I’ve been on a reading kick lately and I decided to crowdsource some recommendations to some friends on social media earlier this week. The question I posed was simple: “Knowing me as you do, what would you recommend I read next? One rule: no fiction, unless it’s life changing or the best thing you’ve ever read.” I got all kinds of great suggestions, so I thought I’d put a semi-permanent post up here to keep track of them all, and to have a place for interested friends from the thread to see all of them in one place.
Reading Recommendations from Friends
Here’s the list of suggestions I got from friends (last names removed for privacy):
Charly: Social by Matthew Lieberman was accessible but not dumbed down. Breakthroughs in social neuroscience.
Christina: Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn and Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto [my response: The other book I’m excited to read on this topic is Alison Gopnik’s brand new book about children and parents, The Gardner and the Carpenter]
Keith: Three I’ve loved lately: Tough Trip Through Paradise by Andrew Garcia, Northern Seas, Hardy Sailors by George Whitely and Journal of a Trapper by Osborne Russell. Travels in Alaska by John Muir is an all time favorite–good luck!
Brendon: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty
Margene: OOOH I love this one as well. If you haven’t read Stiff by Mary Roach you’ll like it.
Monika: The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson was at times shocking, occasionally repetitive, but completely fascinating. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi was sad and hopeful. It’s a quick read and worth the sadness.
Alex: You up for a music biography? Nick Cave: Bad Seed is just wonderful
Jim: Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond. It’s a masterpiece, Steel. Outstanding research and insights. It turns the traditional notion that poverty causes homelessness on its head. The author argues and documents quite persuasively that homelessness, especially when forced through eviction, actually causes poverty. I strongly recommend it.
Dee: That’s what I was going to recommend, Steel. Eviction is both from the heart and from the head. Brilliant read.
Margene: I really like White Trash: The 400-year untold history of class in America; Stoned: Jewelry, Obsession, and how Desire shapes the world; Breasts: A natural and unnatural history; The Disappearing Spoon; Better: A surgeon’s notes on performance.
Justin: Communal Luxury: The Political Imaginary of the Paris Commune, Kristin Ross. Really cool reassessment of the commune in the light of 2011’s uprisings.
Laura: Anand Gopal’s No Good Men Among the Living stands for me as one of the most devastating, beautiful and important pieces of nonfiction of our time. I’ve read other extraordinary things lately, but nothing touches it. It is painful to know how illuminating this book is and how few people will read it.
Lauren: Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon. I love this book, it’s amazing and I can’t recommend it enough (also a good value at almost 1000 pages!)
Courtney: I started reading Black Skin, White Masks last week and have been wondering where I would find a forum for bragging about that fact since.
Beth: Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter. And… Voluntary Madness: Lost and Found in the Mental Healthcare System. Excellent reads.
What I’ve Read Most Recently
For those who are curious, here’s a list of what I’ve read so far this month:
- Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
- Michael Lewis’s The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine
- Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts
- Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me
- Lawrence Wright’s Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief
- Howard Norman’s I Hate to Leave This Beautiful Place
- David Winner’s Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football
- Roy Fisher’s The Long and Short of It: Poems 1955-2010 (not all of it, yet, but a fair chunk of the book)
- Don Share’s new edition of The Poems of Basil Bunting)
- Calvin Trillin’s Jackson, 1964: and Other Dispatches from Fifty Years of Reporting on Race in America
Featured image: Detroit Public Library by Jason Mrachina