Mark Bowden: Author of Black Hawk Down, Mark Bowden narrates the Battle of Hue an event that took place on January 31, 1968. Bowden suggests that the cost of 10,000 lives became a major turning point in the United States handling of the Vietnam War.
  2. The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World by Simon Winchester: Another author well-known for his literary accomplishments, Winchester steps outside normal writings to bring a unique book. Not only does the author examine some of the engineering marvels and solutions that shaped history, but he brings in a philosophical aspect by examining the process of precision and the impact our covetousness of precision can have (note: a missing element from this book is that God’s created all things good, thus precise, and does not acknowledge the introduction of precision because of man’s sin. Therefore, if you read this book, it is more fascinating if you do so by keeping in mind God’s perfection, God’s creation, and man’s sinfulness).
  3. World War II at Sea: A Global History by Craig L. Symonds: A lengthy read, Symonds covers the major naval engagements of World War II demonstrating the naval influence on a grand scale. Symonds is an award-winning author with a number of works attributed to his name, so this book is certainly enticing to pick up.
  4. Scalia Speaks: Reflections on Law, Faith, and Life Well Lived by Antonin Scalia: Justice Antonin Scalia’s death brought a lot of scrutiny to the political parties because it unexpectedly created an opportunity for a new court appointment. However, more important than that is a reflection of the legacy the Scalia leaves behind. A view of that legacy can be seen in this collection of speeches given by him. Organized thematically, the speeches have been collected and sorted by his own son, Christopher Scalia.
  5. Unlikely General: Mad Anthony Wayne and the Battle for America by Mary Stockwell: A man ejected from Congress for electoral fraud, Anthony Wayne was chosen by President Washington to lead an army of men into battle. His known character traits make him an unexpected heroin yet it was he who led an important victory in the Battle of Fallen Timbers. Mary Stockwell renews the narrative on a forgotten man.
  6. The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels by Jon Meacham: Meacham’s notoriety immediately draws attention to the book just for being a proven author. The book is certain to draw a response from readers (both positive and negative) for his portrayals. However, keeping that in mind there are interesting points and lessons to learn. Meacham looks through United States history to convey how even in the most difficult of times heroes have emerged to lead and to garner a view towards progress and salvation from the hostilities that seek to encumber it.
  7. Richard III: England’s Most Controversial King by Chris Skidmore: The discovery of Richard III’s body in 2012 (can it be that long ago?) has sparked more interest into this controversial figure. Skidmore, who is a member of the English parliament and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society, seeks to reexamine the historical characterization of Richard III.
  8. Grant by Ron Chernow: Ron Chernow authored the book Alexander Hamilton, known for its influence on the Broadway play as much as it is for being a book looking into the life of a man. In this behemoth of a book (more than 1,000 pages), readers will be taken through the life of Grant and delve into some of the most personal aspects of the general’s life.
  9. The Jersey Brothers: A Missing Naval Officer in the Pacific and His Family’s Quest to Bring Him Home by Sally Mott Freeman:  Glimpse World War II through the lives of three brothers. While a story about varying events that each was involved in, this is also the story of a family as they search for one brother who is wounded and goes missing.
  10. Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th Century New York by Stacy Horn: Before it was known as Roosevelt Island in New York’s East River, the island was host to an array of institutions for the rejected of society. Horn narrates an unknown world and its characters.
Finally, here are some quick honorable mentions. These are books that I am intrigued by myself, but avoided included them in the ‘top ten’ list. So, it is warranted that I follow-up with the obligatory catch-all list. So here are two other books worth considering:
Please note that a book’s inclusion on this list does not mean I agree with all the premises but as always, I urge readers to read with caution, expecting possible bias and sensationalization. Therefore, always read these books in light of an informed biblical worldview.

Photo, “Reading-Connemara, Ireland” courtesy of user Giuseppe Milo and Flickr.