My Current Bookshelf - June 2017

So I'm finally getting back to writing about the stuff I've read over the last 2 months.  From June until now (and even now to a certain degree) has been an utter whirlwind.  While I definitely have been reading/listening, I have had little time to write about it.  So, here's what I've got to talk about this month.  There are a few books that I won't talk about because I'm pulling three books into a themed post on politics in the Trump presidency but I'll talk about the others and come back to that later as they need more detailed consideration and really fit as a trifecta of thought.


The Twisted Citadel (DarkGlass Mountain, #2) by Sara Douglass

The second book in the DarkGlass Trilogy, Douglass's final trilogy following the adventures of Axis and the characters in the world he inhabits.  I liked the book because like she always does, Douglass turns the prophecies she creates on their head and because we see a side of Ishbel that becomes increasingly into her own and creates a life on her own terms.  The plot is standard Douglass: a powerful and scheming god-like powerful evil is trying to conquer the world but is held back by people (Maximilian and Ishbel)  that it (referred to as The One) knows can do it harm and therefore must find a way to eliminating them. Add to this, a dying race (the Icarii), a newly discovered race, (the Lealfast), a race on the brink of destruction (humans) by a race of evil creatures (the Skraelings) and questionable alliances among some of them.  This volume in many ways is a mad--chase to Serpent's Nest which will become Echo Falling once Maximilian arrives to lay claim to his heritage.  But Isaiah's forces have gone their sepearate ways and are also racing towards Echo Falling to take it over and the Lealfast's loyalty seems to shift with the winds.  In many ways, the story's intrigue and potential is best understood if one has read not only the previous book in this trilogy but in the previous trilogies and stand alone novels.  If you've gotten that far, then this book will deliver on more excitement as previous novels.  


Learning as a Way of Leading: Lessons from the Struggle for Social Justice by Stephen Preskill and Stephen Brookfield

Preskill and Brookfield examine the concept of leadership and reframe successful and meaningful leadership as a means and willingness to learn.  They then explore how that frame of leader as learner plays out in different ways of learning (learning by asking others, learning by critical self-reflection, learning by sharing responsibilities and power, etc), the challenges with each way, and an iconic leader that has embraced that way.  While the book's main chapters can feel formulaic, the ideas are still powerful and I appreciated their different approach to leading.  For those in higher education, the merits of this book are perfect but even beyond that, I think that if a leader were to reframe his or her work as an active learner, it might mean more positive changes within organizations and communities as it creates more possibility for leaders to change or adjust their  views rather than mindless holding fast.  For those interested in rethinking their leadership style or thinking about how their learning might be extended into the realm of leadership, this is a great read.


Death's End (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #3) by Cixin Liu

Where do I even start with this one? I'm not even sure I could describe the plot and if you haven't read the previous two books, then don't bother. But I do encourage you to read the previous two because it makes this final book all the more epic. Liu's intricate plot about how humankind survives past the early and hostile confrontations with alien life is mesmerizing. Both in weaving believable science and believable human psychology together, Liu explores a future that feels real and fantastical only because it hasn't happened.  This tale begins after the peace has been established between humankind and the Trisolarans but this is a tenuous peace that self-destructs shortly after the selection of a watcher is unwilling to sacrifice the Trisolarans and humans.  Thus, the tension of the second book is quickly reprieved but soon, the Trisolarans are surprised by other loose ends that lead humankind to actively try to settle the universe.  But that description doesn't do justice to the way that Liu brings out the experiences of the characters as they make hard decisions about the future of humankind or navigate complicated decisions that have implications for generations to come.  Its conclusion moves into a realm beyond reality (both literally and metaphorically) but ultimately feels right for the saga that he created. 
Word cloud of this blog post in the form of a thumb's up

Check out other reading recommendations from 2017 (and you can always look at all of my books that I've read on GoodReads):

BOOKS

  • The Twisted Citadel (DarkGlass Mountain, #2) by Sara Douglass
  • American Higher Education, Leadership, and Policy: Critical Issues and the Public Good by Penny Pasque
  • Learning as a Way of Leading: Lessons from the Struggle for Social Justice by Stephen Preskill

AUDIOBOOKS

  • Death's End (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #3) by Cixin Liu
  • The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class—and What We Can Do About It by Richard Florida
  • Alien: River of Pain (Canonical Alien trilogy, #3) by Christopher Golden
  • Chuck Klosterman X: A Highly Specific, Defiantly Incomplete History of the Early 21st Century by Chuck Klosternman
  • The Mist by Stephen King
  • The Sisters Are Alright: Changing the Broken Narrative of Black Women in America by Tamara Winfrey Harris
  • Tinker Dabble Doodle Try: Unlock the Power of the Unfocused Mind by Srini Pilla
  • Mort[e] by Robert Repino
  • The Politics of Resentment by Katherine Cramer
  • Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild

GRAPHIC NOVELS

  • Roughneck by Jeff Lemire
  • Almost Completely Baxter: New and Selected Blurtings by Glen Baxter

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




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