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Review: Barbara Kingsolver’s “Prodigal Summer”

This was an odd moment for me to finally get around to reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer, which has been waiting on my bookshelf for ages. Bursting with energy and appreciation for all living things, the book reminds me that I am not a farmer, that I am not a naturalist––not in the true sense of those words, anyway. It [...]

Review: Toby Ord’s “The Precipice”

My best friend regularly refers to Toby Ord‘s The Precipice as “the most persuasive and impactful book I’ve ever read.” This attitude evoked a lot of eye-rolling and protestation on my part, but I eventually gave in when he was kind enough to buy me a copy. Now that I’ve read it, I’m happy to admit that [...]

Review: Matt Haig’s “The Midnight Library”

Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library is a whimsical yet heavy journey into the ultra-trendy land of multiverse narratives. The protagonist is Nora Seed, a bedraggled Brit who decides to take her own life after her personal shitcake of bad luck gets iced by a particularly lousy day. Instead of fading to black, Nora finds herself in a [...]

Review: Atul Gawande’s “Being Mortal”

I have spent the last two months going through the approval process to volunteer at my local hospice center. As a supplement to the excellent training I’ve received, I thought Atul Gawande‘s Being Mortal would be a useful companion as I learn to support dying people and their loved ones. As a surgeon, public health expert, and accomplished [...]

Review: David McCullough’s “Truman”

“The past has always interested me for use in the present.” So wrote the aging Harry S. Truman in a 1954 letter to Dean Acheson, his former Secretary of State and dear friend. This observation is reason enough to investigate Truman’s life, a life that still echoes in our modern age. But the reason I picked [...]

Review: Heather McGhee’s “The Sum of Us”

Back in 2018, I read Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor’s From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation. Here’s my favorite passage from that excellent book: The common experience of oppression and exploitation creates the potential for a united struggle to better the conditions of all…Political unity, including winning white workers to the centrality of racism in shaping the lived experiences of Black [...]

Review: Lucas Spiegel’s “The Weight of Empathy”

I first met Lucas Spiegel about 15 years ago while playing club ultimate frisbee at the University of Oregon. He was a beloved captain of the B-team for several years––a quiet, kind, and always-respectful leader whose simple love for the game inspired younger players like me who were just starting out. I don’t remember Lucas [...]

Review: Bessel van der Kolk’s “The Body Keeps the Score”

Bessel van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score was pitched to me by several people as the best book for a crash course in trauma research and modern treatments. It did not disappoint. This impressive summary of discoveries and lessons from van der Kolk’s long career is an essential text for anyone looking to enter the [...]

Review: Tara Westover’s “Educated”

As the son of two parents with postgraduate degrees, the purpose and value of education were central to my upbringing. My folks never pushed me, but they always encouraged my intellectual growth and facilitated my desire to attend college with eager ease. I always knew I was lucky (they wouldn’t let me forget it), but [...]

Review: Toni Morrison’s “Beloved”

I have very little to say about Toni Morrison’s Beloved. It is an absolute masterpiece. The writing, the characters, the story––they’re all superb and blend together perfectly. The book is bursting with poignant insights about the nature of freedom, suffering, racism, family, memory, trauma, healing, humanism, and much more. It’s also terrifying and punishing, so be [...]