Sunday, December 11, 2005

Seven Favorite Books of 2005

Whenever someone asks me if I've read a good book lately, I can never remember what I've read, so this year, I wrote down titles as I read them. Of the 31 books I read this year, here were my 7 favorites:

#1 Harvest for Hope by Jane Goodall

My Dad brought this book for me when he and my mom came to visit in November and I just finished it today. I have always felt ambivalent about buying organic produce, free-range meat, etc. not because I don't think it is better for you, but because it has always felt so elitist to buy it, and when I do buy it, I feel guilty that I can afford to buy it and other people can't. But I can tell you that after reading this book, there is no way I will ever buy non-organic produce again, if I have the choice. In fact, it inspired me to do something I have thought about for a long time. I signed up for a box of organic produce to be delivered to our house every other week from Farm Fresh to You. By buying produce from the California farmers who run Farm Fresh to You, not only will be be eating organic produce, but we'll be supporting local farmers. If you want to find a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscription service near you, just go to the Local Harvest web site

#2 Notes From My Travels by Angelina Jolie

I wrote about this book back in September in this post and this post . Since then, Jolie's philanthropic work has become even higher profile and UNHCR has given Jolie her own page where you can download more of her journals and learn more about her work.

#3 Bono on Bono: Conversations With Michka Assayas by Bono and Michka Assayas
I wrote about this book in a September post as well. You can hear Bono speak about his work with the ONE campaign on the ONE campaign's podcast.

#4 Soul of a Citzen: Living with Conviction in a Cynical Time by Paul Loeb

#5 The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear by Paul Loeb

It is interesting to read Soul of a Citizen, which was written in 1999, and The Impossible Will Take a Little While, which was written in 2004, to see how liberal idealism has transformed since September 11th. You can receive more articles written by Paul Loeb by email through his web site

#6 Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam by Andrew Pham.

This was the first book I read in 2005. It tells the story of Pham, a Vietnamese-American who intertwines his memories of growing up in Vietnam and the United States while telling the story of bicycling through Vietnam on his first return visit as an adult. The whole staff at Streetside Stories loved his book, and thought he was a great role model for the young people writing autobiographical stories in Streetside's workshops, so we asked him to write the foreword for Streetside's 2005 student anthology, Writing Outside the Lines: Stories of Change by San Francisco Youth, and he was nice enough to say yes!

#7 Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
This is the only fiction book on my list this year and is one of the most amazing pieces of writing I have ever read. It is more of an experience than a story and very difficult to explain. All I can say is that I am sure he will go down as one of the great writers of our time. The New York Times named his newest book, Kafka on the Shore, which I have not read, as one of their 10 Best Books of 2005.

It, along with Barak Obama's Dreams of My Father and Joan Didion's Year of Magical Thinking are on my "to read" list for 2006.

I hope folks will share their favorite books from 2005 in the comments section below.


  1. I am impressed with your blog...with your interests. We have overlapping concerns/ideals. I'll write more later, and I will keep in touch through your blog. My blog is young, mostly personal, some political/theological concerns, and the like. For now, I am playing around with this new-to-me technology and seeing what may be meaningful. I work for a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit seeking to increase public deliberation and citizen engagement through dialogical study circles. Ciao for now.

  2. I had the same reaction after reading Harvest For Hope -- This book has turned my thinking on food and nutrition completely upside down. I've written my thoughts about it on my own blog. In fat, that is how I found your blog, our shared Technorati tags.

    Nice to meet you!

  3. Aren't Technorati tags amazing? I've added your blog to my Bloglines. I'm going to go look for some Fiddleheads at the farmer's market tomorrow, so I can try your recipe.


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