It’s getting close to July 4 and, in the US, that means it’s time for the yearly summer celebration of Independence.
Of course, it’s not just a day. No, no. America sort of invented over-the-top, consumer-filled celebrations that completely lose sight of the meaning of the actual holiday. (That’s right, I’m looking at you Valentine’s Day. Don’t hide behind Christmas.) So, Independence Day can’t just be one day where we all stop and consider our nation’s history. Instead, it must be an entire weekend of BBQs, running through sprinklers and ticker-tape parades filled with red, white and blue. And, most importantly, giant exploding displays of fireworks streaking through the sky that leave a tinge of strange smoke lingering until the next morning.
It is also one of the few times of the year we all put aside our ever-growing polarized opinions and say – we’re going to be kind-hearted Americans and allow our shared love of waving tiny flags, eating pie and shooting exploding rockets up in the sky as a form of entertainment overcome the gulf of differences between us. 4th of July is truly a very American holiday.
And since it’s a whole weekend, usually plus a few extra days (this year I get 4 whole days off!), that means there might just be some time for reading, especially if you travel for the 4th.
That means it’s also a great time for a book recommendation list! So, here are 5 unusual book suggestions for your sparkler-filled weekend!
5. King George: What Was His Problem?: Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn’t Tell You About the American Revolution by Steve Sheinkin
This is technically a kids book. But, I’m pretty sure we can all learn, or re-learn, a thing or two about the American Revolution and why not share that with our kids in a way that’s actually fun, through humor!
Here’s a preview: Entire books have been written about the causes of the American Revolution. This isn’t one of them. Instead it’s the story of the birth of our nation, complete with soldiers, spies, salmon sandwiches, and real facts you can’t help but want to tell to everyone you know. Oh and it’s written by a National Book Award Finalist and Newbery Honor Book Award recipient.
4. Captain America by Marvel Comics
Born in NYC to immigrants, enlists in the army to fight in WWII and saves the world, Captain America is a pretty awesome and fun read for Independence Day. Whether it’s an older edition or a newer iteration of the comic, this quick read gives you a 4th of July fix that will still leave plenty of time to head over to the firework stand in time to buy something that will put your fingers in danger.
Or, if after you’ve sparkled your sparklers and eaten one too many hot dogs, you can’t quite imagine reading an entire book, this might be a good alternative way to still get a little of that patriotic spirit in your 4th of July evening reading repertoire.
Basically, it’s an easy read, full of pictures, with tons of red white and blue. And it’s all about a guy named Captain America who kicks butt. Like I said, perfect for 4th of July.
3. Independence Day by Richard Ford
Yes, this one is “right on the nose” in terms of the title of the book. However, I didn’t choose it just because of the title. This book also won the Pulitzer Prize. We needed a little literary in this list of lit.
So what’s it about? Well it continues the story of a man named Frank Bascombe, who in the aftermath of his divorce and the ruin of his career, has entered an “Existence Period,” selling real estate in Haddam, New Jersey, and mastering the high-wire act of normalcy.
But over one Fourth of July weekend, Frank is called into sudden, bewildering engagement with life…
2. The Disunited States of America by Harry Turtledove
Similar to the idea behind the Man in the High Castle, this book looks into the future of an alternate history in which the U.S. was never able to agree on a constitution and continued to govern under the Articles of Confederation. Interesting premise. I bet that goes swimmingly. Oh, wait, it’s a dystopian novel? No, it doesn’t.
Here’s a little preview: Justin’s having the worst trip ever. He and his mother are Time Traders, traveling undercover to different alternate realities of Earth so they can take valuable resources back to their own timeline. Justin and his mother are in an America that never became the United States: each state is like a country, and many of them are at war with each other. Their mission takes them to Virginia, which is on the verge of bloody violence with Ohio.
Nothing like a dystopic future with no 4th of July to make you actually appreciate the meaning behind our Independence Day.
1. Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin Manuel Miranda
For all the Hamilton-obsessed people out there who can’t afford to see the play, this book and/or audiobook seems like a fantastic back- up option. And it’s perfectly suited for 4th of July. Music! Drama! Revolution!
Plus, you have to give Hamilton (the play) extra props for single-handedly teaching kids from the age of 8 to 14 the history of the American Revolution, or at least an pretty interesting part of it. We all know they were not learning it in school…Thanks Lin Manuel Miranda!
Enjoy the 4th or, if you’re not in the US, enjoy your weekend. May it also be filled with something fun and exciting.