Summer is here in full force with Fourth of July and sweltering heat. So forget about work and consider these reads recommended by our staff. Perfect for a sunny day or riding out a hurricane.
Also, you can view our recommendations from 2022 for more options.
By Matthew McConaughey
Recommended by Mike Ridaught
Alright, alright, alright.
Those three words were the first uttered by actor Matthew McConaughey on his first movie set, “Dazed and Confused,” in 1993. They weren’t scripted, as he tells in his book, “Greenlights,” but they became iconic.
While at times a somewhat strange dude, the Academy Award-winning actor has lived life to the fullest.
From being an exchange student in Australia for a year to embarking on a 21-day solo trip to Peru, there never seemed to be a dull moment in his flamboyant lifestyle.
He chronicles his experiences in his book, “Greenlights,” based on journals he kept over 36 years. He spent 12 days without electricity and another 40 in the desert with a small generator while writing this book.
“This is a book about how to catch more YESs in a world of NOs and how to recognize when a NO might actually be a YES,” McConaughey said. “This is a book about catching green lights and realizing that the yellow and the reds eventually turn green.”
His Excellency: George Washington
By Joseph J. Ellis
Recommended by J.C. Derrick
Bitter partisanship. Conspiracy theories. Administration infighting. Whispers about a president’s age and mental competency.
These themes might seem fit for a book set in the present, but they actually played out in the very first presidential administration. In “His Excellency: George Washington,” historian Joseph J. Ellis paints a vivid picture of our nation’s first president, charting his path from a young soldier in the British army to his time as commander in chief of the Continental Army—and what he thought was his retirement to Mount Vernon after the Revolutionary War.
Despite his best efforts to stay above the fray, in the final decade of his life Washington experienced all the trappings of modern political life that today’s Americans know so well. It turns out the dawn of the two-party system was just as rough and tumble as it is now—even for a man who had already achieved legendary status.
The Sun Also Rises
By Ernest Hemingway
Recommended by Olivia Hanna
A classic story by Ernest Hemingway that deserves to be revisited time and time again. “The Sun Also Rises” is invitingly set against summer scenes in Paris, Carmen de Santiago, and the Festival of San Fermín. Though it portrays a dazzling lifestyle, delve deeper and you will discover this book tells a story about human experience.
It follows Jake Barnes, an American in post-World War I Europe, as he travels with his group of American and British friends. Swathed in bullfights, parties, and desire, the book is a depiction of life after war and its effect on the psyche.
The novel also gives a glimpse into Hemingway’s background. It paved the way for his classics like “For Whom the Bells Toll” and “The Old Man and the Sea.”
By Stu Webber
Recommended by C.J. Gish
This book is challenging on many levels for the man who wants to pursue God.
With 14 chapters ranging from facing yourself as a man, looking at your family roots, finding your strength, what it means to be a leader, how to interact with your wife, how to be a father to your children and establish relationship with your friends and God, each chapter ended with a series of questions entitled, “Let The Truth Hit Home.”
This book has a way of revealing blind spots and pushing you to address them. One section might melt your heart and bring you to tears, while others might make you angry enough to fling the book across the room.
In the end, it’s a good read. But only for those willing to tackle tough issues and ask themselves some very pointed questions.
The Bomber Mafia
By Malcom Gladwell
Recommended by Seth Johnson
Malcom Gladwell deals with two bombing strategies during World War II in this 2021 release. On one side—scorched earth policies that lead to the Dresden bombing. On the other side—precision bombing to reduce civilian deaths.
Large-scale, aerial bombings remain a new tactic, and the so-called bomber mafia—a group of strategists who met at Maxwell Field in Alabama—aims to land a bomb in a pickle barrel from 30,000 feet. New technology convinces the group that the ability is around the corner.
However, the capability never arrives in convincing fashion, and Gladwell shows the internal struggle in the U.S. military, leading to the deadliest bombing of the war and the subsequent atomic bombs.
Despite finishing it a year ago, “The Bomber Mafia” continues coming to my mind, especially as I see trailers for Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer.” The book is an easy read—and could be considered a primer for the movie.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
By Arthur Conan Doyle
Recommended by Glory Reitz
Most people have heard some rendition of at least one of the 12 stories contained in this book. However, Sherlock Holmes may be just familiar enough that you could know about him without ever actually reading his adventures.
These stories are not the most complex mysteries, but they are intriguing enough to perplex and amuse until the quintessential “aha” moment when Holmes explains the answer. There is a reason Sherlock Holmes is a classic character.
Originally published as a serial in The Strand Magazine, the stories require no existing knowledge of Sherlock Holmes or his partner Watson, and you can read them in any order—perfect for a relaxing summer read.