Vital Books for Polarized Times

Today I’d like to share three books I’ve recently ordered for our library collections which feel like they have something very important to say about living in modern times. These authors have taken up their pens to encourage all of us to approach the world with more open minds and an understanding that people are varied, complex, and not ours to change.

See No Stranger: a Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love by Valarie Kaur

Valarie Kaur is a renowned Sikh activist and in this book, she argues that Revolutionary Love is the call of our times. When we practice love in the face of fear or rage, it has the ability to transform an encounter, a relationship, a community, a culture, even a country. Drawing from her personal experiences, Sikh wisdom, and the work of civil rights leaders of all kinds, Kaur has reenvisioned love as a public ethic: a commitment to loving others, opponents, and ourselves. She argues that this type of love is not a passing feeling; it is an act of will. It is an active, political, and moral response to violence, hate, and otherness.

Conversations With People Who Hate Me: 12 Things I Learned From Talking to Internet Strangers by Dylan Marron

Dylan Marron’s work has racked up millions of views and worldwide support. From his acclaimed Every Single Word video series highlighting the lack of diversity in Hollywood to his web series Sitting in Bathrooms with Trans People, Marron has explored some of today’s biggest social issues. Yet, according to some strangers on the internet, Marron is a “moron,” a “beta male,” and a “talentless hack.” Rather than running from this online vitriol, Marron began a social experiment in which he invited his detractors to chat with him on the phone–and those conversations revealed surprising and fascinating insights. Now, Marron retraces his journey through a project that connects adversarial strangers in a time of unprecedented division. 

The Believer: Encounters with The Beginning, The End, and Our Place in the Middle by Sarah Krasnostein

Some of the people Krasnostein interviews believe in things many people do not: ghosts, UFOs, the literal creation of the universe in six days. Some believe in things most people would like to: dying with dignity and autonomy; facing up to our transgressions with truthfulness; living with integrity and compassion. By turns devastating and uplifting, and captured in snapshot-vivid detail, these six profiles of a death doula, a geologist who believes the world is six thousand years old, a lecturer in neurobiology who spends his weekends ghost hunting, the fiancée of a disappeared pilot and UFO enthusiasts, a woman incarcerated for killing her husband after suffering years of domestic violence, and Mennonite families in New York will leave you convinced that the most ordinary-seeming people are often the most remarkable and that deep and abiding commonalities can be found within the greatest differences.

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