I Read 52 Books Last Year. These Were the Best Ones.

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Wait, did I really do that?

This was the year I actually read 52 books,. Reading capacity varies pretty widely from person-to-person, but for me, that’s a lot. 

(I’m no Claire Diaz-Ortiz, who takes on over a hundred each year.)

I tried to read widely, seeking different authors from different races, genders, and backgrounds and a variety of genres. I learned how to craft better sales pitches, how to start side-hustles, and environmental problems lead to societal collapse. I entered the world of underground truffle dealers, social media dystopias, and around the world on a motorbike.

 

Here were my very favorite books–

 

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

This multi-generational novel made me really proud to come from a long line of strong Korean women, and I’m not actually from a line of Korean women. That’s how powerful it was.

Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang

I’m cheating a bit by including a two-book series, but the beauty of these graphic novel is how these books show two sides of a single story and the powers of religion and tribalism for both good and evil.

Amoris Laetitia: On Love and Family by Pope Francis

It’s a bit odd to have Papal writings in between a graphic novel and a Celeste Ng book, but this really was one of the most impactful things I read all year. Certain insights really helped me to understand how to be a more caring husband.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

This book helped solidify the fact that Celeste Ng is becoming one of my favorite writers. The world she creates in this book is simply captivating.

Triumph of the Heart: Forgiveness in an Unforgiving World by Megan Feldman Bettencourt

This was such a well-rounded exploration of forgiveness that looked at it within marriages, from children to parents, as self-forgiveness, in the wake of the Rwandan genocide, between conflicting ethnicities, through science, and as a spiritual matter.

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

Chimanada Ngozi Adiche’s Americanah got a lot of deserving acclaim for telling the story of an African girl who migrates to the United States. We Need New Names deserves that same credit for creating a believable and unique character voice.

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

Most people know Trevor from the Daily Show, but the fact that he can write a rich, insightful, and meaningful memoir without even mentioning his career in comedy at all shows how his early life experiences speak volumes on their own.

Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging by Brené Brown

 

Brené Brown does what she does best: speaking to people’s deeper selves in the context of the contentious era we’re living in.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

Such an eye-opening, well-supported case for how the U.S. prison system has really continued many of the same effects that Jim Crow laws sought to create.

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt

At a time when everyone’s talking about why we need to learn to understand “the other side,” Haidt’s moral systems theory is an actual helpful tool for accomplishing that.

Philippe Lazaroblog, blog18