In Stephen King’s memoir “On Writing,” he talks about the craft, art and science of writing. King asserts: “At its most basic we are only discussing a learned skill, but do we not agree that sometimes the most basic skills can create things far beyond our expectations? We are talking about tools and carpentry, about words and style…but as we move along, you’d do well to remember that we are also talking about magic.”
Authors, indeed, do intend to create magic with their words. The effort behind it often is substantial, with the hope of creating a memorable, engaging work of art that appears effortless to the reader. Most people can’t help but to want to seek out these stories, to learn about something new, to inspire new ideas and to fall through the pages into the world the book creates.
With hundreds of thousands of books out there, though, where do you begin? Our spouse community and Military Spouse staff share some of their favorite titles and genres to kick off your summer reading list!
What books do you recommend? Tweet us @MilSpouseMag with the hashtag #MSMReads and we’ll share!
I re-read Madeline L’Engle’s “Walking on Water” each year. I am also loving:
- “Lila” by Marilynne Robinson
- “What Falls from the Sky” by Esther Emery
- “Tables in the Wilderness” by Preston Yancey
Otherwise, I often return to poets like Robert Frost, Eaven Boland, Maya Angelou and Judith Wright
~Anna Blanch Rabe
My favorite genre is urban fantasy/paranormal romance. I prefer to escape in a fantasy land when I read. As an example, I really like Susan Ilene’s Darkness Haunts series. The lead character is a female veteran kicking bad guy butt.
For personal, I love anything written by Margaret Atwood, especially “Handmaid’s Tale.” She is a superb storyteller. I also love a recent book club read, “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls, which is a memoir about having dysfunctional parents. The best book I read in college was “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey. 20+ years later, it still reigns supreme. For a kids book: “You are Special.” It’s a great message about not letting other opinions, good or bad, define who you are. I’m inspired every time I read it to my kids!
~Lisa Wantuck Emme
Brenda Tetreault books! She is a former military spouse who writes paranormal romance novels.
The Meg Series by Steven Alten. It’s Jurassic Park meets Jaws.
~Kelly Butler Stillwagon
“You are a Badass” by Jen Sincero is probably my new favorite!
My top three genres are horror, romance and true crime (non-fiction) biographies.
~Christina Reynolds Laycock
“Eligible,” by Curtis Sittenfeld, a retelling of “Pride and Prejudice,” was a fun and hilarious read, although I took issue with the ending. Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series is an absolute calgon-take-me-away experience. I get lost in the landscape and passion between Jamie and Claire. “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand is a masterpiece of fortitude, bravery and resilience. I could not put it down. Every American should read this book. Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series is an entertaining historical fiction mystery series that does not disappoint.
“Lilac Girls” by Martha Hall Kelly is inspired by the real life of three women in World War II; it shows how women can and do change history. “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah and “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr were great as well. I’m a historical fiction fan.
I’ve always enjoyed local authors each place we’ve lived. Stephen King (when stationed in Maine), Pat Conroy (while in South Carolina) and Andrew Greeley (while in the Chicago area), to name a few.
I’ve always been a fan of Nora Roberts. She also writes as JDRobb. Many of her books have an air of mystery to them, which I enjoy.
~Rebecca Roland Hyleman
“I’m Judging You” by Luvvie Ajayi, “Top Dog: The Story of Marine Hero Lucca” by Maria Goodavage and “Service: A Navy SEAL at War.” I love how Marcus Luttrell praises all branches in this book and talks about stories with all of them throughout his deployments.
~Lindsay Bradford, vice president of Military Spouse programs
“The Pillars of the Earth” and its follow up “World Without End” by Ken Follett are exceptionally researched and told historical novels. Few other authors can match Follett’s mastery of character development and truly envelope the reader in the story. And bonus: Follett is releasing the third book in this series, “A Column of Fire,” in September!
~Laurie Cowin, managing editor
My favorite book is “The Great Gatsby.” Brilliantly written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the book is filled with colorful characters who are all at once dreamlike, yet entirely relatable. The roaring ‘20s is the time period I’d most like to visit. Plus, Leonardo DiCaprio plays Jay Gatbsy in the movie, so you know it has to be good. Read on, old sport! “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
~Kariah Manwaring, digital marketing specialist
“Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky. This is a very short simple read, which is perfect for on-the-go summer travels or quick late night session. The book is a modern classic that captures the dizzying highs and crushing lows of growing up (from making friends to personal struggles). It’s full of nostalgia and jam-packed with valuable mantras. It was also adapted into a movie, which was shot in Pittsburgh.
~Joe Maiocco, lead art director
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