2018 Reading List

This list is the noteworthy books I’ve read in 2018. Previous lists include: 20172016, 2015.

American Culture

  1. Beautiful Boy by David Sheff. This memoir, written by a skilled writer, delves deep into the emotional ups and downs of dealing with a son addicted to meth. Review | Purchase
  2. On Tyranny: 20 Lessons from the 20th Century by Timothy Snyder. This succinct book that takes a close look at some of the dangers presented by the Trump presidency — drawing lessons from historical events. Purchase
  3. American Character by Colin Woodard. This is the second book I’ve read by Colin Woodard. The first was American Nations. This book is every bit as good as the first. Its exploration of the battle between what is best for the individual versus what is best for the community is well researched and is segmented by each of the 11 American Nations. Very important read in the current political climate. Purchase
  4. The Virtue of Selfishness by Ayn Rand. I wanted to read this to better understand the appeal of Rand’s philosophies to some GOP politicians. Although her viewpoints appeal to members of the GOP, they feel shallow and in direct contrast to those who claim America is a Christian nation. Purchase

American History

  1. Seductive Poisoning: A Jonestown Survivor’s Story of Life and Death in the People’s Temple by Deborah Layton. This memoir by a high-ranking member of the People’s Temple is an excellent piece that gives an insider’s view on how an average person could be pulled into a cult. Layton escaped Jim Jones’ cult just months before the deadly mass suicide that claimed about 900 lives. Purchase

Philosophy Of Life

  1. Intuition by Osho. Osho was at the center of an American small town ‘takeover’ and Netflix did a series on the event. After watching the show, I had to read at least one Osho book. I chose Intuition, and I felt like I was reading a blend of Eastern and New Age philosophy. Review | Purchase
  2. The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt. An interesting look at 10 Great ideas from ancient times and how they can apply in the modern world. Purchase
  3. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki. This short book is a practical guide to meditation and learning to live with the Buddha mind. Purchase
  4. Reading Judas by Elaine Pagels. The author examines this Lost Gospel and offers an explanation of why this writing is important even if it does not belong in the Bible. Purchase
  5. God: A Human History by Reza Aslan. Author, and religion professor, journals his journey through the various versions of God humans have invented and embraced. Purchase
  6. Switch by Chip Heath. Excellent book that explores scientific studies to better understand why we do what we do. A short vignette about drug use in the Vietnam War is very applicable in today opioid addiction crisis. Purchase
  7. Open Heart by Marion Wiesel. Very short, and refreshing read by acclaimed author Wiesel, who at the age of 82 has open heart surgery. But, it is about so much more than the surgery. Purchase
  8. How to Be A Stoic by Massimo Pigliucci. The author weaves through various ‘conversations’ with historical stoics demonstrating how this approach to living is very practical in the modern age. Purchase

American Politics

  1. Red State Blues: Stories from Midwestern Life on the Left by Belt Publishing. This is a compilation of 25 or so essays by well-known, and not-so-well-known, authors. Even though the book follows a theme, each of these essays can stand alone. Excellent selection of thought-pieces from a region, many consider, Trump country. Review | Purchase
  2. Believe Me: The Evangelical Road To Trump by John Fea. Since I was raised evangelical, and live in a county of 40K with 92 (mostly) fundamentalist churches, I was interested in Fea’s work. Fea is an evangelical, who did not support Trump, and a historian. This short read provide a historical understanding of the three themes that dominate the evangelical’s world view: fear, worldly power and nostalgia. Review | Purchase
  3. The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt. Very insight look at the moral reasoning that divides us politically and religiously. Must read for anyone hoping to move the religious/political discussion into a more inclusive construct. Review | Purchase
  4. The Vital Center by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Originally written in the 1940s, and re-released in the 1960s (with minor updates), the book is a strong argument for why Americans do better under a liberal political philosophy. Purchase

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