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A selection of the books that I read in 2021

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Hear the Wind Sing/ Pinball, 1973

Haruki Murakami
Reading the first two stories that Murakami ever wrote was such a treat. Although if you are new to the author, I’m not sure I would recommend starting here. While I thoroughly enjoyed reading  these early works, I think those who have read some of Murakami's later novels will have a greater  appreciation for his style in early development, as well as some characters and themes that  show up in future stories. The author himself considers A Wild Sheep Chase to be “the true  beginning of [his] career as a novelist.” (Quoted from the Wind intro—a few autobiographical  pages from Murakami that fans will enjoy). 

Where the Crawdads Sing

Delia Owens

My mom read this during the time she joined my trip, and left it with me when she headed back  to Colorado. During the heat wave, when there was little else to do but wade in rivers and read  in front of the fan, I read this unique story in two day’s time. Being isolated in sticky heat,  flowing water, chirping insects, and constant bird calls, as the main character is, made it easy  for me to feel close to the marsh that Owens describes beautifully and with scientific accuracy.  The ending was so unexpected that I almost laughed out loud. This is an excellent and 

compelling novel, blending coming-of-age and love stories with murder mystery and courtroom  drama.  



Zachary Schomburg
I picked this one up at a bookstore in Spokane, from the staff recommendation shelf. I always  appreciate when bookstores have this, and the comments left about this PNW local author  definitely piqued my interest. There were moments that I was skeptical of the absurdist nature  of the strange story, but by the end I was overcome with emotion and gripped with the last few  chapters. This novel weaves poetic descriptions with satirical commentary, all the while leaving  you wondering where in the world the story is headed.  

Parable of the Sower

Octavia E. Butler

This book is easy to devour, but if you choose to read it I would encourage you to slow down  and reflect on its messaging. I know, I know— you can hardly wait to see what happens in the  next chapter. But while this is an exciting and heart wrenching novel, it is also a peek into our future as a society if we do not make some serious changes. This book got my heart racing for  multiple reasons, and I can’t wait to continue reading more of Butler’s work. 


How to be an Anti-Racist

Ibram X. Kendi
I think this book is a great starting point for those who are looking to undo their racist  indoctrination. Kendi offers historical information about how racism is woven into every fiber of  the United States, alongside details of his own journey, and clear definitions and guidelines for  embodying anti-racism. I appreciated his honest accounts of facing his own racism, sexism,  and homophobia, and working to undo those poisonous things that our society raises us on. I  also found the concrete historical examples eye-opening, and infuriating (in a way that  motivates one to learn more and work to change these intentional systems).  

Rules for Radicals

Saul D. Alinsky
A comrade lent me this, suggesting it when I was doing a lot of community organizing.  Although his white male perspective showed through in occasional cringey moments, Alinksy  still offers a lot of good information. Those of us who are protesting the current system can  always benefit from different perspectives about how to best organize ourselves to affect  change. This book was written in 1971, and Alinksy was involved in a variety of social  justice movements in the 60s and beyond. He offers stories of these movements, as well as to-the-point guidelines for  organizing.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Haruki Murakami
One of my favorite authors! A Murakami novel is always good to get lost in for a few days.  Friends lent me their copy while I was quarantining, and it was just what I needed at the time.  I’m always curious to see how a story will unfold, and fold in on itself, in Murakami’ s writing. I  recommend his work to everyone. 

Our History is the Future

Nick Estes
This is an important work that I recommend to anyone who was raised in the US school system. Estes challenges the harmful narratives and historical inaccuracies taught to so many of us. He provides insight into the history of Water Protectors as well as their relevance to today's climate justice movements. Estes sheds light on the painful truths of some of the grave injustices that colonizers imposed on Indigenous peoples.
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