We spend most of the year reading things that are “serious,” that are needed for professional development or personal growth. But summer reading is about fun and escapism, and that goes for coin collectors, too. Here are a few of our favorite fun reads that have scenes or themes that may be of interest to the collector (while still being good for the beach or the hammock.)
Hild, by Nicola Griffith: This novel of the childhood of the woman who became St. Hilda of Whitby paints a stunning immersive and accurate picture of life in 7th century Britain. Hild is the daughter of a king, who must live in exile after her father is murdered and learn to navigate the intricacies of Anglo-Saxon warlord courts. Of special interest to the collector are scenes in which Hild begins to understand the power of coins over hacksilver, as they are tradeable over long distances and can be sent with messengers. A must-read for anyone interested in Anglo-Saxon culture and currency, or how a society transitions to using coins.
The Numismatourist, by Howard M. Berlin: This wonderful guide to coin sites all over the world will let the collector experience the fascination of coin-related travel without leaving their seat. Use this excellent book as a guide to planning future trips, or just enjoy reading about locations that sound interesting.
Hamilton, by Ron Chernow. Alexander Hamilton was not only the first Secretary of the Treasury, but also one of the founders of the US Mint, though the Mint ended up overseen by Jefferson’s State Department. Our currency and economic system were hugely influenced by Hamilton, and his life is an interesting one; it’s also a good way to put early American coinage into context. (Even if you’re already a fan of the musical, this book contains a lot of stories that never made it into the play.) It’s a large book, but well-written and easy to read.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman. Known for his odd and otherworldly storytelling, Gaiman (also author of the Sandman graphic novel series, Stardust, and American Gods) puts his powers on full display in this short novel about childhood, the mysteries of the world, and growing up. An ancient spirit comes to the house of the young narrator of the book, and seeking to ingratiate itself with the humans, enables treasure to be found. An older couple pulls a hoard of coins out of their garden, a little girl is given a mouse-skin purse with a silver coin inside, the narrator wins twenty-five pounds in a lottery. Such ill-gotten gains do no good, however, and the young boy’s world is thrown into chaos. (To find out if it has a happy ending, read the book!)
Modern Coin Magic, by J. B. Bobo. Summer is the perfect time to learn and perfect a few classic sleight-of-hand coin tricks. Coins have been used in alchemy, magic, and prestidigitation for as long as coins have been around, so join in the fun! (Magic tricks should, of course, probably not be performed with high value coins, as its best to keep skin contact to a minimum. But there’s no shortage of low-value coins to work with!)