Book Club for the New Administration – September 2017
Folks… folks. It’s been a hard month for humanity here in the US. First the man-made disaster that was Charlottesville, and now the natural disaster of Hurricane Harvey and his aftermath. I confess I was at a loss for a book to address Charlottesville. Many came to mind but no single book on it’s own felt like it could do the job. I had intended to take to Twitter and ask everyone to consider a book response. But before I could, the storm came. And if you know me, or the story behind my book Orleans, you might be able to guess where my mind has been lately.
August was all about Horton and making sure we speak up, that our voices are heard:
Horton Hears a Who! would have been a good Charlottesville response in that demands we all respond. And so many people have. And I hope they continue to do so. I try to respond every day with my actions, with my words, with my writing. But don’t we all feel tiny and insufficient sometimes? I certainly do. (But I’m trying, Horton, I’m trying to be heard.)
And then 50″ of rain fell on Texas– apparently, nothing knocks Nazis out of the news cycle like Mother Nature. And the thousands upon thousands of people in need, displaced and harmed by this disaster also deserve a response. So I hope you will give where you can. The Red Cross is a good place to start. Here’s a list of other ways you can help. And remember this is a long term ordeal, so whether you can give now or later, or have to wait for your holiday bonus (should you be so lucky!), the people of Texas and Louisiana (they’re taking on water, too!) will still be in need.
If you’ve been watching the news (obsessively, like I have), you’ve heard the stories of heroism that fortunately always seem to crop up in the face of disaster. This made me think of a book I first learned about at the California Book Awards back in 2009. It was the nonfiction winner that year, and I think it’s a great choice for this month’s read.
The Book Club for the New Administration Selection for September is:
Synopsis: The most startling thing about disasters, according to award-winning author Rebecca Solnit, is not merely that so many people rise to the occasion, but that they do so with joy. That joy reveals an ordinarily unmet yearning for community, purposefulness, and meaningful work that disaster often provides. A Paradise Built in Hell is an investigation of the moments of altruism, resourcefulness, and generosity that arise amid disaster’s grief and disruption and considers their implications for everyday life. It points to a new vision of what society could become-one that is less authoritarian and fearful, more collaborative and local.
This month, let’s throw some love toward Texas. Consider buying your copy from Brazos Bookstore— a Houston bookstore that turned the lights back on and opened it’s doors as soon as the storm blew over. It might take them a few days to get copies in hand, but what’s a few days’ wait in the scheme of things?
Let’s gain some hope this month, some inspiration in the face of all we must rebuild– homes, families, cities, this nation. Be good to each other, folks. And be good to yourself, too. Remember, if you have suggestions for the coming months, please send them my way. Email me via this site, or tweet me @Sherri_L_Smith #bookclub4newadmin.