12 Months of Books: July Suggestions

Hello, friends! Can you believe that it is July already? We are halfway through with 2018, which mean’s we’re also halfway through with the 2018 reading challenge. I’ve been fighting through some mental/creative blocks this summer, but I have been reading! I managed to finish seven books in June, which is a huge win for me.

Today I’ve got my suggestions for July’s theme: Home Sweet Home. When I came up with the challenge idea, I was thinking primarily about Independence Day, and all of the fun, patriotic things that go along with that holiday. I know not all of my readers are from the US, but for me, it’s home sweet home, indeed. So today’s suggestions all revolve around patriotic themes.

Top Three Must Reads:


  • The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
    • I recently reread this book, and I loved it just as much the second time as I did the first time. If you like sports stories, stories of perseverance, or if you have a strange love for the Olympics like me, this is a great book. The Audible version is also excellent!
  • One Summer by Bill Bryson
    • You’ve no doubt seen this book mentioned on the blog before, but it’s that good! If you’re looking for engaging history and a lot of baseball, this is a great place to start.
  • The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
    • I love this book about the battle of Gettysburg for many reasons, but primarily because it’s historical fiction that really gets at the emotion behind the historical events. Sharra’s son, Jeff, picked up his father’s pen and carried on the family tradition–I’d recommend any Shaara books!


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  • Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
    • This is the first book by Erik Larson I ever read, and it’s an intriguing, suspenseful mystery. The chapters about the architects behind the World’s Fair are a little boring, but everything else rolls along like a great murder mystery.
  • Dead Wake by Erik Larson
    • In my opinion this is Larson’s finest work of nonfiction. We all know what happened to the Lusitania, but this book still kept me at the edge of my seat.
  • When Books Went to War by Molly Guptil Manning
    • You don’t have to convince me that books are important, but if any of you need proof, this book chronicles the American stories that helped motivate soldiers during WWII.
  • Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose
    • This amazing story follows one company of soldiers during their time in WWII. You might have seen the HBO miniseries based around the text!
  • Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
    • This massive biography of one of previously lesser-known founding father’s is the basis for Lin Manuel-Miranda’s award-winning musical Hamilton. If you take on the challenge of reading it, prepare yourself for Hamilton overload!
  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
    • This true story about an Olympic athlete turned soldier turned prisoner of war will keep you turning the pages late into the night!


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  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
    • In my mind, this is an underestimated classic. It’s mentioned often in Manning’s When Books Went to War, and I think it’s a nostalgic look at poverty, family, and loss.
  • Fencesby August Wilson
    • I recently purchased this Pulitzer Prize winning drama, and I can’t wait to read it! I’ll let you know what I think when I’m finished.
  • Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
    • This novel-like memoir reminds me a lot of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, but with a more modern, updated view.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    • This American classic is required reading for a reason–it’s a insightful look at American culture and conflict.
  • Anything by Jeff Shaara!
    • I mentioned Shaara’s father in my top three section, but Jeff’s work is just as good. He’s written about almost every major war America has been involved in, and his novels will make you see historical figures in a new way.
  • The Great GatsbyMy friend Laura and I were just talking about how Gatsby is, in our minds, the perfect example of the “Great American Novel.” If you haven’t read it, it’s short and thought-provoking!

Those are my top picks for books about America! There is a list over on Amazon with all of these titles and a few bonus books. Plus, if you’re really interested in American literature, check out PBS’ “Great American Read” list and voting competition!

Whatever you do, enjoy the holiday this week, and keep reading!



  1. Excellent list, Sarah! I completely agree that One Summer is a must-read for this time of the year. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Great Gatsby, and To Kill a Mockingbird are all perfect summer classics as well. I hope to get to Dead Wake and Hamilton soon; they’ve been sitting on my shelf for far too long!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m very interested in The Killer Angels!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love some of those titles… good selection!☀️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My husband loves Bill Bryson but I don’t think he’s read that one, I read him your review… 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you so very much. i love all of this books.


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