It has been a long time since I wrote one of these. I was busy reading for classes that I was teaching (Zimmer and Emlen’s Evolution textbook, which was fine, and then a long list of interesting things for my other class, plus a couple hundred pages of student writing to grade each week), so I didn’t read as much interesting stuff as I would have liked to.
I did read a few books. I really enjoyed Lian Hearn’s Tales of the Otori trilogy. The second book has an especially amazing passage where the protagonist is traveling through a snowy forest, hunting assassins, avoiding their attacks, trying to reach a sanctuary in a mountain pass. That whole section was amazing. Everyone should read this.
Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me was eye opening, poignant, insightful, and comes with my highest level of endorsement.
Michel Faber’s novel The Book of Strange New Things was great. I think my sister recommended it. There were a couple things I didn’t like about the book, including the main science fiction conceit, which seems like it might be a major disqualification, but there was still a lot to like about the story and the way he told it.
I (finally) read Jonathan Weiner’s The Beak of the Finch. I enjoyed it, but even for me it was a little long and boring. I’d like to use it, or something like it, in an evolution class. But it was pretty long and boring. Perhaps I can use an excerpt for an introductory course on evolutionary biology.
I also enjoyed Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant. I guess I like books that are a little weird, have a fantasy element, and are about sadness and loss. My mom read this one, too. She thought that it was a little weird, which is true. The imagery and symbolism were captivating, though, and I highly recommend this one.
I think that does it for books. Now let’s try to clear out some of the other stuff I have read.
In addition to the concept of cosig, here’s the Danish idea of hygge, which is a great idea, and a reflection of my privilege. The article makes an interesting point that an obsession over coziness really only makes sense in a society like the Scandinavian ones, where socialism has ensured that most people have most of their needs met.
This piece talks about living in an extremely white place and raising children who are socially conscious and concerned about justice and equality. Interesting, personal, and well-written.
I will not include any of the many things I have read about Trump, except this piece that says we need to understand that Trump is a celebrity, not a politician. He is seeking to cultivate his image, because his image is his route to power and influence. I found this distressing, because it isn’t clear to me what normal citizens like me can do to influence the destructive policies his administration will attempt to institute.
I do love my elected officials in Oregon, though. Rep. DeFazio offered his DRAIN the SWAMP Act. What a boss!
What would it be like to live in a country that is undergoing a civil war? To live in a city that is under siege? It’s hard for me to fully imagine (and imagining things is easy!). There was a good piece in the New York Times about living in Zagreb when it was a war zone. This and Aleksander Hemon helped me understand that conflict a little better.
Time to go!
Edit: Oh, and I read Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth, which was just amazing. The characters were vivid, and her narrative completely sucked me into their world. Everyone should read that book.