Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A Reading List for the Times

I've spent this last week and a half sick at home, in the literal way, fighting a flu/cold thing, and yesterday involved a trip to urgent care with my husband when we both finally threw our hands up in the air that nothing was really getting me better. We put it off because I'm usually quick to recover when it comes to a cold/flu, but this did not happen. We had participated in the Women's March on Washington the weekend before the Monday I came down with this horrendous thing and then as my cold/flu thing settled in came the deluge of horrendous decision after horrendous decision from douche 45*. Honestly, I'm pretty sure that deluge also played a role in why I have not recovered so quickly, an onslaught of hate from your government should probably make your body feel weak and tired. Like so many of my fellow "bleeding heart liberals" since the election I have donated, marched, and read. I have always read and with call to become more diverse readers a few years ago, I have tried to do so. Currently, there has been a sudden climb in the sales of such classics of George Orwell's 1984, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, and Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism. As an avid reader/former librarian I feel I have a duty to also suggest a few more additions to that list.

I first want to start at the place of hope and love, after watching the video on the left of Linda Sarsour, I realized yes, I will continue to push back with all I have because of my love. The people I love and myself included are under direct attack from this administration. People I do not know but for whom I no reason to wish ill will upon, who are simply trying to exist, and care for the people they love are under attack.

So let me start at the point of love and hope in this reading list:

Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities by Rebecca Solnit
-The desire to bury your head in the sand is understandable, but read this instead. It first came in the era of Bush and Cheney, it was not written in peaceful times.

The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew by Alan Lightman
-At times you need to step back and just think of the whole and because this is science which is directly under attack, give it a chance. The universe will go on without us, but we cannot go on without ourselves.

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown
- Self care is demanded in times like these, why not go with some science backed self care. If you find your steps feeling shaky pick this book up.

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
-Being a better person requires compassion and this collection is an ode to compassion, anger, and shame in all its many ways.

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
-Morality, wonder, and the power of being responsible for your mistakes.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
-One of the beautiful renderings of language and experience.

 Getting Angry For All the Right Reasons:
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
-A slim volume that encapsulates an experience shared by so many, you've seen it, pick it up, and just listen. It will be uncomfortable, you might have to put it down, and have a lot of discussions with yourself, but it will give you glimpse to an experience you need to consider.

Beloved and A Mercy by Toni Morrison
- I feel like A Mercy gets quickly forgotten but in someways it is to me one of the great American classics that people don't realize, it is a recognition that there was a time in American history when there was a choice of what the country would become and it did not have to become a history of slavery. It is a reminder that our relations with First Nations was not set on a path. It is a reminder that indentured servitude was caste for poor Europeans also. It is reminder that our idea of race was not set either. And then there is Beloved, a harrow of story and yes required reading. If you don't feel scorched and horrified by it, I'm not sure what you were reading.

Girls and Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape by Peggy Orenstein
-If this doesn't make you angry for women and girls and the desire to donate to Planned Parenthood I don't know what will.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
-The things done in the name of progress need to be addressed.

The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
-We have banned people and we have interned people in our very recent past in the US, this slim poetic novel by Otsuka is a searing reminder of that experience.

A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn
-Once long ago I got a BA in history, some would consider it laughable, but at the end of the day I frequently tell you about the many events in our history and world history that are currently at play. This book is considered the classic "Bleeding Heart Liberal" text that "they" love to laugh about, but here is the thing it is because it makes you feel deeply uncomfortable. It should make you uncomfortable, history should make you uncomfortable, it should make you look around question how things are.

The Crucible by Arthur Miller
-There is a piece of history we don't like to talk about in the US, the one where we had our own modern day witch hunt, it strangely has not come up as much as I thought it would recently, but this classic was written during the heart of the McCarthyism era as rebuttal to the insanity.

Rez Life: An Indian's Journey Through Reservation Life by David Treuer
-The continuing fight to stop the XL Pipeline happens now in the heart of winter, with the fight there has been a recent interest in indigenous people's rights. This is a good starting point for reminding that humanity is vast and diverse and don't fall for the stereotyping.

The Possible Abyss

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (Just read the MaddAddam trilogy!)
- I'll admit everyday I have a moment where I think of Atwood's MaddAddam trilogy, required reading. The woman is prescient in the worst ways.

The Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
-Perhaps, this is the book that scares me the most. The one that feels so possible right at this moment. I have not yet had the heart to read the second part of the duology. If you don't want to read Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale this is the one I would recommend instead.

*Nope, not calling him the "P" word.

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