To enliven our community discussion, let’s share the books we are currently reading. If you would like to add your current reading choices to this page, email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Abra Mims: I just finished reading Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land. It’s the memoir of a single mother who recounts her experiences trying to survive and raise her daughter on a housecleaner’s salary and with the assistance of government aid. It’s quite eye-opening and really challenges a lot of the stereotypes we hold about the poor. It feels like a potentially important piece as we continue to talk about economic equity.
Abra Mims also recommends Thick by Tressie McMillan Cottom: This is a collection of essays covering things like body image, navigating all-white spaces, and systemic racism. It’s at times quite humorous and very thought-provoking. It’s not a read-once-and-never-pick-it-up-again kind of book – there’s a lot to digest.
Abra Mims recommends Heavy by Kiese Laymon: It is a memoir, written as a letter to his mother. The prose is exquisite and the storytelling profound. It’s a very touching, albeit sad, account of some of the ways racism, poverty, and abuse can shape a life.
Another suggestion from Kathy Bermingham: The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco Cantú. This is the story of a border control agent who becomes disillusioned with the job and the system. This is not a political book at all. It gives us some insight into what happens at the border day-to-day. He is a compassionate man in a non-compassionate job.
From Kathy Bermingham: The Trials of Nina McCall: Sex, Surveillance, and the Decades Long Government Plan to Imprison “Promiscuous” Women by Scott Stern. The subtitle tells it all. This is the story of “The American Plan” developed during WW1 to contain the spread of venereal disease among the troops. This evolved pretty quickly into a wide-spread practice with local so-called health officials randomly plucking any woman off the streets that “appeared” promiscuous or was rumored to be. These women were forced to submit to gynecological exams and could be locked up without even a court hearing. This went on for decades and in some parts of the country, these regulations lasted into the 1960s. In this book we see misogyny at its core with government and police forces totally male-dominated. We see how fear drives racism and bigotry. And we see how war provides cover for all sorts of behavior perpetrated by those in power.
Abbi Holt is reading Plautus’s Mercator to improve her Latin. Abbi teaches Latin at the Ottoson Middle school and she is trying to get through all Plautus’ plays this year.
“Mercator, or The Merchant, is a Latin comedic play for the early Roman theatre by Titus Maccius Plautus. It is based on the Greek play Emporos by the Greek comedy playwright Philemon. It is believed to be among Plautus’s first plays, possibly written around 206 BC.” (Wikipedia)
Courtney Jones is a big fan of Brené Brown.
Watch her TED talk on vulnerability that went viral.
When we deny our stories, they define us.
When we own our stories, we get to write the ending.
Social scientist Brené Brown has ignited a global conversation on courage, vulnerability, shame, and worthiness. Her pioneering work uncovered a profound truth: Vulnerability—the willingness to show up and be seen with no guarantee of outcome—is the only path to more love, belonging, creativity, and joy. (Random House Books)
Sifting through centuries of mythmaking, Reza Aslan sheds new light on one of history’s most influential and enigmatic characters by examining Jesus through the lens of the tumultuous era in which he lived: first-century Palestine, an age awash in apocalyptic fervor. (Random House Books)
Are you in a mixed religion relationship?
Susan Katz Miller grew up with a Jewish father and Christian mother, and was raised Jewish. Now in an interfaith marriage herself, she is one of the growing number of Americans who are boldly electing to raise children with both faiths, rather than in one religion or the other (or without religion). In Being Both, Miller draws on original surveys and interviews with parents, students, teachers, and clergy, as well as on her own journey, to chronicle this controversial grassroots movement. (Amazon)
Laura Ruth has read this book by Marcus Borg.
By presenting the New Testament books in the order they were written, bestselling Bible scholar Marcus Borg reveals how spiritually and politically radical the early Jesus movement began and how it slowly became domesticated. (Amazon)
Laura Ruth has also read: Race and Epistemologies of Ignorance, ed. Shannon Sullivan and Nancy Tuana
Offering a wide variety of philosophical approaches to the neglected philosophical problem of ignorance, this groundbreaking collection builds on Charles Mills’s claim that racism involves an inverted epistemology, an epistemology of ignorance. Contributors explore how different forms of ignorance linked to race are produced and sustained and what role they play in promoting racism and white privilege. (Amazon)
Here’s another Laura Ruth pick:
According to Hebrews, the Son of God appeared to “break the power of him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” What does it mean to be enslaved, all our lives, to the fear of death? And why is this fear described as “the power of the devil”? And most importantly, how are we-as individuals and as faith communities-to be set free from this slavery to death? In another creative interdisciplinary fusion, Richard Beck blends Eastern Orthodox perspectives, biblical text, existential psychology, and contemporary theology to describe our slavery to the fear of death, a slavery rooted in the basic anxieties of self-preservation and the neurotic anxieties at the root of our self-esteem. (Amazon)
Both Laura Ruth and Ben Perkins have read this instant classic.
Written as a series of letters to his teenaged son, his new memoir, Between the World and Me, walks us through the course of his life, from the tough neighborhoods of Baltimore in his youth, to Howard University—which Coates dubs “The Mecca” for its revelatory community of black students and teachers—to the broader Meccas of New York and Paris. Coates describes his observations and the evolution of his thinking on race, from Malcolm X to his conclusion that race itself is a fabrication, elemental to the concept of American (white) exceptionalism. Ferguson, Trayvon Martin, and South Carolina are not bumps on the road of progress and harmony, but the results of a systemized, ubiquitous threat to “black bodies” in the form of slavery, police brutality, and mass incarceration. Coates is direct and, as usual, uncommonly insightful and original. There are no wasted words. This is a powerful and exceptional book. (Jon Foro for Amazon Best Book of July 2015)