My Top Five Book Recommendations

Published April 4th, 2020 by Thomas Gilman

When we read, not only are we improving memory and empathy, but research has shown that it makes us feel better and more positive too. Science has shown that reading has some amazing health benefits, including helping with depression, cutting stress, and reducing the chances of developing Alzheimer's later in life.  

I told myself five books, but I couldn’t help myself and had to group a couple together. The first four books are related to World War II. There is a laundry list of reasons for that, but I will keep it simple. The aftermath and consequences of World War II have always fascinated me. From the leadership to the men in the trenches to the battle of conflicting ideologies to the old and young on the home front. That brings me to a personal reason why I fancy this era so much…my grandmother. My grandmother, Kathe Moore (her maiden name is Gentsch), lived on the outskirts of Nürnberg, Germany during the war. I have always looked up to this amazingly humble and strong woman who has been very influential in my life. A little context to why I admire her so much…grandma worked for NAPA Auto Parts for 40 years, her one and only job here in the States. She worked those 40 years in a warehouse-like setting, which wasn’t easy work, and she NEVER MISSED A SINGLE DAY OF WORK AND WAS NEVER LATE! In 40 years…imagine that. Imagine 40 years, 14,600 days of work, and never missing a day and never being late. Hard work, toughness, and dedication is in my genetics…and that is one of four examples from that generation that keeps me strong, dedicated, and determined. (I’ll talk about the other three in a future blog.)

Citizen Soldiers, by Stephen E. Ambrose, chronicles the American campaign on the Western Front during World War II. This book gives the reader a good understanding of the sacrifices our servicemen made in order to win the war against Nazi Germany. As the title points to, ordinary citizens no different from you and me put their lives at home aside for something much bigger than themselves…our beloved United States of America.  

Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, is an amazing book that was turned into a terrible Hollywood movie. I highly recommend this book, but I do not recommend the movie. The book is a rollercoaster of emotion that keeps you flipping page after page. Through the book you’ll follow Louis Zamperini from an ornery young kid of immigrant parents, to an Olympian, to a bombardier, to a POW, to an abusive husband, and finally a saved man. Mr. Zamperini made a promise to the Lord somewhere along his journey, forgot that promise, and finally came around to being saved years later. This ultimately changed the trajectory of his life. 

Give Me Tomorrow, by Patrick K. O’Donnell, is a phenomenal book on Man’s fighting spirit and how far a Warrior will go to save the lives of those with whom he shares a foxhole. One of the main characters, Rocco Zullo, drew me in from the start. He epitomizes what it means to be a leader and he always put the needs of the men underneath him before the needs of himself. Another reason why this book finds its way on my list is because it is about the Korean War, a war my grandfather found himself fighting in. My grandfather, the husband of the grandmother mentioned above, spent his retirement years reading and reflecting. Of all the books I’ve inherited from his collection this book was not one of them. He handed down hundreds of books to me, all on history, and not a single one was about the Korean War. He said, “I was there, I don’t need to know any more about the subject.” I’ve always had an interest to know more about the war my grandfather served in. This book gave me insight into why he didn’t feel like revisiting that chapter of his life. 

Jordan B. Peterson’s 12 Rule for Life I highly recommend right now, due to the current landscape, or anytime you are going through a difficult or hard time. There are two things that make this book so great. The first being Mr. Peterson is an extremely rational and smart man who does not back down from a conflict or someone attempting to discredit him. The second is that every one of the 12 rules Mr. Peterson list he backs them up with BIBLICAL principles. 

Here I’m grouping Stalingrad, by Anthony Beevor, and the Fall of Berlin, by Anthony Read and David Fisher, together because they are the turning point and the end of World War II respectively. Both of these books do an amazing job of not only showing the grand strategic importance of the battles, but they also give the reader a glimpse of what it was like for the civilians living under siege. Admittedly the Battle of Stalingrad was far more brutal, on both the civilians and soldiers alike, than the Battle of Berlin. That being said they are both good examples of how the momentum of the war shifted and how, by 1945, both sides were ready to be done fighting. 

TP Gilman 

Citizen Soldiers: The U.S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany by Steven Ambrose

UnbrokenA World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand 

Stalingrad by Anthony Beevor/Fall of Berlin by Anthony Read and David Fisher

Give Me Tomorrow by Patrick K. O’Donnell

12 Rules for Life by John B. PetersonThe Bible 

Thanks to Tony Rotundo and for capturing the photo used in this blog at the Pan-Am Olympic Qualifier in Ottawa last month.

Copyright © 2020 Thomas Gilman. All Rights Reserved. Photos used on this website courtesy Tony Rotundo and John Sachs. They may not be reused without their permission.

Website by