My Most Recent Reads - June 2016

And June flew by in a whirlwind of classes, academic articles, commuting to UMASS Boston because that's what I do in June (catch up in my adventures in PhD land here), and other things going on.  I didn't get any physical books read (unless you combine the numerous articles I read for class), but between commuting, walking and cycling (running is out as I've injured my IT band), I got in a good amount of listening and some really great books to talk about today.  

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

Word cloud of the blog post.Alexander delivers a brutal and systematic accounting of the ways in which US culture has continued to disenfranchise, alienate, and marginalize African Americans in the 20th and 21st century.  Though she starts with the exploration of slave and post-slave society, she traces a variety of policies, practices, and laws within criminal justice on the local, state, and federal level coupled with explorations of public policy, economic policy, business and employment practices, sociological findings, and many other disciplinary research to paint a vivid tapestry of the legal language of colorblindness in many perpetuates drastic proportional inequalities between whites and African Americans in particular but other minorities as well.  It's an eye-opening and excruciating look that can be hard to fully accept, especially for those that have never considered such things.  She provides some ideas about how to fix it but just being able to name it so fully is the needed start.  For anyone trying to understand the modern cultural landscape, racial politics, and what it means to try to succeed as an African-American in the US, this book is a must-read.

Shortcut: How Analogies Reveal Connections, Spark Innovation, and Sell Our Greatest Ideas by John Pollack

Pollack explores the power of and importance of analogies in our personal and professional communication.  It's a solid book to help one think about the ways we fall into traps around analogies and how we can construct substantial analogies to get our point across.  I appreciated Pollack's ability to provide many examples that help show both the power and problem with analogies as well as the factors that go into making strong analogies.  If you plan to do any work wherein you need to convince other people or provide guidance to others to understand an approach actions or ideas in particular ways, this book will provide you with a strong toolset to get it done.  

The Fireman by Joe Hill

Hill's new novel is a fun joyride into a post-apocalyptic world in which a new fungus has spread across the world.  Once infect, the person develops a golden rash, known as dragon scale, which eventually leads them to burst into flames.  Unsure about what to do with them, the government begins to quarantine and eventually kill them as they cause increasing hazards, setting entire areas of the country on fire.  Enter Harper, a smart, caring, and pregnant nurse who gets the dragon-scale and is unsure what to do.  Her husband believes he knows what best, let them both take a bullet to the head, but she wants to live for the child inside her.  Along the way to her decisions, she meets the Fireman, a man that seems to get along with his infection and a whole camp of people who also manage to survive despite being infected.  Overall, it's a fun novel and while I don't mean this in a diminutive or derivative way, this novel makes clear that Joe Hill is the offspring of Stephen King.  Abusive and dominant partner, New England setting (with a fixation on Maine), unforeseen (but foreseeable) betrayal, batshit-crazy preacher, eclectic folks throughout, and several other King hallmarks make their appearance in this book.  But Hill does well with it and takes up King's mantle in a way that shows he has the same skills as his father.  Additionally, I listened to the audiobook which was narrated by Kate Mulgrew, who was largely enjoyable with the plot and characters, but occasionally bungled local pronunciations.

So that's all I got for now.  See you next month with some new reads!

Monthly reads for 2016 (and you can always look at all of my books that I've read on GoodReads)


  • But What If We're Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past by Chuck Klosterman
  • Leading the Learning Revolution: The Expert's Guide to Capitalizing on the Exploding Lifelong Education Market by Jeff Cobb
  • We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
  • The Knight of the Swords (Corum, #1) by Michael Moorcock
  • Maestro Mario: How Nintendo Transformed Videogame Music into an Art by Andrew Schartmann
  • The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture by Glen Weldon
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
  • Alexander
  • Shortcut: How Analogies Reveal Connections, Spark Innovation, and Sell Our Greatest Ideas by John Pollack
  • The Fireman by Joe Hill
  • The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
  • Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art by Virginia Heffernan
  • The Stormlight Archive Volume 1 : The Way of Kings (1 of 5) by Brandon Sanderson


  • The Heiress and the Chauffeur, Vol. 1  by Keiko Ishihara
  • Bitch Planet, Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine by Kelly Sue DeConnick
  • Extraordinary X-Men Vol. 1: X-Haven by Jeff Lemire

What about you, reader?  What book recommendations do you have for me?

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