Notes on Books

Recently, I vowed to myself to read more books. I figured the best way to uphold the promise was to write down and share what I learn. Below, please find links to PDF files which contain notes on the books I’ve read. These range from illustrated summaries to formal outlines, and cover the range from science and philosophy to poetry and fiction. My hope is that you’ll gain a bit of knowledge, inspiration, and enjoyment from this collection.

How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

My notes on How To Be An Antiracist. While impossible to cover everything I learned from Kendi in this book and foolish even to try and reduce it, I hope to share the pearls of insight I gained as a reader, paint a picture of what it means to be antiracist, and provide some kindling for book club discussion with these notes.

Systems Thinking for Social Change: A Practical Guide to Solving Complex Problems, Avoiding Unintended Consequences, and Achieving Lasting Results by David Peter Stroh

Following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, fiery protests erupted just 10 minutes from where I lived. More than ever before, I was alerted to the systemic prejudices that plague our nation and the social problems adjacent to police brutality. I started thinking about the intersectionality of these issues: how concentration of wealth exacerbates societal gaps, unjust policing, and mass incarceration. I’ve started to see myself as a proponent of the change that needs to occur. So, began educating myself. A friend lent me this book, which seemed like it would answer the questions I was asking myself: what needs to change, how, and how in a way that lasts? (Reading in progress.)

God: A Human History by Reza Aslan

As someone who was raised as a Muslim in a Muslim household in the middle of white, suburban America, I always had questions about religion—its purpose, its origins, its validity. Why did my friends tend to think of god as this old white man with a beard, when I saw god as more of a shapeless force? I remember my self-identification as an atheist being met with gasps from the parents in our Muslim circles. Now, however, I’ve grown to see that religious and spiritual expression is an extension of what it means to be human. This book was instrumental in helping me see religion for what it is. (Reading in progress.)

Misery by Stephen King

Words I Learned From Stephen King’s Misery. As COVID-19 began to reap its toll and corral society into lockdown, I suddenly got an itch for a hysterical thriller. What came to mind was the novels of Stephen King, which I’d fallen off of since a phase in 8th grade. I thought to give this author a long overdue visit and record the (many) words I learned along the way. Misery: a word and title that fit my frame of mind perfectly as I began to realize all my future plans were being warped by the new world. However, I think I’ve made something nice out of it.