I ROUTINELY READ 40-50 books per year. With that in mind, here are a few of my favorites from the last six months. For the right person, these would make great Christmas gifts.

The first is Christopher Columbus Mariner by one of America’s great historians, Samuel Elliot Morrison. It was first published in the nineteen fifties, and that is what made it so attractive. I wanted a Columbus biography not influenced by all the political correctness of modernity. Morrison, a much venerated and now dead Harvard historian, provided it. He examines both the great man’s virtues and vices. You’ll get the most out of this if you read it with Google Maps open. The author personally sailed all the routes that Columbus took across the Atlantic and in the Caribbean before he wrote this book. Only 150 pages long, this book is a winner. It is out of print, but you can find used copies at Amazon or at your favorite library.

Also did a second reading of The Cross of Christ by John Stott. I first read it twenty years ago. It was good then, but it was even better the second time. This book is a classic. For those who have bought the fiction that the cross was “cosmic child abuse,” this book makes a compelling argument otherwise. Few books will still be in print 100 years from not. This is one of them. Take the time to read and study it. You won’t be disappointed.

My son, Joe, recommended Albion’s Seed by David Hacket Fischer. It tells the story of four waves of English immigrants to America. (Albion is another word for England). The first migration was of Puritans to New England in the 1630s. The second were the Royalists to Virginia in the 1650s. The third was the Quakers to Pennsylvania in the early eighteenth century. The book closes with the massive Scotch-Irish immigration from 1720-80. Published in the 1980s, this story has not grown old. I finished convinced that I had never really understood America’s founding and what a massive imprint England has had on all that is America today. For those interested in American history, Albion’s Seed is must-reading.

Eric Metaxas’ autobiography, A Fish Out of Water, is the illuminating story of the dramatic and radical conversion of a lapsed Greek Orthodox, educated at Yale, and transformed in an instant through the glories of a Christ to a God-honoring life. This book shows God at work in his’ pre-conversion life, preparing him for future usefulness. Metaxas also makes it clear that God converted Metaxas. He did not convert himself. This is a faith-building read. I highly recommend it.

Last, how could I leave out David McCullough’s Pulitzer prize-winning biography of John Adams . It was McCullough’s second Pulitzer, and I finished understanding for the first time the inner working of the Second Continental Congress—the one which produced the Declaration of Independence. I ended tearfully impressed by John Adams, his amazing wife, Abigail, and how God used them in American history. All of McCullough’s books are treasures, and this one is no exception.