4 Books that Shaped Me in 2016
4 Books that Shaped Me in 2016
In 2016 I wanted to consume writing that mattered.
Books are a powerful means of engaging with different voices, new ideas, and ways of being. Between writing a PhD and learning how to be a social change-maker, I read 25 books.
In my down-time I learned about science with Cosmos, philosophy with New Philosopher, and read conversations with extraordinary humans in Dumbo Feather. I cried while listening to The Moth and was angered when I listened to this episode of This American Life.
While the books I read helped me learn, most of all they were my hideaway that kept me floating above the stress and strain of 2016. Below are the books I couldn’t wait to open. They made me think and inspired me to live.
“Everybody’s looking for their tiny piece of meaning. Some fleeting, perfect thing that might make them more alive.”― Kate Tempest
You can tell that Tempest is a poet in the first few pages of the book. Her metaphors and similes are fresh and perfectly relay the dreary world her characters live in. The plot follows two young women trying to make a life – whatever the cost. The writing is captivating and raw, and leaves you thinking about the book for weeks after.
“Tomorrow and plans for tomorrow can have no significance at all unless you are in full contact with the reality of the present, since it is in the present and only in the present that you live. There is no other reality than present reality, so that, even if one were to live for endless ages, to live for the future would be to miss the point everlastingly.”― Alan Watts
I was introduced to Watts a few years ago but never paid proper attention. I’m glad I did this year. Watts is a self-described “philosophical entertainer” and he lives up to this description well – capturing the essence of Zen Buddhism and other religions, and then imparting their wisdom in an accessible way. This book helped make sense of my disconnected thoughts and offered a refreshing way of thinking.
History has many themes… One of them is that women should be quiet.― Kathleen Hall Jamieson.
On a promotional tour for another book, Moss received a high volume of questions from women on how to speak confidently and safely. This book is her response to those questions. In a world where male voices exceed women’s in the media and in parliament, Moss’ book provides apt instruction on how to be heard effectively, including tips for preparation, formulation of strong arguments, negotiation of pay, and how to respond to critics – especially when violent language is used.
Speaking Out was one of the many books I read on women and gender in 2016 and was the most helpful with respect to practical means of being a strong female leader in the 21st century.
“Can anyone alter fate? All of us combined… or one great figure… or someone strategically placed, who happens to be in the right spot. Chance. Accident. And our lives, our world, hanging on it.”
― Philip K. Dick
I’m a long time fan of Dick, who I consider both a science-fiction writer and philosopher. I first read A Scanner Darkly at age 16 and have been making my way through his writings since. The Man in the High Castle gives insight to an alternative world where the United States lost World War II. In Dick’s style, it’s educational and philosophical with enough science-fiction elements to keep readers on their toes. It’s no wonder this book ranks highly in lists of the greatest science-fiction works of all time.