Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hrecommended: My favorite books of 2006-2010

Hard to imagine why I haven't posted a book list for five years. Three of those years were spent in grad school. This meant that I spent most of my reading time on course packs and weighty text books. There were times for reading for pleasure and avocation too.
  • Animals Make Us Human by Temple Grandin. Temple has been in the news due to her HBO biographical film.
  • Black Swan by Taleb Nassim. A timely volume that lays out the sort of biases that make us think that we can be predict the far future with accuracy and avoid high-impact low-probability events.
  • Born on a Blue Day a memoir by Daniel Tammet. We lost autistic savant Kim Peek this year. Tammet is very near the other end of the autistic spectrum and has amazing abilities to learn languages.
  • Connected by Nicholas Christakis. A fine volume on the effects of networks on human behavior and the political landscape. Dovetails nicely with Barabasi's Linked.
  • Giving by Bill Clinton. By far one of the most exhaustive treatments of the many ways we can contribute to society and to the less fortunate.
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. It took two tries to start this book. The opening scene may scare many parents, but stick with it. The characters are broadly drawn and slowly revealed.
  • The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything by James Martin, SJ. Martin is a frequent contributor to the Colbert Report. In this text, he explores several of the elements of Jesuit life. In particular, I liked the explanation of examen.
  • How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer. A well done overview of what we know about the structure of the brain and how the brain can be mislead by built-in biases.
  • Margin by Richard Swenson. An argument for making time and creating gaps between our personal, family and work lives.
  • My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor. Takes us through the first hours of a stroke as experienced by a neuroanatomist and her slow recovery. Great insight into brain structure (this time from the inside out), on care-giving, the importance of rest and some inklings of why many of us feel connected to the universe.
  • Plan B by Anne Lamott. You owe it to yourself to read Chapter 1: Ham of God...
  • Reclaiming Conservatism by Mickey Edwards. Edwards was on the Bill Moyer's show in 2008 and was the first person I heard lay out a critique of the neocon philosophy of governance and the Bush presidency in particular.
  • Shop Class as Soul Craft by Matthew Crawford. A short lesson on tacit knowledge.
  • Uncommon Decency by Richard Mouw takes us through a multitude of arguments for increasing civility while still making room for discussions of morality.


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