As we come toward the close of 2009, I’m looking back at the various books I’ve read over the year. The following are not necessarily the “best” books (nor were they all published in 2009). They are among the most interesting or favorite reads I’ve had. Each are worthy of recommendation. This is not an exhaustive list of the interesting items on my list, and I’d love to know what you think about the following:
Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, Linked:
Stuart Brown, Play - How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul (Penguin Group, 2009).
Play is easily the most influential book I’ve read this year, and one of my favorites of the decade. An intelligent, enjoyable exploration of the importance, power, and necessity of play in our lives – this volume demonstrates that “recapturing” the sense of awe and wonder of childhood is a sad requirement for many of us, as we should never have lost it in the first place. Brown provides a great addition to our understanding of humanity’s search for meaningful existence.
David Ellenson, After Emancipation: Jewish Religious Responses to Modernity (
OK – this entry mainly betrays my life-long geeky interest in Jewish history. In this collection of essays Ellenson, president of HUC-JIR, delivers a wide array of examples of Jewish re-framing of tradition and practice in the modern era. It’s a wonderful read for anyone interested in the ongoing progressive nature of Judaism.
Zachary I. Heller, ed., Synagogues in a Time of Change: Fragmentation and Diversity in Jewish Religious Movements (The Alban Institute, 2009).
The Alban Institute has long been a leading think-tank about American congregational life. This collection of essays by a variety of Jewish thinkers and practitioners captures the current fragile, tumultuous, and exciting moment in American Judaism.
Daniel H. Pink, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future (Riverhead Books, 2006).
This is a fascinating exploration of the emerging “conceptual age”, in which it is necessary for us to cultivate both our imaginative and logical capacities in order to progress successfully in work, career, play and life. In addition to his descriptive material, Pink offers a “portfolio” of suggested activities for each of his “six senses.”
So what good stuff have you read this year? And more so – what’s on your reading list for 2010? Let me know.