What’s on Your History Summer Reading List?

Often, summer is a time to slow down and catch up on reading you don’t have time for the rest of the year.

Recently, we posed the question, “What history books are you reading?” to the AHA’s LinkedIn group, and received a number of very interesting responses. For example, group member Stuart Hatfield explained that he picks themes for his reading each month, and decided that for April he’ll focus on the Seven Years War. He’s currently reading Francis Jennings’ Empire of Fortune: Crowns, Colonies & Tribes in the Seven Years War in America, Franz A.J. Szabo’s The Seven Years War in Europe: 1756–1763, and Daniel Marston’s The Seven Years’ War.

Below, we link to some NPR picks and student-focused reading lists, to help you find some good books this summer. What are you reading? Let us know in the comments.

NPR Books
NPR Books 2011 Best Historical FictionJust in time for the holidays last year, NPR Books put together lists of the Best Books of 2011, broken up into categories like “The 10 Best Novels of 2011” and “The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy.” In the history category, NPR Books offered:

  • A Passion For The Past: 2011’s Best Historical Fiction
    The author of this list explains that historical fiction inspires her to go beyond the book and learn “more about the time, the country and the characters who actually lived.” The five books included here “take readers back to ancient Israel, Saxon England, Elizabethan England, Colonial Massachusetts, and Paris in the Roaring ’20s.”
  • The Lives of Geniuses: Five Brilliant Biographies
    James Madison, Van Gogh, Marie and Pierre Curie, Kurt Vonnegut, and Steve Jobs are “some of the world’s best-known prodigies.” Explore their lives and work in the five biographies included in this list.

For Students
EDSITEment recommended reading for college studentsTraditionally, it’s students who are assigned summer reading lists. So we’ve included links to some resources for them, though these suggestions may appeal to an audience wider than the school-age crowd.

And of course historians are allowed to read books for fun, as well. We would love to hear about the books you will be taking to the beach, or resting on the nightstand for enjoyment during your down time. Let us know what you’re reading in the comments section below.

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  1. Karen Rhodes

    I just graduated with my B.A. in history and Spanish and am headed to graduate work in Florida Studies. My summer reading is geared toward getting up to speed on schools of historiography and toward more reading on colonial Spanish Florida, my area of specialozation.

    I’m reading Matthew Restall, Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest; José Rabasa, Writing Violence on the Northern Frontier: The Historiography of Sixteenth-Century New Mexico and Florida and the Legacy of Conquest; Rabasa, Inventing America: Spanish Historiography and the Formation of Eurocentrism; Anna Green and Kathleen Troup, eds., The Houses of History: A Critical Reader in Twentieth-Century History and Theory: George G. Iggers, Historiography in the Twentieth Century: From Scientific Objectivity to the Postmodern Challenge; Marc Bloch, The Historian’s Craft; Margaret R. Greer, Walter D. Mignolo, and Maureen Quilligan, _Rereading the Black Legend: The Discourses of Religious ad Racial Difference in the Renaissance Empires; Patricia Seed, Ceremonies of Possession in Europe’s Conquest of the New World, 1492-1640; and Paul E. Hoffman, Florida’s Frontiers.

    For fun, I read Patrick O’Brien’s seafaring novels and am currently reading Keith Devlin and Gary Lourden, The Numbers Behind NUMB3RS: Solving Crime with Mathematics.