I read 43 books last year. On Goodreads, you can set a goal, a challenge - mine was to read 30 books. I definitely overshot that. Below, I will list my favorite books of those I read this past year (in no particular order...).
It's What I Do: A Photographers Life of Love and War by Lynsey Addario
War photographer Lynsey Addario’s memoir It’s What I Do is the story of how the relentless pursuit of truth, in virtually every major theater of war in the twenty-first century, has shaped her life. What she does, with clarity, beauty, and candor, is to document, often in their most extreme moments, the complex lives of others. It’s her work, but it’s much more than that: it’s her singular calling. Watching uprisings unfold and people fight to the death for their freedom, Addario understands she is documenting not only news but also the fate of society. It’s What I Do is more than just a snapshot of life on the front lines; it is witness to the human cost of war.
** I'm a photographer, but I've never been interested in photographing wars, though I do believe it to be important. I majored in Photojournalism, but the journalism side has never been my passion. I love to read about photographers and how they got to where they are and of course, a book with their photos inside.
Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen
Ebola, SARS, Hendra, AIDS, and countless other deadly viruses all have one thing in common: the bugs that transmit these diseases all originate in wild animals and pass to humans by a process called spillover. In this gripping account, David Quammen takes the reader along on this astonishing quest to learn how, where from, and why these diseases emerge and asks the terrifying question: What might the next big one be?
** I have always been fascinated with diseases and viruses (please read The Hot Zone and The Demon in the Freezer by Richard Preston if you want to get real interested in this topic). I had bought this book before the pandemic, but as the pandemic was starting I decided to pick up this book. It's very interesting in terms of understanding viruses and how they operate and mutate.
The Cold Vanish: Seeking the Missing in North America's Wildlands by Jon Billman
These are the stories that defy conventional logic. The proverbial vanished without a trace incidences, which happen a lot more (and a lot closer to your backyard) than almost anyone thinks. These are the missing whose situations are the hardest on loved ones left behind. The cases that are an embarrassment for park superintendents, rangers and law enforcement charged with Search & Rescue. The ones that baffle the volunteers who comb the mountains, woods and badlands. The stories that should give you pause every time you venture outdoors. Through Jacob Gray's disappearance in Olympic National Park, and his father Randy Gray who left his life to search for him, we will learn about what happens when someone goes missing. Braided around the core will be the stories of the characters who fill the vacuum created by a vanished human being. We'll meet eccentric bloodhound-handler Duff and R.C., his flagship purebred, who began trailing with the family dog after his brother vanished in the San Gabriel Mountains. And there's Michael Neiger North America's foremost backcountry Search & Rescue expert and self-described "bushman" obsessed with missing persons. And top researcher of persons missing on public wildlands Ex-San Jose, California detective David Paulides who is also one of the world's foremost Bigfoot researchers.
** I am fascinated by true crime, but recently I delved into people going missing in national parks and my fascination with that topic is on par with that of true crime. People who go missing in national parks just vanish. Volunteers will heavily search an area and later on, the person missing will be found in that area. If people are found, a lot of time they are missing their shoes. A lot of time the people who go missing are experienced hikers. What happens?
How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
Ibram X. Kendi's concept of antiracism reenergizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America--but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. In How to be an Antiracist, Kendi asks us to think about what an antiracist society might look like, and how we can play an active role in building it. In this book, Kendi weaves together an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science, bringing it all together with an engaging personal narrative of his own awakening to antiracism. How to Be an Antiracist is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a truly just and equitable society.
** I believe that being an antiracist isn't a noun, it's a verb. Everyday, we must fight to be an antiracist. We may believe that we are not racist, but if you support racist policies, you are racist. I learned things about myself while reading this book and everyday I think of something that this book taught me. I believe that if you are pushing yourself to be better, read this book.
Recursion by Blake Crouch
That's what NYC cop Barry Sutton is learning, as he investigates the devastating phenomenon the media has dubbed False Memory Syndrome—a mysterious affliction that drives its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived. That's what neuroscientist Helena Smith believes. It's why she's dedicated her life to creating a technology that will let us preserve our most precious memories. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to re-experience a first kiss, the birth of a child, the final moment with a dying parent. As Barry searches for the truth, he comes face to face with an opponent more terrifying than any disease—a force that attacks not just our minds, but the very fabric of the past. And as its effects begin to unmake the world as we know it, only he and Helena, working together, will stand a chance at defeating it. But how can they make a stand when reality itself is shifting and crumbling all around them?
** I love science fiction. I love watching movies and television shows and reading science fiction. I can read other genres, but I love science fiction and like to read it frequently. This was a book I couldn't put down. From beginning to end, I was incredible intrigued.
The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
Upstate NY, 1982. Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Viv Delaney works as the night clerk to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn't right at the Sun Down, and before long she's determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden…
** My mother has a subscription to Book of the Month, and I don't have to pay for the subscription, but feel the benefits. This one was one of the books she received and it was so good. As stated above, I love true crime, this isn't true, but it's crime. Mysteries are another genre of book I love. This was one of the creepier ones I've read, so I definitely recommend reading it in the daytime.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Housseini
The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies. A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic.
** I've heard so much about how good this book is over the years. I finally took the plunge. The book was beautiful. I bawled at the end. Everyone just needs to read it.
Sydney Rose Parnell series by Barbara Nickless
This mystery crime series is about Sydney Rose Parnell, a war veteran railway cop, that suffers from PTSD and works with her K9 partner, Clyde. There are four books in the series and they focus on different crimes with the railway and her struggle with PTSD and her past.
** I highly recommend these books. I read the first one a year or so ago, but in 2020, I caught up on the last three. I was very upset when I just recently finished the fourth book and realized it was published in 2020, which means I'll have to wait for the next one. This is my favorite crime series.
(the picture is of the first in the series, Blood on the Tracks)
Here's to reading more good books in 2021!