On January 1 every year, the Decafnation presents its annual collective Book Report. Thanks to everyone who took the time to share short reviews of books they enjoyed during the past year. You can read last year’s Book Report here.
Mary Lee — What on Earth am I here For? by Rick Warren. Why? To find the answer to the ultimate question.
Arzeena Hamir — Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel. It’s a glimpse at a post-apocalyptic Canada
Ken Adney — How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson. And I’m currently re-reading Robert Heilbroner’s The Worldly Philosophers, which holds up as a simple introduction to economic thought (and the economists).
Brent Reid — Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan. In this Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir, Finnegan portrays his lifelong obsession with surfing the most challenging beaches in the world–some of them previously undiscovered. His descriptions of his fellow surfers, the code they follow, the magnificent beaches and breaks they find, and the death-defying rides they take are fascinating.
Maingon Loys — Defending Giants by Darren Frederick Speece was a pretty illuminating read. It is a history of the Redwood Wars, very useful insights. It makes a very good case exposing how conservation strategy is only transitory — somewhere human beings have to re-evaluate their priorities
Joe Scuderi — Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor Frankel. It’s short but profound. Hillbilly Elegy was also excellent.
Kim Sleno — A Column of Fire by Ken Follett. Read the first of this trilogy Christmas Day 1989. As a lover of history it gave me a glimpse of the past.
Jessie Kerr — I Was Told To Come Alone: My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad by Souad Mekhennet. The story of a German Muslim reporter who traveled to interview several ISIS leaders. She reported for a major German daily, The Washington Post and the NY Times. Because she produced balanced stories, those leaders agreed to talk to her. Oddly, I found her stories heartening because she explores her own and other Muslim citizens’ interest in understanding the motivation behind the often violent solutions pursued by these extreme Jihadist groups. I heard her interviewed on CBC’s The Current; I knew then that I must read her book.
Jodi Le Masurier — Into the Magic Shop by James Doty
Gordon Mason — The Shadow of Kilimanjaro, on foot across east Africa by Rick Ridgeway. A wonderful journey through a fascinating area in Kenya, Tsavo National Park. An incredible journey on foot from the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro to the Indian Ocean, offering a rare view of East Africa as it is today and how it once was before the inclusion of European civilization.
Dennis Crockford — All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr … wonderful description of the growing characters. And a very different writing style … flipping between the two characters every few pages … off-putting to some but I really enjoyed it.
Wayne Bradley — Ravensong by Lee Maracle. Maybe its best because I read it last, who knows? I realize that I am very late for the Lee Maracle party, but I loved Ravensong! Great writing style with good character development, and chalk full of First Nations perspectives. Written i early 1990s, I think, but with perspectives on First Nations / settler relations that are startlingly relevant today.
Bill Morrison — The Boys in the Boat by James Brown. An epic rowing story about the struggle for gold in the 1936 Berlin Olympics by an unknown Washington team.
Brad Morgan — Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. A mix of American history, spirituality and allegorical surrealism out of a story about Abraham Lincoln’s grief over the death of his 11-year-old son.
Richard Schmidt — Sing, Unburied, Sing By Jesmyn Ward. A story about the love-hate tensions between races as a black woman and her children take a road trip through Mississippi to pick up her white husband from prison.
Allison Grey — Exit West by Mohsin Hamid. A wonderful love story about how place can affect the heart.
Bobbi Ellison — Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan. A WWII-era tale about connecting disparate stories about a father’s disappearance and the rise of a mobster and the host of larger issues this journey reveals.
John Vernon — The Future is History by Masha Gessen. Why post-Soviet Russia rejected democracy for Putin and the threat he poses.
Marcia Sorenson — Hunger by Roxane Gay. How an early-life sexual assault shaped this woman’s body image for life.
George Le Masurier — The Force by Don Winslow. Fictional but insightful peek into the shady world of “dirty” cops in the NYPD. It makes “Serpico,” “The Departed” and “Donnie Brasco” seem tame and shallow by comparison.