I’m kicking off my commitment to blog in 2016 with a short list of some of my favorite books read in 2015.
- Charles d’Ambrosio’s collection of essays, Loitering, reminded me that traditional plot isn’t necessary for a profound exploration of meaning. The writing left me incredulous, and I’m grateful that I stumbled on such a paragon of the craft.
- Both Maureen Corrigan’s So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures and Rebecca Mead’s My Life in Middlemarch were books about books that had the perfect mix of history, personal narrative, and literary analysis. Mead mentioned how most readers she knows have an affinity for a certain book that had a profound effect on them, which is how Middlemarch is for her. I’m not sure I have a book like that, and I continue to wonder what that means. One of the few books I’ve read multiple times is The Great Gatsby, and I was fascinated to learn about all of the elements that make it the American novel.
- Ian Frazier’s affable voice and relatable persona made his Travels in Siberia such a fun journey. His forthright honesty about the hard and frustrating parts of his trips highlighted the inherent difficulties in loving a country that isn’t your own, but also how rewarding such a love can be. I missed hanging out with him when I finished.
- Michael Lewis’s The Big Short made me really mad. In a lucid, page-turning, amazing way.
- My reading Angel in the Whirlwind was long overdue. George Washington has never been one of my favorite founding fathers, but I was bowled over at the mettle of his integrity. Every American owes both him and that angel in the whirlwind an ocean of gratitude.
- Kenan Malik is one of my favorite commentators on Islam, race, and the UK’s multiculturalist policies. His empathy and intelligence make for a reliable voice of reason. In From Fatwa to Jihad, he traces a line from the infamous Salman Rushdie fatwa to the conversations we’re having today about Islam and the West. I also highly recommend his blog, Pandaemonium, especially the essays Radicalization and European Social Policy and The Failure of Multiculturalism.