Yep, I admittedly am an ignorant American. I started the year not knowing much about what happens between our borders, and even less about what happens outside of them. Here are a few titles that helped me become a bit more worldly this year…
War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence by Ronan Farrow – From the movies, all I knew about diplomats were that they went to fancy foreign parties and occasionally got caught up in spy rings. The truth is less exciting, but much more important.
AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order by Kai-Fu Lee – The robots are coming! The robots are coming! And unless we amp up our own AI efforts, those robots will be almost all certainly be created by the Chinese.
Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling – I am one of those people who periodically has to detox from Twitter and cable news, as I am prone to excessive anxiety from the headlines. This book is a good antidote to the continual negativity coming from our screens.
The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights and Other Appreciations by John McCain – I admire people dedicated to a just fight, and McCain certainly was one. I did not realize the extent of his involvement with foreign affairs (again, I’m an ignorant American). Even if you do not agree with his viewpoints, you will walk away from this book with a better understanding of global hotspots.
While non-fiction books certainly give good knowledge, I find novels can provide helpful cultural insight. Read these if you want enjoyment with a side of education.
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan – Super, super fun. The book is bigger and brighter than the movie, believe it or not. By the final page, I was ready to book a flight to Singapore.
Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao – This one is much darker than Crazy Rich Asians, but nevertheless a page-turner. I stayed up way too late one night finishing this tale about human trafficking.
A Terrible Country by Keith Gessen – It’s a story about family and love and comfort zones, with Moscow in the backdrop. If you follow the headlines, it is easy to get sucked into the “Russia = bad” mind trap. I have thought of this novel many times since, and its layered portrayal of politics and society in Russia.
How does this worker-bee/soccer-mom/rickety-runner find time to read 50 books a year? This is my secret.