In Survival of the Richest, Douglas Rushkoff exposes what he calls "The Mindset": a problematic way of thinking that has been adopted by billionaires which prioritizes technological advancement by for the rich and ignores social systems that need changing. While tech giants aim to colonize space, the working classes remain forgotten and the environment plundered and derelict. Rushkoff explicates "The Mindset" by appealing to history, ethics & moral philosophy, and predictions for the future.
Survival of the Richest reads like science-fiction, but it's not, which makes topics like these all the scarier. Did we learn nothing from Wall-E?
Lori Gottlieb was a writer on the shows ER and Friends. Then she went to Stanford Medical School. Finally, she found her calling when she decided to become a therapist.
Gottlieb has a knack for storytelling: she shares life stories from some of her patients and cleverly weaves in her own therapeutic journey throughout this psych memoir.
I was thoroughly entertained while reading this. Gottlieb is able to take touching and heavy topics and interlace them with humor and important lessons about our human tendencies. This book truly deserves the acclaim it received.
Carson McCullers understands the simplicities and complexities of love better than any author I know (except perhaps James Baldwin).
These southern gothic short stories highlight McCullers's genius. They are tender, lovely, brilliant, contemplative, and feature quirky, misfit characters.
If you're looking for literary fiction that's not completely dismal, this is a great option.
My favorite story in this collection is "A Tree, a Rock, a Cloud." I hope it adheres to your heart as it did mine.
The Fire Next Time gets a lot of press, but this lesser-read work of Baldwin's is just as good, if not better.
No Name in the Street is a memoir / long essay where Baldwin talks about race, politics, and his encounters with other great Civil Rights leaders of the 20th century, including MLK and Malcolm X.
On every page, Baldwin grasps something much deeper than the actual topics on which he writes, so much so that I would confidently categorize this book under philosophy. But let's be real--he's bigger than even that.
Open this book and read just the first paragraph--you'll be hooked.
We all hate Big Pharma, but have you ever wondered how exactly they are so powerful? Why does the United States have such expensive drugs compared to all other wealthy countries?
Big Pharma is relentless and Abramson gets down to the nitty-gritty of how they operate. Pharmaceutical companies produce and test drugs in the most unscientific ways--all with the goal of painting their drugs in a positive light so they can sell as much of them as possible, even if they are unnecessary or harmful to patients. They control trusted medical journals, they have infilitrated academia and congress, they refuse to publish their drug trials, and they have left doctors in the dark about which drugs are truly most effective.
Read this and spread the word. Big Pharma has got to go down, and this book will help us figure out how.
I love any book with social commentary and this book is dripping with it. This is the short novel of a woman whose life centers around her identity as a convenience store employee, clearly a victim of a protestant work ethic. As she devotes her physical and mental state toward her beloved convenience store, society attempts to push and pull her in many different 'normative' directions. Which avenue of normativity and fitting in will she choose? How does the convenience store affect her positively and negatively? Read to find out.
Long Division has two connected stories that feature time travel, literary games, mysterious cats, and run-ins with the Ku Klux Klan.
This book is described as a 'mix between Southern Gothic and Murakami-esque magical realism.' I find that to be an apt description. Long Division is incredibly inventive, just plain weird, and is in a similar vein to Sherman Alexie's Reservation Blues and Toni Morrison's Beloved.
When you're done with this, look for Laymon's amazing memoir called Heavy.
This is a collection of Angela Carter's gothic, feminist take on some classic fairytales. In here you'll find renditions of Beauty and the Beast, Little Red Riding Hood, and more, all beautifully composed and slightly disturbing.
This is some of the most luscious, lyrical, and poetic writing I've read in a long time. If you're looking for some prose that will wow you, take a journey through Carter's pages.
Gregor wakes up one morning to find he has been transformed into a giant insect. How do those around him react? His boss demands he return to work, his father looks upon him with disgust, and his mother evinces concern. Fantastical? Yes. Far from reality? No. For while no human alive has ever turned into an insect, this novella serves as an apt metaphor for anyone who has undergone spiritual or bodily transformations, particularly through the lens of societal regard.
An ex-therapist shares stories from the lives of five of her patients. This book is harrowing, shocking, and heavy, but it is also heart-wrenching, touching, and deeply inspiring. I had planned to read one story at a time but ended up reading it all in one go. It's always a treat to find a work of nonfiction that invites fervent page turning like fiction!
TRIGGER WARNING: this book does not hold back. There are detailed descriptions of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse; animal abuse; and trauma in general.
Hank Willis Thomas is a multi-media artist whose work exposes the fallacious and long-held view that Black bodies are inherently physically superior. This thinking was used to justify chattel slavery and it is still prominent today, particularly in the areas of sports, music, dance, and more. Drawing from chattel slavery centuries prior, the sports industry likewise considers Black people as paragons of athleticism and physical ability, always performing for white people.
Thomas also highlights themes of capitalism and consumerism in his work. His astute observations will make you break down in those tears one only sheds from having come across the most penetrating truths of our world.
This is the best fantasy I've ever read, and also the first time I've developed a crush on a character in a book: Kvothe is his name, and he sets out to uncover who--or what--killed his family. His mission is going to be a long one, as these killers prove to be more elusive than anyone could've imagined. In fact, most people Kvothe encounters firmly believe these killers don't exist. As Kvothe attempts to track down this dark force that leaves no trace, he becomes the stuff of legends himself.
This book is INCREDIBLY well-written, with natural dialogue, humor, unique characters, clever wit, catharsis, and a truly electric protagonist. It is the first of a trilogy, so be sure to read the equally-as-amazing A Wise Man's Fear, the next book in the series.
Written in the poetic formalness of the Nineteenth century, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is less the cult horror we're well acquainted with today and more a meditation on humanness. Monologic passages on loneliness, nurture, vengeance, love, death, and the endless pursuit of knowledge comprise some of the themes of this deep classic.
If you're familiar with one of the many iterations of Frankenstein but not its origins, maybe it's time to introduce yourself to Shelley's original intentions with the story.
This is my all-time favorite book. McCullers wrote this when she was just 23 years old in 1940. Described as a Southern Gothic, this magnificent work of literary fiction is brimming with motifs of anti-capitalism, anti-racism, music, and deep, platonic love. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is beautifully written, quaint, relevant, profound, and character-based. It is a story I will revisit many times.
(I'd like to thank local musician, calligrapher, typewriter collector, and jazz aficioinado, Rollie Tussing for first gifting me this book.)
As the desecration of the Earth becomes ever more violent, should the environmental movement respond with according fervor? Are marches and petitions getting us anywhere in combatting climate change? Andreas Malm addresses these increasingly relevant questions. In this manifesto, Malm deconstructs traditional narratives that center peace and passivity as the most effective tool in achieving social change, advocating instead for a "radical flank effect."
"What is the best way to resist?" wondered SNCC secretary Charles Cobb. If you hold the same question, read this book.
Just Above My Head is Baldwin's final and most expansive work of fiction. It is a story of love, Blackness, and music. Not only does music serve as a primary driver of the plot, but Baldwin's writing style itself is rhythmic and lyrical. Thus, when reading this it is important to not just hear Baldwin's prose, but to actively listen to it. This is true with much of Black music, that there are often hidden meanings embedded in the lyrics which only certain audiences hold the key to unlock. In his essay, "Many Thousands Gone," Baldwin says, "It is only in his music, which Americans are able to admire because a protective sentimentality limits their understanding of it, that the Negro in America has been able to tell his story..." Keep that in mind when reading this masterpiece.
Purple Hibiscus is a coming-of-age story about a girl in Nigeria who must navigate her life under the watchful eyes of her religious and abusive father. She is caught between wanting to live up to her father's expectations and coming to terms with the cult-like way in which he runs his household.
Reading this book feels like eating a perfectly balanced meal that leaves you feeling comfortably satisfied. To be sure, that does not mean this is light-hearted or particularly jovial, but it offers all the best substance a novel can contain and concludes with a delightful catharsis. It is a book you can enjoy many times, as I have.
Who knew surf could translate so well into prose? With every page of mere ink and paper I feel I am gliding across the ocean. Finnegan is able to pull me into faraway waters, where sharp coral, sea creatures, and the surprisingly niche culture of hardcore surfing life abound.
This would make a good non-fiction beach read, but still packed with substance and meditations on humanity.
Did you know that the Transatlantic Slave Trade continued illegally well into the 19th century? This man, "Cudjo," lived through the Middle Passage, U.S. slavery, AND abolition. He gave the only known account of all three major chapters of U.S. chattel slavery, and he gave this account to none other than the acclaimed author Zora Neale Hurston.
This incredible story finally became available to the public in 2018. It showcases Hurston's skills not only as a writer, but as a patient listener and journalist as she treads carefully to build rapport with Cudjo and treats him with the utmost respect.
Cudjo not only has a harrowing life story, but he is an incredibly sweet and tender individual. I will always remember him.
Decolonizing Methodologies offers a look into the whiteness of academia and research as a facet of imperialism that has harmed indigenous communities around the world. Knowledge has been shaped by Western frameworks and has led to ideas about what knowledge is considered legitimate and universal. This book advocates for indigenous-led research agendas that give "non-traditional" research methodologies a chance to be utilized in spaces where they have traditionally been considered incorrect.
A must-read for anyone in academia.
This is the true story of a family of twelve children, six of whom had scizophrenia. This book is incredibly well-written, perfectly paced to keep you on your toes. You don't need to be interested in psychology or medicine to read this book, for it is a thoroughly engrossing tale, albiet a dark one. Kolker has exceptional journalism skills!
In The Color of Law, Richard Rothstein illuminates the myriad ways in which housing segregation has come about. Long thought to be a de facto phenomenon, black and white people in the United States have rather been geographically partitioned by the ways of the government and private corporations. Sundown towns, redlining, restrictive covenants, fear mongering, conniving real estate agents, and more have contributed to the still-present segregation we see in neighborhoods and cities today.
A must-read for understanding how intergenerational wealth and housing patterns are structural, not due to individual choices.
The New Jim Crow is an essential read for understanding the racial caste system that is the United States, especially in how capitalism drives this phenomenon. In this well-researched book, Alexander shows us how we as a nation have redesigned Jim Crow to fit the colorblind demands of the modern age. This system takes the form of mass incarceration, where millions of people enter into the penal system, are labled felons, and are then legally discriminated against in areas such as voting, housing, jobs, and more, ensuring a feedback loop of poverty.
The New Jim Crow is not only a highly informative book, but it is well-written, digestible, and overall easy-to-read. Get it now!
Poor white republicans often vote against their own interest. Why? Jonathan Metzl explains in this illuminating book.
Three major political beliefs structure this book: gun rights, health care, and tax distribution for education. Metzl shows how poor, white republicans' voting in these areas often result in their own suffering. These beliefs that inform their voting are shaped by a strong legacy of toxic masculinity and racism in the U.S. South. But where would this racial resentment be without the manipulative efforts of wealthy, white, republican politicians? For it is these powerful politicians and their financial connections that are ultimately keeping this racial resentment alive and flourishing.
Told through interviews, historical reflections, and well-informed research, Metzl gives an eye-opening account of how the powerful keep the weak at each other's throats.