Friday, December 23, 2016

The "Trump-Era" Required Reading List

I attempt to stay apolitical on this book blog, yet I decided it was time to share some books that will not only provide some education and provocative thinking, but also some salve to the souls for those of us profoundly worried about the direction of our country. Plus, I entertained myself by looking, and thinking back, over years' worth of reading:)

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama XIV, Desmond Tutu, Douglas Carloton Abrams
Two of the great souls of modern times, being interviewed for days concerning the search for joy, this is palliative care for our wounded hearts.  Men of faith, who accept and love people of all faiths, as well as people who choose no faith, teach us that kindness and compassion will bring us more joy than money, power, and prestige. Could DT put this on his reading list?  Oh. that's right, he brags of not having read a book in years...sigh.

So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
A provocative and highly entertaining look at how social media bullies and wounds, how a person's reputation is destroyed in an instant, and even how the lack of shame provides its own protection. Our 'tweeter-in-chief' might want to actually pick up a book, this book, and receive some enlightenment.

Lexicon by Max Berry
A thriller that focuses on the power of words and how words are manipulated to seize power, control people, and yes, even commit murder.  It is a scary look at how fake news/words empower demagogues. Hmmm...let's be wary.

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
If you have never read this classic, or you have not picked it up in years, you really should.  The parallels to today will pretty much freak you out.  It's a crazy plot line, spiraling in circles, satirizing WWII, government subsidy programs, the legal profession, the medical community, you name it - Heller skewers it. Think SNL on intellectual steroids!

Evicted  by Matthew Desmond
A deep expose on the housing issues in Milwaukee, that directly relate to issues of race and income inequality across our country today.  Heartbreaking, frustrating, infuriating, and ultimately extremely educational - highly recommend.

This is How it Always Is (fiction) by Laurie Frankel / Becoming Nicole:  The Transformation of an American Family (biography) by Amy Ellis Nutt
Two profoundly moving books that inform the reader on the powerful issues biologically, psychologically, socially, and emotionally on children and young teens who deal with gender dysphoria.  Our LGBTQ community needs love and support, not medieval laws that sanction them for close-minded reasons.

Grace:  A Novel by Natashia Deon / Beloved by Toni Morrison/ The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
A reminder of the true horror and degradation of slavery, and the powerful women who rise above - a reminder that though the new HUD secretary stated that "Obamacare is the worst thing since slavery," NO, slavery was a nightmare for hundreds of years, an institution whose effects are still felt today.

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
A deeply moving and engrossing story of an NYU law professor, the Equal Justice Initiative he began and continues to run today in Alabama, and the corruption of our justice system for those who are young, who are mentally handicapped, or who are people of color.  You will never look at our justice system with the same set of glasses again, and you will be persuaded on the critical need for reform in our country.

Blood at the Root:  A Racial Cleansing in America by Patrick Phillips
The story of a county in Georgia who purposefully and consistently kept black people out of their county for over one hundred years - a good reminder of what happens when people look the other way, say "it's not my business,' who forget that we are all members of the human race.

Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance
Yes, if you want to understand rural Ohio and how the Democratic party and the economy left them behind over the last thirty years, this is your book.  It will also make you howl with laughter, as well as want to pull your hair out.  Well worth it!

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult/ Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Yes, racial bias exists.  No, no matter how 'enlightened' we are, we are prejudiced in some way, shape, or form, regardless of what race, social class, or income level we inhabit.  And yes, the history of black people, both in America and Africa, still impacts our living history of today. Two different takes on the issues of race, both well worth it.

Faithful by Alice Hoffman
I read this one the week after the election and it was just what I needed to assuage my wounded heart: a young woman whose life turns upside down in an instant, crawls her way back to life through her own dogged strength, intelligence, and the ever-changing tides of fate.

An Ember in the Ashes series by Sabaa Tahir
A fantasy series where the lower class is kept uneducated, the rich and powerful employ "Masks" to keep the peace through violence and intimidation, and rebellion is the only escape.  A modern take on the Fall of Rome, this should inspire us all to be the heroes needed in the coming four years.

When the Moon is Low by Nadia Hashimi
A story of a middle-class Afghani family destroyed by wars and upheaval in Kabul, forced to flee and become one of the millions of refugees, this is a story of a mother who must choose life on the run or the death of her children.  It is a powerful story of how fear and anger creates racial hatred towards people who need our kindness and compassion. It's a good thing to remember when we hear about the possibility of a "Muslim ban" or see video on television of the horrors of Aleppo.

Heat and Light by Jennifer Haigh
A fiction book that delves deeply in how fracking impacts a mid-west community, this beautifully written novel will remind us of the need to protect our environment, that once it is gone it is not replaceable, that we must fight the climate deniers placed in the new cabinet, that our descendants' future literally depends on us wearing the super hero cape.

Harry Potter series, particularly the last three books by JK Rowling
Yes, I know...who hasn't read these?? But seriously, this is the ultimate hero's journey to defeat a truly evil, manipulative entity through greater intelligence, the loyalty of friends, and the power of love.  And besides, the females in the series are pretty much bad-asses, not just humans who should look beautiful so yes, go back and read HP - it will inspire you to pick up your metaphorical sword of Gryffindor and do battle for all that is good in our world.

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