15 Books that Changed my Worldview in 2016

By year end, I’ll have read about 100 books in 2016. Any book I finish has merit, but only a few rock my world.

Note: Only a few of these books were published in 2016. So if you’re looking for “best books of 2016” lists, this isn’t that–though I have listed publication years, so the few that came out in 2016 may be worth a look.

 

hiddenlifeoftrees

1.) Title (Year): The Hidden Life of Trees (2016, English language ed.)

Author: Peter Wohlleben

Goodreads review

Amazon page

I had no idea. Trees communicate, share, parent, form alliances, and I could go on. I’ll never look at a tree the same way.

 

 

beingmortal

2.) Title (Year): Being Mortal (2015)

Author: Atul Gawande

Goodreads review

Amazon page

Beating one’s fear of death is not so hard as beating one’s fear of losing control.

 

 

narrowroad_basho

3.) Title (Year): Narrow Road to the Interior: And Other Writings (2006 [this ed.])

Author: Matsuo Bashō

Goodreads review

Amazon page

Any time one can glimpse the mind of a haiku master, one comes away with an injection of clarity.

 

 

aliceinwonderland

4.) Title (Year): Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass (2008 ed.)

Author: Lewis Carroll

Goodreads review

Amazon page

Killing my misogyny. I love “secret door to an alternate universe” stories. Gaiman’s Neverwhere is one of my favorite novels. And here I’m just getting around to reading this exemplar (and the mother) of all such stories. I suspect I’d dismissed it as a girl’s book–whatever that means.

 

 

dharmabums

5.) Title (Year): The Dharma Bums (1958)

Author: Jack Kerouac

Goodreads review

Amazon page

A voyeuristic impulse across time, space, and culture. Kerouac’s use of language and way of describing events sometimes rattles loose sticky ways of thinking.

 

 

gut_enders

6.) Title (Year): Gut (2015)

Author: Giulia Enders

Goodreads review

Amazon page

This may seem like a bizarre and morbid fascination, but Enders makes studying the alimentary canal both interesting and amusing.

 

 

tibetanyogas

7.) Title (Year): The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep (1998)

Author: Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche

Goodreads review

Amazon page

Forget space. The subconscious is the final frontier, and this book offers insight into how to hack it.

 

 

touch_linden

8.) Title (Year): Touch (2015)

Author: David J. Linden

Goodreads review

Amazon page

I was just reviewing a book (John Medina’s Brain Rules) that claimed that vision trumps all other human senses. Linden’s book made me rethink that belief.

 

 

lifedeath_moyan

9.) Title (Year): Life and Death are Wearing Me Out (2006)

Author: Mo Yan

Goodreads review

Amazon page

Another kind of voyeurism across time, space, and culture–but this one giving one a taste of what it was like to live in China through the Cultural Revolution and what came after.

 

 

intoafrica

10.) Title (Year): Into Africa (2012 ed.)

Author: Martin Dugard

Goodreads review

Amazon page

I bought this before my wife and I went to Zambia. Basically, I just wanted to know what “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” meant. However, I became fascinated with the challenges of exploring Africa in that era.

 

 

littleprince

11.) Title (Year): The Little Prince (1943)

Author: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Goodreads review

Amazon page

I’m stunned by the ability to pack this much wisdom into a book and yet make it approachable to a child.

 

 

emperor_of_maladies

12.) Title (Year): The Emperor of All Maladies (2011)

Author: Siddhartha Mukherjee

Goodreads review

Amazon page

I knew cancer was mean, but I had no idea of the degree to which cancers are both vicious beasts and clever disasters.

 

 

 

thethingstheycarried

13.) Title (Year): The Things They Carried (1990)

Author: Tim O’Brien

Goodreads review

Amazon page

This book freed my impression of what a novel must be.

 

 

relaxationresponse

14.) Title (Year): The Relaxation Response (1975, but I read the 2009 ed.)

Author: Herbert Benson

Goodreads review

Amazon page

A classic. The book reminded me of what it must have been like to be doing research on meditation back then–and makes me wonder whether we’d be much further ahead if one hadn’t had to have cast iron gonads to take on such a research agenda in those days.

 

 

siddharthas-brain

15.) Title (Year): Siddhartha’s Brain (2016)

Author: James Kingsland

Goodreads review

Amazon page

I’d read the life story of Siddhartha Gautama Buddha, and I’m constantly reading about the science of the mind. Still, this book that drops chocolate in the peanut butter got me thinking in new ways on the subject.

2016: Our Year in Photos

New Year's Day sunrise over Bai Tu Long Bay, Vietnam

New Year’s Day sunrise over Bai Tu Long Bay, Vietnam

JANUARY:

-Travel: returned from our December 2015 visit to Vietnam

-Began RYT300 (Int / Adv) yoga teacher training at Amrutha Bindu Yoga

Taken at Kesava Temple in  Somanathapura

Taken at Kesava Temple in Somanathapura with the RYT300 class

 

FEBRUARY:

– RYT300 course continued

Teaching yoga at Socare

Teaching yoga at Socare

Learning to cook Indian food at Manju's

Learning to cook Indian food at Manju’s Cooking School

 

MARCH:

-Completed the RYT300 course to obtain my RYT500 certification

The RYT300 Class at Fireflies Ashram to learn Shatkarma

The RYT300 Class at Fireflies Ashram to learn Shatkarma

 

APRIL:

-Traveled to Varkala and Amritsar

-Taught a two-week Kids Camp at a1000 Yoga, Kormangala

Varkala, Kerala in early April

Lilla in Varkala, Kerala in early April

 

Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib), Amritsar

Lilla at the Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib), Amritsar

 

MAY: 

-Travel: Thailand, Zambia, and Dubai

-Completed the Muay Thai 2 (Int.) at The Muay Thai Institute in Rangsit, Thailand

With MTI teachers and students after a successful fight by a German student

With MTI teachers and students after a successful fight by a German student (shirtless)

 

Zebra at the Chaminuka Game Reserve near Lusaka

Zebra at the Chaminuka Game Reserve near Lusaka

 

Lilla and I amid the dunes in the UAE near Dubai

Lilla and I amid the dunes in the UAE near Dubai

 

JUNE:

-Between travels and trainings, a quiet month in Bangalore

Back again with the kids at Socare

Back again with the kids at Socare

 

JULY:

-Travel: Kolkata and into Jammu & Kashmir for our August travels

Quintessential Kolkata (Calcutta)

I’m afraid you can’t jam more Kolkata (Calcutta) into a photo than this

 

AUGUST:

-Travel: Jammu & Kashmir (Srinagar, Sonamarg, Great Lakes Trek, Leh, Nubra Valley, and Pangong Tso) and into Chennai for the beginning of my Vipassana Meditation course

Lilla on our first night camp site on the Kashmiri Great Lakes trek

Lilla (green hoodie) on our first night camp site on the Kashmiri Great Lakes trek

 

Lilla and Eeyore in Leh

Lilla and Eeyore in Leh

 

Lilla and I at the (reputed) highest motorable pass in the world

Lilla and I at the (reputed) highest motorable pass in the world

 

SEPTEMBER:

-Travel: 2 trips to Chennai; the first for my 10-day Vipassana Mediation Course, and the second for a wedding

Chennai (Madras)

Chennai (Madras)

Lilla henna'd and bangled for the wedding

Lilla henna’d and bangled for the wedding

 

OCTOBER:

-Travel: rainy season in Goa

-Anniversary month (22 yrs.)

-Took the 5th level test at Kalari Academy but promptly threw my back out–an injury from which I’m still recovering (although it’s down to a mild leg tingle) [I wouldn’t mention it but I think I’m obligated to by the rules of year-end / Christmas letters to mention any health issues.]

Lilla in front of the Se Cathedral in Old Goa (Velha Goa)

Lilla in front of the Se Cathedral in Old Goa (Velha Goa)

 

NOVEMBER:

-Travel: Singapore

Lilla in front of the Marina Bay Sands

Lilla in front of the Marina Bay Sands

 

DECEMBER:

-Travel: We’ll be in Hungary (fingers crossed) in the latter half of the month

-Finished a draft of the novel. I don’t know what version this counts as, but it’s the only one so far even close to having an ending that I can tolerate.

-I’ll probably have read about 100 books by the end of the year.

Here’s a pic from another winter trip to Budapest:

Budapest a few years back

Budapest a few years back

A more recent Budapest Winter pic; this was our most recent winter visit 2014

A more recent Budapest winter pic; this was our most recent winter visit-i.e. 2014

2016 Martial Arts Movies

OUT:



Ip Man 3: The third installment chronicling (movie-style) the life of the legendary Wing Chun master Ip Man. It came out in Hong Kong in December 2015, but wasn’t released in the US, Canada, and elsewhere until January.
Synopsis: When a band of brutal gangsters led by a crooked property developer make a play to take over the city, Master Ip is forced to take a stand.




Kung Fu Panda 3: US release was January 29.
Synopsis: Continuing his “legendary adventures of awesomeness”, Po must face two hugely epic, but different threats: one supernatural and the other a little closer to his home.




The Monkey King 2: Released in early February.
Synopsis: Tells part of the story of the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West.




Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny: The Netflix released sequel to one of the most successful Kung Fu movies of all time. Released on February 26th.
Synopsis: A story of lost love, young love, a legendary sword and one last opportunity at redemption.







COMING:



The Bodyguard: This Sammo Hung film is set to release in early April in China as well as select other Asian countries. No worldwide release set.
Synopsis: A retired bodyguard suffering from early dementia finds a new friend in a young girl.
TheBodyguard



Never Back Down 3: To be released in the US on April 5th.
Synopsis: Picking up after the events of Never Back Down 2, former MMA champion Case Walker is on the comeback trail.
NBD3



Railroad Tigers: Release date is October 3rd in China but unset for the rest of the world.
Synopsis: A railroad worker in China in 1941 leads a team of freedom fighters against the Japanese in order to get food for the poor.
RailroadTigers



Feng Shen Bang: Set for release in October, but no trailer or poster yet. Only a synopsis.
Synopsis: Based on the 16th-century Chinese novel Feng Shen Yan Yi (The Investiture of the Gods), the story tells of how King Zhou of Shang becomes a tyrant due to the wiles of Daji, a vixen spirit who is disguised as one of his concubines.






UNKNOWN:



Birth of the Dragon: There’s no release date, trailer, or poster–so I wouldn’t get too excited about this synopsis.
Synopsis: A young and up-and-coming martial artist, Bruce Lee, challenges legendary kung fu master Wong Jack Man to a no-holds-barred fight.



Boyka: Undisputed [IV]: There’s no set release, but there’s a trailer and apparently this is the fourth installment, so I give it better odds than “Birth of the Dragon.”
Synopsis: In the fourth installment of the fighting franchise, Boyka is shooting for the big leagues when an accidental death in the ring makes him question everything he stands for.




The Deadly Reclaim: Trailer finished, but no firm release date.
Synopsis: Set in 1914 following the collapse of the Qing Dynasty, the film tells the story of a group of villagers standing up to a cruel young warlord.




Kickboxer: Vengence: There’s a teaser and a synopsis, but no full trailer or release date.
Synopsis: A kick boxer is out to avenge his brother.




Kung Fu Yoga: No trailer or release date yet for this Hong Kong / Bollywood love child.
Synopsis: Chinese archaeology professor Jack (Jackie Chan) teams up with beautiful Indian professor Ashmita and assistant Kyra to locate lost Magadha treasure.
KungfuYoga



Skiptrace: This Jackie Chan + Johnnie Knoxville MA comedy has been delayed.
Synopsis: A detective from Hong Kong teams up with an American gambler to battle against a notorious Chinese criminal.