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Staff picks

We asked Worldlings to recommend a light reading book or two

Staff picks
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News of the World

by Paulette Jiles (William Morrow, 2016) is a Western set in post–Civil War Texas. Jiles’ character-driven story depicts vividly the chaos of that place and time. Written as a 200-page prose poem, the novel offers typical poetic virtues: compression, resonance, beauty, and power. It shows how rich and deeply imagined the historical novel can be. —Graphic Designer Rachel Beatty

Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush

by Jon Meacham (Random House, 2015) is a fascinating, fast-moving, and straightforward biography of the straightforward 41st president, whose integrity in office is legend (now more than ever) and whose Steady Eddie style was crucial to bringing a definitive end to the Cold War. —Senior Editor Mindy Belz

The Life of Elves

by Muriel Barbery (Europa Editions, 2016) draws on the novelist’s admiration of Tolkien and Orson Scott Card to create a fantasy anchored in the humble day-to-day reality of two European farm girls and a World of the Mists. The first of a two-part tale. —Mindy Belz

Dear Mr. Knightley

by Katherine Reay (Thomas Nelson, 2013) is a novel about a 23-year-old orphan who receives a scholarship from an anonymous benefactor. She sends letters chronicling her progress and finds confidence to hide no longer behind the personas of her favorite literary characters. —Editorial Assistant Kristin Chapman

Hero of the Empire

by Candice Millard (Doubleday, 2016) is an action-adventure account of young Winston Churchill’s experience in South Africa during the Boer War and how it helped shape him into one of the giants of the 20th century. —National Editor Jamie Dean

Princes at War: The Bitter Battle Inside Britain’s Royal Family in the Darkest Days of WWII

by Deborah Cadbury (PublicAffairs, 2016) is a fascinating account of the four sons of King George V before and during World War II. (Also good historical perspective for those watching Netflix’s The Crown miniseries.) —Jamie Dean

Three Years in Afghanistan: An American Family’s Story of Faith, Endurance and Love

a memoir by Matthew Collins (CreateSpace, 2016), describes engagingly what life in Afghanistan was like for him. —Editorial Assistant Amy Derrick

The Homeschool Experiment

by Charity Hawkins (Familyman Ministries, 2012) is a humorous novel about what might transpire over a year in the life of a homeschool family. —Amy Derrick

The Other Side of Infamy

by Jim Downing (NavPress, 2016) is a memoir by the second-oldest Pearl Harbor survivor (103) that gives an inside look at that infamous day and how his faith in Christ helped him navigate World War II and beyond. —WORLD Radio Managing Editor J.C. Derrick

Under Our Skin

by Benjamin Watson (Tyndale Momentum, 2015), longtime NFL player and homeschool dad, explores how Christians can approach race, bias, and justice with Biblical truth at the foundation. —J.C. Derrick

Marry Wisely, Marry Well: A Blueprint for Personal Preparation

by Ernie Baker (Shepherd Press, 2016) offers a Bible-rich guide to help singles (including me) think wisely about finding a life partner. This Biblical-counseling professor shows how to evaluate readiness for marriage, uncover idols of the heart that influence relationships and attraction, and understand how God leads us to the right person. —Managing Editor Daniel James Devine

The Girl on the Train

by Paula Hawkins (Riverhead Books, 2015) is a London-set psychological thriller about a depressed woman called Rachel who fantasizes about a couple she sees on her daily train commute. Then the wife suddenly disappears, and Rachel realizes she might know who the culprit is. Three women narrate the story—an alcoholic, a liar, and a cheat—and the reader can trust none of them. Caution: some language and sexual references. —Reporter Sophia Lee

Son of Hamas

by Mosab Hassan Yousef (SaltRiver, 2010) is a memoir by the son of a founding member of Hamas, now a Palestinian terrorist group. Mosab grew up as the son of a devout imam, fought for the Palestinian cause as a Hamas leader, turned over to spy for Shin Bet, and eventually converted to Christianity. His story gives an insider’s view into Hamas, Shin Bet, the Muslim-Arab-Israeli conflict, and the Palestinian world. —Sophia Lee

The Enchanted

by Rene Denfeld (Harper, 2014) is a dark, realistic, yet magical novel about the world seen through the imaginative mind of a death row inmate in solitary confinement. Through him, readers delve into the inner pains of The Lady, an investigator who digs into prisoners’ pasts to rescue them from execution. She also digs into the secrets of a fallen priest who offers absolution to inmates but suffers from his own self-condemnation. Beautiful, easy-to-read prose, yet profound and moving in its themes of redemption, identity, innocence, and guilt. —Sophia Lee

Unscripted: The Unpredictable Moments That Make Life Extraordinary

by Ernie Johnson Jr. (Baker Books, 2017) offers short, inspirational, autobiographical vignettes, where the host of TNT’s Inside the NBA touches on his media career, his faith, his marriage, parenting and fatherhood, adoption (international, special-needs, and at-risk children), cancer survival, and sports. Johnson sprinkles his stories with what he calls “blackberries”—unscripted but life-changing moments to cherish. The conversational style of this first-time author makes the book a quick and enjoyable read. —WORLD Digital Executive Editor Mickey McLean

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

by Alexander McCall Smith (Berlin, 1998) is the first novel in the series about an energetic and funny Botswana woman who sets up the country’s first detective agency and the cases she handles. —WORLD Digital Reporter Onize Ohikere

Oliver Twist

by Charles Dickens (Richard Bentley, 1838) is an enduring classic that dives into the plight of London’s street children through one orphan’s experience with workhouses and pickpockets. —Onize Ohikere

The Beltway Bible

by Eliot Nelson (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2016) is a lighthearted guide through D.C. jargon from “Jumbo Slice” to “omnibus” as told by a sometimes funny, cynical Washington journalist. —WORLD Digital Reporter Evan Wilt

The Nightingale

by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin’s Press, 2015) is an action-packed novel set in World War II France about two sisters who resist the human instinct to crumble in the hardest of circumstances. —Evan Wilt

–Part of this issue’s special Summer Reading section.


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