Alas! With the Labor Day holiday now come and gone, our summer days have now passed us. The last three months away from school has given me a lot of time to rest and do more of the other activities that I enjoy outside all of the academic work.
One such activity is reading books. This summer, I read seven books, and I wanted to highlight some of the more noteworthy ones here.
Dazzle Camouflage by Ezra Berkley Napon
In the interest of transparency, I actually know the person who wrote this book as well as a few of the people whose work are documented within. This book chronicles theatrical styles of grassroots activism that have been carried out in various regions of the US. If you are interested in the type of activism that extends beyond the usual protests, rallies, and boycotts, this book provides a striking view of the ways to incorporate performance art, satire, and unconventional artistic expression into all kinds of public advocacy work. The writing is easy to understand, and the historical anecdotes give clear examples of how this kind of activism can be done.
The Secret Piano by Zhu Xiao-Mei
I was drawn to this book primarily because I actively seek out books about pianos and pianists. Needless to say, this historical fiction and autobiography certainly met that criteria and then some. This story shares the struggles of a young pianist who has to survive the harsh conditions of a work camp along with the ravages of the Chinese totalitarian Communist regime that sent her there. It shows how her love for playing piano sustained her spirit during the tumultuous and dehumanizing cultural revolution in China.
Well–paced and thoughtfully written, there is a delicacy and sweetness to this story that makes the whole saga purely satisfying to read.
A Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles
Simply put, I loved this book. It has the makings of classic historical fiction. The book’s central character Count Alexander Rostov is an endearing and enigmatic man of many passions. I could not help but cheer for him as he lives a simple but rich life living under house arrest in Russia’s iconic Metropol Hotel in Moscow. There are flashes of whimsy, intrigue, romance, and sheer delight in this fantastic narrative. The writing displays the author’s commanding gifts in the arts of storytelling and descriptive prose. I would emphatically recommend this book to anyone looking for a well-written and dynamic story. This is the best fiction I have read so far this year.
Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
I have been making changes in the way I engage with social media and the digital aspects of modern life. This book has inspired so many ideas for me that I wrote about it in a recent blog post:
I have read many of Newport’s books and follow his blog. This book finds him in top form dispensing thoughtful ideas and practices toward combating the perils of modern technology (like cell phones and texting) and addictive social media usage. For anyone trying to live a life that is more engaged with actual human beings and the physical world around us and less entrenched in corporatized technology and websites, this book is for you.
Now that fall has more or less arrived, I have a set of new books to explore as the weather gets cooler and the beautiful fall colors start to arrive in my forest neighborhood. If you have any great book recommendations, let me know.
Find a wonderful book to settle into, and open up your world to limitless possibilities!