As previously mentioned, summer is a time of year when there is an expectation we will slow down a bit and perhaps travel.

You’ll see all kinds of advisories for whatever you might be doing – tips for staying cool, travel advice or outdoor grilling suggestions.

If you are a reader, as I am, there are all types of summer reading lists. They seem to be heavy on the kinds of books you can read beachside or poolside, ones you can put down and pick back up with relative ease.

As a year-round reader, and one not prone to reading different things at different times of the year, I still enjoy these lists because I am always interested in what others are reading. In addition, I’m always looking for the next book to read.

I realize I’m late, and with the start of school upon us, many of you are putting the bookend on summer (pun intended). Technically, however, there are still about seven weeks of this season remaining, so I thought I would give you my own abbreviated summer reading list – two fiction and two non-fiction books I have found enjoyable this year. I hope you might too.


  • “The Great Alone” by Kristin Hannah. Another page turner by the author of “Nightingale,” this one was a book club pick for my wife. I guess it borders on “chick lit” but, because I read almost all of my wife’s book club selections (I’m yet to find a male or coed book club to join), I take that risk from time to time. What was compelling about this one was how the author tells a captivating story of a woman – or two women, really — trapped in an abusive relationship against the backdrop of the brutal winters of Alaska, weaving in factual and historical information about that area. I love books in which I not only become lost in a story but also learn something. This one definitely did that for me.
  • “A Long Way Down” by Nick Hornby. I’ve long been a fan of this quirky British author who also wrote “About a Boy” and “Funny Girl,” among others. In this hilarious but often poignant tale of four strangers who come together under the strangest of circumstances, Hornby demonstrates his unique ability to inject humor into otherwise heavy subjects (in this case, attempted suicide) and still give the reader much to think about.


  • “Martin Luther” by Eric Mataxas. OK, this one would never make a summer reading list for poolside or beachside, but as I said, I’m not constrained by those norms. If you have never read anything by Mataxas, and you enjoy religious history, this would be a great one to try. It’s long and it takes some persistence, but it is worth the effort. You will learn much about the maverick zealot who was largely responsible for the Protestant reformation and you are also likely to find some surprises.
  • “The Restless Wave” by John McCain. I’m a sucker for the political retrospectives, whether it’s from the right or the left. This is the latest of several McCain has written and very likely his swan song as he deals with brain cancer, but he still has much to say. He begins this one with the 2008 presidential election he lost to Barack Obama, explaining how he very much wanted good friend and former Democrat Joe Lieberman to be his running mate, but deferred to advisors who pushed him toward then-Alaska governor Sarah Palin (although he is not, in any way, critical of Palin and takes responsibility for the decision). From there in each chapter he looks back on important times in his political life, mostly over his time in the Senate. He goes into great detail about his unapologetic mistrust of and disdain for Vladimir Putin, with whom our current president happened to be rubbing shoulders at the time I was reading this. (Not surprisingly, he’s not a big fan of his either).

So there you go. I would recommend any of the above for your TBR (to be read) lists, summer or
not. After all, any time of year is the right time for a good book.

Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law
and grandfather. Email him at

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