As I alluded to a few posts ago, I’m aiming to educate myself this summer on a lot of issues, particularly issues of social justice and privilege. With some help, especially that of Rachel, I’ve come up with the following rough list, affectionately dubbed the “Just How Fucked Are We?” reading list. It’s in no particular order, and I may be adding to it or deviating from it as the summer goes on, but these are the books I’m diving into this summer. Since I’m still slowly working through this reading list, most of my synopses are based on publishers’ summaries or the reviews of people who’ve read them.
I link to Powell’s because it’s my favorite local independent bookstore, but, of course, you can check them out from your library or buy them at your personally preferred bookstore.
- You Are Not a Gadget, by Jaron Lanier: A philosophical manifesto examining the growing role of internet technology in our daily lives, and how it’s changing our understanding of humanity and personhood.
- The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, by Naomi Klein: An in-depth examination of the “shock doctrine” used to push neoliberal economic policies across the world, wherein governments seize the opportunity created by crisis in order to implement policies that would otherwise face stiff resistance.
- Yes Means Yes!: Visions of a Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape, by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti: An anthology from various authors on dismantling rape culture and educating people to value and embrace female sexuality.
- Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser: In what I’ve heard described as a modern-day take on Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, Schlosser investigates the many tendrils of the fast food industry in our society–not only the disgusting truths of fast food production, but also the cultural impacts of fast food, the industry’s exploitation of minorities, and much more.
- Reefer Madness, by Eric Schlosser: An investigation of America’s underground economy, particularly focusing on marijuana, porn, and undocumented immigrants.
- Broke, USA, by Gary Rivlin: A look into the recent development of the “poverty industry” in the last five years, an industry making big bucks on the backs of the working poor.
- Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich: A classic piece of ethnographic literature. In the late 90’s, Ehrenreich attempted to see what life was actually like in the trenches of working poverty by experiencing it herself, moving from job to job, state to state, trying to keep herself fed and sheltered on near-minimum wage levels–and found that the”minimum” wage is hardly sufficient.
- The Working Poor: Invisible in America, by David K. Shipler: A study of the invisible poor, courageous and working hard yet trapped in a web of problems.
- Murder City: Ciudad Juárez and the Global Economy’s New Killing Fields, by Charles Bowden: A “devastating chronicle of a city in collapse” composed of individual stories of those living in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, a hotspot for drug-related violence.
Also not on the”Just How Fucked Are We” list:
- In Praise of Shadows, by Junichir? Tanizaki: A classic essay on the Japanese aesthetic.
- Reality is Broken, by Jane McGonigal: A look into real-world applications of positive psychology, seen through the lens of an award-winning game designer.
- Sex at Dawn, by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá: A journey through human history, evolution, and psychology to suggest that sexual monogamy is not the default for human behavior that we all think it is.
These are the thousands of pages I’m going to try to put into my brain this summer. Wish me luck!