Mark Lynch’s 10 Favorite Books of 2021

Written by on December 6, 2021

I read 2-4 books a week, every week, to prepare to interview guests on Inquiry. I honestly can say that I have enjoyed almost all my conversations. NB: the ones I haven’t enjoyed took place years ago. Here are 10 of my favorite books by authors I have interviewed in 2021. Remember, books make great presents! Mark Lynch, host, Inquiry.

  1. Bridget Rose Dugdale was born into a family with wealth and prestige in Britain in 1941. By the mid-1970s she had become an internationally known violent radical who masterminded one of the greatest art thefts of all time. Anthony M. Amore is Director of Security and Chief Investigator at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. His latest book is not just the wild story of that famous art theft but also traces how Dugdale’s life evolved into one of violent action to protest the treatment of Northern Ireland prisoners by the British government. Amore’s book is titled: The Woman Who Stole Vermeer: The True Story of Rose Dugdale and the Russborough House Art Heist.
  2. Migratory birds are the most astounding travelers on the planet. In the last two decades, there has been a revolution in miniaturized electronics that has allowed scientists to closely monitor birds while they migrate. What they have found stymies the imagination. Shorebirds may fly 2700 miles non-stop. Swifts can spend ten months of every year always on the wing. Some birds may be using quantum entanglement to navigate their way. Scott Weidensaul is a writer and researcher specializing in birds and bird migration. His new book details all the new information that has been learned about how birds migrate and also reports from spots around the world, where birds make a critical stop-over to refuel for their long and arduous journey: A World On the Wing: The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds.
  3. If drinking alcohol is supposed to be bad for you, how come most cultures around the world do it on a regular basis? Is there an evolutionary reason why we drink? Edward Slingerland is a Distinguished University Scholar and Professor of Philosophy at the University of British Columbia. His new book is Drunk. How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way to Civilization.
  4. The first murder trial by jury in America was held here in Massachusetts under extraordinary circumstances. The verdict would change colonial history, if only temporarily. Teacher, lawyer, author Tobey Pearl’s gripping new history of that trial is Terror To The Wicked: America’s First Trial by Jury That Ended A War and Helped.
  5. The treetop canopy of the world’s forests remained one of the great unexplored habitats on earth until the end of the 20th Century. This author and a handful of other canopy explorers devised ways for biologists to study the crowns of these forests, sometimes as high as 150 feet or more. First, they had to get up there, which was no mean feat. Meg Lowman, Ph.D., aka “Canopy Meg” is a biologist, educator, ecologist, writer, editor, and public speaker. Her new book is an amazing memoir of how she figured out how to get up to the forest tops and what she found there is The Arbonaut: A Life Discovering The Eight Continent in the Trees Above Us. This is an inspiring book for any young woman considering a career in the biological sciences and encourages all of us to become “citizen scientists” that are stewards of big trees.
  6. Biologist and writer Bernd Heinrich have been a longtime guest on Inquiry, typically to talk about biology and ecology. His new book is different. It is a wonderful memoir of his long life doing cross county and long-distance running into his 80s, as well as a meditation on aging: Racing The Clock: Running Across A Lifetime.
  7. What do we mean when we use words like “nature” and “wildness”?How do you feel about conservation schemes to save a species that entail the killing of other species? What happens when we apply moral philosophy, ethics, to these issues? Award-winning journalist Emma Marris’s new book attempts to answer these complex questions: Wild Souls: Freedom and Flourishing in the Non-Human World.
  8. Alison Hawthorne Deming is a writer, poet, and Regents Professor at the University of Arizona. Her new book is A Woven World/On Fashion, Fisherman, and The Sardine Dress. This unique memoir traces the history of herring and weirs on Gran Manan Island, the history of fashion in Paris and New York, and much more, all from Deming’s personal perspective.
  9. I only interview a few poets on Inquiry. This year I had the pleasure to talk with poet Camille Guthrie. She is the Director of Undergraduate Writing Initiatives at Bennington College. Her surprising new collection of poems is titled Diamonds.
  10. Your musical tastes are an important way to set you apart from the world. We take music personally.”  Writer and editor Kelefa Sanneh spent six years as a pop-music critic at the New York Times and is now a New Yorker staff writer. His new book is a “must-read” for anyone passionate about their music: Major Labels: A History of Popular Music in Seven Genres: Rock, R&B, Country, Punk, Hip-Hop, Dance and Pop. It’s the kind of book that is sure to spark a thousand discussions or arguments.

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