Paul Kalanithi: When Breath Becomes Air
This is an amazing book about life and death by an author who wanted to become a writer, then instead became a neurosurgeon. He chronicles his battle with lung cancer, but the power of the book comes from his personal journey of love, spiritual awareness, and friendship, all told in a beautiful prose that pulls you along to the tragic end. I couldn't put this one down. No wonder it has been atop the NYT's best seller list for so long.
Timothy Egan: The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero
A great story well told. I learned more about the famous Irish potato famine than ever, including the hideous and shameful role of the British.
David B Williams: Too High and Too Steep: Reshaping Seattle's Topography
A great story about the beginnings of Seattle. The focus is the topography of our city, but Williams fills in all the details on politics, the economy, our original neighbors, and much more. A very good read.
Eli Sanders: While the City Slept: A Love Lost to Violence and a Young Man's Descent into Madness
This is a "can't put it down" book, a gripping true account of terrible crimes in and around Seattle. It's also the story of our failure to care for those with mental disorders and the consequences. Eli Sanders won a Pulitzer Prize for his newspaper coverage of these crimes and the subsequent trial. His book asks what we're going to do now since we know the truth.
Christopher T. Bayley: Seattle Justice: The Rise and Fall of the Police Payoff System in Seattle
I covered the trials back in the early '70s when Chris Bayley was cleaning out the corruption at City Hall. His book is an important documentation of what can happen when city leaders fool themselves to think a little corruption is better than too much. Silly thinking then and now.
Ta-Nehisi Coates: Between the World and Me
Painful to read, but redemptive in the end. Read this book to understand the anger, disenchantment and despair deeply felt by our African American brothers and sisters. Coates writes a letter of love and stunning honesty to his son. This is a history of injustice and oppression every American should read and seek to understand.
Zeynep Ton: The Good Jobs Strategy: How the Smartest Companies Invest in Employees to Lower Costs and Boost Profits
Successful companies can pay middle class wages and thrive, according to Ton who teaches at MIT. A highly motivational read for everyone running a business!
Chris Hoke: Wanted: A Spiritual Pursuit Through Jail, Among Outlaws, and Across Borders
Powerful stories from a jail chaplain serving in the Skagit Valley.
Robert D. Putnam: Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis
Sobering insight into the decline of the American dream among lower income families and what can be done about it. Early investments are key, such as high-quality preschool and home visitation programs. Seattle gets it right.
Bryan Stevenson: Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
This is a powerful, gripping account from a lawyer who represents prisoners on death row in the American south. If you wonder about the relationship between the police and African Americans, read this book!
Joe Guppy: My Fluorescent God
This is a compelling, funny, tragic and revealing personal story from a Seattle writer about his plunge into mental crisis. Joe is honest and direct. His experience is his own, but could happen to any of us.
Robert Coles: Lives We Carry with Us: Profiles of Moral Courage
Coles is the former Harvard professor who wrote "Children in Crisis" for which he won the Pulitzer Prize. He profiles 12 individuals here, including Bruce Springsteen, Dorothy Day, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Simone Weil. Good stories of compelling leadership.
Eric Metaxas: Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
Riveting account of the Lutheran pastor who, from the beginning, recognized the evil of Nazism, spoke against Hitler and paid with his life.
Fr. Gregory Boyle: Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion
Gripping, real life account of living in inner city LA and the power of love. I laughed, cried and shouted my way through this book.
Michael Ignatieff: Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics
Reflections on politics and the political life from the former leader of Canada's Liberal Party.
Greg J. Duncan and Richard J. Murnane: Restoring Opportunity: The Crisis of Inequality and the Challenge for American Education
I appreciate the focus of this book on education, including high-quality preschool.
Malcolm Gladwell: David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
A story-based look at why underdogs succeed and how we, as a society, misinterpret power and weakness. Includes a good lesson about the importance of police legitimacy.
Bruce Katz & Jennifer Bradley: The Metropolitan Revolution: How Cities and Metros Are Fixing Our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy (Brookings Focus Book)
A must read for municipal leaders who want to understand and act on the reality of regional economics. Excellent application for Seattle and the greater Puget Sound region.
Anne Lamott: Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers
Funny, insightful, and thought-provoking. Lamott has delivered another quick read that made me ponder some of the deeper aspects of life.
James J. Heckman: Giving Kids a Fair Chance (Boston Review Books)
Insight from one of America's best early learning thinkers. Heckman builds a strong case for high-quality, purposeful preschool. Includes responses from many other distinguished education leaders.