2015: My Year in Books

In Books, Life, Reviews, The Big Picture by Megan Toombs Kinard0 Comments

 

As 2015 comes to a close, I’ve begun to ponder what I learned this year, and what I want to learn next year. I am a voracious reader, and on occasion I could be considered a rabid one. I can get into a book series and not stop until I have read for so many hours I can hardly move (I did this last February waiting for the snow storm that never came. I read 3-4 novels from 5:30 pm until midnight).

My reading choices, like my music choices, are all over the place. I have been known to jump from books on marketing, social media, investing, and entrepreneurialism, to histories, and biographies, all the way to fiction books in an incredibly wide variety of genres including science fiction and fantasy.

Here are 7 of my favorite books from 2015—only 7 because it would take days for me to write a whole list of books (and what about all the articles!), and who would want to read it?

  1. Outliers: A Story of Success, by Malcom Gladwell—If you haven’t read any of Gladwell’s books, I highly encourage you to do so. They are eye opening, mind stretching, and an enjoyable read. Outliers looks at success from a different point of view than most people typically do. As Gladwell puts it, “It is not the brightest who succeed. Nor is success simply the sum of the decisions and efforts we make on our own behalf. It is, rather, a gift. Outliers are those who have been given opportunities—and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.” But it isn’t just having the presence of mind to seize opportunities, Gladwell notes that those at the top work harder than everyone else.
  1. Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator, by Ryan Holiday—It is important to understand current media trends, and how one person with a computer can manipulate the world into paying attention to, and even caring about, a topic/cause/product that people would typically not give a second thought. I think the Starbucks Red Cup controversy is a good example of media manipulation. I did not know one person who really cared that Starbucks served plain red cups (simplistic design is after all a huge trend this year), but I knew a lot of people who still felt the need to post on the topic—pushing Starbucks and the controversy to viral status. [Note: Ryan Holiday is a great writer, and a strong advocate of reading (which I love), but he is very liberal, and vocal about his support for issues that I do not in any way support. As Aristotle said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”]
  1. Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, by Seth Godin—This is a small book and an easy read, but I highly recommend it to anyone interested in a positive form of leadership, harnessing creativity, and creating change.
  1. Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom by Larry Bell—A very interesting and informative read, and especially relevant as the Climate Lobby pushes forward from the Paris Climate Summit towards a binding international agreement on CO2 reductions and wealth transfer.
  1. Red Rising, by Pierce Brown (and the sequel Golden Son)—I discovered this trilogy while browsing the shelves of my local library. The third instalment isn’t out yet, but I am waiting very impatiently. Dystopian Sci-Fi/Fantasy novels are very popular right now (Hunger Games, Divergent, etc.), and it is difficult to write something new and different with the volume of novels being published, but somehow Pierce Brown managed it, and managed it brilliantly. I won’t say anything about the actual plot; I don’t want to ruin it. But if you like dystopian fiction, this book is worth a read.
  1. What to Expect When No One’s Expecting: America’s Coming Demographic Disaster, by Jonathan V. Last—I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to be generally informed, but especially for anyone interested in issues of under/over population. When dealing with environmental issues we often hear that the globe is over-populated and that we are “killing Mother Earth.” This book provides the information required to give a cohesive response to those claims.
  1. Plunder and Deceit: Big Government’s Exploitation of Young People and the Future, by Mark Levin—I’m currently in the middle of this, but so far I’m thoroughly enjoying it. Definitely a worthwhile read for all Millennials, and really anyone else wanting to be well-informed. Here is a good review on Breitbart.com.

This list is representative of my eclectic reading habits this year, missing are many, many books including some good studies on various books of the Bible, and a book on prayer by Tim Keller that I just started. I also read enough dystopian and apocalyptic fiction this year to practically be an expert on the genre, and I’m currently pondering what fiction genre to focus on in 2016. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! And stay tuned for my New Year’s list of books to read in 2016!

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Megan is the Director of Communications for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, and Editor of EarthRisingBlog.com. You can follow her on Twitter @MeganToombs.

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