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The 2022 Reading List — So Far…

Here are the books that I am enjoying in 2022

1. The Premonition: A Pandemic Story

by Micheal Lewis

Micheal Lewis is such a masterful story teller that just about any book by him is a delight to read. This one is no exception. It is an exploration of the CDC, the countless local and state health officials, and the amazing people who try to keep us all healthy. The book kind of ran out of steam for me at the end, hence the four stars. Still a recommended read.

Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ (out of 5) | Non-Fiction | Kindle


2. Lincoln in the Bardo

by George Saunders

I am read this book as part of a book club. In fact, I had to read this book twice because I was the one who recommended it to the book club and was tasked with leading the discussion on the book. I proposed this book based on the recommendation of a few friends and the fact that it won the Man Booker prize. I mean, the Man Booker prize! It has to be good right?

Lincoln in the Bardo is the worst book I have read in recent memory. It is often referred to as an experimental novel. It is a failed experiment. It lacked structure. The point of view was never clear — randomly jumping between the POV of the 166 characters or the snippets of “historical” record. The nature of the Bardo was never clear. The author did nothing to ease the reader into this strange setting. The formatting was so bad that I thought the Kindle app was having trouble properly displaying the text … so I ordered a copy of the paperback version only to discover the same atrocious formatting.

I agree with Dorothy Parker 1The source of this quote is debatable. See Quote Inspector for details. on this one:

This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.

Rating: Zero stars (out of 5) | Fiction | Kindle / Paperback


3. The Prince of Tides

by Pat Conroy

I have been a fan of Pat Conroy since I had the chance to see him in the late 80’s while he was passing through Denver, CO on book tour. I am revisiting some of my favorite Pat Conroy books to see again how he used his writing to exorcise the demons of a traumatic childhood. In The Great Santini Conroy told the story of his violent and abusive father. In The Lords of Discipline, Conroy gives us insight into what it must have been like at The Citadel — with dramatic and poetic flourishes, to be sure.

In The Prince of Tides Conroy’s his mother takes center stage in this book. Conroy’s father is still present, but he is a secondary character. His mother’s longings drive her to extremes that are hard to comprehend and gut-wrenching to behold. The majesty of the South Carolina low-country are brought to life almost as another character. Each page is a feast of well-told story, deeply drawn characters, and a slow revelation of how to deal with the wounds of our childhood.

I have read almost all of Pat Conroy’s books and The Prince of Tides stands atop them all. His prose read like carefully wrought poetry. The opening sentence — “My wound is geography” — stands as one of my favorites.

My wound is a dysfunctional childhood with its own geography playing a central role. Thanks to Conroy’s deep and moving writing, my wound is healing.

Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ (out of 5) | Fiction | Kindle


4. Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis

by George Monbiot

This is the second time I have read this book. I liked it so much the first time that I quoted him extensively in the opening chapters of my book on networking and relationships. This time I read it as part of a book club that wanted to explore Monbiot’s approach to governing ourselves. While the likelihood of implementing Monbiot’s ideas seem less likely now — five years after it was published — his ideas are no less poignant. His “Politics of Belonging” seems like the only sensible way forward.

Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ (out of 5) | Non-Fiction | Kindle


5. The Spy And The Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War

by Ben Macintyre

This is truly and amazing story and a fascinating read. Beyond watching The Americans I had little knowledge of the extent and depth of spying between the US and the USSR, especially during the Cold War. It makes you wonder how much of it continues, how much has migrated to the cyber world, and how much it still matters. Highly recommended.

Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ (out of 5) | Non-Fiction | Kindle


6. How the World Really Works: The Science Behind How We Got Here and Where We’re Going

by Vaclav Smil

It’s easy to think that if we just drive a little less, or turn down the thermostat a few degrees, we might just be able to stave off global warming. Using the science of materials and energy, Vaclav Smil sets the record straight in this important and readable book. He explains himself well in the closing chapter of the book:

[T]he fundamentals of our lives will not change drastically in the coming 20–30 years, despite the near-constant flood of claims about superior innovations ranging from solar cells to lithium-ion batteries, from the 3-D printing of everything (from microparts to entire houses) to bacteria able to synthesize gasoline. Steel, cement, ammonia, and plastics will endure as the four material pillars of civilization; a major share of the world’s transportation will be still energized by refined liquid fuels (automotive gasoline and diesel, aviation kerosene, and diesel and fuel oil for shipping); grain fields will be cultivated by tractors pulling plows, harrows, seeders, and fertilizer applicators and harvested by combines spilling the grains into trucks. High-rise apartments will not be printed on site by gargantuan machines, and should we soon have another pandemic then the role of the much-touted artificial intelligence will most likely be as underwhelming as it was during the 2020 SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

(p. 218)

Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ (out of 5) | Non-Fiction | Kindle

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