What Are You Reading These Days?

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February 1, 2017 by Mark Hammerstrom

Read Across America Day is coming up soon—March 2, 2017.  There would seem to be hardly a worthier effort than to promote reading in our younger generations.  As many of our UCS team members volunteer in our schools, helping kids learn, and especially to read, is very close to our hearts. Yet promoting the value of reading should not stop there.  We can all benefit from reading.  The affect it has on our ability to be lifelong learners, enhance our cognition as we age, and simply become more informed citizens is well documented.

There is not just a little self interest in my question as I am an avid reader and I am always looking for that next great book to dig into. So, as I ask my friends and family from time to time, what are you reading these days?

No, I don’t get off scot free here. I am going to get things started by offering up my own favorites for your consideration.  Here we go (in no particular order):


  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. One of the best contemporary novels I have read in a long time. A great suspense-mystery story set in World War II France. I won’t say more.


  • The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports by Jeff Passan. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in less than a month! Not a few pitchers will be sweating out camp with reconstructed arms about to be put to the test to see if they will hold up. Millions of dollars ride on the so-called Tommy John surgery. This book explains it all.


  • The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill by William Manchester and Paul Reid. This is a bit of a red herring as you really should read the first two volumes written solely by William Manchester. Big beefy books about a big beefy lion of a man. A great true story told by a great historian.


  • The Private Lives of the Tudors by Tracy Borman. The best book is the one you just finished reading? If so, this is mine. Very well written, it is a bit like reading the transcript of a ‘reality’ show featuring the Tudors. A fascinating look deep inside one of the most famous royal families of England.


  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. Shhhh. Put down the coffee, stop talking, and read this book. Introverts are powerful people despite a reputation to the contrary. Einstein, Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak…need I say more?


  • Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. I would think works about Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War outnumber just about any other subject in American History. The saying that opposites attract could not be more true in the Lincoln administration, and one of the most important reasons his government prevailed.


  • Truman by David McCullough. This last election was hardly the only one won by a ‘dark horse.’ A whole new light on an oft forgotten president by the famed biographer David McCullough.


  • Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival by Laura Hillenbrand. A great story of a true American hero. Think you are having a bad day? Read the unbelievably true story of Louis Zamperini. I guarantee your troubles will seem small in comparison.


  • A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. So far I have not read a book by Bill Bryson I have not liked. This one is on science and truly re-engaged my sense of awe about the amazing universe we live in.


  • West With The Night by Beryl Markham. I needed to add a classic and this is a great one. A wonderful, timeless story set deep in the heart of Africa.


I would really like to hear from you about what you are reading and recommend. Since you are reading this blog I am presuming you are reading other things as well and if you are willing to share your favorites that would be great.  Please post or send me your suggestions!

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