One of the things many of us get excited about over the holidays is the opportunity to put aside our work reports, school assignments and other ‘required readings’, and explore a new book or two that speaks to us.
In the spirit of feeding your mind some new and compelling ideas, or going on a journey to faraway places, we hope that our list brings you some excitement and inspiration over the holidays!
Live Close to Home – Peter Denton
NB: The third and final book in Peter Denton’s Scrub Oak Trilogy, Live Close to Home urges us to consider the transformational potential of doubling down on local action, and how the ripples of reinvesting ourselves in the world we immediately influence have enormous potential to influence the broader systems we are part of. Just released! Book launch at McNally Robinson on November 27.
The Expanse – James S.A. Corey
JH: The Expanse is a series of science fiction novels, novellas, and stories by James S. A. Corey. The books are a solid Sci-Fi read about a future where humans have colonized the Solar System, and the conflicts & politics that ensue from this expansion of humanity’s reach.
Oh, and George R.R. Martin calls it “…a really kickass space opera.”
Wenjack – Joseph Boyden
NB: An emotional tale of three boys fleeing their residential school through the wilderness, this short read is a powerful account of the reality of what our First Nations experienced in the not-so-distant path. This is a story that should open our eyes, and be cause for reflection in the spirit of love and respect between cultures – something we need a lot more of, right now and always.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler
BM: I recently read We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler and was surprised by how much I learned about animal testing. It’s fiction but she wove in a bunch of interesting (okay, distressing) facts about animal research and experimentation. Can’t say too much more for fear of revealing the twist.
Blue Mind – Wallace J Nicols
TH: Wallace J Nicols is a super cool, Californian neuroscientist and environmental activist that walks the talk. Through his deep connection with nature he inspires people to care for the planet and our oceans and marine mammals. Blue Mind focuses on why we love and need the ocean, and how nature and water specifically enhances our mood and makes us happier and healthier. His prescription? “You need water. And water needs you now. I wish you water”.
Die Wise: A Manifesto of Sanity and Soul – Stephen Jenkinson
NB: An emotional and challenging book, Die Wise examines how western culture approaches life, death and dying with a critical eye, highlighting that for all we know about how to ‘extend life,’ we still lack many of the skills and perspectives that are needed to ‘die well.’
In Praise of Slow – Carl Honore
TL: A good book to encourage yourself to slow down. Expectations of fast pervade our consumer society, but movements are arising to counteract this, such as the “slow food” movement. Honore explores the benefits of going more slowly in this easy read.
The Earth’s Children Series – Jean Auel
TL: This exploration of early human life on Earth on the European continent provides a fascinating and thoroughly-researched look at how both humans and neanderthals might have lived off the land. While this is my currently happy escapist literature and focuses on relationships, it also tackles themes of how we relate to our natural world.
Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash – Susan Strasser
TL: This is an in-depth look at why, how, and where we throw things “away” in North America. What happens to our trash? How are our attitudes about trash shaped by our culture? Surprisingly fascinating and deeply illuminating. I read this book more than a decade ago as a teenager and even then found it highly readable and engaging.
Vital Little Plans: The Short Works of Jane Jacobs
NB: A brand new collection of works from one of the most influential urban thinkers of the 20th century. Opening with Jane’s early published work in VOGUE magazine, and including previously unpublished works and transcriptions of her speeches, this is a must-read for those concerned with how we build our cities, and for whom.
No Logo: Taking aim at the brand bullies – Naomi Klein
SH/TL: Though we’ve heard about sweatshops and their general conditions, it was shocking to hear details about the conditions of the workers and their struggles. For example, in 1998, workers sewing Esprit clothing made 13 cents/hour and worked 93 hours/week (7 days/week 7:30-midnight daily). Klein goes deep into the history of advertising in many different consumer sectors and examines the role that it plays in our modern life. She covers movements to resist branding, and the problems with massive corporations.
The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry
NB: One of the most influential agrarian philosophers alive in North America today, this collection of essays tackles economics, race, sexuality and more in an exploration of our human relationship to the land (or lack thereof). A book you will come back to many times.
The Artist’s Way – Julia Cameron
NB: A tool for getting in touch with your creative side, no matter your age or creative medium. Offered as a ‘spiritual path to higher creativity,’ this book is on the shelves of authors, musicians, painters, filmmakers and more (devout and atheists alike), and is an effective, self-directed course that gets many people out of their creativity ruts.