5 Books You Must Read in 2016
All About Love by Bell Hooks
We all tend to believe and are taught that love is a thing that happens to us. It something that is a completely passive but magical experience. Feminist and social activist bell hooks, in her emphatic and deeply personal All About Love, asserts that love is in fact a choice that we all need to make. She says that it isn’t nearly as elusive or abstract as so many people think. This book is an exploration of the role that love plays in our lives as well as how its meaning has been distorted by our culture. It also guides us – with examples and clear definitions – that helps us better understand how it can be cultivated. You should definitely read this book if you have wondered why some relationships crumble while others are able to endure.
Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
The American Southwest has never been more engagingly depicted than by the iconoclast author Edward Abbey. The nearly half-century old Desert Solitaire is one of the true classics when it comes to writing on the environment. Abbey, in this seminal autobiographical work, documents his time spent working as a park ranger. He also reflects on tourism, politics, culture, the landscape, as well as environmental degradation and disregard – and does it all with his own unique blend of vivid description, charm and orneriness. Desert Solitaire, set in Abbey’s beloved Southwest, brashly and movingly captures the true essence of America’s outdoors, along with complete disdain for anyone who would dare to spoil its natural wonderment.
Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee
I was discussing books with a friend one afternoon, and was wondering how to accurately describe my experience of reading Disgrace. I was able to come up with the following: It is like a very sharp, finely crafted knife that is gently resting against your skin. From the very beginning, all of the suspense and uneasiness are there, which makes Coetzee’s use and control of spare language even more powerful. You are never able to take a deep breath until it is completely finished. The setting of the book is modern Africa, and it explores the experience of confronting deep prejudice personally. They include prejudices of race, class, sexuality and gender. Far from being a diatribe on political correctness, the novel is all about how we survive and cope as human beings. The reader is forced to reflect on what appears to be a very twisted reality at first. In this amazing novel, each of the characters attain redemption through their very souls being reshaped.
Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
I recommend this book more than all others. I’m barely able to keep a copy since I am always lending it out to anybody who I think needs to have their skull blown off. It is on one level an extraordinary, creepy and engaging story of a family of circus freaks, narrated by the albino hunchback dwarf sister. At an entirely different level, this story is about belonging and identity: in terms of you own family, how do you truly define yourself? Your religion? Your body? Your culture? How do you really know who or what you truly are?
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Marilynne Robinson’s novel Gilead, set in 1956, is a letter written by John Ames, who is an elderly Reverend, to his young son. For his entire life, Ames has lived in Gilead Iowa. In the novel, the area’s history is explored through the grandfather and father of Ames – who are also ministers – yet deeply divided when it comes to concepts like the abolitionist movement, duty, and pacifism. Eventually, after the godson and namesake of Ames, John Ames Boughton returns to Gilead, old tensions are brought up and events are set into motion that disturb the formerly peaceful final days of Ames. Gilead is one of the new century’s most beautifully written novels to date, and the amazingly insightful grappling that Robinson demonstrates of mortality, faith and what makes life meaningful will resonate with readers across the entire spectrum.