Book DNA: Year in Review

Rather than make resolutions I know I will not keep, I resolve to read new books that will push me beyond my comfort zone. Unlike other lists that determine the best books published during the year, this top five list is of books discovered. These books have changed me. The words haunt me. The text sticks to me and makes me stop to reflect. Some of these books appeared on my Holiday Gift List and others have been the source for conversation and past/future posts.

These are the books and authors of 2012:

  • The Art of Racing In The Rain: A Novel by Garth Stein – I did not want to read this book. My mother sent it to me and pestered me for months to read it. When I finally cracked the book, I could not close the book until I finished reading. It is impossible to determine if this is my favorite book of the year or the book on this list by Muriel Barbery . Do not read in public. You will cry. And if you are like me, keep a highlighter handy. This book will be the source of many 2013 posts and conversation starters.
  • Learning from the Octopus: How Secrets from Nature Can Help Us Fight Terrorist Attacks, Natural Disasters, and Disease by Rafe Sagarin – If you saw me speak about community management this year, you will know this book was my guide and has me practicing my craft using the lessons from nature. Adaptation is essential for the survival of any species. Businesses should stop looking to case studies glorifying only the positive and avoiding the sticky subjects or tougher times. Instead, organizations should look to a tide pool for inspiration of how to succeed and collaborate with others. Or perhaps look to the decentralized strengths of an octopus? The lessons are numerous.
  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery – I could not sleep. It was the middle of the night and this book had been sitting on my shelf for months. I swear to you, the book was screaming for me to pick it up and read the first page. It could not be ignored. And so there I sat for the next four hours and read cover to cover. I cannot say enough good things about this book. You will either love it or hate it, but either way, I encourage you to dig past the surface level story and read between the lines. This book is polarizing, but forces you to think about perspective and apply in your daily life.
  • The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World by Wade Davis – I read this book in January and have yet to able to shake the underlying question of how our culture is evolving and squeezing out what is not mainstream.
  • Letting Go? Sharing Historical Authority in a User-Generated World edited by Bill Adair, Benjamin Filene, and Laura Koloski – This book was on the syllabus for my second graduate class in museum studies. The essays, case studies, and interviews shed light on how museums are finding new ways to communicate with the public, invite the community into a conversation, and struggling with the digitization of history. Let these examples be a lesson to any size organization with any mission, that community engagement can be achieved no matter what the size of your team or budget.

These were not the only books to be added to my Book DNA this year. This was the year I conquered Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. It has taken me twenty years to complete this book, but I am so happy the book chose for me to read it at this particular age. I think I am old enough to understand the trials of love and yet young and naïve enough to believe such love exists. This year, I read text books galore and a plethora of non-fiction (actually read cover to cover because going to school as an adult is so different and serious) and became overcome with the power of the short story. Not every book required me to stop and think. Some books I read purely for the pleasure of escape.

There will be books published in 2013 that I will need to rush to purchase and consume, but I resolve this year I will read the following:

Each story is told in its own time. Listen for the call of a book. Forget the best seller list. Walk into a book store and wander around. Open your ears and eyes to the wonders and worlds surrounding you. Happy reading in 2013.

Share: Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on LinkedIn0Email this to someone
  • ryanstephens

    Loved “The Art of Racing in the Rain.” 

    Some others I really enjoyed this year:
    > A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
    > The Fault in Our Stars
    > Ender’s Game
    > A Billion Wicked Thoughts
    > Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain

    • Lauren

      Ender’s Game is brilliant. I will have to reread before the film premiers next year. I have not read any of the other titles, but will definitely add to my watch list. Thank you!