One of the great dangers of reading is that it has the propensity to remove ignorance. Explicit in that expression is the idea that books challenge us to learn, think about what is learned, and then apply it. Implicitly the expression conveys that readers are humble enough to not dismiss notions that may contradict their own notions while being discerning enough to know when the material is misleading. As summer, and summer vacations, approach now is a good time to dive into some books that one may not otherwise read.
While I spend the majority of the year reviewing and recommending (sometimes) Christian books, I look forward to this time of the year. This is a time in which I can review and assess books that have been released in the past year, making recommendations for some ‘lighter’ reads. Paul exhorts believers to glorify God in all that they do (1 Corinthians 10:31) and while our reading should always be prioritized in the order of the Bible, reading about the Bible (theology, Christian living, etc.) and then everything else, we can glorify God in all of our reading. The books in this list are an opportunity to learn about people, learn lessons, and consider God’s involvement and truth. Therefore, after scouring some of the books released since last summer, here is a quick recommendation of some books for your beach reads (or mountain reads, or patio reads, or wherever you find relaxation this summer). In no particular order, the list includes (click the titles to learn more about the books):
- In the Hurricane’s Eye: The Genius of George Washington and the Victory at Yorktown by Nathaniel Philbrick: Philbrick continues to offer an account about specific facets of the American Revolutionary War, this time focusing on George Washington and his reliance upon sea engagements in order to advance.
- Unlikely General: ‘Mad’ Anthony Wayne and the Battle for America by Mary Stockwell: Anthony Wayne was an obscure figure in United States history whose military might was overshadowed by his antics, some of which caused him to be ejected from Congress and labelled as ‘mad.’
- The Pioneers by David McCullough: When David McCullough writes, we read. This most recent book engages readers with the telling of the settling of what became the midwest states. He does so through the telling of stories of five individuals, sharing their struggles, character, and activities the so profoundly impacted that particular area.
- The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777 by Rick Atkinson: A Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Atkinson writes of the United States struggle for freedom by covering the revolution years of 1775-1777 and the decisive events, both the good and the bad, that defined so much of what the nation would become. It appears that Atkinson has plans for doing a series as this is noted as book one in the Revolution Trilogy.
- John Marshall: The Man Who Made the Supreme Court by Richard Brookhiser: A simple chronicle of John Marshall, who served as the longest supreme court justice (34 years).
- The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King: This biography of reverend and children’s program figure Fred Rogers has received much attention, and so there is little that is needed to be said.
- Sacred Duty: A Soldier’s Tour of Arlington National Cemetery by Tom Cotton: This book is unique among many being published in that the author focuses on something often seen, but rarely considered. The detail and the duty of honoring those who have fallen. Cotton takes a look at the Old Guard, examining not just the task bestowed, but the ideal that gives weight to the task.
- Them: Why We Hate Each Other and How to Heal by Ben Sasse: After having read The Vanishing American Adult, Ben Sasse has become a must read author in my rotation. With the division and hatred incited in our current culture combined with Ben Sasse’s profound insight, this book proves to offer some cultural wisdom.
Perhaps, because of my interest in history, these recommendations are of not great variety. Yet, there is significant enough variation that hopefully, readers can pinpoint an interest and book that may intrigue them.
Still want something more? Perhaps a solid Christian book? The following two books are exceptional and would make great reads:
- None Greater: The Undomesticated Attributes of God by Matthew Barrett: I reviewed this book a couple of months ago and was greatly pleased by it. Enough that I have stopped reading it and plan on utilizing as a deeper Bible study when I return home. It may take you all summer, but you will be rewarded for your commitment. Read the review by clicking here.
- Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon by Ray Rhodes, Jr.: By far, one of the best biographies I have read in quite some time. It is one that I recommend to anyone, whether it be your beachside reading in the summer or your fireside reading in the winter. You can read my previous review of it by clicking here.
Either of these books would be an encouragement to your own spiritual life.
It must be noted that my mention of the books here is not a blanket recommendation. I have not had time to read these books myself. Instead, this is a curated list of carefully chosen books based on the topics, the authors, and the research that would likely be reads that can positively influence a reader’s life by cultivating knowledge. I suspect that if each of us reading this would commit to reading just one book this summer, not only would we be rewarded by that particular book, but it would form a habit and generate a unique joy causing us to continue reading into the fall, winter, and spring as well. Take a moment, look at the books, and then commit; I cannot encourage that enough. So enjoy your summer and enjoy your reading, doing it for God’s glory and your good!