It’s not exactly correct to say that I “love” this topic. It’s really more accurate to say that I feel compelled to look my own country, culture and systems directly in the eye, and acknowledge where they (we) fall short. And they (we) fall short. A lot.
One of the ways that I do this is through non-fiction. Earlier this year I posted about three books that fit into this general topic, which you can find here (the books are Glass Houses by Brian Alexander, Poverty, by America by Matthew Desmond & The People Are Going to Rise Like the Waters upon Your Shore by Jared Yates Sexton). I’m not going to revisit them here, except to say that they were all worth reading, but Poverty, by America was the stand-out that I think everyone should read.
I’ve picked eight other books to highlight here, as well:
- Race in America, I think that Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration is absolutely indispensable. It’s long, but it’s also incredibly readable, heartbreaking and unforgettable.
- Housing unaffordability and the housing crisis, Nomadland by Jessica Bruder and Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond both address the issue, although from different perspectives.
- America’s overdose crisis: I haven’t read Dopesick by Beth Macy, although I intend to, but I have read both Dreamland: the True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic and The Least of Us: True Tales of America and Hope in the Time of Fentanyl and Meth by Sam Quinones and thought both were worth reading.
- Politics and democracy: The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America by George Packer, and, as a bonus, The View from Flyover Country: Essays by Sarah Kendzior
- Income Inequality: Squeezed by Alissa Quart
In addition, my TBR on these topics is quite long – here are a few recent additions. These are books that I haven’t read, so I can’t really recommend them. If you have read them, let me know your thoughts!
- Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism by Anne Case & Angus Deaton
- Bootstrapped: Liberating Ourselves from the American Dream by Alissa Quart
- How the Other Half Eats: The Untold Story of Food and Inequality in America by Priya Fielding-Singh
- Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health by Marion Nestle
- America, the Farewell Tour by Chris Hedges
- American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers and the Making of America by Jon Meacham