My Book List
Between my courses and research I try to fit in reading as much as I can. I read quite a bit of fiction and non fiction. Science fiction and social sciences are my favorite genres to read respectively. Below are some of my favorites this year. I also having a running list of books that I am trying to get through. Let me know if there are any that I need to read!
Dark Age by Pierce Brown
If you haven't heard of the Red Rising series, this is a definite must read for those who love science fiction. You follow the story of Darrow, a young martian miner whose only goal is to tend to his family and clan and keep the tradition of Mars beating in his heart. His people are told that they are providing for the greater good and that all their efforts will soon be rewarded. As luck would have it, this is not the case. Upon a tragic revelation Darrow realizes that his people are actually prisoners to a much greater power. Gods among men they bring tragedy to Darrow's small world. Fueled by revenge Darrow begins his arduous climb to topple those who have wronged him. Now the fourth book to the series, Darrow leads a revolution create a world for his family to live in. Massive starship battles, cunning betrayals, and ugly politics, Dark Age is a must read for all science fiction fans.
The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt
Johnathan Haidt is a well know social psychologist from New York University. Much of his work has looked at the impact of younger generations in politics. I also just started reading Righteous Mind which takes a look at human morality, religion, and politics.
My Recommended Reads
Gene Machine by Venki Ramakrishnan
One of my favorites this year. Dr. Venki tackles the challenge of understanding the structure of the ribosome. For decades, it was though that the all was known about the ribosome until the rise of crystallography to capture nanometer scale images. Starting from a humble beginning, Venki propels himself into the field of crystallography befriending many colleagues along the way. His work is a testimony on how far hard work and a little bit of luck can take someone. This book is concise and clear to read even for those who do not have a biology background. Venki touches on all aspects of a research as a scientist and professor. From the politics of journals and conferences to the frustration of stagnating research, there is a lot to learn from what he has to offer in the search to understanding what it means to redefine a scientific field.
Educated by Tara Westover
This autobiography narrates the story of Tara, who was raised in a Morman survivalist home in Idaho. Her dad had very non-mainstream views about the government. He believed doomsday was coming, and that the family should interact with the education and healthcare system as little as possible. Accidents happen in the family, but no appropriate medical care is given out. Even in the most extreme case leaving her mother to have a chronic head injury for the rest of her life.
Tara and her siblings work for in their fathers junkyard for years without receiving any proper education. Tara teaches herself mathematics and learns to read from the Bible. Taking the ACT, she is finally able to gain admission to Brigham Young University setting foot in a classroom for the first time at the age of 17. Eventually, she is able to obtain a doctorate from the University of Cambridge all the while feeling conflicted from her families stance on the education system.
Although given the religious aspect, Tara skillfully directs her story through the strength of family, what it means to struggle, and what is the true essence of education. Educated by Tara Westover is a survivalist memoir about a women who, against all odds, is able to rise through the environment she was brought in. Highly acclaimed by many, this is definitely something to pick up.
The Social Animal by David Brooks
Acclaimed columnist David Brooks takes on the challenge of understanding the human subconscious with his beautifully delivered story of two very different people. You first start off learning about Harold, an amicable character raised in a loving home with very understanding parents. His carefree childhood crafts him to become likable in all social situations. His career path is relaxed and his outlook on life optimistic. Later, the story suddenly switches to a fiery young women name Erica. Half latino, half Chinese, Erica's personality is stubborn and blunt. With shoddy parenting at best, Erica is left to fed for her self in an impoverished neighborhood where only the wittiest survive. Driven by a desire to achieve something better, Erica fights tooth and nail for every opportunity to rise up from her social class.
Brooks deliveries unequal insight on the hidden sources of love, character, and achievement from the subtle decisions that our mines make. So unconscious that it is almost purely coincidental when these two very different people cross path to empathize with each other.
The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff
Greg Lukianoff teams up with the well-known social psychologist Johnathan Haidt to address the prevalent issues in our current generation. One of the most fascinating topics he touches on is the call out nature that younger generation are partaking in. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense. This problem systemically originated from much of the political discourse from our government. Lukianoff condemns many college students as becoming oversensitive to a variety of political views. Haidt follows up with claiming that this most surely setting up a generation for failure. Throughout this book, I found myself agreeing to some of the conservative-like viewpoints that Haidt touches on. If we cannot bear to listen to opposing thought and opinions then is there anyway to create a solution to the problem at hand? The Coddling of the American Mind addresses much of those issues and sheds light to how we can better communicate with others.
Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Finally a fiction book on my recommended list. V.E. Schwab is one of my favorite fictional authors this year. Debuting her writing career with the novel Vicious, Schwab creates the antithesis of what it means to have great power. The story starts off with a man name Victor. An electrical engineer (haha) and a practical genius, much of his college life is filled with quirky habits and sulkily witnessing his crush being swoon by his best friend. That is, until Victor stumbles upon a phenomena of near death experiences granting superhuman abilities. Driven by this discovery, Victor and his best friend set out to debunk the myth only for it go terribly awry. Now a branded criminal and on a quest for revenge Victor sets out to learn how to use his new found powers. Once you start reading its hard to put down, Vicious is an amazing story surrounding an antithesis motive to what it means to be virtuous.
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Another great series from one of my favorite authors, V.E. Schwab writes a delightful story of parallel worlds filled with magic. The story starts with Kell, an extremely rare user of teleportation magic. He is able to traverse parallel worlds to deliver the messeges from the Kings and Queens of their respective worlds. This all changes when he realizes that he isn't the only user of this magic nor one of such pure intentions. A Darker Shade of Magic is an amazing series to jump into and by far one of the best character developments I have seen in a novel. Schwab has a true talent in delicately crafting each of her characters. So much so that my favorite character happens to be a magical peacoat (I'm not joking). I definite read for those who love a little magic, romance, and mystery,
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
Have you ever wondered what would life after Howards would have been after Harry Potter graduated. What job would he get? Did he go to some fancy wizard college to continue his study in Defense Against the Dark Arts? The Magicians by Lev Grossman provides a fantastically realistic view to the world of magic. Much of the series is following a young apprentice magician through his rise to a fully fledged mage.