Last week I recommended a list of my favorite works of imaginative literature to read over the summer. This week, I offer a list of twenty-five works of “imaginative non-fiction.” Because its the summer, I’ve included books that are relatively short and accessible. But because this is for readers of First Things , I’ve chosen tomes that will broaden your perspective, challenge your thinking, or just teach you something new.

This isn’t a list of “greatest books in their field” (though some may be) but merely an attempt to provide fun and readable recommendations in a broad range of subject areas. As much as possible I’ve tried to include titles that you aren’t likely to have read yet.

Here is a list of some of my favorite books to read during the long, hot days of summer:

Apologetics: Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions - Greg Koukl (There are hundreds of books that can provide sound arguments in defense of the Christian faith. But Koukl’s is one of the few that show how to employ various strategies in conversations with unbelievers about the faith.)

Philosophy: Aquinas : A Beginner’s Guid e – Edward Feser (The single best, and briefest, introduction to the thought of Thomas Aquinas that you’ll ever read.)

Politics: The Contested Public Square: The Crisis of Christianity and Politics Greg Forster (As Richard John Neuhaus said about this First Thoughts’ contributor’s work, “This book is an astonishing achievement. With a mastery of the historical material and a keen appreciation of the changing forms of the problem through the centuries, Dr. Forster illuminates for Christians and others the present crisis of public virtue and just government.”)

Mathematics: The Numbers Game: The Commonsense Guide to Understanding Numbers in the News, in Politics, and in Lif e - Michael Blastland and Andrew Dilnot (Blastland and Dilnot, the “Strunk & White of statistics”, help us average folks navigate the numbers in the news.)

Economics: The Cartoon Introduction to Economics - Yoram Bauman and Grady Klein (Don’t let the graphic novel format fool you. This is a solid and entertaining introduction (or reintroduction) to microeconomic concepts.)

Art Criticism: The Painted Word – Tom Wolfe (This classic illuminates how modern art moved away from being a visual experience to a means of illustrating the theories of art critics.)

Communication: How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History’s Greatest Communicator – Joe Carter and John Coleman (It would be crass to recommend my own book, so I won’t do that. Instead, I’ll recommend you read my co-author’s book. Besides, if you like Jesus and/or persuading people, then you should like this short volume.)

Writing: How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One - Stanley Fish (Fish has an infective enthusiasm for good writing.)

Technology Studies : Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology – Neil Postman (Postman was not only our most astute media critic but one of the most prophetic voices of the last thirty years. Essential reading for understanding how our culture is shaped by media and technology.)

Theology of Art: Art and the Bible – Francis Schaeffer (More of an extended pamphlet than a book, but a good place to start thinking about art and the Bible.)

Theology of the Body: Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to Our Faith - Matthew Lee Anderson (Anderson shows what the Bible says about our bodies and how we can grow to appreciate the importance of embodiment in our spiritual lives.)

Theology of Culture: Plowing in Hope: Toward a Biblical Theology of Culture – David Bruce Hegeman (In this brief, excellent volume, Hegeman shows how Scripture affirms both the importance of culture and our role in the culturative enterprise.)

Theology of Literature: Reading Between the Lines: A Christian Guide to Literature - Gene Edward Veith, Jr. (A useful overview to approaching literature from a Christian perspective.)

Theology of Marriage - Fidelity: What It Means to be a One-Woman Man - Douglas Wilson (Wilson explains how godly honoring of the marital bed can strengthen a marriage.)

Biography: Churchill - Paul Johnson (A brief, breezy overview of the life of the great British leader.)

Cultural History: How We Got Here: The 70’s: The Decade That Brought You Modern Life — For Better or Worse – David Frum (Frum’s writing’s on politics are becoming increasingly abysmal. He would have been better off sticking with writing cultural history, a genre in which he excels.)

Practical Theology: Discipleship of the Mind: Learning to Love God in the Ways We Think - James W. Sire (Although every book by Sire is worth reading, this is one of his best.)

Pro-Life Apologetics: The Case for Life: Equipping Christians to Engage the Culture - Scott Klusendorf (One of the best books of pro-life apologetics ever written.)

Islam: Islam: A Short History - Karen Armstrong (Anything Armstrong writes about God or Christianity should probably be avoided. However, she does a good job providing a brief history of the Muslim faith.)

Judaism: Judaism: A Very Short Introduction – Norman Solomon (A very good—and yes, very short (135 pages)—introduction to Judaism.)

Essays: Fighting the Noonday Devil - and Other Essays Personal and Theological – R.R. Reno (Essays by FT’s editor. Self-recommending.)

Strategy: Warfighting - U.S. Marine Corps (A modern classic on strategic thinking by the world’s best fighting force. Also available in an free online copy (PDF))

Tactics: The Defence of Duffer’s Drift - E.D. Swinton (Swinton’s book teaches tactical thinking using an intriguing series of dreams. A useful exercise in creative thinking. Here is an PDF version and an online version .)

Business: If Aristotle Ran General Motors - Tom Morris (Although it would be filed in the Management section of the bookstore, the former Notre Dame philosopher’s book shows that “business” is about more than making money. Morris does a great job explaining how Aristotle’s ideas on truth, beauty, goodness, and unity should shape our lives.)

Vade Mecum: In, But Not of: A Guide to Christian Ambition and the Desire to Influence the World - Hugh Hewitt (I wish this book had been around when I graduated high school. Instead, I stumbled across it at the ripe old age of 34—and it still changed my life. You wouldn’t be reading this post now had I not read and followed Hewitt’s advice. This isn’t a book for everyone, though. It’s not for the post-high school knucklehead who “needs direction.” This is the type of book for teens and young adults who are already on the road to achievement but need a roadmap for the way. Even if you don’t have a son or daughter of your own, you need to give this book to someone in your life. Whether it be for a niece, a younger brother, or just the bright young kid at your church, you need to get this book into the hands of our future influencers. If even a fraction of the students who read it would heed its advice, the impact on the church and culture would be profound.)

What works of “imaginative non-fiction” would your recommend for this summer?

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