Political

Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the  Decline of Civic Life book cover

Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life

Eric Klinenberg

OverDrive eBook
Political, History

“A comprehensive, entertaining, and compelling argument for how rebuilding social infrastructure can help heal divisions in our society and move us forward.”—Jon Stewart NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR • “Engaging.”—Mayor Pete Buttigieg, The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice) We are living in a time of deep divisions. Americans are sorting themselves along racial, religious, and cultural lines, leading to a level of polarization that the country hasn’t seen since the Civil War. Pundits and politicians are calling for us to come together and find common purpose. But how, exactly, can this be done? In Palaces for the People, Eric Klinenberg suggests a way forward. He believes that the future of democratic societies rests not simply on shared values but on shared spaces: the libraries, childcare centers, churches, and parks where crucial connections are formed. Interweaving his own research with examples from around the globe, Klinenberg shows how “social infrastructure” is helping to solve some of our most pressing societal challenges. Richly reported and ultimately uplifting, Palaces for the People offers a blueprint for bridging our seemingly unbridgeable divides. LONGLISTED FOR THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE IN NONFICTION “Just brilliant!”—Roman Mars, 99% Invisible “The aim of this sweeping work is to popularize the notion of ‘social infrastructure'—the ‘physical places and organizations that shape the way people interact'. . . . Here, drawing on research in urban planning, behavioral economics, and environmental psychology, as well as on his own fieldwork from around the world, [Eric Klinenberg] posits that a community’s resilience correlates strongly with the robustness of its social infrastructure. The numerous case studies add up to a plea for more investment in the spaces and institutions (parks, libraries, childcare centers) that foster mutual support in civic life.”—The New Yorker “Palaces for the People—the title is taken from the Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie’s description of the hundreds of libraries he funded—is essentially a calm, lucid exposition of a centuries-old idea, which is really a furious call to action.”—New Statesman “Clear-eyed . . . fascinating.”—Psychology Today

Mykle's picture

A great look at how social spaces, ie Libraries ;) are the cure to our division. This is also available on e-audio, or as a book club kit! -Mykle

Chaos machine : the inside story of how social media rewired our minds and our world. book cover

Chaos machine : the inside story of how social media rewired our minds and our world.

Fisher, Max

302.231/Fisher (NEW)
Political, Technology, Health

New York Times reporter Fisher debuts with a scathing account of the manifold ills wrought by social media. He explores toxic misogyny, recounting the unsavory particulars of "GamerGate," in which a woman video game developer was subjected to "collective harassment" after false allegations that she slept with a journalist in exchange for a positive review of her game. Other examples of the dark side of social media include anti-Muslim hate speech in Myanmar proliferating on Facebook, the spread of anti-vaccine rhetoric during the pandemic, and efforts by Russia to interfere with U.S. elections. Fisher also breaks down the tactics used by social media companies to get users to spend more time online, among them notifications that are meant to set off feel-good dopamine releases in the brain, a tactic similar to the "intermittent variable reinforcement" used by casinos. There's no shortage of books lamenting the evils of social media, but what's impressive here is how Fisher brings it all together: the breadth of information, covering everything from the intricacies of engagement-boosting algorithms to theories of sentimentalism, makes this a one-stop shop. It's a well-researched, damning picture of just what happens online. Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly.

Candice's picture

All the awful stuff online, all of its awful effects, all in one non-awful book. -Candice

All ages welcome : recruiting and retaining younger generations for library boards, friends groups, and foundations book cover

All ages welcome : recruiting and retaining younger generations for library boards, friends groups, and foundations

Lina Bertinelli

021.82 /Bertinelli
Business, Political, Nonfiction

"With hands-on worksheets, brainstorming activities, checklists, and more, this planner provides practical tools for libraries to grow and strengthen their recruitment, retention, and training of trustees, Friends, and foundation members"--

Mykle's picture

Boomers have experience but Millenials and Gen Z have vested interest and they should be allowed/encouraged to create the future they'll have to live in. This book is good advise for seeking out younger board members but I think it can also serve as a call to younger adults that they're valued and desired. -Mykle

Plunder : a memoir of family property and Nazi treasure book cover

Plunder : a memoir of family property and Nazi treasure

Menachem Kaiser

940.5318 /Kaiser
Nonfiction, Literary Nonfiction, History, Religion, Political

When Kaiser takes up his Holocaust-survivor grandfather's former battle to reclaim the family's apartment building in Sosnowiec, Poland, he finds himself on a circuitous path to encounters with the long-time residents of the building, and with a Polish lawyer known as "The Killer." A surprise discovery-- that his grandfather's cousin not only survived the war, but wrote a secret memoir while a slave laborer in a vast, secret Nazi tunnel complex-- leads to Kaiser being adopted as a virtual celebrity by a band of Silesian treasure seekers who revere the memoir as the indispensable guidebook to Nazi plunder. Here Kaiser questions: What does it mean to seize your own legacy? Can reclaimed property repair rifts among the living? -- adapted from jacket

Candice's picture

First, this book is beautifully written. Menachem Kaiser's grasp of language to tell a story, illustrate situations, and convey thoughts and emotions is so fluid and engaging. Second, this book is important in many ways, but also very interesting--a real nonfiction win-win. It's a slightly winding story, starting out with particular goals and desired outcomes, but as so often happens when researching and interacting history, the modern world and reality intervene, and make things a lot harder to get hold of and follow. Menachem goes where the story leads him, and the results are so strange, interesting, and profound that you couldn't have imagined some of it. This story is also full of love and learning and respect--for self, for others, for history, and for the stories that survive. -Candice

Last best hope : America in crisis and renewal book cover

Last best hope : America in crisis and renewal

George Packer

973.933 /Packer
Political, Nonfiction

2020: A ruthless pandemic, an inept and malign government response, polarizing protests, and an election marred by conspiracy theories left many citizens in despair about their country and its democratic experiment. Packer explores four narratives that now dominate American life: Free America, which imagines a nation of separate individuals and serves the interests of corporations and the wealthy; Smart America, the world view of Silicon Valley and the professional elite; Real America, the white Christian nationalism of the heartland; and Just America, which sees citizens as members of identity groups that inflict or suffer oppression. He shows that none of these narratives can sustain a democracy: we must look for a common American identity and find it in the passion for equality that Americans of diverse persuasions have held for centuries. -- adapted from jacket

Anne M's picture

If you are looking to understand the different narratives that currently make up American discourse, George Packer's "Last Best Hope" is a good primer. Although Packer boils things down to four different groups, generalizing many things, his overall point is that current divisions will not sustain our country and discusses ways to find a way forward. A short, compelling read. -Anne M

High conflict : why we get trapped and how we get out book cover

High conflict : why we get trapped and how we get out

Amanda Ripley

303.6 /Ripley
Nonfiction, Political

High conflict is what happens when discord distills into a good-versus-evil kind of feud, the kind with an us and a them. The normal rules of engagement no longer apply: we feel increasingly certain of our own superiority and, at the same time, more and more mystified by the other side. Ripley investigates how good people get captured by high conflict-- and how they break free. She interviews people who were drawn into high conflict, and shows how they found ways to rehumanize and recategorize their opponents, even as they continued to fight for what they knew was right. -- adapted from jacket

Melody's picture

I reserved this book based on a review I read in the New York Times. It promised to be a highly readable breakdown of the driving forces behind serious conflicts--how well-meaning people get into them and how they can get out. I am learning so much from this book. I may have picked it up while thinking of the politically charged times we live in, but it has shined the light on conflict-inducing traps I didn't even know had snared me. For people who want to be freed of these snares, this book is a must-read. -Melody

We do this 'til we free us : abolitionist organizing and transforming justice book cover

We do this 'til we free us : abolitionist organizing and transforming justice

Mariame Kaba

303.372 /Kaba
Black Lives Matter, Political

"What if social transformation and liberation isn't about waiting for someone else to come along and save us? What if ordinary people have the power to collectively free ourselves? In this timely collection of essays and interviews, Mariame Kaba reflects on the deep work of abolition and transformative political struggle."--Page 4 of cover.

Victoria's picture

Seasoned activist, abolitionist, community organizer and Founder/Director of Project NIA (an organization that works to end the incarceration of children and young adults by promoting restorative and transformative justice practices,) Mariame Kaba's latest book is a collection of essays that have been described as a "pragmatic playbook" that reimagines institutionalized systems and how ordinary people can collectively implement change. In her essays she describes what it means to defund and abolish the police and how we as communities can contribute to making our spaces more equitable through strategic, collective action. In the beginning of her book she cites a quote from her father: "Everything worthwhile is done with other people". Everything she has done in her work has amplified this sentiment and I think is a truly beautiful mantra. Well worth reading! -Victoria

Tom Waits book cover

Tom Waits

Matt Mahurin

779.2 /Mahurin
Political, Black Lives Matter, Black History, Gardening

"A collection of portraits of musician Tom Waits, the result of a 30-year collaboration with photographer and illustrator Matt Mahurin This book is a testament to the unique collaboration, going back three decades, between the photographer and illustrator Matt Mahurin and the musician Tom Waits. Having shot magazine portraits, album covers, and music videos of Waits, Mahurin was inspired to resurrect 100 dormant film negatives as a jumping off point to explore his own surreal, poetic, and occasionƯally dark vision. The images vary from traditional porƯtraits to ones that capture Waits in concert--but the majority are imagined scenes in which Waits is more muse than musician. In addition to the diverse images, the book includes a foreword by Waits, an essay by Mahurin on their longtime collaboration, and 20 original paintings, drawings, photographs, and digital images inspired by Waits's song titles."--Publisher's website.

Victoria's picture

This is a riveting read; with essays that document black legacies to American land linking past, present African American stewards and hopes for the future -Victoria

Sisters in hate : American women on the front lines of white nationalism book cover

Sisters in hate : American women on the front lines of white nationalism

Seyward Darby

322.42 /Darby
Political

"After the election of Donald J. Trump, journalist Seyward Darby went looking for the women of the so-called "alt-right" -- really just white nationalism with a new label. The mainstream media depicted the alt-right as a bastion of angry white men, but was it? As women headlined resistance to the Trump administration's bigotry and sexism, most notably at the Women's Marches, Darby wanted to know why others were joining a movement espousing racism and anti-feminism. Who were these women, and what did their activism reveal about America's past, present, and future? Darby researched dozens of women across the country before settling on three -- Corinna Olsen, Ayla Stewart, and Lana Lokteff. Each was born in 1979, and became a white nationalist in the post-9/11 era. Their respective stories of radicalization upend much of what we assume about women, politics, and political extremism. Corinna, a professional embalmer who was once a body builder, found community in white nationalism before it was the alt-right, while she was grieving the death of her brother and the end of her marriage. For Corinna, hate was more than just personal animus -- it could also bring people together. Eventually, she decided to leave the movement and served as an informant for the FBI. Ayla, a devoutly Christian mother of six, underwent a personal transformation from self-professed feminist to far-right online personality. Her identification with the burgeoning "tradwife" movement reveals how white nationalism traffics in society's preferred, retrograde ways of seeing women. Lana, who runs a right-wing media company with her husband, enjoys greater fame and notoriety than many of her sisters in hate. Her work disseminating and monetizing far-right dogma is a testament to the power of disinformation. With acute psychological insight and eye-opening reporting, Darby steps inside the contemporary hate movement and draws connections to precursors like the Ku Klux Klan. Far more than mere helpmeets, women like Corinna, Ayla, and Lana have been sustaining features of white nationalism. Sisters in Hate shows how the work women do to normalize and propagate racist extremism has consequences well beyond the hate movement."--Amazon.

Amanda's picture

This book shows how easily a person can be seduced by racism and white nationalism, how innocuous it can seem, and how deep a person can get into it. One of the main women featured is no longer a participant in the culture, and has found a different way to belong, and I really wish the best for her. This was a fascinating and engaging read, and I highly recommend it. -Amanda

Drawing the vote : an illustrated guide to voting in America book cover

Drawing the vote : an illustrated guide to voting in America

Tommy Jenkins

324.62 /Jenkins
Graphic Novels, Political, History

"Coinciding with the 2020 US presidential election, Drawing the Vote, an original graphic novel, looks at the history of voting rights in the United States, and how it has affected the way we vote today. Author Tommy Jenkins traces this history from the earliest steps toward democracy during the American Revolution, to the upheaval caused by the Civil War, the fight for women's suffrage, the Civil Rights movement, the election of an African American president, and the control by a Republican majority. Along the way, Jenkins identifies events and trends that led to the unprecedented results of the 2016 presidential election that left Americans wondering, "how did this happen?" To balance these complex ideas and statistics, Kati Lacker's clean artistic style makes the book both beautiful and accessible. At a time when many citizens are experiencing apathy about voting and skepticism concerning our bitterly divided political parties, Drawing the Vote seeks to offer some explanation for how we got here and how every American can take action to make their vote count"--

Anne M's picture

After seeing the students in his college classes become cynical about voting, Tommy Jenkins wanted to show the hard fight in expanding voting rights in our country. This fun, accessible history comic is the result. But the fight isn't over. Jenkins explains new methods, as well as the tried-and-true restrictions, cropping up to limit who can vote and when. -Anne M