SURVEY SAYS: What's On Your Summer Reading List?

July 14, 2006 ( - Here we are - mid-July - and what is generally regarded as the middle of vacation "season."

Granted, any number of studies (and real-life experiences) suggest that laptops, voice mail, “cra.ckberries,” and the like make it harder to get away from the press of our labors.  Nonetheless, even if in between e-mail deletions, summer is also widely regarded as a good time to grab hold of something that doesn’t require recharging – a good book. 

This week we asked readers what they were reading this summer – and would you recommend it for others?

As one reader noted, “I never thought I’d write to PLANSPONSOR with a book review.”   And yet so many of you shared not only what you were reading, but also provided some interesting insights into a wide range of possibilities.   

It appears that NewsDashers (or at least NewsDash survey respondents) are voracious readers.   Many of this week’s respondents claimed to read multiple books each week, while keeping multiple books going at one time also appeared to be a common attribute.   Moreover, there was a distinct lack of the fodder that seems to clog up the so-called Best Seller list – at least the political diatribes.   A good number of this week’s respondents opted for “fun” in their reading life, and so-called “guilty pleasures” were numerous, the most common of these was Stephen King’s Cell and a variety of books in the Harry Potter series, while authors like Clive Cussler, James Patterson, and Mary Higgins Clark were also much in evidence.   One reader was clearly in the spirit of summer reading, noting “While playing solar panel (recharging my batteries) at my favorite nu.dist resort this summer I plan to re-read everything by Patricia Cornwell and Stuart Woods.”  

Manhunt showed up several times, as did The Da Vinci Code – both by respondents who had never gotten to it (as one reader noted, “Although I’ve owned the book for over a year,   I have finally started to make progress” ), as well as those who were rereading it (some inspired by the film release).   In fact, rereading was a trend that showed up repeatedly.

Not everyone had time for reading – or at least not the reading they might like to do.   Parents generally, and moms specifically, found their reading time driven by their kids.   One reader noted, “I’m ashamed to say, I’m not reading anything other than Goodnight Moon and Go Dog Go these days.   Before I had my first daughter two years ago, I started Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer and Theodore Rex, a biography of Teddy Roosevelt by Edmund Morris. They’re still sitting on my nightstand, taunting me.”

“Unfortunately, the only thing I’m reading now is Gleim CPA Review books to cram for the CPA exam,” noted another.  “My head hurts!”

One noted, no doubt rhetorically, “Do we have time for personal reading after keeping up with professional tomes all day?”

Speaking of professional tomes, one reader noted that “Besides reading, I am reading the ever exciting “The Handbook of Employee Benefits: Design Funding and Administration.”   However, since the book does not flow well, I would rather be reading ANYTHING else!”

“I’m sorry to say,” noted another, “I’m reading a text book called “Compensation Concepts and Principles”.   Say you are jealous!”

Another noted, I barely have time to read NewsDash and the Wall Street Journal each day let alone have time for a relaxing recreational read.”

I was, of course, gratified to receive a number of comments like the following, “I read the Newsdash everyday – and I would definitely recommend it to others.”

The most unusual story came from the reader who noted, “Oddly enough, I was originally reading Moby Dick, but my car was broken into, and my laptop bag was stolen (with Moby Dick inside). Fortunately, my laptop wasn’t in there, but I definitely would have liked to see the look on the thief’s face when he saw his “prize”.

But this week’s Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said they were going to crack into “My “crackberry” User’s Manual!” 

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!   And don’t forget to check into our expanded list of reading selections in this week’s verbatims!

I'm sorry to say I'm reading a text book called " Compensation Concepts and Principles" .   Say you are jealous!

I am reading two books right now.     The Art of Living and Angel by my Side

David E. Swenson: Unconventional Success: A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment

Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana

Recently read Never Let Me Go by Ishiguro (who also wrote Remains of the Day). One of the best fiction books I've read in with medical ethics (takes place in an undetermined future and pertinent with all our current issues regarding stem cell, etc......but don't want to give too much away)

I'm reading the series of mysteries by Anne George about the "Sisters" in Birmingham, Alabama.   Entertaining because I live there and can relate to the local references but mostly because there is a lot of humor to make one laugh out loud.   With work and the state of the world, a good mystery to puzzle through with some laughs on the side provides a periodic vacation every day.

Read Stephen King's CELL .   Good story with an interesting premise, particularly if you are a King fan.


Being an avid reader, I've read 32 books so far this year and here are a few of my "favorites" and would highly recommend.

"Night"  by Elie Wiesel - true story of his childhood spent in a concentration camp - very, very powerful and heart wrenching book

"Are You Afraid of the Dark" by Sidney Sheldon......good read, suspense novel.

Anything by Clive of my favorite authors!

Currently reading " John Adams " by David McCullum - biography of second President of the United States.........


I read " Decipher " by Stel Pavlou.   Kind of along the lines like DaVinci Code with theories, but these theories are on the lost city of Atlantis and mythology/religion.


by Ann Coulter (#4 on NYT best seller



I am an avid reader so I always have something on my bedside table. My two books that I reread every summer are Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and The Stand by Steven King. Fun, fast reads for the warm summer months. On the side I was also just reading Doctors from Hell by Vivien Spitz describing the Nuremberg trials. I would not recommend that as "light" summer reading, but very educational.  

I've just finished Thomas Friedman's The World Is Flat and I found it to be a great read and very informative.   It has the unusual ability to both unsettle an American and that the same time provide us with a hopeful message at the same time.   To truly understand the implications of offshore outsourcing and globalized supply chain management, this is a must read. (I understand that a recently updated version has just hit the bookshelves)

Just finished Instance of a Fingerpost by Iain Pears. A historical novel which takes place in 1665 from four character's point of view. Long, but very interesting.

I'm maybe too late but our email was down so I have finally logged into my personal account.

Good Read:

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

I read two books in the last week; John Shannon's " Dangerous Games " and Martin Limon's " The Door to Bitterness ."

I usually read several things at a time.

Current I am reading:

1. The Intelligent Investor , by Benjamin Gramm.   There are a ton of investment books out there and like dieting and exercising if it's some new discovered method it's garbage, the basics always and dare I say only work.   The book is revised and updated, I do recommend it.

2. Wondrous Times on the Frontier , by Dee Brown.   Dee wrote only about The American West, this is storytelling based on the history of our American West written for younger readers, like mid-teens.   I recommend this as well.

3. High Adventure , by Sir Edmund Hillary.   The autobiography of his 1951 (failed) and 1953 (successful) assent to the top of mount Everest.   An older book written in an older style. New Zealanders use different words like whilst kilt and learnt as well as some exotic spelling for the US style of English.   Still a very good book and a very interesting story.   I recommend this also.

4. Amazon Beaming , by Petru Popescu.   A surprising great book about the American Explorer Loren McIntyre.   The book is split into two parts, an encounter McIntyre had with an Indian tribe in the Amazon forest, very gripping.   The second part is about mapping the Amazon itself.   McIntyre estimates that taking the Amazon to it's true source makes it some 200 plus miles longer than the Nile.   Also a very good read and two shorter books in one.

I want to read Bill Clinton's memoirs My Life , because I read all Presidential books but can't bring myself to it yet since he has a career of traveling overseas and bitching about my country.   Maybe after he shuts the H up.

I am reading Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin - absolutely fascinating book about how autism in humans can provide a link to better understand animal behavior and perception.

My "crackberry" User's Manual!

I just finished " Mr. Lincoln Goes to War ", a non-fiction (!) telling of the first years of the Lincoln presidency and the Civil War.   A very interesting parallel to the current administration insofar as the repression of civil liberties both attempted and accomplished - I learned a lot of rather disturbing facts about Lincoln's tactics to garner support for the war.   I suppose the good news is the country survived that and it will survive this one as well.

Don't know if this has time to sneak in under the wire (I just opened today's PlanSponsor), but:

  As a confirmed non-fiction reader, I'm currently reading something that seems particularly appropriate for summer:

A History of the World in Six Glasses

It's an interesting spin on what has changed the world over the millennia constituting "civilization", from the perspective of the six most important beverages that have influenced that civilization.

For the record, the six beverages are, in order since the beginning of recorded history: beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and Coca-cola.   I'd recommend it to anyone, especially if you're looking for new perspective on the history of civilization.

I just finished " Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell: Adventurer, Adviser to Kings, Ally of Lawrence of Arabia "   written by Janet Wallach.   It's a story of a remarkable Victorian woman and the influence that she had in creating Iraq after the first World War.

I am currently reading " Jane and the Genius of the Place " by Stephanie Barron.   (This is the fourth Jane Austen Mystery)   Ms. Barron has written a series of books placing Jane Austen as a sleuth.   The books are an easy read and very entertaining especially if you are a Jane Austen fan.

I am reading " The One Thing You Need to Know:....About Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success " by Marcus Buckingham

It is great so far, so, yes, I would recommend to others.

Reading " The Happiness Hypothesis " by Jonathan Haidt.

I'm ashamed to say, I'm not reading anything other than Goodnight Moon and Go Dog Go these days.   Before I had my first daughter two years ago, I started Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer and Theodore Rex, a biography of Teddy Roosevelt by Edmund Morris. They're still sitting on my nightstand, taunting me.   If my younger daughter ever sleeps through the night, I hope to be able to read more than a paragraph without passing out from exhaustion. As for new releases, I couldn't tell you; I haven't read the NY Times book review in 2 years either.  

I am reading " Bury Us Upside Down " by Ret. General Don Shepperd and Rick Newman.   A good read for any "baby boomer" who remembers the years when Vietnam was a word used and read daily in our homes.  

Debt of Honor - Tom Clancy.   Would recommend for reading on more than just a weekend get away. Good read with good characters.

Just last night I finished reading Karen Hughes book, " Ten Minutes from Normal ".   I enjoyed it, but want to add a disclaimer, if you don't like President Bush you probably don't want to read this; I personally DO like President Bush.   In some ways it was like reading a large newspaper, lots of facts, dates names, etc, but that is because of her news reporting background.   I found it encouraging, and insightful.   I was very appreciative that she was not afraid to talk about her faith in God, something that is often ridiculed and criticized by the press and television.   My husband often reminds me that we should continue to pray for our President, who ever is in the office, our country and our military, this book reinforced that to me.

I'm in the middle of " Out of the Silent Planet " by CS Lewis - the first in a trilogy of space books written by him.   I was on vacation last week with no cell phone, tv - etc. and started reading.   You are so right - it is a much better way to be!

With as much reading as I do on the job and with two active kids at home, I have little desire or time to read anything but the best and oldest book around - The Bible (aka "The Good Book" coincidentally).   Not only does it contain all the wisdom we will ever need in this life, it contains the stories of real people like you and me who were not perfect but still had victory in their lives because they believed in and sought after God.   As to whether I would recommend it to others -   it is my (our) appointed task and my (our) greatest honor to do so!   What a different place this world would be if more people would read this book - it has the power to change our lives if we just let it.

I am reading a book called To The Edge by Kirk Johnson. It is the story of a New York Times writer who lost his brother and decided to use his energy to run the 135 mile Badwater race through Death Valley. It dives into why Johnson was willing to risk his own life in order to make sense of things going on in his world. A simple marathon wouldn't do and he took on one of the most extreme ultramarathons around. As a marathoner I am fascinated by the people who go these extra lengths to test their bodies.

Although I've owned the book for over a year,   I have finally started to make progress in " The Davinci Code ".   A word of advice to others.....stick through the first 50-100 pages....the plot does pick up!

I just finished " The Knife Man ", a biography about John Hunter, the "founder of modern surgery." Fascinating book about medicine & surgery as practiced in 18th century London - something you do not want to have experienced!! I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for an opportunity to count their blessings, because we sure have them compared to those poor folks.

I'm about half way through Team of Rivals : The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln -- by Doris Kearns Goodwin.   It's definitely a good book so far, and I definitely recommend it.   It seems so foreign to read about individual politicians who would act in a way that is contrary to their party, and to ultimately separate from it due to moral conviction.   It's almost like a Twilight Zone story.

I never thought I'd write to Plansponsor with a book review but here goes:

I'm currently reading Anthong Bourdain's A Cook's Tour - In Search of the Perfect Meal . He's a rebellious chef from NYC that travels around the world in search of food experiences other than sitting in a 4-star restaurant in a starched collar. He is also the host of the show No Reservations on the Travel Channel. He'll try anything once and can explain it to the reader in such detail that you feel a part of the experience. He's very funny, he curses, he smokes, he's a real guy that you can imagine hanging out with.

On my commute to work I listen to this book on cd and find myself yearning for different ethnic flavors and often talk my associates at work into venturing out into our local neighborhood for some lunch adventures. I highly recommend the book for light easy summer reading.

I'm reading a couple of good books;

1. Holy Blood, Holy Grail , after having watched the 'DaVinci Code' movie twice now, it's a great background to many of the bizarre assumptions posited in the book/movie

2. Real Money by Jim Cramer, an invaluable read in the attempt to make private investing actually pay off

Terrors of the Table: the Curious History of Nutrition , by Water Gratzer (a biophysicist).   A more accurate title for the book would simply be A Brief, Random History of the Science of Nutrition, but that wouldn't be as eye-catching as the name chosen by the publisher.   I would recommend the book for any lay person interested in that sort of thing.

The Glass Castle - Jeanette Walls (suggested by my wife - was a very intriguing memoir)

The DaVinci Code (for the second time - I also enjoyed watching the movie with my wife)

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (also for the second time- enjoyed it more this time as I knew what was going on and was not in a rush to read to finish the book)

And of course plenty of children's books with my children (I especially enjoy reading Tumble Bumble with my 4 year old.)

The Kite Runner (is next on the list)

I am reading BlueLatitudes - Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before by Tony Horowitz.   Definitely entertaining!

I am an avid reader, so I feel I have to pick the best book I've read in the last couple weeks.   This is practically impossible,   so I am going to list two.   My two favorite authors both have new(er) works out.   Stephen King gets back to his roots (in style anyway) with " Cell ".   Good one for all those vacationers to read and maybe reconsider whether or not they want to answer that ringing cell phone while on vacation.   The other recommendation I have is by Dean Koontz (is my genre showing??), called " Velocity ".   Not done with that one yet, but so far pretty standard Koontz material and a page turner.

I read the Newsdash everyday - and I would definitely recommend it to others.

I am reading a terrific book I would recommend to any adult interested at all in the history of World War II. The book is called Biggest Brother: The Life of Major Dick Winters, The Man Who Led the Band of Brothers , by Larry Alexander.

I am reading two books right now…. Ghost Soldiers? Excellent true story about the WWII rescue of Japanese held Allied POW's, by a small group of US Rangers.

And, The Culprit and the Cure (Dr. Steven Aldana). Science based observations about the growing problem of obesity/cancer/etc. and how one can improve their quality and length of life by exercise and healthy eating.   The concepts seem intuitive, but the delivery and relevant studies really makes you think about the choices each one of us makes.  

I am almost done with Ghost Soldiers and just started The Culprit.   Highly recommend both books.

Light from Heaven - Jan Karon

Truth Seeker - Dee Henderson (audio)

I recommend Jan Karon's " Mitford " series about the life surrounding a priest in North Carolina to anyone who will listen.   I always thought they were just for women but changed my mind when a male co-worker told me about them and I started listening (most of my "reading", except for books such as Go Dog Go! and Little House to the kids, is in the car thanks to audio books)

I am also enjoying Henderson's series that includes enough adventure/suspense to overcome the mush.

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang, one of the best books I've read in a while.   An autobiography of 3 generations in China during the 20th century, from the warlord days through Mao's cultural revolution.   She's a wonderful storyteller and historian.   I understand from a Chinese colleague this book is fairly accurate in its depiction of life in China throughout this apparently it's banned from publication in China.

  This is a book about the 12 day chase for President Lincoln's Assassin.   Here is the write up:

The murder of Abraham Lincoln set off the greatest manhunt in American history, the pursuit and capture of John Wilkes Booth. From April 14 to April 26, 1865, the assassin led Union cavalry and detectives on a wild 12-day chase through the streets of Washington, D.C., across the swamps of Maryland, and into the forests of Virginia, while the nation, still reeling from the just-ended Civil War, watched in horror and sadness.

It is very good if you like History.

I'm actually re-reading some books.   A year ago while stocking up at The Book Rack, I stumbled upon Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer.   It recounts his experiences during the ill-fated expedition to climb Mt. Everest in May 1996.   I was amazed at the idea of wanting to go through such agony to achieve a few minutes on top of a mountain, not to mention the constant danger.   After Into Thin Air I hurried to find more about the subject and read (and am now re-reading) The Climb by Anatoli Boukreev and Left For Dead by Beck Wethers, both of which are about the same 1996 Mt. Everest expedition.   I would highly recommend Into Thin Air and The Climb for anyone who loves non-fiction and wants interesting, informative and well written books full of excitement and adventure.

Two somewhat recent books I would recommend are Flags of our Fathers , which is a story of the men in the Iwo Jima photo of the American Flag being raised.   The book is written by a son of one of the soliders and I'm man enough to admit that the end of the book had my "allergies" working a little bit.   Another book is The Emperors of Chocolate , which is a history of the Hershey and Mars chocoloate companies.   Discusses the early years of the companies and among other interesting facts, what M&M stands for.

Survey....I'm reading Jane Eyre this's great, I would definitely recommend it to with all English novels, there are some slow parts, but if you hang on, it's worth the ride....

I am taking a vacation from Business books and reading all of the Chronicles of Narnia with my kids.   It is an awesome series that really takes me away from reality and since vacation isn't going to happen this summer, it may be my only getaway.

I'm reading the Sparrowhawk series of books.   They are written by a gentleman living in the Williamsburg area and are set in the 1700's.   Lots of detail and a more formal style of writing but very good.   There are five books in the series with the 6th coming out, I believe, in December.   I am also reading Digging to America by Ann Tyler and I just finished Stephanie Plum's most recent book, Twelve Sharp.   Strictly fun reading.   I do enough work reading at work.   When I go home to read, I want to be entertained and hopefully transported to another place if not necessarily another time.

Do we have time for personal reading after keeping up with professional tomes all day? J

Actually, I read three books a week, so that's a tough one.   But the last two were The Oath by John Lescroart and The Fifth Horseman by John Patterson.   Would recommend both to anyone who likes mysteries although The Oath is more involved as far as sub-plots go.

I read as much as I can so I'll just list the current book.  

Animal Farm .   Remember reading that in high school?   Actually, Napoleon and Squealor remind me of Bush and Cheney though I think the roles are sort of reversed.

Alexander Hamilton , by Ron Chernow

If any of your readers are interested in good non-fiction, be sure and point them to ""... I just finished it and couldn't put it down...

I'm reading the T.O. (Terrell Owens) book about is time with the Philadelphia Eagles.   Just wanted to read something that was entertaining, not serious or romantic, and besides, I love football!

I've been reading everything I can by Craig Childs. I "found" him serendipitously, while browsing through one day, following a trail of reviews. He explores and writes about the deserts of the Southwest. " The Secret Knowledge of Water " and " Soul of Nowhere " are my favorites so far. I pay little attention to what is currently hot in the book market, preferring to find my own way to good reads.

  I'd like to tell you about what I've been reading this summer.

First, Conn Iggulden's fourth (and last) book in the Julius Caesar series was published this year.   " The Gods of War " is very good.   I would probably recommend if someone is new to the series to begin with " The Gates of Rome ".   The series has traced the life of Julius Caesar from youth through his assassination.   It is somewhat loose with the historical accuracy, but does make for some good fiction.

Second, I've discovered a good historical suspense author who writes in the same vein as Dan Brown of "DaVinci Code" fame.   His name is Steve Berry.   This summer I've read " The Romanov Prophecy ", " The Third Secret ", " The Templar Legacy " and about to start " The Amber Room ".   If someone enjoyed the novels of Dan Brown, they will really enjoy Berry's work.  

I read Winning by Jack Welch on the week in June when I was on vacation.   I'm not sure that I would recommend it, but it is interesting reading.

I'm reading books by my favorite author, Rosamond Pilcher.   She wrote a wonderful book called " The Shell Seekers ".   It's really long which is why I like books on tape.   I love being read to and the "reader" has great talent for bringing the book to life.   Other books that come alive on tape are Jan Karon's Mitford series.

The Power of a Positive Mom, by Karol Ladd

This book includes humor, inspiration along with scripture references, action items and   prayers. Motivating for every type of mom!

Fun read: Ironfire by David Ball

Important read: The Fair Tax by Neil Boortz and John Linder

So far I've read two fairly popular books - probably the big summer reads from 2004 or 2005 - The Historian and The Time Traveler's Wife .     I would not recommend the Historian.    Although it was a book about Dracula - he didn't make an appearance until page 600.     The Time Traveler's Wife is a bizarre read - but worth the time.     My next book is The World is Flat and I'm looking forward to it!!     Great reviews!!

Summer is always a good excuse for the usual trashy romance novels by Sandra Brown, and I would recommend them if, in fact, you're looking for a good trashy romance novel.   Other than that, let's see:   Three weekends ago I read The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue.   I would definitely recommend this.

It's sort of a page-turner, even though not all that much is "happening".   A boy is kidnapped by the changelings, and one of them takes his place and grows up in his stead.   It is both their stories of what is lost, and what is gained.   Very good.   Two weekends ago, I plowed through both Dean Koontz Frankenstein books (the third one isn't out yet).   Once again, I definitely recommend.   Great classic Koontz, and I am chomping at the bit for the third (and final) installment.   Last weekend I read Cell by Stephen King.   I think this one was a lesser version of The Stand (which, of course, was excellent and highly recommended).   It was the same type of story (most people are wiped out and there are some "good" and "bad" ones left), but not nearly as fleshed out.   Also, there seemed to be way more gore than necessary, and I wasn't satisfied with the ending.   Not terrible, but you'd be better off with the Koontz.


Hi.   I won't be reading a book, but several magazines and articles, all relating to NFL football and fantasy football (while I waste my time at the beach and pool in mid August).   I would only recommend this type of reading if you want to keep your team(s) out of the cellar this year!


" No Place Like Home " by Mary Higgins Clark - one of my favorite authors.

She never disappoints me.


I just read A Durable Peace: Israel and Its Place Among the Nations by Benjamin Netanyahu.   The first third of this book documents events which show why things are the way they are in the Middle East today.   It is a must read for anyone who is interested in learning the history of the Holy Land.


Vacations are for fun reading.   This year I discovered Janet Evanovich's books like One for the Money , about a lingerie-buyer turned bounty hunter (yes, you read right).   But for something really different, try Life of Pi by Yann Martel.   Its one I have read several times and get more out of it each time.


Excellent point you make regarding exercising the brain and I concur wholeheartedly.

I am currently reading…

Title: Manhunt The 12 - Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer (391 pgs.)

Author: James L. Swanson

This is a very compelling read about the chaos that ensued after President Lincoln was assassinated.   Also interesting is the loose security that elected officials had during a post-war period.   Colorful, engaging and riveting!    


I am reading The Templar Legacy .   I borrowed it from a friend and have found it to be pretty interesting so far.   It is in the same vein as The DaVinci Code, but lighter on the conspiracy theory....


The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God, and World Affairsby Madeleine Albright.   Just got it so don't know if I would recommend it or not.   


I barely have time to read NewsDash and the Wall Street Journal each day let alone have time for a relaxing recreational read.