A Better Suggested Summer Reading List Than Keith’s

The slower days of summer, and particularly summer vacations, have always been one of my favorite times of the year to read books that I find entertaining as much as educational. To me that means it’s a great time for biographies and narrative histories that both entertain and inform. Whether by sitting down and enjoying a relaxing time of reading, or by listening to audio books while traveling or working out, there are some really good biographies and narrative histories out there that I think you’d enjoy this summer. Here is a list of some of the books I’ve found to be most enjoyable and great for summer reading or listening. All of these are books that I’ve particularly loved reading in summers past.

Lincoln, by David Herbert Donald
For many reasons, Abraham Lincoln has always been one of the weightiest and more complex figures in American history, and this book is one of the most interesting and engaging biographies I’ve ever read. It’s an impressive but realistic picture of this intriguing and peculiar man, warts and all. When this biography eventually culminates in the events of Lincoln’s assassination (sorry to reveal the end of the book), I was sad for days as if I really lost a friend. That’s how much Lincoln seems to come alive as a real person in this book. If you like history and biographies, I think you’ll love Donald’s Lincoln.

John Adams, by David McCullough
If you’re looking for a good audio book, I highly recommend this one (the audio book is an abridged version, but still about 9 hours if I remember right). It’s read by Edward Herrmann, who is one of the best biography/history audio book readers out there. Or if you want to read instead of listen, the book is now in paperback and easily available because of the recent release of the HBO series on DVD of the same title that was based upon this book. It is a very interesting and fascinating story about one of our nations little known but most admirable founding fathers.

Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C., by Peter Green.
Apart from Jesus and the apostle Paul, I honestly can’t think of an historical figure that has influenced our world’s history as much as Alexander the Great. This enthralling story of Alexander the Great makes you forget you’re learning history rather than just reading a great story. And an added benefit to this story is that you’ll gain a better understanding of just why the New Testament was written in ancient Greek and just why Christianity could spread so vast so fast between so many different peoples and nations all sharing a common language.

The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom
A real “page-turner,” as they say, this true story is a favorite for both men and women alike. My wife was so touched by it a few years ago that she convinced me that it was a book I’d love. Not that I don’t believe my wife when she tells me that I too will love certain things she loves, but I was very skeptical when I started reading this book (after all, how excited can a guy get reading a book written by someone named Corrie Ten Boom?). I kept putting it off because the idea that my wife and I would equally enjoy the same book seemed unlikely. I was wrong—way wrong! From the start this book is captivating, and it kept me riveted all the way to the end. And I didn’t want it to end. What’s best about this unique book is that this true story brings back to life a world of deep family love, Nazi cruelty, and God’s sovereign mercy all at once. It educates and inspires on so many levels while it grips you with a great story. A must read at some point in your life, even if not this summer.

The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life, by Dr. Armond M. Nicholi
One of my favorite books that provides some interesting biographical insights into the lives of two of the twentieth century’s most influential minds, while making you wrestle in your own mind about the reality of God. This is such a good book if you enjoy listening to intelligent discussions, but it is not really a philosophical book as much as two stories about two lives with two different narratives about the human story. Renowned documentary filmmaker Ken Burns says it best about this book on the jacket cover: “Nicholi has hit the nail on the head with this irresistible, expertly told story. Here in the lives of two real and recognizable geniuses can be found our own longing and search. I couldn’t put it down.” I completely agree.

The Gospel According to the Beatles, by Steve Turner
If you like the Beatles, I think you’ll really like this interesting book, written by a British journalist who came to faith in Christ through Francis Schaeffer’s L’Abri ministry (and Schaeffer’s influence is evident in the approach by this book). The Beatles mesmerized an entire generation. And the story of the Beatles in many ways encapsulates the story of post-modern man. Their rebellion against old, dead forms of authority, their living for pleasure, fame, and wealth, their eventual searching for transcendence trough mind-altering drugs and eastern religion—all ultimately made four incredible lives as empty as ever. To me the story of the Beatles is one of the best evidences for the truthfulness of the Christian faith. The Beatles’ lives were the spiritual journey lived on the far edges of everything under the sun. Filled with stories and quotes you’ve never known before, the kind of particular interest to the Christian, this book will take you on your own mini-journey through the extremes of the sixties and the quest of the human soul. And if you really want to make this summer your own little Summer of Love, read this book after reading what is, in my opinion, a very good overall biography on the Beatles, which is Bob Spitz’s The Beatles.

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