“A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.” – George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

I hope you enjoyed reading last week’s list as much as I enjoyed putting it together. For this week’s selection, I’ve included a mix of historical fiction and nonfiction as well as some non-historical titles. I look forward to getting your feedback- now let’s begin!

1. Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin, (fiction, published in 1957)

This is a short story that I first read in an English Lit class in college almost twenty years ago, and I have never forgotten the way it made me feel. This is a short story that you can find by ordering “Going To Meet the Man,” an anthology of eight short stories by Baldwin. Short, powerful, deep.

2. 1776 by David McCullough, (nonfiction, published in 2005.)

I seldom get star-struck, but that’s what happened when I had the opportunity to meet David McCullough in person a few years ago. He is one of America’s greatest historians and story-tellers. This is a book that I routinely recommend to those interested in the founding of this county as told from the perspective of the patriots who fought the great fight with General Washington. It brings the revolution alive in a way that few authors can do.

Kane and Able by Jeffrey Archer (fiction, published in 1979 in the UK and 1980 in the US)

This book was an immediate international success and is among the top 100 best-selling books in the world. It is widely considered a modern classic. The plot is enthralling and the emotional impact with linger with you. Everyone should read this book.

4. Killing Pablo by Mark Bowden (nonfiction, published in 2001)

This is the story of the fifteen-month manhunt for Colombian cocaine cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar, whose escape from his lavish, mansion-like jail drove a nation to the brink of chaos. If you liked the Netflix series Narcos, you’ll love this book. Fun fact: Did you know that Pablo Escobar once offered to pay off the entire national debt of the country of Colombia in exchange for a pardon?

5. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (historical fiction, published in 2005)

An international bestseller than was translated into 63 languages, this book is unlike any other you will ever read, as the narrator is death. Ok, no more spoilers. If you only read one book from this week’s list, this should be it, but make sure you are ready for the emotional toll it will take on you.

6. Ok, ok, I could not stop at only five this week. This week’s bonus book is Beach Music by Pat Conroy. (fiction, published in 1995).

In my opinion Pat Conroy is one of the top 10 authors of the 20th century. His body of work is incredible. Perhaps you’ve heard of “Prince of Tides” or “Lords of Discipline.” But the book that touched me the most was “Beach Music, ” which I consider his masterpiece. All of Conroy’s work is largely autobiographical, and his writing is clearly colored by his traumatic childhood. This book sings with pain and glory. You will think of this book for the rest of your life. If you like this book, please email me for more like this.

Please feel free to email with your comments and feedback. I do see every email that is sent to this account, or you can email me directly at [email protected]

Thank you again for you interest in my book list and have a great week.


Spencer Roach