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My 2021-2022 Book List

By Marcha Daniels

Reflecting on this school year, I thought it would be a wonderful idea to reflect on some of the most impressionable books I’ve read during the course of this year. Thus, here I’ve provided a reflection and recommendation on the books I’ve read during my last year of high school. Hope you enjoy it!

1. Existentialism Is A Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

After watching a television show called Neon Genesis Evangelion, a video on the series introduced me to existentialist philosophy. This book was my literary introduction, and despite its brief contents, left me with a crippling existential crisis for three weeks.

2. Force and Freedom: Black Abolitionists and The Politics of Violence by Kellie Carter Jackson

If there is any book that should be required to read in a high school U.S. History class, this is it. Dr. Jackson drew from various historical evidence to craft an uplifting, powerful, and distinct take on the abolitionist movement. Furthermore, I loved how this book didn’t shy away from times when political violence was often necessary to survive. Slavery didn’t end because Abraham Lincoln cared about Black people; it was through years of collective action of abolitionists, the suffering and perseverance of Black Americans, a troubling economic state for working-class White Americans, and situational circumstances (aka Civil War).

3. The Transcendence of Ego by Jean-Paul Sartre

Took three times before I could fully understand the book’s contents, alongside a reading guide and thorough annotations, but I succeeded! I love this book so much because it redefines, or better yet, revolutionizes how we view human identity. Sartre makes an important point; consciousness is not an immaterial, ‘in your head’ concept because it’s affected by the material world. Consciousness is intrinsically tied to other people and our environment, and our identity is the collective meaning from both others and ourselves!

4. Kino’s Journey: A Beautiful World (1st Volume)

Unlike most books I’ve read through, I took this novel one chapter at a time during the course of four months. In each chapter, Kino and her talking motorcycle, Hermes, travel to different countries, representing a philosophical dilemma of some sort. The book doesn’t have a chronological flow and could be read by excerpt. It’s heartfelt, gripping, and beautiful―as a fellow traveler myself, its insight and appreciation for different ways of life were intimately relatable.

5. Spiral of Cynicism: The Press and The Public Good by Kathleen Jamieson and Joseph Cappella

This book made me stop watching political commentary and news on cable television. It also pushed me to study more about political theory and strengthened my resolve in advocating for improved political literacy within high schools. Let’s just say that during my club meeting, I was on a roll.

6. Weathering With You (novel) by Makoto Shinkai

A colorful narrative detailing an island boy’s trip to the big city, adding a tinge of spiritual naturalism. The simple illustrations, coupled with an eccentric cast of characters, made the book an enjoyable read on a road trip to Colorado. And if I had the power to make the rain come and go, my hometown desert would be the next San Diego.

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