My top books of the year

Note that I'm not saying “top ten”, because I don't necessarily know how many I'll want to list. Still, I have a feeling that I won't have trouble with the dividing line between the books I would strongly recommend, those that are just okay, and those that I would steer you clear of.

 Bending Toward Justice: The Voting Rights Act and the Transformation of American Democracy by Gary May

This year we saw Republicans in state legislatures continue to try to keep black voters away from the polls and Republicans on the Supreme Court gut the Voting Rights Act, so this is a timely reminder of the difficulty and heroism of the fight to establish voting rights.

 Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup

 Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass

At a time when conservatives think slaves should have been grateful for the life they had, and Southern conservatives express nostalgia for the Lost Cause and anger at what they like to call the War of Northern Aggression, it is still important to have a clear vision of the reality of slavery in our past.

 The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins.

 A new poll just demonstrated that the percentage of Republicans who “believe in” evolution (do you “believe in” gravity? the germ theory? the heliocentric model?) has dropped to a minority. Maybe it's because some of the smart ones are leaving, but it's important to know the facts.

 Unhinged: The Trouble with Psychiatry – A Doctor's Revelations about a Profession in Crisis by Daniel Carlat.

We are constantly seeing new research demonstrating the limited effectiveness and affirmative harms of psychiatric medications. In this book Carlat exposes the moral bankruptcy of the industry in which so many policy makers continue to repose their blind faith.

 Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann.

New York City is falling apart, Richard Nixon is about to resign, and a French tightrope walker prepares to walk between the two towers of the World Trade Center.  This novel, which I had some reluctance to read, captures these events and a world we can hardly imagine or remember forty years later.

 The Cost of Haven (Great Cities, #1) by F.F. McCulligan

 My interest in fantasy pretty much begins and ends with Tolkien, but I know that fantasy readers are always on the lookout for a new voice. Here's one that presents a believable world and believable, relatable characters. It's worth reading, even if I, the author's father, say so myself.

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

 You really haven't read it yet? Come on, what are you waiting for? Too big a fan of capitalism? 

 Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon.

 I never thought I'd have any interest in a book about the world of horse racing, but this is definitely worthwhile.

 

 

7 thoughts on “My top books of the year

  1. In these times, I recommend reading To Have And Have Not, since we’re back in ‘Depression’ economics–“Like trying to pass cars on the top of hills.”

  2. Unhinged: The Trouble with Psychiatry – A Doctor’s Revelations about a Profession in Crisis by Daniel Carlat.

    We are constantly seeing new research demonstrating the limited effectiveness and affirmative harms of psychiatric medications. In this book Carlat exposes the moral bankruptcy of the industry in which so many policy makers continue to repose their blind faith

    I have long believed the drugs given to the mentally ill & the not-so-ill are horribly debilitating and shorten their lives. The effects are so awful it’s difficult to believe the drug manufacturers have the best interests of those “treated” with them at all.

    Those who have found themselves trapped in the destructive psychiatric maze I’m sure can agree. The system is tragically broken & unbelievably ineffective as well as being overrun with charlatans.

    Basicly it merely traps & warehouses its unfortunate victims who are treated with continual disrespect from caregivers & many never get well.

    My first ex was a good looking guy who unbeknownst to me was mentally ill. Following over 20 years of separation I encouraged a relationship with our daughter. After seeing a pic of him I was stunned at how completely ruined he was, he just looked so bad. He died young-ish of a massive heart attack.

    I befriended a woman through church who was also mentally ill. She shook constantly & also died of a massive heart attack.

    I met a man whose tongue hangs out all the time subjecting him to ridicule. I discovered it is a side effect of his meds.

    A relative by marrige of my daughter disappeared into a mental institution. Though she is slow mentally she is not “ill”. We don’t know where she is or what to do. Heartbreaking.

    The scheme to allow others than psychiatrists to forcefully medicate patients places the ones who provide direct care to make decisions which present a conflict of interest as caregivers obviously would like their job to be easier. Though I cannot blame them the wellbeing of the client should be the priority. This could easily serve to further ensnare victims in a tragic web.  

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