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June 20, 2007
Every year, when summer approaches, we begin to hear about summer reading lists. I am uncertain if this is a throwback to days gone by or if people really do try to set aside a few books to read over the course of a summer. Or perhaps it is only students who do this as they take a brief break from their studies. Certainly I always have great plans when I head away on a vacation, but life typically gets in the way and I never do as much reading as I had planned.
So let me ask you: do you intend to put together a summer reading list? If so, what do you hope to read this summer?
Since I read a whole lot I thought it might be helpful if I provided a few suggestions. So here they are, focusing on books that have been published recently (and that I have already read and reviewed).
Summer reading wouldn’t be complete without at least one good biography. Because 2007 happens to be the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in Great Britain, we are seeing new biographies of some of the key players in that battle.
Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery by Eric Metaxas chronicles the life of William Wilberforce, the key player in the fight against slavery.
Jonathan Aitken’s John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace is a biography of John Newton who, in many ways, served as a mentor to Wilberforce, encouraging him and joining him in the fight.
If you want to attempt to make your way through a big, deep book this summer, Steve Lawson’s Foundations of Grace, the first in his A Long Line of Godly Men series may be just the thing.
I do not read enough fiction, but one title I have enjoyed is Suite Francais the recently-discovered novel from French author Irene Nemirovsky who, shortly after completing it in 1942, was shipped to Auschwitz where she died. Intended to be a five-part series, this book combines the only two portions she was able to complete before her death.
I don’t know how often I can recommend Nathaniel Philbrick’s Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War but I must be nearing the limit. It really is an excellent book and a great account of the earliest settlers of the United States.
Same Kind of Different as Me is a great choice for some light but impactful reading when you’re too tired or too relaxed to read anything that requires you to think deeply and to reach for your highlighters. It is, as the subtitle says, the true story of “A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together.”
If you want to read a book that has been a fixture on the bestseller lists, or are stuck at the airport and have only a small selection of books available to you, why not try Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. It tells the story of a boy who was drafted into military service in Sierra Leone where he witnessed and participated in the horrific violence in that nation. If that isn’t there, grab anything by David McCullough. There is bound to be at least one or two of his titles available.
What I’ll Be Reading
Since I asked about what you’ll be reading this summer, I’ll answer my own question and tell you some of the things I’ll be reading. Because of my responsibilities with Discerning Reader, I will no doubt be reading a whole lot. But here are a few of the more popular titles I hope to polish off in the next month or two.
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. As little as I want to read this one, I know I should just to keep up with the anti-God sentiment so popular in books these days. So I’ll read this and then read Alister McGrath’s response to it.
Einstein: His Life and Universe is a new biography of Einstein that has been published to great acclaim. I know absolutely nothing about the man and look forward to learning more about him. The book looks excellent.
John Adams by David McCullough. I greatly enjoyed McCullough’s book 1776 and am sure I’ll like this one just as much. It is, by all accounts, one of those “wish it would never end” biographies. I haven’t heard from anyone who didn’t enjoy it thoroughly so I’ve got high expectations for it.
The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism by Michael Behe looks like an interesting follow-up to his previous books dealing with intelligent design. This is one that is bound to have mostly five-star and one-star reviews at Amazon. People are either going to love it or hate it.