I’m an avid reader, and I love a good book. I also spent nearly a decade as a Navy spouse, and I wrote my first poetry collection, When the Men Go Off to War (Naval Institute Press) about my experience as a spouse at home during a deployment. So I’m always on the lookout for the most captivating books about the military experience. Here are my Top Twelve favorite books for military spouses:
1. In Love and War, by Jim and Sybil Stockdale
This book never fails to move me. It’s co-authored by Admiral Jim Stockdale, a POW during the Vietnam War, and his wife Sybil, about his experience during imprisonment and her efforts to bring him home. It’s an emotional, raw and beautiful story of love and determination in the face of the greatest obstacles, and you won’t want to put this book down.
Get In Love and War on Amazon.
2. The Confusion of Languages, by Siobhan Fallon
Army wife Siobhan Fallon became one of the best-known military spouse writers with her story collection, You Know When the Men Are Gone. In her riveting debut novel, she tells the story of an Army wife who goes missing in Jordan during the rise of the Arab Spring, and her friend’s search to find her.
Get The Confusion of Languages on Amazon.
3. Redeployment, by Phil Klay
This short story collection gets to the heart of the modern servicemember and what it’s like to come home from deployment. Winner of the 2014 National Book Award for Fiction, it includes some of the most captivating passages I’ve ever read about the psychology of war and loss, and it’s a book every military spouse should read.
Get Redeployment on Amazon.
4. The Yellow Birds, by Kevin Powers
One of the most stunning works of modern military fiction, this novel tells the story of the friendship between two American soldiers in Iraq. Powers writes beautifully. It’s a book you’ll want to savor.
Get The Yellow Birds on Amazon.
5. Stateside, by Jehanne Dubrow
This exquisite and relatable poetry collection is a military classic. Jehanne Dubrow, a Navy spouse, writes of her experiences “stateside” while her husband was deployed, and weaves in references to Odysseus’s wife Penelope – history’s greatest example of a wife left at home during war – throughout.
Get Stateside on Amazon.
6. Sacred Spaces by Corie Weathers
This memoir by an Army chaplain’s wife tells the story of her military marriage, as she travels overseas to gain a better understanding of her husband and his deployment experience. This book was featured on the Today Show as one of Kathie Lee’s “favorite things.”
Get Sacred Spaces on Amazon.
7. Gods of Tin, by James Salter
Many people haven’t heard of him, but I consider James Salter the best writer of the 20th century. Salter shot to fame in the 1950s, with his first novel The Hunters, about his experience as a pilot during the Korean War. This memoir about his years as a military pilot include some of the most evocative passages I’ve ever read, and he captures the agonies and exhilaration of war better than anyone. It’s a book you and your spouse can read together.
Get Gods of Tin on Amazon.
8. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
How could I leave this classic wartime love story off the list? One of Hemingway’s most cherished novels tells the story of an American ambulance driver serving in Italy during World War I, and his relationship with an English nurse. It includes some of Hemingway’s best writing and his uncanny ability to capture human emotion and the trials of war in sparse prose.
Get A Farewell to Arms on Amazon.
9. Youngblood, by Matt Gallagher
Gallagher’s raw and lyrical novel about a soldier in Iraq delves vividly into the moral complexity of war. I think The New York Times Review explained it best: “It’s a story about how we tell stories to friends and strangers, trying to convey experiences they will never know firsthand,” which is why it’s a must-read for military spouses.
Get Youngblood on Amazon.
Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand
This book remains my favorite nonfiction book of all time; I couldn’t put it down. The story of World War II POW Louis Zamperini is so unbelievable it seems like fiction, but it’s true, and Hillenbrand’s writes it like a novel. Even if you’ve seen the movie, this is a book not to be missed.
Get Unbroken on Amazon.
The 5 Love Languages, Military Edition, by Gary Chapman
If you don’t know your – and your spouse’s – love language, you should. This simple way of looking at relationships has helped millions of people. This is a perfect, and quick, book to read and talk about with your spouse. It really will make your marriage better.
Get The 5 Love Languages, Military Edition on Amazon.
Summer at Tiffany, by Marjorie Hart
Every military spouse needs something fun to read during those long deployments. Marjorie Hart’s memoir of her summer working at Tiffany’s in New York City in 1945 will stay with you long after you finish it.
Get Summer at Tiffany on Amazon.
Need some more ideas on books for military spouses or military books for other people in the family? Check out these additional military life books.
What are some of your favorite books for military spouses? Share them in the comments below!