Favorite Reads of 2023

Brown Dog – Jim Harrison
Jim Harrison is one of my favorite authors and is most known for “Legends of the Fall”, which was made into a movie starring Brad Pitt. Brown Dog is a series of novellas centered around a man nicknamed Brown Dog. This half white, half native american from the remote upper peninsula of Michigan falls into repeated crisis stemming from his good-intentioned missteps and obsession with the outdoors, alcohol, and women. Brown Dog’s troubles are hilarious and are paired with examples of absolute compassion and loyalty. Brown Dog, or BD, is something like a mix of Thoreau and an adult Huck Finn in the late 20th century.


The Passenger + Stella Maris – Cormac McCarthy
Widely considered the greatest American author of our time, this companion series was McCarthy’s last work before his passing this month (June, 2023). Honestly, I’m intellectually under-equipped to describe this book (or any of his others), but I’ll give it a shot. A salvage diver finds himself running from shadowy federal agents and is haunted by his father’s key role in the Manhattan Project and his near-incest love for his recently deceased sister, a beautiful genius schizophrenic. Both books go deep into life’s experiences explained through the lens of high-level mathematics. The book takes an interesting look into genius, mental illness, and regret.


A Brief History of Japan – Jonathan Clement
I knew very little about Japan and discovered this book, a historical and anthropological narrative of the country from its first recorded history to the modern day. The country’s history is interestingly intertwined with Korea and China, marred with high-society internal strife (the samurai almost exclusively fought themselves under the direction of the Shogun), and an intensely protectionist society during the colonial era. Its rise into the pre-World War 2 economic/military power and establishment as a worldwide business powerhouse is fascinating.


Zone One – Colson Whitehead
Yes, this is a zombie apocalypse book but written by a Pulitzer Prize winner. The book follows a man in a small team of sweepers, tasked with clearing out the zombie remnants of New York City after the military has established a perimeter. The book takes an interesting look at corporate capitalism and government remnants attempting to regain the pre-apocalypse status quo. It also takes an intimate look at what such a horrific event would do to an individual’s psyche.


Ridgeline – Michael Punke
This historical fiction is based around the events of the Fetterman Massacre, a battle of the post-Civil War army that suffered a tremendous defeat at the hands of the Lakota in the Wyoming Powder River Valley.  Punke wrote “The Revenant” and this book is just as captivating, following the storylines of Army officers, enlisted soldiers, and Lakota warriors. A wonderful book about the brutal origins of the American West, and the start of the end of a proud tribe and it’s warriors.


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