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Recommendations from my reading this year:

Factfulness, by Hans Rosling. #1 with a bullet! This is the best, most useful book I've read in many years, and totally changed how I think about my thinking, and how other people (especially smart people) think. This is a must-read for anyone who thinks they're engaged and well-informed.

The Cooking Gene, by Michael Twitty. This was recommended to me by a very smart friend as the best book she read in 2017. It's behind only Factfulness for me. Ostensibly a history of African-American cooking in the South, it's a sprawling yet deeply personal work of history, genealogy, multiculturalism, and of course food. A masterpiece, full of knowledge, wisdom, and heart.

Prisoners of Geography, by Tim Marshall. An overview of political geography, and how the physical structure of land and water affects the cultures living there, their opportunities, and their place in the world. It caused a total rethink about why Europe and the US have been so successful, and why Africa and South America have suffered. A worthy companion to the classic Guns, Germs, and Steel.

Let's Go (So We Can Get Back), by Jeff Tweedy. An autobiography by the Wilco frontman, talking about a lot of stuff I find intensely interesting - depression, being a bandleader, and being a parent and husband.

Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor. An outstanding science fiction novella from an entirely different perspective - an African future.

The Ethics of Ambiguity, by Simone de Beauvoir. A mid-century philosophy classic, tackling ethics from an existentialist perspective. Dense and difficult, but also highly entertaining and brilliant. Highly recommended if you read philosophy regularly (if you don't, start with something a little lighter!).




I think Twitty has a YouTube channel on “Food of the Enslaved”


I should watch that! I got to see him speak at Fort Snelling in Minneapolis (a couple of miles from my house), and he was incredibly entertaining and engaging. Besides showing us how the kitchen worked in the commander's house, he talked about what he was able to learn about the slave women who cooked there. He brought up the Dred Scott case - I hadn't realized that the famous Dred Scott had actually lived more or less in my neighborhood! The combination of technical, historical, and personal was really brilliant.




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