Drawn to Culture: Must-Reads
We love to read. Some of us use reader devices and others prefer the actual books, complete with pages that turn, the need for ever-evasive bookmarks, and, of course, that unmistakable book smell.
Going to the bookstore? Yes, please! We love wandering the stacks to find the next must-read. But, let’s face it, we don’t always have the option of wandering, so we polled Drawnies to find out what they have been reading and rounded up their top book recommendation from the last year. If we didn't mention your favorite, please share it with us!
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values by Robert M. Pirsig
This book was on my reading list for years and I finally got a chance to listen to it on a road trip from Eugene to Montana this summer. Since the book also takes place over the course of a road trip to Montana, it was fun to hear descriptions of familiar roads and places. I loved this book for its thoughtful exploration of living a life of quality, told through both philosophical exposition and practical anecdote. While an enjoyable listen, it would make a better read, as there is a lot to digest and the non-stop pace of an audiobook makes it difficult to rest on a particular idea for very long before being forced forward. I'm looking forward to sitting and rereading the book soon. It's now one of my favorites.
As I wrap up my first full year of being a parent, I have dedicated most of my time to books such as Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy E. Shaw, The Littlest Family's Big Day by Emily Winfield Martin, and Quantum Physics for Babies by Chris Ferrie.
Not really reading too much these days, spending more time letting my mind settle in spare moments rather than feeding it more. But when I read, it is usually about food.
I am currently trying to read several books (it's really surprisingly hard to do as a mom of two who works full-time). The one I'm most into is Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. It's not exactly new, but I've never read it before and for someone who's interested in extreme sports, extreme weather, extreme elevation, and extreme [-ly good] reporting, this book checks all of the boxes. I'm also slothing my way through Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan.
Lost Connections by Johann Hari
Mental health is an increasing concern in our society. This book offered a refreshing perspective on the matter. I read most when traveling, as there is a lot of time in between getting places. I started this book just before leaving for India and Nepal last year.
My favorite book is one that I read for my grammar class last term called A World Without "Whom": The Essential Guide to Language in the BuzzFeed Age by Emmy J. Favilla. Favilla writes about grammar and language in a witty manner that makes it easy to understand and fun to read. As a fledgling grammar nerd, I find it fascinating how she is exploring the evolution of language in a world that is increasingly online.
A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn
This should be mandatory reading for any adult in the U.S. It is a humbling exposure of the privilege that I have as a white male in the U.S. and the cost in lives and suffering that it took to make it possible. Not a light read in any way, this book is a sobering reminder that we do not exist in a vacuum and our current socio-economic system is not a coincidence.
I find it hard to find time to read more than a few pages here and there... but I have been perusing a reprinted and hardbound version of the NASA Graphics Standards Manual that I received as a gift for Christmas. I love looking at design and standards from this era for inspiration.
I try to carve out reading time any chance I get. I would consider reading one of my favorite hobbies, and I try to read about a book a month. My favorite way to read is on my Kindle and through a monthly Prime reading subscription, I get access to thousands of books right in one device. My favorite book that I read last year was Upstairs at the White House: My Life with the First Ladies by J.B. West and Mary Lynn Kotz. West was the White House Chief Usher from 1941-1969. He helped coordinate life at the White House and shares his stories of life among the first ladies. You hear his firsthand account of who Jackie Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Pat Nixon were as real people, not just the idyllic figures who the media and history have portrayed them to be. The author is extremely relatable and down-to-earth, and for someone who usually prefers fiction books, I found this non-fiction book really entertaining and well done.