My Recent Favorite Books


 

 

–by Neal Lemery

 

June is busting out all over, and I’m getting caught up on my yard work somewhat, so it is time for some precious hours for some reading.   Here’s my list of great books I’ve read in the last year that I highly recommend, in no particular order:

  • The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World, by Melinda Gates. Well written, thought provoking, and inspiring.
  • Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari. An anthropological-psychological book of who we are, where we came from, and where we might be going.
  • The Second Mountain, by David Brooks. I like the first two thirds of this book, which fired me up about building community and reminding me that we are here to love one another and help each other live meaningful lives.
  • The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose, by Oprah Winfrey. Inspiring, motivating, and stimulating.
  • Leadership in Turbulent Times, by Doris Kearns Goodwin. A look at four American presidents, their challenges and how they achieved greatness and led the nation through challenging times. There is much in these lessons for today.
  • The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, by David Wallace-Wells. Lots of information, and some very challenging predictions with hope.
  • The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present, by David Treuer. New historical information and analysis for me, teaching much about where our country goes from here.
  • Climate Justice: Hope, Resilience and the Fight for a Sustainable Future, by Mary Robinson. A thoughtful look at a compelling issue and challenge.
  • Artemis, by Andy Weir, the author of Mars. Science fiction that offers a thoughtful look at who we are, and where we are going as a species and culture.
  • Becoming, by Michelle Obama. A very thoughtful and insightful book about a courageous and talented woman who has much to offer our country. No matter what your politics may be, there are wise lessons to be found in her story.
  • Art Matters, by Neil Gaiman. One of our best fiction writers takes a hard look at the role of art in our culture, and how it changes lives.
  • Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants,by Robin Wall Kimmerer. A native healer, botanist and professor, the author has feet in several worlds as she educates us on the role of plants in our lives, culture, and medicine.
  • Educated, by Tara Westover. A compelling and inspiring memoir of growing up and pulling herself up by her own bootstraps.
  • The Tide: The Science and Stories Behind the Greatest Force on Earth, by Hugh Aldersey-Williams. A British scientist delves into a surprisingly little studied phenomenon.
  • Exit West, by Hamid Mohsin. A fantasy dealing with immigration, refugees, and cultural awareness.  Not one of my usual genres, but I found this engaging and thought provoking; a new way to look at a challenging issue.
  • No god but God: The Ongoing Evolution and Future of Islam, by Reza Aslan. Very thoughtful and informative, and a delightful read.
  • The River of Consciousness, by Oliver Sacks. His last book, offering insights and new ideas, written in his usual compelling way.
  • Edge of Awe: Experiences of the Malheur-Steens Country, edited by Alan L. Contreras. An engaging anthology about one of my favorite places to experience nature and solitude. I’ve just started this, but it is a sensory delight and promises to be a delightful read.  Profits benefit the Friends of Malheur Wildlife Refuge. And, poetry and illustrations by Ursula LeGuin.

My Favorite Books of 2018


 

 

 

Educated, by Tara Westwood.  An engaging memoir of a home-schooled Mormon girl in rural Idaho, struggling with uncertainty, violence, and torn between family ties and rigid attitudes, and a bright future in college, inspired by gifted mentors.  This is a book about courage and determination and a life well-examined.

 

Becoming, by Michelle Obama.  Another book of inspiration, determination. She offers thoughtful insights into her own life as one of a first generation to go to college, devotion to family, and living in the whirlwind of national politics.  Whatever your politics, this journey is motivating and profound.

 

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants, by Robin Wall Kimmerer.  What a wonderful journey about spirituality, science, community, and family connection!  Each chapter is a new insight, a new perspective on the world around us, the world we are so completely connected to.  I enjoyed it on so many levels.

 

Exit West, by Hamid Mohsin.  An engaging novel and fantasy about revolution, upheaval, refugees and immigration. This fast paced story digs into the humanity of current controversies over refugees and immigration, and change.

 

Art Matters, by Neil Gaiman.  This delightfully illustrated short book is a gem about creativity, writing, and the jewel of community libraries.

 

No god but God: the Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam, by Reza Aslan. This is an engaging read exploring Islam and its complexity, destroying stereotypes and misconceptions and making for an entertaining and informative read.

 

The President is Missing, by Bill Clinton and James Patterson.  This fast-paced romp through modern politics is a delight, offering occasional outbursts and humor by the former president on current affairs and thinking. It is very entertaining and captivating.

 

Brief Answers to the Big Questions, by Stephen Hawking.  His posthumous book that offers those not engrossed in quantum physics and other “on the edge” thinking some insights and explanations.  I found it engaging and insightful and worth my time.

 

The Tide: Science and the Stories Behind the Largest Force on Earth, by Hugh Aldersey-Williams. This scientist takes us on a welcoming journey into the world of tides, and how they shape our world. This is an interesting read on a subject that is a mystery to most of us.

 

The River of Consciousness, by Oliver Sacks.  This is a delightful collection of essays on a variety of topics, which are thought provoking and engaging.