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Friday, 31 December 2010

Top 5 Books of 2010

We close off 2010 in literary style. There are some good books for review due next year and we hope to read them as we reset the clock on our annual book reading goal. Before we do that it is worth taking a moment and share the top 5 books of 2010. It was a difficult choice, but I have restricted the list to 2010 releases. The list of course reflects my preferences and as always, I am interested to read yours - if only to detect what I may have missed this year.

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains(5) The Shallows by Nicholas Carr puts forward the argument that the internet is changing us in ways we may not have realised before. According to Carr despite the wide benefits the internet has brought, it is also having a fundamental impact on the physiology of our brains, altering not only the way we perceive reality but how we actually take in information and process it. Scary and fun though it starts off somewhat slow. It makes our list because it tackles a shockingly important if not scary subject.

The Beijing Consensus: How China's Authoritarian Model Will Dominate the Twenty-First Century(4) Beijing Consensus by Stefan Halper reflects on China's new authoritarian model and how it will dominate the 21st Century. A lot of books have been published on China this year, but this by far offers the most informed and more riveting exposition of the incentives driving China and how that is shaping its relationship with the world. A must read for any student of China and in particular its activities within the global order. [Full Review]

The Last Christian: A Novel(3) The Last Christian by David Gregory is the first of two books on this list that I actively gave people my hard copy to read. This also being the first science fiction book I have ever read. Set in 2088, this book imagines a world where many diseases have been eradicated, Africa has made progress and across the globe life expectancy has drastically improved with life at 120 years expected. It is at this point in history that a young American lady Abigail Caldwell emerges from the interior jungle of Papua New Guinea (cut off from the outside world since birth) after her village was mysterious wiped and heads to America to find that the America that her parents talked about has dramatically changed - and on the verge of something catastrophic. It is a riveting book, with many twists and turns. I can't recommend it enough!

Warrior Princess: Fighting for Life with Courage and Hope(2) Warrior Princess by Princess Kasune Zulu is an amazing book that tells her story growing up in Chibombo, her infection with HIV, fiery AIDS activism and meeting with the world's most powerful men and women. It was probably the most moving and heart rendering book I read all year. I have become a huge fan of her work and was pleased to see her interviews replayed on Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation during World Aids Day. It is the second book I gave others to read. A must read for everyone and I have asked her to ensure it is translated in our many languages, something she is looking into [Full Review]

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy(1) Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas is another biography. I never thought I could read a book over 600 pages about a person! This is by far the most extraordinary biography I have read. Metaxas offers “a comprehensive review of one of history’s darkest eras, along with a fascinating exploration of the familial, cultural and religious influences that formed one of the world’s greatest contemporary theologians.” The book truly opened a window to a dark era of human history in which one light shown brightly before all others. One quote sums up Bonhoeffer's life : "Silence in the face of evil is itself evil : God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act".

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