Every year, I make a list of the things I read – books, long articles, graphic novels – and share them. Hopefully, you will find something interesting to read here and expand your mind.
To make it easier in case you don’t like one type of reading, I created sections for each type of reading and then listed in the order I read them.
Does a wealthy country have an ethical obligation to provide access to health care for everybody? Do we want to live in a society that lets tens of thousands of our neighbors die each year, and hundreds of thousands face financial ruin, because they can’t afford medical care when they’re sick? This, of course, is the “first question” that Professor William Hsiao asks whenever he reviews a country’s health care system. And on this question, too, every developed country except the United States has reached the same conclusion: Everybody should have access to medical care.
– Pg. 242
Though the question comes near the end of the book, it is researched throughout. Reid looks at the different models used around the world – Bismark, Beveridge, National Health Insurance, Out-of-pocket. If you want to understand health care, you should read this. You will learn there are very good, working models around the world that the United States could use or adapt so everyone has access to care.
Quiet by Susan Cain
There’s a reason this book is a best seller. It provides new insights into introverts and can also be beneficial to extroverts to learn about and understand their friends, family, and coworkers.
Pay Any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War by James Risen
Most of what Risen writes about was not new to me. I had read the stories in other books, newspapers and magazines. By, if you want to know what goes on in Washington, D.C., you need to read this book. It covers everything the United States government has done wrong since 9/11 and shines a light on the many abuses of power of the American government under the cloak of “providing security” and making American safer.
One of the best books I read this year. I could hardly wait to get home from work each day to continue reading the book.
There are two stories here. First is Sergei Magnitsky’s life and death and second is the corruption and murder in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
Browder recounts his journey to becoming the founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, the largest foreign investor in Russia until 2005. When his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was murdered in prison for uncovering hundreds of millions of dollars in fraud by officials in the Russian government, Browder became vocal about human rights abuses in the country.
Actually, I’m surprised Browder made it out alive.
I interviewed Ruskin before the solar eclipse that passed through Nebraska on Aug. 21, 2017.
As easy read that can be accomplished in a day or two, the book discusses the solar eclipse of 1878, including emerging technologies that allowed scientists to better view the sun as well as citizen scientists helping out and the sheer joy surrounding the event.
It’s only $8.99. Pick up a copy and lose yourself in the joy of a total solar eclipse.
Planck: Driven by vision, Broken by War by Brandon R. Brown
Max Planck is considered the father of quantum theory. He was good friends with Albert Einstein. And he was German. Planck stayed in Germany after World War II broke out. He spent his life fighting the fact that he did not think as his government did, but was compelled to remain in the country.
I get a lot of book recommendations from the science and history subreddits on Reddit. This one was highly recommended. However, I found myself slogging through the book, feeling like I had to finish it because I bought it. It was a chore that needed to be done.
There is no doubt. Planck is an influential scientist and more should be known of him. If you’re a fan of Planck, this will probably be a fun and interesting read. It just didn’t do anything for me.
They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the Civil War by DeAnne Blanton and Lauren M. Cook
I think I read too much because a lot of these stories I already knew.
The book covers a part of Civil War history that isn’t covered nearly enough – that of the women who fought in the war. Hundreds of women fought in the war by disguising themselves as men. The book explores their reasons for enlisting, and staying, as well as their combat experiences and what their fellow soldiers thought of them.
Each of the women in the book could have biographies of their own. Some probably would, if they had been men.
A well-researched book on a topic not many people know about.
I really enjoyed this book. I’m not a big fan of sportswriting and I don’t read much of it today, but this book is so much more than that. Woodward is considered one of, if not the, best sports editor to have ever held the position in America. Throughout the book, he discusses the problems within a newspaper, many of which still plague the industry today.
One day, toward the end of my vacation in 1955, I received a letter from Mr. Welsh, my managing editor. He said that I was a wonderful operator but that my salary was too high for the News and therefore I was fired. I can’t say I was terribly distressed, for I wanted to get North not only because I hated the South but also because I was afraid one of my girls might marry a Floridian. God knows enough of them were hanging around the house.
– Pg. 261
It doesn’t make any difference to me what happens to the newspaper business; that is, it doesn’t make any difference to me economically. But I can’t bear the thought of a general newspaper collapse. For I still believe what Nick Skerrett told me when I was a cub reporter – “The American newspaper is the greatest institution in the world.”
– Pg. 286
Woe is I by Patricia T. O’Conner
Need to brush up on your grammar? Check out this book. I’m still probably never going to get the “that vs. which” thing right. But that’s why I have a copy editor.
Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement by John Lewis
Senator John Lewis recalls his life and journey to Washington, D.C. It is an important story about the Civil Rights Movement and one everyone should read.
“There is an old African proverb: ‘When you pray, move your fee.’ As a nation, if we cre for the Beloved Community, we must move out feet, our hands, our hearts, our resources to build and not to tear down, to reconcile and not to divide, to love and not to hate, to heal and not to kill. In the final analysis, we are one people, one family, one house – the American house, the American family.”
– Pg. 503
Extract from a Diary of Rear-Admiral by Sir George Cockburn
Another recommendation from Reddit.
The full title is a mouthful: Excerpt from Extract From a Diary of Rear-Admiral Sir George Cockburn: With Particular Reference to Gen. Napoleon Buonaparte, on Passage From England to St. Helena, in 1815, on Board H. M. S. Northumberland, Bearing the Rear-Admiral’s Flag.
This manuscript was found in Cockburn’s own handwriting among his other writings. It was published due to its intrinsic value to history about the late career of a soldier.
Cockburn was there when the White House was burned and was chosen to escort Napoleon to Saint Helena for exile. Though Cockburn would later die at Saint Helena, this is his journal of the voyage there.
Minatare Memories: A Historical Account of the Tabor-Minatare Community of Western Nebraska by the Minatare Historical Committee.
A history of Minatare, Nebraska. I came across some ladies documenting the history of Minatare. They planned to write a book when they were finished, charging only what it cost to have it printed. I wrote an article about them. Then, I wrote another when the book came out. U.S. News and World Report picked up my story. I didn’t plan on it, but I’m on page 139.
After printing, the ladies noticed a few typos and they received even more information than what they had. I know how that feels.
Black Hills Doc 1892-1945 by C.W. Hargens, M.D., Edited, by D.M. Hargens-Hallsted.
This is the story of an instrumental figure in the history of Hot Springs, South Dakota. D.M. Hargens-Hallsted, or as I know her, Dorothy Waldren, brings her grandfather’s story to life.
This is a great and easy read to learn about how life was along the frontier. It tells the story of Dr. Hargens from his early life in the Missouri Valley teaching to becoming a doctor to settling in Hot Springs where he helped transform the city.
Tales in the book include his thoughts on how women should be treated and the “discipline” men received when women were bullied, a run in with Calamity Jane and enforcing the use of masks in public during the Influenza epidemic of 1918.
A novel feature of Kidney Park was a contribution box, urging patrons to drop a coin in order that good works might be carried on. The box was attended daily by the Chief of Police; we overlooked no possible source of contributions, even to having the night cop sit on a chair observing the late night comings and goings from certain establishments, a report culminating in an early morning call for a donation or perhaps an invitation to leave town on the next train.
– Pg. 141
These dances by the Indians, with shuffling feet and synchronous movements and the songs in a plaintive monotone, brought to the sympathetic viewer visions of a western scene never to be forgotten but later to be tarnished by the restrictions and degradation of reservation life.
– Pg. 144
The Battle of Wounded Knee had occurred on the Pine ridge Agency in December of 1890 and was a massacre of Indians by the Seventh Cavalry. The Indians’ presence there was attributed to the Custer massacre, the current Messiah craze among the Sioux and the mistreatment of Big foot’s band by the whites. The Indian warriors wore “ghost shirts” which they had been told would magically protect them against the bullets of the white man. Victims of this fallacy were buried in their shirts except for a few shirts taken as souvenirs by those handling the bodies.
– Pg. 146
I have always admired the Indians use of his environment; the religious and moral convictions which abhorred waste of any part of the animals he hunted, particularly the buffalo; his early use of the horse, his reverence of the Black Hills as an abode of the ruling spirits of his people. Any white man who claims superiority to the Indian because the Indian was defeated by an advanced armament is deluded. White men in no way, mentally, morally or physically are superior to the Indian. We defeated them only because of the “advantages” of a more developed science.-
– Pg. 188
The Indian believed profoundly in silence, the sign of perfect equilibrium. Silence is the absolute poise or balance of the body, mind and spirit. The man who preserves his silence ever calm and unshaken by the storms of existence, not a ripple on the shining surface of the pool, not a leaf stirring on the tree, that man, in the mind of the unlettered safe, is in the ideal attitude and conduct of life.
– Pg. 188
This is a fascinating read. If you’d like a copy, the best way would be to call Dobby’s Frontier Town and they can put you in touch with Dorothy. Alternatively, you can pay way too much for it on Amazon.
Genoways follows Rick Hammond and his family from harvest to harvest where they raise cattle and crops on Hammond’s wife’s fifth-generation homestead in York County, Nebraska.
The book goes back and forth between the struggles of the Hammond family and the future of family farming to the history which got us here.
As the family fights to keep their operation afloat, they must deal with a myriad of issues, including the Keystone XL pipeline and the ever-increasing demands of security precautions put into place from DuPont Pioneer for the transportation and planting of seed to the ultimate harvest.
Far from an isolated refuge beyond the reach of global events, the family farm is increasingly at the crossroads of emerging technologies and international detente.
If there’s one thing I learned from this book, it’s that I don’t ever want to be a farmer. If you know nothing about corn, soybeans, and modern farming in Nebraska, this is the book you want to read. Genoways weaves the Hammonds story into complex issues without ever making the reader feel overwhelmed with information.
When I finish reading a book, I usually pass it on to others. I’m keeping this one and recommending you all go get your own copy.
The Things by Peter Watts
Have you seen the movie “The Thing” and wondered what the thing was thinking? Now you can read what it thought of us.
I Just Wanted To Survive by Tisha Thompson and Andy Lockett
A college football player thought he and a friend were going to meet up with two women. Instead, they were abducted and tortured for 40 hours — all because of a teammate.
The nation’s current post-truth moment is the ultimate expression of mind-sets that have made America exceptional throughout its history.
This article was adapted from Kurt Andersen’s book Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire—A 500-Year History.
The foundation of Donald Trump’s presidency is the negation of Barack Obama’s legacy. The essay was drawn from Ta-Nehisi Coates’s book, We Were Eight Years in Power.
Interview with Edward Snowden by Martin Knobbe and Jörg Schindler
In an interview, whistleblower Edward Snowden discusses his life in Russia, the power of the intelligence apparatuses and how he will continue his battle against all-encompassing surveillance by governments.
Jesus as Whippersnapper: John 2:15 and Prophetic Violence by Hector Avalos, Professor of Religious Studies, Iowa State University
This essay challenges a pacifistic interpretation of John 2:15. In particular, it addresses the linguistic, historical and literary arguments of N. Clayton Croy, who argued that Jesus should not be portrayed as committing any act of violence in John 2:15. More recently, Andy Alexis-Baker concludes that Jesus did not even strike any animals with a whip, which was made of materials too soft to injure anyone or any animal. A violent portrait of Jesus is consistent with the Deuteronomistic view of divine anger and prophetic zeal that may have influenced the portrait the Johannine Jesus. Otherwise, the temple episode in John exemplifies another case where some streams of Christian scholarship seem reluctant to characterize Jesus’ behavior as unjustifiably violent.
The Danger of President Pence by Jane Mayer
Trump’s critics yearn for his exit. But Mike Pence, the corporate right’s inside man, poses his own risks.
How the Elderly Lose Their Rights by Rachel Aviv
Guardians can sell the assets and control the lives of senior citizens without their consent—and reap a profit from it.
A Generation in Japan Faces a Lonely Death by Norimitsu Onishi
The New York Times examines the growing problem of forgotten senior citizens in Japan. The story follows two apartment residents who eat lunch together in a retirement community in the suburbs of Tokyo. They have outlived nearly all their blood relatives and are simply ignored or forgotten by the rest.
Who Gets to Live in Fremont, Nebraska? by Henry Grabar
A new Costco plant could save the town—by bringing hundreds of immigrants to the only place in America that passed a law to keep them out.
“It’s time to tell the biggest untold story of the 2016 election: how a cadre of pro-Trump FBI agents and intel officers—some active, some retired—conspired to swing the election to Trump. The story involves Flynn, Prince, Giuliani, and others. Hope you’ll read and share.”
Is This Genocide? by Nicholas Kristof
Survivors describe Myanmar soldiers killing men, raping women and burning babies in a Rohingya village.
From the article:
“Ethnic cleansing” and even “genocide” are antiseptic and abstract terms. What they mean in the flesh is a soldier grabbing a crying baby girl named Suhaifa by the leg and flinging her into a bonfire. Or troops locking a 15-year-old girl in a hut and setting it on fire.
The children who survive are left haunted: Noor Kalima, age 10, struggles in class in a makeshift refugee camp. Her mind drifts to her memory of seeing her father and little brother shot dead, her baby sister’s and infant brother’s throats cut, the machete coming down on her own head, her hut burning around her … and it’s difficult to focus on multiplication tables.
“Sometimes I can’t concentrate on my class,” Noor explained. “I want to throw up.”
An honest, dark, and moving piece about what is happening to the Rohingya and whether it should be considered genocide. Yeah, it’s genocide. Go read the article anyway. It tells of the brutality the Rohingya have suffered and the indifference the world and those in Burma seem to have about them.
Burmese politician Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize and the defacto leader in Burma[http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-41139319], continues to defend the army. She has called reports of sexual assault by soldiers as “fake rape” and, essentially, believes there is an “iceberg of misinformation” about the Rohingya.
It is a graphic and harrowing account of what the Rohingya have been forced to live through. If only we would listen, and take action.
A journey through a land of extreme poverty: welcome to America by Ed Pilkington
The UN’s Philip Alston is an expert on deprivation – and he wants to know why 41m Americans are living in poverty. The Guardian joined him on a special two-week mission into the dark heart of the world’s richest nation.
Alston’s journey takes him into the “dark side of the American Dream,” where the richest country in the world is also the host to abject poverty.
The two men carry on for block after block after block of tatty tents and improvised tarpaulin shelters. Men and women are gathered outside the structures, squatting or sleeping, some in groups, most alone like extras in a low-budget dystopian movie.
We come to an intersection, which is when General Dogon stops and presents his guest with the choice. He points straight ahead to the end of the street, where the glistening skyscrapers of downtown LA rise up in a promise of divine riches.
Then he turns to the right, revealing the “black power” tattoo on his neck, and leads our gaze back into Skid Row bang in the center of LA’s downtown. That way lies 50 blocks of concentrated human humiliation. A nightmare in plain view, in the city of dreams.
Alston turns right.
There are many great points in the article, including this:
The link between soil type and demographics was not coincidental. Cotton was found to thrive in this fertile land, and that in turn spawned a trade in slaves to pick the crop. Their descendants still live in the Black Belt, still mired in poverty among the worst in the union.
You can trace the history of America’s shame, from slave times to the present day, in a set of simple graphs. The first shows the cotton-friendly soil of the Black Belt, then the slave population, followed by modern black residence and today’s extreme poverty – they all occupy the exact same half-moon across Alabama.
As one gentleman in the article said, “The safety net? It has too many holes in it for me.” These are people who are in despair and America turns a blind eye to it, preferring to believe people cause themselves to be in these situations when that is far from reality.
Where Wind Farms Meet Coal Country, There’s Enduring Faith in Trump by Clifford Krauss
Hoping for more unfettered production of coal, oil and gas even as it erects wind farms, a Wyoming county sees the president as a key to job security.
The Making of an American Nazi by Luke O’Brien
How did Andrew Anglin go from being an antiracist vegan to the alt-right’s most vicious troll and propagandist—and how might he be stopped?
This is a really long read, but a good one and a damned fine piece of journalism. This is why I have a subscription to The Atlantic.
On December 16, 2016, Tanya Gersh answered her phone and heard gunshots. Startled, she hung up. Gersh, a real-estate agent who lives in Whitefish, Montana, assumed it was a prank call. But the phone rang again. More gunshots. Again, she hung up. Another call. This time, she heard a man’s voice: “This is how we can keep the Holocaust alive,” he said. “We can bury you without touching you.”
When Gersh put down the phone, her hands were shaking. She was one of only about 100 Jews in Whitefish and the surrounding Flathead Valley, and she knew there were white nationalists and “sovereign citizens” in the area. But Gersh had lived in Whitefish for more than 20 years, since just after college, and had always considered the scenic ski town an idyllic place. She didn’t even have a key to her house—she’d never felt the need to lock her door. Now that sense of security was about to be shattered.
There are also these unsettling things in the article:
In the summer of 2015, another great white savior—himself a troll—appeared to Anglin, this time gliding down a golden escalator in Manhattan in front of a crowd of paid extras.
Anglin immediately put all his resources toward willing a Trump presidency into reality. He churned out cheerleader posts and deployed his trolls on behalf of Trump, directing several of his nastiest attacks at Jewish journalists who were critical of the candidate or his associates.
His absentee ballot arrived in Ohio from Krasnodar, a city in southwest Russia near the Black Sea, according to Franklin County records.
Anglin worshipped Putin, and seemed like exactly the type of online agitator Russia might use to sow chaos during the U.S. election.
Also from Whitefish: Ryan Zinke, Richard Spencer and Whitefish Energy, the two-employee company who were originally given the no-bid contract to restore power to Puerto Rico. I suspect we will hear more about Whitefish in 2018.
O’Brien also did an NPR interview about the article and his findings.
This is a great little graphic novel geared toward children under twelve. Within its pages, you’ll discover women throughout history have had important roles, including viking, pharaoh and general in the Kahn’s army.
It also covers topics, such as women disguising themselves as men and why they needed to do so. Most the these women risk it all, including their lives to pursue their dreams.
A User’s Guide to Neglectful Parenting by Guy Delisle
A delightful little read. Hilarious. I say this is how you should raise kids.
The illustrated prose-art book consists of five new stories by some of Scandinavia’s premier illustrators and concept artists. Everything was well done visually and the stories were compelling. The art is what is on display here and it does not disappoint.
This is not your typical graphic novel, and it isn’t trying to be. The artists are trying something new and, for the most part, it works.
The Forever War by Joe Haldemann (Author), and Marvano (Illustrator)
Released in Belgium in 1988, the science fiction graphic novel by Marvano is closely based on the novel of the same name by Joe Halderman, who provide the dialogue. It was originally published in Dutch and later translated into several languages, including English.
The Forever War tells the story of William Mandella, an elite soldier fighting for Earth in an interstellar war, which lasted for centuries. He is one of a handful who eventually survives the entire war. Mandella eventually settles on a planet with other veterans called, “Middle Finger.”
The Forever War focuses on many themes, including the dehumanizing effects of war and the changes in society as the soldiers continue to fight.
Like Halderman’s book, the graphic novel touches on themes from the Vietnam war, such as the treatment of the enemy and propaganda.
The original was released in three volumes, but has since been incorporated into one. The art is part of the story and often enhances what is taking place. In almost every place, the art is intertwined with the story and it feels as if each pane is meant to be with the text.
The only drawback is that in a graphic novel based on a book, there will, necessarily, be cuts. If one reads the book, they will learn more about why only people with IQs above 150 were drafted, why military-approved drugs were allowed, and more about how partners were sexually assigned.
The relationship between William and Marygay is also diminished, but I didn’t feel it took too much away from the graphic novel. It may be because I have read the book so I went in with some notion of the story.
All in all, it’s a good graphic novel that I recommend, even if you’re not a graphic novel kind of person.
That’s it for 2017. I’ve already got 20 books stacked up on my desk for 2018. Happy reading and I hope you find a gem or two in my list.