At any point in my life, I have always had a book that I was in the middle of reading. I love to read. Outside of playing music, it is my favorite form of recreation. You can visit foreign countries and experience new cultures. You can live someone else’s life through their thoughts and perspectives. You can laugh, cry, or become inspired. I would not be the artist and creative person I am today if I had not taken the time to read important books and become more informed about how the world around me truly operates.
Reading books makes me happy. Here is a listing of all the books I finished reading in 2016:
Heart of Darkness
Author: Joseph Conrad
Book Length: 79 Pages
This book is not for the weak of heart. It is a harrowing reflection of the pitfalls on both sides of imperialism, in which the vulnerable working poor and the indigenous peoples of conquered lands fall on the destructive and bitter end of the equation. Though a tough read, it is an important piece of literature and a quick one at less than 100 pages.
The Robber Bride
Author: Margaret Atwood
Book Length: 528 Pages
This is the first novel I have read by Ms. Atwood of the many she has already penned. It was entertaining and a bit predictable here and there. There is a purely evil antagonist in this story who is the human equivalent of a small tsunami, sweeping everyone forcefully into the wrath of her cunning intentions. The story felt like a comparison between women either tearing each other down or supporting one another. The former is horrendous while the latter is what gives this book some genuine tenderness.
Smarter, Faster, Better
Author: Charles Duhigg
Book Length: 300 Pages
I am constantly interested in productivity in terms of how we can do more of the activities that we truly value and enjoy. Given the many demands in our full lives and varying individual sensibilities, this is tricky. This book not only offers insightful ideas on how to live more effectively, but it gives real-life, concrete examples to back them up. It’s a fascinating read. Highly recommended.
The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay
Author: Michael Chabon
Book Length: 639 Pages
I can see why this book won the Pulitzer Prize. It is incredibly imaginative and well-written. My only complaint is that the story went on far longer than it should have. The final third of the book lost a good bit of the momentum and excitement that it had earlier. Nonetheless, the two lead characters, as constant underdogs, are what draws you in. I was rooting for them the whole time.
Running With Scissors
Author: Augusten Burroughs
Book Length: 304 Pages
This is a semi-autobiographical novel by its author. Quirky and strange would be good adjectives for the family this story molds together. “Downright insufferable” would also apply to them in some instances. Reading this book was like watching a terrible car accident in slow motion and then not being sure if it was a good thing that everyone made it out alive.
All the Light We Cannot See
Author: Anthony Doerr
Book Length: 531 Pages
This was one of the best pieces of fiction I have read in a long time. It is another Pulitzer Prize winner and as such, quite deserving. IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL. There is a blind girl, her father who builds miniature cities (MINIATURE CITIES!!!), a gorgeous little French town on the coast, and a young man with an uncanny ability to make machines come alive. There is whimsy, passion, sorrow, and love held high against the backdrop of World War II. I did not want this story to end. So. Damn. Good.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
Author: Greg McKeown
Book Length: 272 Pages
These days, I am more prone to simplicity and minimalism as a way of life. I found this book in my research of these topics, and for good reason, it has been universally recommended by anyone who has read it. Its message and teachings are clear, precise, and extremely practical. I loved it. For anyone wanting to distinguish between all the noise and what is truly important in one’s life, read this book.
The Four Horsemen and the Apocalypse
Author: Viscente Blasco Ibanez
Book Length: 324 Pages
This book chronicles the lives of a wealthy family during World War I in Europe. If its title sounds daunting, that’s because it is. This is, by all accounts, a war novel, even though most of it takes place away from the battlefield. It is more of an account of the effect of war on families and society. If this is your cup to tea, it is a worthwhile and well-written read.
The Japanese-American Internment During World War II
Author: Wendy Ng
Book Length: 232 Pages
I chose this as a book report assignment for my US History class. I have always wanted to learn more about this specific topic, and this book goes into great detail by providing an in-depth historical timeline and analysis, personal written accounts from actual internees, a photographic essay of the camps, reprints of pertinent legal documents, an extensive annotated bibliography, and a thorough (and quite damning) examination of the US government’s role in it all. This is one of many dark periods in US history in which extreme prejudice based on race informed our government’s actions. It is a modern and legal precedent that can be used to justify similar actions in the future. For this reason, this book is well worth the time needed to read it.
Now that we are fully in 2017, I am engrossed in a new book. This is what I am currently reading:
It is a book that explores the many mysteries of trees, and so far, I am really loving it.
Every month, I’ll be writing about the books that I am devouring.
What are you reading right now? (Let me know in the comments below.)