Recommended Reading

Works of FICTION:

Freedom—Jonathan Franzen

This is one of those books that when you read it, you want to tell everyone about it. Franzen’s new novel is a layered story about a modern family torn apart by politics, defiance, selfishness and betrayal within the context of our times.  The novel is impressive in scope, tackling a range of different styles: part memoir of one of the protagonists, part soap opera, and part commentary of the current state of our world. The characters are so transparent and raw that at times, you’ll cringe. But what makes them so memorable is their humanity, and how Franzen captures the realness of each person so well that at times, you can’t believe you’re reading fiction. A truly modern epic, it’s a story of family struggle, love, despair, and forgiveness.

Look at the Birdie—Kurt Vonnegut

If there is a better short story fiction author than Kurt Vonnegut, I dare you to name one.  Once again, Vonnegut demonstrates his signature ability to entertain, inspire and engage readers. One of his rules of short-story writing was to ensure that a reader’s time was never wasted. He certainly stays true to that rule in this collection of stories that was unpublished during his lifetime. Thankfully, through the power of posthumous publishing, Vonnegut lives on!

Little Bee— Chris Cleave 

Refreshingly powerful. An absolutely beautiful story of sacrifice, human weakness and strength. Cleave’s novel has been added to my all-time favorites list. Well-written, thought-provoking and suspenseful– a truly memorable book.

Ten Little Indians—Sherman Alexie

With his wit, humor and raw honesty, Alexie paints nine portraits of the modern American Indian. His stories are both laugh-out-loud funny and heart wrenching. Each story has its own power to make you stop, think, and reassess.

Olive Kitteridge—Elizabeth Strout

This has made my top ten fiction favorites list. Olive is a memorable character–feisty, fiery, opinionated and loving (in her own way)–she’s sure to become a literary legend. It’s a terrific story, with Olive as the central thread weaving the other characters’ lives together.

 

Works of NON FICTION:

The Shock Doctrine—Naomi Klein

This is one of the most important works of investigative journalism I have ever read. Klein explores some of the most intriguing and horrifying events of our time– tracing them back to their source: “disaster capitalism.”

 Finding Beauty in a Broken World—Terry Tempest Williams

Terry Tempest Williams always amazes me with her humanity. The honesty of her writing and the way her words string together like poetry create a beautiful piece of work. Somehow, she is able to write about mosaics, prairie dogs and the Rwandan genocide in a seamless series of passages that piece together like a mosaic.

Hope’s Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet—Frances Moore Lappé and Anna Lappé

A compassionate book written from the cross-generational perspective of mother and daughter, Hope’s Edge is both informative and inspirational. The authors travel around the world to explore how different international communities are both combating hunger and cultivating reasons for hope and positive change.

Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future—Bill McKibben

A renowned pioneer for the environment, McKibben has done it again– written an inspiring work of journalism calling for urgent change. Deep Economy explores the idea of what makes us happy? Does more stuff enrich or clutter our lives? Or can a heightened sense of community elevate an individual’s sense of worth?

Manifestos on the Future of Food & Seed—Edited by Vandana Shiva

A collection of essays by environmental and social advocates such as Michael Pollan, Carlo Petrini, Jamey Lionette and Vandana Shiva. Manifestos calls for the right for all people to have access to good, clean and fair food, in a world where patents are becoming more pervasive and the need for protecting the environment and our health is becoming increasingly imperative.

Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual— Michael Pollan

This is a quick read that concisely plots out what you should eat if you care about your own health or the health of the planet, or both. The tips are easy to digest, well-informed, and often humorous.  It’s a diet that will not only change the way you feel physically, but will connect you more closely with the land and the world in which we live.

Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis—Al Gore

This is perhaps the most comprehensive overview of the causes of climate change that I have read. But not only does it outline how far we’ve already damaged the planet, it also gives a clear perspective of the ways we need to urgently change. Gore is convinced that we can solve the climate crisis, but that it’s our choice whether or not we’re up to the task. In this book, he gives us the tools; we just need to take the initiative to use them.

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