If you’re like me, you’ve got to have a book with you whenever you travel. Regardless of whether you actually read it or not, it just doesn’t feel like you’re ready to hit the road until you know you have at least one, if not two, good books at the ready. Here are five recommendations from my book shelf that will give you something to do on your lazy days off or while you’re stopped for a break during a cross country drive.
1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus and 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created by Charles C. Mann
If you pick either of these books up, you’re going to notice they’re hefty. They might look like something that would be assigned in a college level history class. But, trust me; these are two of the best books I have read in quite a while! 1491 explores what the Americas were like before Christopher Columbus set sail. The picture of the “noble savage” who lived in harmony with nature, that many of us grew up with through elementary school, is totally altered in this solid work of research. Charles Mann goes to great lengths to argue a new image of Native Americans who greatly altered the land they lived on and who were more numerous than previously thought.
In 1493 Mann expertly ties together the causes and effects that literally touched every part of our earth: from the consequences of mosquito borne illnesses that led to the rise in slavery throughout the Americas to the discovery of the potato and maize that led to the change in population growth in Europe and Asia. Throughout both of these books you will be shocked by the massive loss of human life through the centuries, typically, all in the name of greed. If you want to totally revamp your way of looking at the world, read these books!
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt
This book is perfect for the current political climate. I think most of us agree that people are generally good and want the best for others. But, somehow, nobody can agree on what that “best” thing is. The Righteous Mind explores the psychological reasons behind why people think the way they do when it comes to making decisions on what is moral and what is not. Mr. Haidt gives great examples from research studies that shed light on how we rationalize our gut reactions to make them appear like logical responses. He also gives advice on ways we can move away from being such a polarized society (hint: we need to actually talk to each other!). Mr. Haidt is obviously writing from a liberal perspective, but regardless of which side of the isle you’re on, this is a good insight into why the other side thinks the way they do!
Wool by Hugh Howey
I couldn’t write a list of book recommendations without having a post-apocalyptic, dystopian future science fiction novel! Wool follows Juliette who lives in a self-sustaining silo underground. Each level of the silo houses various components related to the survival of all who live within it. At the top of the silo is a giant array of TV screens with a view of the desolate, gray landscape outside. Every so often, someone from the small society of people in the silo is selected to go clean the lenses of the cameras that provide this view. Those who leave to complete this task never return.
Wool has the rare distinction of originally being a self-published book. It was so popular that it eventually became a New York Times bestseller and can be easily ordered online. If you enjoy “Wool”, there are two more books in the series: “Shift” and “Dust”. You won’t regret giving this one a try!
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
I’m not usually a “thriller” kind of guy, but my wife recommended I read The Girl on the Train and I wasn’t disappointed; I literally read it in two days. At the heart of this story is the murder of a woman named Megan. Like an itch you can’t quite scratch, discovering who murdered Megan is primarily told through the foggy perspective of Rachel, a severe alcoholic who isn’t over her ex-husband. Rachel spends her daily commute staring out the train window watching the old neighborhood in which she used to live. Her daily monitoring of activities could prove helpful in catching the killer or is that just the booze talking?
Not only is this book an exciting read, it was also released as a movie in October of 2016. If you’re like me, you enjoy comparing the book to the movie adaptation; although, let’s be honest, the movie is rarely superior!
Dustin Jeck is a Branch Manager for the Nursing division of Aureus Medical Group.