If you’re not diving into the ocean at the beach this season, crack open those books and dive into summer reading! Sometimes you just need a break from the awfulness that has inundated the news and our social feeds. So. Fiction? Nonfiction? What’s your pleasure? We asked our staff members what they’re reading and what they’d recommend. You’ll thank us later.
12 posts from July 2018
By Sharon Leslie Morgan | Debates are erupting across America over statues, flags, markers, symbols, buildings, and street names that honor people, landscapes, and events of historic import. Often, the person or event being commemorated is offensive. Especially repugnant are those that celebrate “heroes” who committed extreme acts of inhumanity. Some demand that these icons be removed. Others demonstrate a willingness to fight for their retention. Which ones should stay? Which ones should go? Is there a middle ground? Who decides?
In a world polluted by plastics that humankind just won’t quit, Starbucks plans on phasing out plastic straws in its 28,000 stores by 2020. Many applaud the company’s decision to do its part in reducing marine plastic pollution, even though the caffeine watering hole will be replacing the straws with sippy cup-like lids made from—you guessed it!—plastic. So how much of a dent will this make in the grand scheme of protecting our environment? We have less than two years to see the results. And what about those of the disability community who depend on straws? Did Starbucks think their decision through? We reached out to some of our authors to get a broader sense of the impact this will have on several fronts: environmental activism, consumer activism, and disability rights.
By Dolly Withrow | Long before time jerked me toward middle age with such haste it snatched my breath away, I looked forward to balmy evenings on our front porch. Sitting on weathered benches, my family and I faced the dirt road running past our house. Beyond the road where the heavens met a faraway hill, the setting sun fired the western sky with red and gold, intermingled with a veil of lavender-gray. We humans don’t get all bright days; we must take the gray, too, and we did.
A Q&A with Alan Michael Collinge | First: Let's look at the facts. TruTV rose to cable prominence airing shows including: America’s Dumbest. This is a series which features videos of people doing very stupid things. This has expanded to include World’s Dumbest and also Dumbest Criminals. These shows all ridicule, humiliate, and degrade their subjects.
By Richard Hoffman | Friends ask me, “How was your trip to Prague?” and I tell them that Prague is as beautiful as everyone says. I’m thinking, as I say this, that sometimes, in a world with Instagram, Pinterest, Wikimedia, it becomes harder to experience a place, to have an unmediated encounter with it. I had been worried about that. In the weeks preceding the trip, I avoided the travel books my wife brought home from the library, resisted the temptation to let Rick Steves, via YouTube, walk me through the cobbled squares under towers and domes and historic statuary, and deliberately zoned out when friends who had been there enthused about it. I need not have worried. Prague “in person” is so richly layered and textured, no camera or travelogue could possibly have spoiled it for me.
By Steve Early | Since the election of Donald Trump and inauguration day protests against him across the country in January, 2017, some women involved in that nationwide movement have decided to run for office themselves. At the local, state, and federal level, first-time female candidates are challenging both conservative Republicans and corporate-backed Democrats. One of the most widely-noted examples of this electoral wave was last month’s New York City primary contest between a long-time Congressional incumbent and twenty-eight-year old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
We have a New York Times best seller! Hailed by Michael Eric Dyson as “a vital, necessary, and beautiful book,” Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism ranked number 8 on their list of bestselling Paperback Nonfiction within its first week of going on sale!
It begins the same way all these stories do: I’ve loved books all my life. I started working in a bookstore in college (shout out to Left Bank Books in St. Louis!), and there I realized that as long as I could make some kind of living working with books, that’s what I wanted to do. I wound up working there for almost seven years in all before moving to Boston. Once here, I very fortuitously got a job at Harvard Book Store, but was ready to shift to the other side of the bookish curtain when a sales position opened up at Beacon. The skills and knowledge I’d picked up through years of bookselling lined up with what I needed to know here, and it’ll be five years this summer since I started, though I’ve hopped over to our production team since then.
A Q&A with Margaret Regan | On a blazing 99-degree day, I visited the US Port of Entry at Nogales, the border town sixty miles south of my Tucson home. On the Mexican side, I saw something I’d never before seen on the border: a refugee camp. I counted forty-eight people living outdoors on a tile floor, mercifully protected from the sun by an overhanging roof. Half of these asylum seekers were mothers or fathers, the other half were kids: babies, young children, teenagers.
By William Ayers | The US Supreme Court ruled earlier this week in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and found in favor of Mark Janus, a child support specialist with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, who chose not to join the union, but was required under Illinois law to pay what are called “fair share” fees to AFSCME as the collective bargaining agent for all state workers. Janus argued that even though he was covered by the collective bargaining agreement, it was a violation of his First Amendment rights to force him to support the union. AFSCME con-tended that requiring workers who choose not to join the union to pay a smaller portion, or a “fair share,” is reasonable since they, along with their dues-paying colleagues, benefit concretely from collective bargaining. Without agency fees, those who don’t pay anything at all are essentially “free riders”—or “takers” to borrow a term-of-art from the conservative playbook—benefiting from the work of others, but neither participating nor contributing.
By Linda K. Wertheimer | How can we agree to disagree? How can we get Americans of different views, religions, races, and backgrounds in the same room and debate the issues of our times? Right now, accomplishing such a lofty goal seems elusive. Still, at a recent conference, there were glimmers of hope.