Get pumped about summer reading!

Book recommendations from our readers
It has been said that “reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” So why not spend your summer with a few new workouts? To inspire you, we asked our Daniel Island News readers to share some of their favorite books with us. From suspenseful thrillers, to impactful non-fiction stories, to those that tug on the heartstrings - check out these pages for their suggestions on great summer reads!
 
NON-FICTION
The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For’ by David McCullough
JENNIFER JOHNSTON
In an April 2017 interview with Time Magazine, author and famed historian David McCullough explained why he decided now was the right time to publish a collection of some of his most inspiring speeches: “We have to remind ourselves of what we believe in, in the way of standard behavior, standard dedication, standard patriotism. And in order to do that, you have to understand history.” He goes on to bemoan the absence of history in today’s college-level curriculum, underscoring the danger in becoming “historically illiterate.” That’s what caught my eye and drove me to pick up his newest book.
“The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For” contains the transcripts of 15 of McCullough’s speeches over several decades. They range from university commencements to addresses before U.S. legislators. Each one is like a mini history lesson, but unlike any you might have struggled through in high school or college. His approach is to find a thread that might run common from an historical figure – often a past U.S. president – through his audience, then inspire the latter with the extraordinary, “against-all-odds” achievements of the former.
McCullough shares stories that are not found in the pages of textbooks, likely because they have been considered more trivial in the context of our nation’s shaping. But, how can the unfiltered humanity contained in the letters of John Adams to and from his wife Abigail in the midst of America’s founding be considered trivial? The history unearthed in places like these is exactly what we need today to feel that vital connection to the people and leaders of our past. This is how we will accept the principles as ours to uphold, and the lessons as ours to learn.
Jennifer Johnston is a former freelance writer for The Daniel Island News.
 
‘Death by Suburb’ by David Goetz
REV. JONATHAN BENNETT
Most of you will not read this book. I am 99.9 percent confident of that. The title alone screams don’t read this book! “Death by Suburb: How to Keep the Suburbs from Killing Your Soul.” But for those of you who do, the .1 percent, I believe you’ll be challenged in a way that most books don’t ever even get close to.
The author, David Goetz, a freelance writer, and owner of his own marketing business, sets out to wake all of us “suburbanites” up to what really matters. He wants to use his story and own struggles to help us all see that spirituality is not just another commodity that we consume along with our Starbuck’s lattes and pre-made dinners. Goetz writes:
“The suburbs tend to produce inverse spiritual cripples. Suburbia is a flat world, in which the edges are clearly defined and the mysterious ocean is rarely explored. Every decision gets planned out, like the practice of registering at retail stores for one’s wedding gifts. Only tragedy truly surprises.”
Goetz though, offers hope of finding a deeper, more meaningful life, even amidst the noise and routine of the daily suburban experience. Through prayer, real friendships, finding our true identity beyond what we own or do, slowing down, and not expecting immediate results in all areas of our lives, there is a way to find what he calls the “thicker life.” It’s not easy, but it is possible. But then you’re not going read this book anyway, are you?
The Rev. Jonathan Bennett is Campus Pastor at Church of the Holy Cross on Daniel Island.
 
‘The Boys in the Boat’
by Daniel James Brown
CYNTHIA RUMPH
I just finished reading “The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown and highly recommend it as an inspiring summer read. It tells the true story of the American rowing team that brought home the gold from the 1936 Olympics in Hitler’s Germany. The nine-man crew from the University of Washington, eight oars plus a coxswain, was an unlikely contender competing against the top elite Eastern teams to win a place at the starting line in Berlin.
The story of these young men coming together as a team is one that resonates with me in our age of convenience and instant gratification.
The story is told primarily through the eyes of Joe Rantz, one of the crew members. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest on the eve of the Great Depression, Joe’s early life was difficult and marred by the loss of his mother when he was four and his abandonment by his father and step-mother when he was 15. The heart of the story is how Joe ultimately overcomes his early hardships and self-doubt to make his way to the University of Washington’s rowing team and on to win Olympic gold with his teammates. But the backdrop of the story – what was happening in the United States during this time period, the history of rowing and boat building, and the events unfolding in Nazi Germany – makes for a fascinating and engaging setting for this tale of grit and determination.
 
‘Being Mortal’ by Atul Gawande
ROBERT VANNEWKIRK
Last winter, my family lost its beloved matriarch at the ripe age of 99. My Grandma Jessie was a Nebraska farm girl with a high school education who became one of the first female hospital administrators in the Western U.S. Near the end of her life, Jessie told me that it was time for her, like chickens in the old saying, “to go home to roost.” She died in the nursing home/hospital for which she had written the bond issue, oversaw construction and administrated for many years. Watching her decline up close spurred my curiosity into how as a society we could help folks add dignity and quality to their waning years.
Atul Gawande’s book, “Being Mortal,” may seem like the antithesis of a summer read. It is lacking in suspense (books about death usually give away the ending early on) and the topic may seem a bit morbid. But this thoughtful examination of how health care at the end of life should not just keep a patient alive but “enable well-being,” offers a valuable point of view.
The author has both a doctor’s and a family member’s perspective of aging and dying. Gawande examines a variety of traditional and innovative options for senior living. Later, he fearlessly and frankly describes bodily aging and the inevitable loss of independence most of us will experience near the end.
“Being Mortal” can be of help whether you have a loved one nearing a decision point between treating at all costs or palliative care, or you simply want to give thought to your own later years. It will also remind you to make the most of this gorgeous Lowcountry summer, knowing that one reason life is so sweet is because even 99 years can be short.
Robert VanNewkirk is owner of CrossFit Discovery on Daniel Island.
 
‘Radical Candor’ by Kim Scott
JANE BAKER
While the subtitle of the book, “Be a Kick-Ass Boss without Losing Your Humanity,” is initially what got my attention, “Radical Candor” by Kim Scott offers much more than another “leadership mantra” or canned self-improvement philosophy. It provides a blueprint for relationship management in this day and age of overwhelming technology demands, millennial expectations and just the general squeeze that most of us feel to accomplish something every single second of every day.
Whether in your workplace, or civic club, or nonprofit, or family, we are all part of teams in some form or fashion and have relationships to manage with a host of personality types and ages, with an equal variety of preconceptions and idiosyncrasies. Having been born and raised in the South, it was always ingrained in me to be gracious and overly accommodating at all cost. Good manners were the golden rule. I found it challenging at times to be an effective team leader and get the most out of team members and not ruffle feathers along the way. 
Kim Scott’s experience as a manager at Google and a member of the faculty at Apple University position her to be uniquely qualified to give insight on how to be a better team leader and how to be truthful and empathetic at the same time. The stories she shares in “Radical Candor” were funny and enlightening. I think the perspectives she shares in this book can be equally helpful in our day to day interactions with friends and family as they are in a workplace environment. Managing human relationships better via lessons learned from Silicon Valley was a very worthwhile read for me.
Jane Baker is vice president of community services for the Daniel Island Property Owners Association.
 
FICT
‘The To-Hell-And-Back Club’ by Jill Connor Anderson
CRYSTAL
KLIMAVICZ
“The To-Hell-And-Back Club” by Jill Connor Anderson is a story of a woman who experiences the loss of something dear to her and struggles to learn through that experience and move on. Witty dialogue, fresh writing, and a heartfelt story is what sets Anderson’s book apart from the rest. You open it and turn page-by-page, anxious to learn how her story unfolds.
The main character, Peyton, is a relatable, “real” woman. She is a mother of two grown children. And she’s trapped in an unhappy mid-life marriage, with kids who have real-life issues. She gets a wakeup call one day when her friends suddenly and tragically leave her. And through this experience, she finds her own resolve and makes changes in her life that will change her forever.
One change is the unexpected find of a group of other women who have also experienced pain and grief and loss. Within this group, Peyton finds new friendships that emerge and grow, friendships that will last her a lifetime. Meanwhile, she also learns secrets about the pasts of her old friends, all of which created life lessons that help to heal her broken heart.
“To-Hell-And-Back-Club” is a beautiful, emotional story that shows us the ugly truth in life while also revealing the strength and resolve that can carry us through it. A can’t-put-down-summer-must-read!
Daniel Island resident Crystal Klimavicz is the author of several books, including “The Days of Not So Long Ago,” “Falling Through Trees,” and “This Side of Perfect.” She also leads a monthly writers’ group at the Daniel Island Library every first Wednesday from 4:30 to 6 p.m.
 
‘Beartown’ by Fredrik Backman
DIANE BARNETT
If you want a way to stay cool this summer skate out on the ice with the boys of Fredrik Backman’s Beartown hockey team. Not a hockey fan? No worries. Neither am I and this book made it in my top five of the year!!
This is the story of a small town and their local hockey team. The town’s heydays have long since passed, but the hockey club has been a consistent source of unity and pride. How far will the residents of Beartown go to hold up the pride that comes from winning? What are they willing to overlook? As players, as coaches, and as parents where do our responsibilities lie? Is there ever justification to keep up appearances instead of telling the whole truth?
“Beartown” has lots and lots of hockey throughout the first half of the book, but do NOT give up on this story. You will be richly rewarded if you read the entire book. Backman labors over every word he chooses - and he chooses well! His sentences are full of detail and emotion. The reader truly feels that they are a member of this community and identifies with its inhabitants. If your child plays lacrosse or basketball, dances or runs around on the soccer fields, everyone will recognize someone in this story. You may even recognize yourself!
Diane Barnett is the owner of Title Wave Books in Mount Pleasant, S.C.
 
‘A Land Remembered’ by Patrick D. Smith
JENNIFER CARRIGAN
Have you ever felt that you were born in the wrong era? If you have felt that way, “A Land Remembered” would be a perfect read for you. There has always been something very alluring about the period of time when undeveloped land was plentiful and authentic, and wildlife was respected, not because it was endangered, but because it had an inherent right to exist. “A Land Remembered” is a special read because it takes us back to a time when progress came at a slower and more honest pace.
The story follows three generations of the MacIvey Family. It begins in 1858, as Tobias MacIvey, his wife, Emma, and their infant son leave behind their home in Georgia to find their own piece land in the wilderness of Florida. It is here that they plan on making their mark by farming the land and raising cattle. From this point forward the story takes us through the trials and tribulations of being a settler in a new land. In addition to a wonderful story, we learn a lot about the history of Florida and how it became what it is today.
The story ends with the grandson of Tobias, Solomon MacIvey, reflecting on the empire that his family built. He understands that the land his family so loved and nurtured is also the land that they destroyed.
 

 

 

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