I Want YOU: Election Year 2020Literatur & Poesi
On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons From the 20th Century by Timothy Synder This compact 80-page book could be started and finished on any afternoon car ride, (or an hour or two on your couch). The author gives us a look back through the mistakes of capitalism’s most cataclysmic human errors of the 20th century, and how the masses blindly followed leaders into mass terror. As we look towards the 2020 Presidential election, he gives us a primer on how to be aware of certain signs in our society that might lead to such events once again. Synder compares events from WWI and WWII to similar events that took place in President Donald Trump’s campaign in the 2016 election. Over the last several months, as the pandemic has raged on, if ever there were a time when such a warning might be sounding its bell to the American people, I believe this to be it.
Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenrich In this extensively researched account of living in three different cities while working for minimum wage, the author details her multiple jobs as she tries to survive for one month in each city. Ehrenrich can empathize deeply with blue collar workers after her stint as a waitress and hotel maid in Florida; a house cleaner and dietary aide in Maine; and a Wal-Mart associate in Minnesota. She begins to understand how impossible it is live in such dire straits, and to try to find housing in cities like Minneapolis, where the poor and the working class have been squeezed out by condos and luxury apartments, and are left to live in motels, their cars, in tents, and in homeless shelters. Though Nickel and Dimed is 19 years old, it is still relevant—because frankly, nothing has changed.
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead Winnerof the Pulitzer Prize in fiction, Whitehead brilliantly reimagines the underground railroad as we all know it to be. In doing his research, the author read many of the first-hand accounts of slavery collected by the Federal Writers’ Project in the 1930s, when the last survivors were still alive. Using those stories as a springboard for inspiration, he has allowed those people to live through his other characters. This is a book that will live on for generations, gaining strength each time it sees the light.
Evicted, by Matthew Desmond Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction, this magnificent book shows how prose and policy writing can work together when done well. Desmond combines data and the personal stories of a few of the hundreds who are evicted every month in Milwaukee to create a complete and accurate portrait of what life is like for people constantly standing at the edge of a precipice, the large majority of whom are single, black mothers. As someone who has been on the edge of homelessness herself, and is lucky enough to live in public housing, I believe this is a must-read book about the poor, what is wrong with housing in the United States, and how it might be fixed.
Janesville by Amy Goldstein An extensively researched book on the closing of the General Motors plant in Janesville, WI and how it affects the people who worked there, their families, city leaders, and the residents themselves.Goldstein follows three families who worked there, as well as a small cast of business and city leaders for five years after the plant closes on Christmas Eve, 2008.No one looks out for this town of 65,000 but the people who live here, and readers will discover how extraordinary human beings can be, in the face of dire change.The books is incredibly readable, dynamic, and opens up a discussion about what communities need to be willing to provide to its citizens in times of drastic need.