Tag Archives: Reading

Best Books of 2018 for a Meaningful Life

The year’s must-reads help to weather hard times and make a difference in the lives of those around us.

“The 12 Steps to a Compassionate Life”

By Karen Armstrong

The Compassion Campaign of Clallam County is co-sponsoring this 2019 Compassion Winter Read

12 Steps book cover

As a scholar of world religions, Armstrong extends an invitation to explore the particular place of compassion in religious and ethical teachings. She specifically focuses on the Golden Rule as expressed in each one, which served as common ground for the Charter of Compassion. As she acquaints the reader with various perspectives, she also describes compassion as “Love in Action.”

Invite people from work, organizations, neighbors, friends and family!


SIGN UP NOW: To facilitate or join a group at CompassionCampaignCC@gmail.com or call Marilyn at 360-477-0681

You will receive specific info for that group when you sign up.
More groups are forming. Maybe start an online ZOOM group (We can help with that!)


Groups begin the week of January 6th and run twelve (12) weeks.

SEQUIM
Sundays, 2-3:30pm, OUUF, 1033 N. Barr Rd.
Mondays, 10am-Noon (1st meeting only) 2-4pm all other weeks, Sequim Library
Wednesdays, 10am-Noon, Trinity United Methodist Church

AGNEW
Wednesdays, 10-11:30am, Monterra in Agnew

PORT ANGELES
Sundays, 11am-Noon, Holy Trinity Lutheran
Wednesdays, 10-11:30pm, Eash Home
Wednesdays, 1-2:30pm, CSLPA, 254 N. Bagley Creek Rd.
Wednesdays, 6:30 – 8:00pm, Unity in the Olympics, 2917 E. Myrtle Street
Wednesdays, 7-8:30pm, CSLPA, 254 N. Bagley Creek Rd.
Thursdays, 10:30am-Noon, Port Angeles Library, 2210 W. Peabody St.


“Celebration of the Journey”,
April 6, 2019, 1-3pm at the Shipley Center in Sequim,
where all groups can share what we’ve learned and “what’s next.”

The Madhouse Effect

Publisher’s Book Description

The award winning climate scientist Michael E. Mann and the Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist Tom Toles have fought at the frontlines of climate denialism for most of their careers. They have witnessed the manipulation of the media by business and political interests and the unconscionable play to partisanship on issues that affect the well-being of millions. The lessons they have learned have been invaluable, inspiring this brilliant, colorful escape hatch from the madhouse of the climate wars.

Through satire, “The Madhouse Effect” portrays the intellectual pretzels into which denialists must twist logic to explain away the clear evidence that man-made activity has changed our climate. Toles’s cartoons collapse counter-scientific strategies into their biased components, helping readers see how to best strike at these fallacies. Mann’s expert skills at science communication aim to restore sanity to a debate that continues to rage against widely acknowledged scientific consensus. The synergy of these two commonsense crusaders enlivens the gloom and doom of so many climate-themed books–and may even convert a few of the faithful to the right side of science.

Sneak Peak of Chapter 1: Science How it Works (Select EXCERPT and zoom)

Chapter 7: Geoengineering, or “What Could Possibly Go Wrong” ( PDF)

Books We Love Best in 2018

Sightline staff shares their most memorable reads of the year, including fiction, sci-fi, poetry, and more.
Photo of Anne Christnovich

Author: Anne Christnovich (@anne_c_1234) on December 14, 2018 at 5:37 am

If you or someone you know is the kind of person who calls winter “reading season,” this list is for you.

If you or someone you know is the kind of person who handles a wrapped gift and bursts with excitement when it becomes evident that, “Ooh! It’s a book!” this is the kind of article you should casually leave open on your screen as an–ah-hem!–hint to your family members in case they happen to be hunting for gift ideas.

At Sightline, we’re readers. Books are our friends. And without further ado, these are some of our favorite reads this year, from novels, sci-fi, nonfiction, poetry, and more. If you have a book you loved best this year, leave the title and author in the comments section below.

Letters to a Young Poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke Image by Penguin Books Publishing

Eric De Place, Programs director

Letters to a Young Poet by Rainier Maria Rilke

The best book I read this year was an old one: Rilke’s book, based on a correspondence he carried out between 1902 and 1908. The letters work as meditations on many subjects: the life of the mind, professional struggle, loneliness, and learning how to swim against the current of conventional wisdom. It’s good fare for the Northwest’s long winter nights.

Alan Durning, Executive Director

This year, when liberal democracy is under siege near and far, I have been reading about totalitarianism of both the left and the right. I recommend two books by the same author, historian Adam Hochschild.

Spain In Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939

This first book details the epochal left-right showdown on the Iberian peninsula in the years leading up to World War II. It was a dress rehearsal for that great war: Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini armed and sent troops to the Spanish generals, ultimately led by General Francisco Franco, who sought to overthrow the elected government. The West dithered endlessly, and only the Soviet Union helped the Spanish government. Hochschild casts light on the massive, organized brutality that marked the birth of the Franco dictatorship, but he also illuminates the purges that decimated the Spanish Left during the civil war—murders and disappearances ordered not only by the Right but by Communists who took directions from Moscow. In this conflict, American (and Canadian) combatants were idealistic, zealous, and sometimes credulous volunteers. To their credit, they went to fight the fascists when Western governments refused to do so. Had France, the United Kingdom, and the United States supported the government and its troops—or even just cut off oil shipments to Franco from the United States—Franco might never have risen to power. Indeed, Spain might have fought with the Allies in World War II. To the volunteers’ discredit, too many turned a blind eye to the cancerous barbarism that Soviet Communism had already become.

The Unquiet Ghost: Russians Remember Stalin 

The second book documents the purges that killed perhaps 20 million people in the first few decades of the Soviet Union. Two things linger with me from this sobering book: the scale of the genocide (exceeding even the Nazi Holocaust in its macabre toll) and the way that psychopathy came dressed in the political ideology of equality and liberation. The pervasiveness of denunciations, purity testing, and thought policing made Joseph Stalin’s death camps an especially potent reminder that tolerance for dissent, whether from the cant of the Left or the Right, is among the indispensable virtues of any civilization. A good reminder in a time of deep divisions in the United States.

OK, that’s kind of a downer. So here’s a bonus book: something more uplifting. Hochschild also wrote my favorite history ever. Bury The Chains chronicles the implausible victory of the British anti-slavery movement. It’s a profile of dissenters who changed the world. Inspiring and a happy ending!

Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939, by Adam Hochschild Image by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing

The Unquiet Ghost: Russians Remember Stalin, by Adam Hochschild Image by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishers

Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves Image by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Kristin Eberhard, Senior researcher

The Broken Earth Trilogy: The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, and The Stone Sky. Image by Orbit Publishing

The Broken Earth Trilogy

I loved N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy: The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, and The Stone Sky. All three books won the prestigious science-fiction Hugo Award, as they should have. This is an epic story of almost-magic, what it means to be human, to be part of a family, to love, set in a world that we can easily imagine could be our own. The protagonist is a middle-aged woman and the author is an African-American woman who weaves themes of race and womanhood seamlessly throughout.

Infomocracy by Malka Older Image by Tor.com Publishing

Infomocracy by Malka Older

A sci-fi book about an idealistic crusader fighting to keep a new-fangled democracy reform… is it possible Older wrote this book specifically for me? Thank you, I loved it.

The Power by Naomi Alderman Image by Naomi Alderman Novels & Games

The Power by Naomi Alderman

Naomi Alderman, a protégé of Margaret Atwood, knocks it out of the park with this piece of feminist science fiction. It is a short, breezy read, but packs a punch about how power changes us, and what people do when they have it.

Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin Image by Penguin Random House

These Truths: A History of the United States Image by W. W. Norton & Company

Anna Fahey, Director of strategic communication

Jill Lepore

I adore Jill Lepore. Over the years, I have devoured her writing in The New Yorker on American history, law, literature, and politics, but only recently tucked into her books. I started with her clever recasting of America’s founding decades via a charming portrait of Benjamin Franklin’s youngest sister, Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin. Lepore’s alternative vantage on well-worn stories and historical figures was so refreshing, I’m now making my way through her latest, These Truths, a comprehensive history of the American experiment that through obscure archival documents gives voice to forgotten characters and reexamines everything from Age of Discovery to present-day manipulations of our founding myths (by Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump alike) through a feminist and social justice lens. Plus, the prose is stunning. Lepore’s language has a poetic rhythm and depth that almost makes you forget you’re struggling to keep a 4.5-pound history text propped in your lap.

Land Mammals and Sea Creatures: A Novel Image by ECW Press

Land Mammals and Sea Creatures by Jen Neale

As Pacific Northwest rains set in this fall, I also enjoyed curling up with British Columbian Jen Neale’s debut novel. I found the surprise of the book’s “magical realism” well balanced with the comforting familiarity of the characters and the Cascadian places Neale lovingly captures.

Aven Frey, Development associate

The Ends of the World by Peter Branna Image by Harper Collins Publishing

The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth’s Past Mass Extinctions by Peter Brannan

It may be kind of perverse, but in these times of great climate uncertainty, I’ve actually found comfort in reading Peter Brannen’s book. Going over each of the last five mass extinction events in Earth’s history, the author discusses the plants and creatures that existed during each epoch, the fossil record of their disappearances, and the current scientific evidence that exists for the cause of each event. Spoiler alert: climate change has played a major role, each and every time our biosphere has experienced a massive species die-off. How is this comforting? Well, so far biodiversity has come back quite spectacularly after even the most thorough annihilation, so it’s reassuring to know the planet will bounce back after we’re done self-destructing.

For Kids

Top marks in kids’ books this year go to Maddi’s Fridge, about kids dealing with food insecurity, and A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, about the BOTUS (bunny of the United States).

Maddi’s Fridge, written by Seattle teacher and author Lois Brandt, teaches kids about what happens when a family doesn’t have enough money to buy food, and how we can all help out so that no kid has to go to bed hungry.

If you haven’t yet heard about Marlon Bundo, presented by John Oliver of Last Week Tonight fame, you should go buy a copy right now, whether you have kids in your life or not. For one, all proceeds benefit The Trevor Project and AIDS United, and for another, how can you resist a story about Mike Pence’s gay pet bunny finding his true love and leading an insurrection against an intolerant (and suspiciously familiar-looking) stink bug who says being different is bad?

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For those that do have young kids in their lives, I highly recommend The Importance of being Little: What Young Children Really Need From Grownups, by former Yale researcher Erika Christakis.

Maddi’s Fridge bu Lois Brandt Image by Lois Brandt

A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, by Marlon Bundo with Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller Image by Chronicle Books

The Importance of Being Little: What Young Children Really Need From Grownups, by Erika Ckristakis Image by Erika Christakis

Ed Guzman, Senior communications manager

What It Takes: The Way to the White House Image by Open Road Integrated Media

What It Takes: The Way to the White House by Richard Ben Cramer

Before a recent work trip, I pulled Cramer’s book off my shelf at home in order to have something to read during quieter moments in Seattle. The book is a sprawling, engrossing account of the 1988 presidential election, with a focus on six candidates—George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, Gary Hart, Joe Biden, Dick Gephardt, and Michael Dukakis. Before there was Game Change, there was What It Takes, and I would argue Cramer not only did it first, he did it better.

The fact that President Bush died only weeks after I revisited this book is an eerie coincidence. But part of the reason I note it here is because, unlike most US presidents, Bush did not write a memoir. And thus, any penetrating accounts of him in book form are trickier to come by (the Washington Post wrote about this point about a week after he died). So in the wake of renewed interest in Bush’s life, I would recommend Cramer’s book, which captured a snapshot of Bush the Vice President (and the presidential candidate).

Kelsey Hamlin, Communications associate

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, by Richard Rothstein Liveright Publishing

The Color of The Law by Richard Rothstein

This is an astounding and straight-forward book about housing segregation, a pretty huge front skipped over by the Civil Rights movement. The US narrative concluded it was all de facto segregation, thanks to private prejudices, but the federal government clearly had racially explicit incentives and programs for public housing. It’s a “yes and” type of situation, but the fact of the matter is the US government wasn’t held accountable for its unconstitutional housing decisions.

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, by Lindy West Image (license)

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West

This book is:

1) By a local author and journalist

2) Hilarious and insanely relatable and

3) Feminist. It’s a quick read but hits so many nails on the head. The book goes through her journey of accepting her own body, the obstacles that prevented her from doing so, and the shared strain of so many women today.

Intern Nation: How to earn nothing and learn little in the brave new economy, by Ross Perlin Image (license)

Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy by Ross Perlin

This book starts off a little slow but really picks up the heat after one chapter. It analyzes all of the nuance behind unpaid and underpaid internships, and how they ultimately don’t follow any part of the law under labor standards and yet persist. He details how the system upholds itself through multiple facets. There was clearly a lot of reporting behind this book because he references so many peoples’ real stories but keeps them with pseudonyms, and he references so many bits of the law (like the differences of volunteering standards vs labor standards, individual court cases, and a really weird network of colleges and grants).

The Sun and Her Flowers, by Rupi Kaur Image (license)

Milk and Honey and The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

Admittedly, I do prefer the latter of the two. It’s a bunch of short poems, some of which definitely made me cry. Trigger warning: rape. It’s raw and beautiful and disparaging and uplifting all at the same time.

Kelsey McComas, Development associate

Just Kids by Patti Smith Image by Harper Collins Publishers

Just Kids by Patti Smith

Just Kidsby the multi-talented artist/singer/author Patti Smith, chronicles her rise to fame through the New York art scene in the late 60’s and early 70’s. More important, the book is a tribute to her relationship with the late photographer, Robert Mapplethorpe, who pioneered the use of erotic imagery in photography. With brutal honesty and clarity she tells the story of her and Robert’s unique—and definitely unconventional—partnership, from being broke and struggling artists to Robert’s premature death from AIDS in 1989. I finished the novel in tears from the beauty of it all.

Don’t Call Us Dead, by Danez Smith Image by Gray Wolf Press

Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith

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