My Current Bookshelf - October 2017

October was another great month of reading and I've got some good recommendations.  I'd have a lot more but some are under review embargo and I'll swing back to them later! 

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates

To listen to Coates contextualize eight essays published over the course of President Obama's run for and performance of President is powerful, insightful, and damming.  Powerful in the ways in which Coates pulls together the strands of history, policy, culture, and politics to explain in different ways how white supremacy has been so woven into the fabric of American culture that it is nearly impossible to extract.  That he shows this through the lens of the first African American president's candidacy and terms is what makes it damming because, in hindsight, it seems so clear how we got from Obama to Trump.  Coates insights into the portrayal of Michelle Obama, reparations, birtherism, and the rise of Trump put words to the growing thrum of hate and white resentment that has been present before, during, and after Obama's presidency.  It's a must-read for anyone trying to understand how race permeates our culture, our politics, and our leadership.   

Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson

Like many other of his books, Johnson takes what we think are sometimes disposable threads of history and crafts them to help us consider how ephemera can help us understand who we are as humans.  Thus, he uses things such as coloring in clothes to illustrate how trading pattern changed and gave way to empires as well as how taverns produced the third spaces that gave way to political revolutions and the idea of public space.  Each artifact he looks at (spices, music, games, etc) unpacks powerful ways such things have significantly changed the modern world.  His point isn't necessarily to pay homage to the spice rack or worship the almighty chessboard but rather to help us understand that the flights of fancy imbued with such things as games or music are part of what makes us human and drive us; that is, our non-essential human elements can direct us in powerful ways that produce important (and yes, problematic) results. 

The Hall of Lost Footsteps by Sara Douglass

Book Covers - The Hall of Lost Footsteps by Sara Douglass
Sara Douglass's last book is a collection of short stories that will resonate with any reader of her work.  A chunk of the book includes stories and background on the world of Tencendor from her most popular series.  It's a nice final piece from the Australian author who was doing some great things with epic fantasy before many others who have risen to fame or before Game of Thrones made everyone else aware of how fascinating epic fantasy is.  The other stories in this collection, to no surprise to those familiar with her, take place mostly in medieval times and England.  The collection is a quick read, owing much to Douglass's style of prose that never linger and even when pausing to describe things, always seems to capture the moment's essence without inundating the reader.  There are some repeated elements (the titular Hall shows up in two stories as do certain names) but each tale has its own appreciative elements.  In truth, some of the stories are not likely to hit on the head as much as others for non-Douglass readers but for those of us who have enjoyed her work and want just a little bit more bit, it does satisfy.  

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


  • The Man in the Picture by Susan Hill
  • The Hall of Lost Footsteps by Sara Douglass


  • From a Certain Point of View by Various
  • I Can't Breathe: A Killing on Bay Street by Matt Taibbi
  • Beyond the Messy Truth: How We Came Apart, How We Come Together by Van Jones
  • We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson
  • Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential by Barbara Oakley
  • Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History by Kurt Anderson
  • The Grown-Up's Guide to Teenage Humans: How to Decode Their Behavior, Develop Unshakable Trust, and Raise a Respectable Adult by Josh Shipp
  • All the Agents and Saints: Dispatches from the U.S. Borderlands by Stephanie Elizondoring Griest
  • Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate by Sue Scheff


  • Invincible, Vol. 24: The End of All Things by Robert Kirkman

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

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