I spent a good amount of time in my textbooks for various homework assignments (some of which I posted here) and reading all types of articles online along with partial books when in the campus library between classes. I am happy that I have a list (of finished) this year and look forward to increasing it next year.
Bulibasha by Witi Ihimaera
A story of a boy and his fight with his grandpa, who has had a life long battle with another family, but that story has been a lie. Buli is religious, but rapes and abuses. Grandma tells the truth when he dies and gets to spend seven years with her true love, even if she did stay with Buli for 45 years and 12 kids. Family comes first and they shear sheep every summer.
Imaginary Cities by Darran Anderson
A book about what cities used to be and what they could be; how they changed the history of a place and the thoughts of the people. How architecture has been used for art, protection, and purpose within the landscape. Cities can be functional for peace or war, to create open spaces or narrow streets. (reread in July in Phoenix)
Folklore, Memoirs, and Other Writings by Zora Neale Hurston
An interesting insight into the mind of a black woman in 1940s America who was born in 1891. I appreciate her honest opinions and wish that more of what she wanted then was accomplished now. I skipped some of the more religious parts (some 500p), but enjoyed the songs and stories of people from Florida, Alabama, Haiti, etc.
Mother by Maxim Gorky
A boy in Russia takes up a revolutionary cause for working men everywhere. His dad dies and his mom joins his cause, without a husband to beat her. He gets 6-12 months in prison before being exiled to Siberia and she gets arrested in the end. It’s a story of love and growth that goes beyond the self to extend to all truth. The author was a hero to the people who wrote the book in the safety of the States before returning to Russia.
How I Became a Nun by César Aira
I thought it was going to be a coming-of-age story of a girl who joins a convent, but it’s of a girl who watches her dad murder the ice-cream vendor for giving her cyanide poisoning. She upsets her mother, is ignored by her teacher, and has one friend that bites her nose with his gam’s teeth. The girl gets shoved into a bucket of ice cream in the end by the vendor’s widow.
Winging It: A Tale of Turning Thirty by Elizabeth Tippens
It pulls on your heart, in Paris, in NY, in Philly. It shows the honest side of love, the side we all experience as we chase what we can’t have or screwed up somehow. They are short stories, but that’s life, that’s how we’re all connected – for a short time.
This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Tadeusz Borowski
This is a prisoner’s view of the concentration camps of the Holocaust. I’m glad it was a short story as it reaffirms some things I knew and introduces me to details I did not. I look forward to reading more happy books, but I’m grateful for the insight into the crimes people can commit against themselves and can appreciate each day done with only good deeds. I like to think that all people are kind, but they are also lazy and selfish, and given the chance can be very cruel.
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
The Russian names made the story hard to follow in the beginning, even with the character introductions, but it becomes clear that Pavel left his wife, Lara, for six years to fight the revolutionary cause and then shot himself after having a long talk with the man, Zhivago, she’d been staying with, the man who is the main character. He too left his wife, Tonia, for the war, returned to impregnate her, and was then kidnapped into the war for almost two more years. When Zhivago couldn’t find Tonia, he stayed with Lara in an abandoned house till he forced her to leave and soon after found Pavel had shot himself. This would lead him into the arms of Marina with whom he’d have two children. He was working on getting another hospital job and bringing in his wife and two kids from Paris when he had a heart attack on the train. Lara tells of her love, two men dead and the one she least desires still living. It’s a story of the early 1900s in Russia, but also of love, past and present.
The Buddhist Handbook by John Snelling
Bummed about missing the first eight chapters (a poor torn book) and I didn’t read nine, but it was interesting to learn about the spread of Buddhism and the followers having to hide their beliefs through Christianity, Islam, Confucianism, and war. It was adapted to fit the local culture and has taken its time to become westernized as it’s not a very feminist belief; and one that is now being mixed with modern society as being a recluse is not required or feasible in the West.
Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind by Hans Moravec
I’m glad, even though I put the book down a few times, that I finally finished reading it. The story begins with the history of robots finding their way through an empty room and finishes with a future of human minds in robot bodies weaving their own worlds through language and exchange of knowledge. It speaks of the fears of having a robot-dominant world and ways the programmers would preempt for those scenarios. It got me thinking about the life of the brain, and besides cancer and needing bodily feedback it seems to be they could last 1,000 years or more. It made me think about multiple dimensions and a world in which we could see light years and diseases and the pulse of life, such as in Interstellar and Lucy.
Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace … One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Relin
This book made me cry, and laugh, and recall my time in the Middle East and how I was treated like family. It also brought up the incident of 9/11 and the ways it was dealt with in America and abroad. I enjoy emotion-invoking reading — that and asking questions are a sign of a good book. Dr. Greg wanted to climb K2 and honor his sister. He would go on to honor his two children by building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, even during times of war, for sixteen years. He overcame cultural differences, took the time to learn their languages, tea habits, and prayer ways — and to really make a difference through the turbulent terrain. (but also to make a million dollars from his non-profit that he paid back in a settlement)
Fifty Machines that Changed the Course of History
This book taught me that most things take 100 years or more to develop. They start out huge and expensive and over time come with more lights, buttons, and functions as they decrease in size and cost. Some things could’ve been developed sooner and some are done with so quickly. Technology is necessary, genius, and provides freedom, yet a personal prison too.
The Light of the Home: An Intimate View of the Lives of Women in Victorian America by Harvey Green
This book provides interesting insight into just 100 years ago. Men were definitely the ruling class, even in the women’s domain. They set up the kitchen, the bicycle, the swimsuit, croquet, church, childcare, health rules, camping dress, and calling cards. Life was more busy and messy back then, but art and decor and manner appear now to have more meaning, as I’m sure looking back on my history will have to curious persons in the future. I’m grateful for their efforts for equality and can’t imagine having to wear a pessary to counteract a corset or being doped on alcohol and opium for appearing weak or confused.
Physics and Its Fifth Dimension: Society by Dietrich Schroeer
An interesting read on the applications of science and how they effect the medicine field, military technology, and political opinion. There is a lot to learn in this book, and I should probably reread it, but it was a good introduction into science helping find the thyroid issue, developing the atomic bomb which would lead to better medicine on a smaller scale. The environmental section, written in the 70s, accurately predicts where the planet is today knowing that people don’t like to change until it’s too late. The book discusses x-rays helping find fake art and astronomy vs the church opinion, and the migration of scientists due to the Nazis. And finishes with the price of getting America to the moon — not yet knowing some of the power of space, but knowing Russia might figure it out. (reread in June)
A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America by Bruce C. Gibney
I was entertained at first with the amount of research collected to fit the authors opinion, but after a while, especially in the tax section, I began to grow weary of all the numbers and percentages. It’s interesting to see how a group of people were able to manipulate the government and society to fit their needs — drinking, voting, Vietnam, housing, retirement, business ownership, tax evasion, and the national debt — all things to go in their favor at the expense of others and the future that will have to clean up the mess.
The Disappearing Spoon: and other true tales of madness, love, and the history of the world from The Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean
Caroline found this book at Goodwill and I’m happy she lent it to me. What an interesting read and glimpse into such an important part of human life. Some scientists predicted the future statistics of elements accurately and others lied to be in the spotlight for a day, regardless of the consequences their actions would bring. The importance of elements is seen in their rarity, their abilities, and how much humans like them for architectural, monetary, or edible purposes. Some glow, some poison, and some mix, but not mercury that prefers to ball up away from others.
Big Data by V. Mayer-Schönberger and K. Cukier
A bit repetitive, but I enjoyed the insight into what information companies are collecting on customers and employees to collaborate with others to bring about change – where the flu is and to stop the quick spread; which apartments in NY are most likely to burn down first, which engine parts need replacing before a breakdown in delivery trucks, and how to get the cheapest flight depending on the season and the airline. This amount of data comes with challenges that will be met and with downfalls that will try to be avoided.
The Root of Wild Madder by Brian Murphy
The author travels over the deserts of Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey, etc., to learn about the history and meaning of carpets; to learn their language. He learns more about the culture, taking time for tea, appreciating the shades of red in natural dye, and finding his heart piece and not paying the Jesus Price for it. I thought it would be more scientific, but whatever Brian learned about buying carpets he didn’t share with his audience.
Conflict Arousal and Curiosity by D.E. Berlyne
I’ve tried to read this book multiple times, but it always puts me to sleep reading about the effects of an environment on mice in boxes based on painted patterns, light differences, electric shocks, and availability of food on whether they got excited or explored the maze. I’m sure there’s more to be learned in the book though.
The Creative Destruction of Medicine by Eric Topol
A neat look into the possibilities of merging people with technology to offer more insight into the data our bodies create to help rid or prevent illness and increase treatment success rates on a genomic level.
A Whole New Ball Game by Dave Malcolm
I skipped some chapters because I began to lose interest in his writing style, not the topic. It’s nice to see “the white man’s” perspective on the topics of racism, sexism, and saving the planet as I always appreciate an opportunity to look into my own ideals and make sure I’m making the most proper choice; one of love and understanding.
Introducing Neuro-Linguistic Programming: The New Psychology of Personal Excellence by Joseph O’Connor and John Seymour
A scientific way to say that your world is what you make of it. The part that stuck with me the most was reimagining your past to shine a brighter light on your future. You have the power to associate bad things into better memories so you’re able to move past them or deal with them more efficiently next time. Another section wrote about understanding language, especially in its vagueness, and how to overcome that to listen to people better and respond in a more detailed way. I looked at some of the recommended reading and am interested in learning more about this approach for my own wellbeing and helping children to learn more about themselves and understand the world around them.
I’m currently reading The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss. He gets a lot of hype in certain circles and I listened to part of a podcast today with him as the guest talking about psychedelics and suicide and his TED Talk (and I love me some TED), but I’m not quite sure what I think of the book yet — I am only 20% in. I’ll keep reading and let you know how it goes (and whether I’ll be rushing to buy his other books or appreciate the bit of insight this one has to offer).
This leaves me at 22 books read this year. How many books did you read this year? Which one would you recommend?