10 books I loved this year, in no particular order:
Marilynne Robinson, Gilead
I loved this novel, which runs on the voice of the main character, an old preacher named John Ames, who is writing a letter to his seven-year-old son about his life and struggles with his faith. Beautiful book.
Ursula Franklin, The Real World of Technology
A series of radio lectures given in 1989, and yet, 100% relevant to today, as we face the rise of techno-fascism. A book and a thinker I wish more people knew about.
Olivia Laing, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone
A terrific hybrid of memoir and art writing — I particularly loved the sections on David Wojnarowicz and the AIDS crisis.
Steve Silberman, NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity
A fascinating history that includes everything from Nazis to Tesla to Rain Man. A ton here relevant to education and parenting kids who think differently.
John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley in Search of America
Some people question how much of this travelogue is true, but who the hell really cares when the writing is so delicious? Steinbeck himself wrote about the impossibility of capturing a nation based on one trip.
Tom Hart, Rosalie Lightning
A devastating comics memoir about losing a toddler, using art to sort through your life, and the struggle of being an artist with a family in America. Amazing feat.
John Holt, How Children Learn
Holt’s work, first published in 1967, had more of an impact on how I parent and how I think about education than any other book I read this year. His message is simple: children are learning animals, and the best way to teach them is to trust them and get out of their way. Still feels radical.
Chris Offutt, My Father, The Pornographer
Offutt’s memoir about his upbringing and his dad’s writing career also functions as a kind of cautionary tale of working from home and making a living from your art. Really great writing.
Jon Klassen, The Hat Trilogy
It’s tough to hit that sweet spot in the venn diagram of books kids love that adults love to read, and it’s just as to tough to wrap up a beloved trilogy. I spent a lot of bedtimes reading these books.
Joy Williams, Ninety-Nine Stories of God
A weird, wonderful batch of super-short stories. Perfect pre-dream reading.
Here are 15 more books I liked, all of which could’ve easily made my top 10:
- Helen Molesworth, Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College, 1933-1957
- Jessa Crispin, The Creative Tarot
- Chester Brown, Mary Wept Over The Feet of Jesus
- Lee Lorenz, The World of William Steig
- John Cage, Silence: Lectures and Writings
- Witold Rybczynski, Waiting For The Weekend
- Calvin Tomkins, Duchamp: A Biography
- Sarah Bakewell, At the Existentialist Cafe
- Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
- Ursula K. Le Guin, Left Hand of Darkness
- Lynda Barry, The Greatest of Marlys
- Ben Shahn, The Shape of Content
- John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling
- Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner, Teaching as a Subversive Activity
- Daniel Clowes, Patience
Browse my notes on all the books I read this year, my tips for reading more, and a decade’s worth of my previous reading years.