Each year around this time, I offer ten titles - in no particular order – from the previous twelve months for your summer reading consideration, usually with an emphasis on cultural understanding. Enjoy.
The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann. A fascinating page-turner that is part history, part mystery, part adventure, part biography, and part journalistic immersion that tells the life of one of the more intriguing characters in exploration history, Percy Harrison Fawcett – not to mention a picture of an era that will surely prevent lives such as Fawcett’s being experienced again.
Abraham Lincoln by James McPherson. This is arguably the best short biography every written of Lincoln, released on the 200th anniversary of his birth, by one of the leading Lincoln historians.
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. If you read everything Gladwell writes, which I do, you will find this better than Blink, but a bit below The Tipping Point - but vintage Gladwell and well worth the read.
Revelation: A Matthew Shardlake Mystery by C.J. Sansom. If you are a Sansom fan, you are ready to devour this fourth installment in the Shardlake series. If Sansom is unknown to you, do not delay another day in introducing yourself to this series (begin with Dissolution). But read fast – Revelation is one of his best. Set in Tudor history (1500s), filled with political and religious intrigue, Sansom is simply one of the best historical mystery writers of our day.
The Third Reich at War by Richard J. Evans. This completes Evans majestic trilogy, and together with the first two volumes, provides the new standard.
Questions of Truth: Fifty-one Responses to Questions about God, Science and Belief by John Polkinghorne and Nicholas Beale. Sane, balanced, reasoned engagement for those serious about faith and science. And highly accessible.
Tribes: We need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin. This is the best book by Godin since Purple Cow. Though he writes as a marketer, his books offer insight into the nature of how our culture thinks. There is a new form of leadership that Godin exposes in Tribes that is well worth understanding. This really is an important book for anyone wishing to be a change-agent.
The Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us and What We Can Do About It by Joshua Cooper Ramo. Designed to change the physics of how we think, Ramo often succeeds. Likened by many to Gladwell, Ramo’s argument is that real influence comes today from outside of elite circles. Drawing from history, economics, complexity theory, psychology, human immunology and the science of networks, it’s a fascinating read.
Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith by Shane Hipps. Part Neil Postman, part Marshall McLuhan, this is an enlightening book on a very important topic.
God is Back: How the Global Revival of Faith is Changing the World by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge. Two Economist writers explore how, and why, faith is exploding around the world, including its effects on the global economy, politics, and more. Intriguingly, one of the authors is a Catholic, and the other an atheist, providing a balanced and lively exploration.
James Emery White