2016 Books

I present an admittedly ambitious list of books I would like to finish in 2016. I say finish because I/we have already started some.  They fall into several different (sometimes overlapping) categories.

Learning about experiences of people different from me

Seal_of_the_United_States_Department_of_Justice Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department
by United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division

From what I understand, even if the death of Michael Brown was justified, a large fraction of the population of Ferguson (and the United States) would not believe it.  I think this report will provide a large part of the answer to why.


BlackKidsCafeteriaWhy Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?
by Dr. Beverly Tatum

The blog By Their Strange Fruit has been difficult but eye-opening reading about my faith and race. The author says that the “writings of Dr. Beverly Tatum have shaped much of my early journey on race and race relations, particularly” this book.


20160109_101530 The Joy Luck Club
by Amy Tan

This was Kelly’s book before we got married, and it has been sitting on our  bookshelves ever since.  I decided it is time for me to finally read it. I’ve never seen the movie, but I know the book is usually better anyway. I just started reading the first few pages.



A Testament of Hope
by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
edited by James M. Washington

Another one that was originally Kelly’s and has been sitting on our shelves for years, and I haven’t read it until now.


LakotaWomanLakota Woman
by Mary Crow Dog

“A unique autobiography unparalleled in American Indian literature, and a deeply moving account of a woman’s triumphant struggle to survive in a hostile world.” The author was from the Rosebud reservation, less than 3 hour’s drive from my home.


OhitikaWomanOhitika Woman
by Mary Brave Bird

From Goodreads: “The dramatic, brutally honest, and ultimately triumphant sequel to the bestselling American Book Award winner Lakota Woman, this book continues Mary Brave Bird’s courageous story of life as a Native American in a white-dominated society.”

20160109_160052Crazy Horse and Chief Red Cloud
by Ed McGaa (Eagle Man)

Continuing the theme of local history from a Native American perspective, I found this one thanks to a librarian directing me to the South Dakota section of our public library.


Reading with my wife

20160109_101554The Gifts of Imperfection
by Brené Brown

This past year has been a watershed year for me in terms of accepting my imperfections and believing that I am loved and valuable anyway. We just started reading this, and the title still seems like an oxymoron, but I look forward to learning more about why it is not.


20160109_101547 Love Wins
by Rob Bell

Before Kelly suggested we read this book, all I really knew about it was that it was condemned as heretical by the American evangelical church when it was published. Now that I have had the courage to follow Kelly’s recommendation to read it for myself, so far he is asking a lot of difficult, but reasonable and important, questions about what “salvation” and Jesus really mean.

20160109_101600Men are Like Waffles Women are Like Spaghetti
by Bill and Pam Farrel

“At first this may seem silly, even juvenile, but stay with us. It is a picture that works and men ‘get it’…” Kelly and I found the “single” version of this book for married couples very illuminating about each other, so we are now reading the original.

Inspired by my friend Jackie

brown-girl-dreamingBrown Girl Dreaming
by Jacqueline Woodson

As Jackie says, this “is a memoir in verse by Jacqueline Woodson, and it’s a treasure. Even if you haven’t read any other Jackie Woodson books, this one is still not to be missed. It’s a beautiful story about her childhood as an African American in the sixties and seventies.” This one also would obviously fit in the first category, too.


wrath-and-dawnThe Wrath and The Dawn
by Renee Ahdieh

This “retelling” of One Thousand and One Nights was Jackie’s favorite book of 2015. “Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.”

I have not acquired a copy of this book yet, and I admit I approach it with some strong biases, even rage. Admitting one’s biases is the first step to removing them, so here are mine.  The description makes it seem like Ahdieh has written this book to get a fictional serial rapist (I’m presuming none of these girls consummated their “marriages” willingly) and mass murderer off the hook. What next? “ISIS not evil, just misunderstood!” “Fall in love with Jeffry Dahmer!” “Hitler was just a tortured soul!” “John Wanye Gacy, record-breaker and heart-throb!” “Boys, do you have trouble getting girls to like you?  Here’s the solution! Become a dictator, serial rapist, and mass murderer!”

Now that I have that out of my system, I still want to read it because of the incredible reviews it has received, and I want to know what unimaginable (to me) device the author uses to absolve Khalid and why Shahrzad lets him live long enough to fall in love.

WolfbyWolfWolf by Wolf
by Ryan Graudin

This is one of many alternate histories in which the Axis won World War II.  In this one, they also apparently invented at least one shapeshifter. I have reason to think this will be an excellent discussion starter.


rest-of-usThe Rest of Us Just Live Here
by Patick Ness

As Jackie says, “I loved the concept: very, very few of us can be ‘the Chosen One.’ While Harry Potter was off saving the wizarding world, most young wizards were just trying to get good grades in double Potions.” I love it too; of all the books Jackie has recommended in her blog, this one seems least likely to fill me with insecurity, guilt, shame, or rage.

Science Fiction

20160109_101541The First Men in The Moon
by H. G. Wells

Last year, I read the Space Trilogy by C. S. Lewis for the first time. Many of the science fiction elements of this series were influenced by Wells’ novella. Of course, probably every science fiction writer of the past 120 years has been influenced by Wells in some way.


20160109_160034The Wounded Sky
by Diane Duane

The author later adapted this novel into the Next Generation episode, “Where No One Has Gone Before,” featuring the first appearance of The Traveler. It was recommended to my be a friend, and the library bought it at my suggestion.


Education and Outreach

ReachingStudentsReaching Students
by the National Research Council
edited by Nancy Kober

A survey of the latest in Discipline Based Education Research that I hope will reinforce what I learned at the AAPT Teaching Workshop and improve my students’ learning.


TegmarkOur Mathematical Universe
by Max Tegmark

This one is inspired by Jackie as well. As of Chapter 4, it seems like an excellent introduction to quantum mechanics and cosmology for the general public. I haven’t gotten to the Mathematical Universe Hypothesis yet, but I am intrigued. One of my students found it so compelling he gave me his copy, with the provision that I pass it on when I am finished

I will be surprised if I finish all of these in the remainder of 2016, but if I do not, I will know what I want to read in 2017.


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2 Responses to 2016 Books

  1. Can’t wait to hear what you think of all my suggestions– and the Tegmark book!!

  2. Pingback: Books of 2016: A Review | Great are the Works of the Lord

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