What Are You Reading? Recommendations for the Coming Year

What are you reading these days? People obviously read for a variety of reasons and their choices tend to marry their intent for the reading. Pleasure, informational, even social affiliation often work as motives.

Below are a handful of recommendations addressing the tremendous challenges we face in our communities. These fiction and nonfiction recommendations are squarely focused on providing information for acting on challenges.

Full disclosure – some of these books have come from reader recommendations and I have not read them all. Personally, my goal is to read more fiction this upcoming year.

Sing, Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward. A book that has won lots of acclaim for challenging our common categories of “rural poor” and “products of the criminal justice system.” Ward’s accomplishment is that she demonstrates, through the eyes of a 13-year-old, a level of understanding that is difficult to achieve without living in the situation.

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger. This is one of several books on the same topic. Junger helps us remember the importance of community.  We thrive when we define ourselves with a common purpose. For this reason, recent reports of distressed communities have claimed a lack of social networks that bind people together.

The Red Bandanna: A Life, a Choice, a Legacy by Tom Rinaldi. This book is about sacrifice and how people can make a difference. It is focused on the aftermath of September 11.

How to Read Nature: Awaken your Senses to the Outdoors You’ve Never Noticed by Tristan Gooley. Gooley runs a school of natural navigation, teaching people skills that help navigate the vast natural world. He claims that those who engage nature and use their senses to better connect with nature, will evolve into more interesting and effective people.

The Retreat of Western Liberalism by Edward Luce. Luce is a political commentator in Washington DC. His conjecture is that the liberal order cannot by fixed without a clear view of what has gone wrong. This book is a good complement to a book I recommended earlier in the year called Conscience of a Conservative by Jeff Flake.

Americana: A 400-Year History of American Capitalism by Bhu Srinivasan. A review of businesses and industries.

Tamed: Ten Species that Changed our World by Alice Roberts. This book is a good complement to others such as Guns, Germs and Steel and Sapiens, this book uses stories of apples, dogs, horses, and other simple species to tell a broader story about human history.

Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz. This book argues that the web will revolutionize social science similar to how earlier inventions, such as the telescope and DNA coding, revolutionized science. This book shows what people actually do and think as opposed to what they choose to tell pollsters.

Inheritors of the Earth: How Nature is Thriving in an Age of Extinction by Chris Thomas. Humans are causing extinctions at a alarming rate yet hybridization and speciation is happening quickly, too. Humans may be brining about a great new age of biological diversity.


Here is a list of books I have recommended in earlier newsletters:

$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America by  Kathryn J. Eden and H. Luke Schaefer.

Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Cents and Sensibility: What Economics Can Learn from the Humanities  by  Gail Saul Morson and Morton Shapiro.

Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein.

Conscience of a Conservative by Jeff Flake.

Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change by George Marshall.

Drawdown edited by Paul Hawken.

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond.

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari.

How to Think Seriously About the Planet: The Case for an Environmental Conservatism by Roger Scruton.

 Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson.

No Ordinary Disruption: The Four Global Forces Braking all of the Trends by Richard Dobbs, James Manyika, and Jonathan Woetzel.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. (Read this book first then his sequel Homo Deus).

The Crime of Complicity by Amos N. Guiro.

The Economy by Oscar Landerretche, Sam Bowles, Wendy Carlin, and Margaret Stevens.

The Resilience Dividend by Judith Rodin.

This Changes Everything: Capitalism versus the Climate by Naomi Klein.

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of the Racial Divide by Carol Anderson.


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