The Books We'll Carry: 2017 Reads That Will Stay With Us

Dec 27, 2017

WLRN News does not have a book critic on staff. We’re a relatively small shop and we’re busy — reporting, editing and producing stories about South Florida for the radio and the web.

But many of us are readers in our off hours. So, this year a few of us shared the books we read that we’ll carry with us.

This is not a Top 10 list and the books weren’t necessarily published in 2017. It’s just a small sample of some of the highlights from our year in reading.

Note: The following passages have been edited lightly. 

Teresa Frontado, digital director

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng resonated with me because it's the story of a family that's dealing … with the disappearance, which then we find out is the death, of the middle child. It's a mixed race family and there's all these race issues that go unaddressed. But, the part that resonated with me was when the siblings talk about missing a sibling because that's my life experience.

There's this beautiful passage where one of the characters said years later he will look down at this situation and he will think of his sister and all the things that he would like to tell her. And how in every important milestone of life he wished she was there.

The other one is, funny enough, a nonfiction book. It has a long title - Bored and Brilliant, How spacing out can unlock your most productive and creative self - and the whole premise is that in this culture of ours, it’s all the time connected and on the phone and being bombarded by information. There's no time to stop and think and be bored.

And that stopping and being bored is a key part of the creative process. I've been actually experimenting with, you know, letting go of my phone for a couple of hours at a time and it's been great. I think it's something that's going to leave a mark in my life — how I think of technology and use technology.

Nancy Klingener, Florida Keys reporter

The book that I’m going to carry with me next year, and for some time to come, is a nonfiction book. It’s called Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann. He’s a New Yorker writer and a really well-known accomplished journalist.

It’s one of those books that tells you about some part of our history that’s been mostly forgotten, but is incredibly important. And tells you not only about this one particular story, but about what our country was like at that time and how people dealt with these traumas.

In this case, it really was trauma. It turns out the Osage tribe had been driven to some really unfavorable land in Oklahoma. It wasn’t good for farming. But it turned out it had oil underneath it. So in the 1920s, suddenly this tribe became, like, the richest people on earth per capita.

Some of the white people in the area weren’t going to let that happen and managed to control a lot of the wealth and eventually started murdering Osage tribe members in order to get even more direct control over that wealth. Then the FBI, which was then very early in its career, got involved and tried to solve those crimes. And it’s just a fascinating, incredible, horrible but really important piece of American history that David Grann has shined a light on.

Alicia Zuckerman, editorial director

I just finished We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It's like a little booklet. It's probably a little bigger than the size of your hand and doesn't have very many pages. It was adapted from a TED talk. 

The book actually came out a few years ago, but I think that it has particular resonance today with, what seems like, daily revelations about sexual harassment and bullying and just general mistreatment of women in the workplace and a general lack of equality. She points out something I remember learning in college - that the definition of feminist is somebody who believes in equality among the genders. That's a pretty simple definition.

I think when people think about the word feminist they think about women, but that's actually not what it means. And I love — spoiler alert I'm going to say something about the end of this book — I love how she talks about how one of the best feminists she knows is her brother. It sort of chokes me up because there's so much hope in that.