I was at the airport in Copenhagen and had a bit of local currency I wanted to spend before flying home to the United States. I saw a book that looked good, but I didn’t need a book for my flight. I was planning to occupy my time in the air with writing and a good book would only be a distraction not to write. Fast forward a week later and I’m at the beach with nothing to read and cursing myself for not buying that book at the airport. I got out my phone and ordered the book on Amazon, even ponying up an extra few dollars for OVERNIGHT shipping. At the beach without a good book? I did NOT want to be in this situation again!
If you’re looking for a good book to read this summer I’ve got five recommendations for you. Hopefully you’ll find something on this list that’s just right for you.
I’ll start with what I’m reading now. That book I didn’t buy at the airport is the book I ordered and overnighted from Amazon. The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell. Originally from London, Helen and her husband move to Denmark when he takes a job at Denmark’s most famous company, LEGO. Helen decides to investigate why it is that Denmark always ranks so highly — often #1 on the list — of annual global happiness studies conducted by the UN. I’ve found myself nodding my head as she shares her observations and explanations of Danish culture as it rings true to what I experienced. She’s also a very clever writer. The book gets 4 and a half stars on Amazon. I give it 5. It’s taking me a while to read it because I end up reading half of it aloud to my wife and anyone else at the beach who’ll listen. 🙂
Next on the list is The Lunatic Express by Carl Hoffman. Hoffman sets out to travel around the world by the most dangerous means of transportation available. Ferries and barges in Indonesia and rickety buses hanging onto the side of a cliff in South America. I read this book when it first came out in 2011 so it’s been a while since I read it, but one observation I remember him making is how money buys us space, and insulates us. If you have money you can rent a suite on a boat and travel around Indonesia. If you don’t have money, you get stacked and racked below deck. The book gets 4 Stars on Amazon. Again, I give this one 5. 🙂
To continue on the adventure theme, The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey by Candice Millard is another amazing read. After his failed run to return to the presidency in 1912, Roosevelt went on an expedition in the Amazon that was so gnarly that when he returned home many people thought he was making the stuff up. He traveled along tributaries of the Amazon where no white man had ever set foot before with his son Kermit. Brazil’s most accomplished explorer, Cândido Mariano da Silva Rondon had co-command of the expedition. Teddy Roosevelt was so sick and weak at one point that he believed he was jeopardizing the lives of his crew and he instructed Kermit and Rondon to leave him in the jungle and let him die — something Kermit adn Rondon refused to do. Obviously Roosevelt returned home, but you could say the trip did kill him as many say he never fully regained his vitality after the trip. It’s an amazing story and Candice Millard is a great writer. Read any of her books. You’ll love them. 5 Stars on this one.
Here’s a more obscure recommendation: Uncommon Friends by James Newton. Newton happened to become friends with some pretty remarkable people, 5 giants of the 20th Century. Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Alexis Carrell, and Charles Lindbergh. Newton tells stories of working with these men and what he learned along the way. It’s an intimate look at figure we often only look at in historical terms and a great picture of friendship. I want to be the kind of friend that James Newton was. Another 5 Star read!
Finally, if you’re sitting on the beach and want to read something about how you could spend more time on the beach, how about you pick up my book unWorking! 😉 unWorking isn’t about not working; it’s about putting work in a different place in our lives. I want to work. I’ve had seasons of my life where I have totally displaced work and when I’ve done that I have found there to be something missing. But I also don’t want to put my nose to the grindstone and wake up someday and wonder what happened to my life. unWorking is about figuring out what you value most in life and then arranging your life around those things. It get’s 4 and a half stars on Amazon. I hope you will give it 5!
I’m always looking for a good book. If you have a recommendation, leave a comment below or share it with me on the Family Trek Facebook Page.