Summertime — filled with vacations and trips to the beach — offers an important opportunity for Americans to read. As an avid reader, I have always believed in the power of books to educate, entertain and inspire. With summer underway, I encourage all Americans to pick up a book and read this summer — from fiction to history, you can do no better for your mind than to read.
Below is a list of my all-time favorite books. From classic literature to military history, these are books I have read and reread over the years. I will update this list on a periodic basis, and I hope you’ll share your reviews as well as your own book recommendations by commenting below.
All Quiet on the Western Front
By Erich Maria Remarque
Told from the perspective of a German enlisted soldier during World War I, this literary classic shatters romantic conceptions of war and depicts the harsh realities young people face in conflict.
Battle Cry of Freedom
By James McPherson
Battle Cry of Freedom offers an authoritative history of the Civil War, detailing the main causes, as well as the various political, social and military events that took place during America’s bloodiest war.
The Best and the Brightest
By David Halberstam
One of the most comprehensive narratives ever written about America’s involvement in Vietnam, The Best and the Brightest illustrates how a nation can lose a war and see its worthy purposes and principles destroyed by self-delusion.
For Whom the Bell Tolls
By Ernest Hemingway
An American classic and my all-time favorite, For Whom the Bell Tolls tells the story of a young American’s test of loyalty, courage, love and defeat during the 1937 Spanish Civil War.
Good-Bye to All That: An Autobiography
By Robert Graves
In this poignant, often scathing memoir, poet Robert Graves captures the horrors he experienced during World War I, and their enduring impact on the rest of his life.
The Guns of August
By Barbara W. Tuchman
The Guns of August is a brilliant narrative from historian Barbara Tuchman describing the events leading up to and through the first month of World War I.
Of Human Bondage
By W. Somerset Maugham
Hailed as one of the best novels of the 20th century, Maugham’s Of Human Bondage tells the coming-of age story of an orphan boy longing for experience, art and love. Part autobiographical, this moving story is one of Maugham’s masterpieces.
Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World
By William McRaven
Admiral William H. McRaven shares some of the most important lessons he learned as a Navy Seal to inform and inspire every reader.
The Story of Lucy Gault
By William Trevor
William Trevor’s heart wrenching tale follows the journey of a young Irish girl after her family is forced to flee their home in 1921 — and one decision that will alter their lives forever.
Winds of War / War and Remembrance
By Herman Wouk
Winds of War and its sequel, War and Remembrance, are required reading for fans of historical fiction. Centered on the lives of a single American family, the books intertwine personal narratives with some of the major events of World War II — from the attack on Pearl Harbor to the Yalta Conference.