This week we’re looking back at the year and thinking about our favorite reads. These are presented in the order in which I read them.
Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owns. An absolutely unforgettable mix of character drama and nature writing, Crawdads shows off its author’s science background, using it to create one of the most memorable main characters I’ve ever encountered: Kya, the “marsh girl”.
The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis. A review of the four Greek understandings of love. I’m presently re-reading this one in hopes of finishing my review before the new year ticks over.
American Dirt, Jeanine Cummins. A novel inspired by the migrant crisis, Cummins takes readers on a desperate northward flight of a mom and child, who barely escaped the butchering of their family at the hands of a drug kingpin.
The Goodness Paradox: The Strange Relationship Between Virtue and Violence, Richard Wrangham. How can a species so consistently capable of beauty and moral greatness also be capable of moral outrages like mass murder?
12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, Jordan Peterson. A challenging and deeply philosophical book for those struggling to find meaning.
How Dante Can Save Your Life, Rod Dreher. An intensely personal, and absolutely lovely, journey with Dante and an author trying to make peace with his father and still reeling from his sister’s death.
The Coddling of the American Mind, Jonathan Haidt & Greg Lukianoff. Two authors examine the plunging mental health and resiliency of American youths, and the related disintegration of civil discourse.
The End of October, Lawrence Wright. Published right around the time COVID-19 sent everyone running for toilet paper and covering everything in hand sanitizer, End of October is an end-of-the-world pandemic novel with strong science bones.
Suspicious Minds: Why We Believe in Conspiracy Theories, Rob Brotherton. Read in honor of the many election & corona conspiracies out there this year, Brotherton’s title reveals how our brain’s native shortcuts make lunatics of us all.
A Bright Future: How Some Countries have Solved Climate Change and How the Rest Can Follow, Joshua Goldstein & Staffan Qvist. On the necessity, not merely the option, of deploying nuclear energy to combat global warming.