Positive Channeling

It’s been awhile since my last post and I apologize. Beside the craziness of work, photography, pets and general home demands, the insanity of our country has been weighing on me quite a bit lately. But I’ve decided I’d like to channel that in a positive way through the blog, among other places.

Reading and researching to educate myself has shaped my belief system into what it is today. There were times when my viewpoints on topics like abortion, immigration, the death penalty and safety net policies were vastly different. There were times when I didn’t feel as strongly about some of the issues as I do today. Arming myself with facts has changed the way I look at the world and my fellow humans in it; I believe for the better. So today I’m offering up a list of books that I think are great in our current political climate. I have fiction titles (with thought-provoking themes, and don’t forget reading fiction helps foster empathy), but this is mostly a non-fiction list divided into several different categories.

I hope you find this to be a helpful resource either for yourself or to pass along to others who might benefit from it. I will continue to add to it as I read and find others worth sharing. I’m linking to my review (if I covered it), the Goodreads page if you’d like to add it to your lists and where you can buy it if you’re so inclined. But your local library or bookstore can probably help you out as well.

2016 Election

Beyond the Messy TruthMy first category is simply books about the 2016 election. It stunned so many and there are a slew of books hitting the shelves now. These are ones I read that left me with great insights as to how we got to this point. All the Truth is Out isn’t about this election, but I do believe it was a turning point that ultimately brought us to where we are today. It’s definitely worth a read. 

  • Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus by Matt Taibbi (review | buy | Goodreads
  • Fever Swamp: A Journey Through the Strange Neverland of the 2016 Presidential Race by Richard North Patterson (review | buy | Goodreads)
  • All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid by Matt Bai (review | buy | Goodreads)
  • Beyond the Messy Truth: How We Came Apart, How We Come Together by Van Jones (no review | buy | Goodreads)

Income Inequality

The American Way of PovertyThe growing divide between the haves and the have nots is really integrated into all of the issues but these books look specifically at those who are struggling each day just to have enough to eat and a safe place to live. Of all the things happening in this country, this is what we should be most embarrassed about. These books face down the myths and stereotypes; it’s easy to pass judgment from ivory towers, it’s much more difficult to understand the realities. They are incredibly eye-opening:

  • The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives by Sasha Abramsky (review | buy | Goodreads)
  • Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado (review | buy | Goodreads)
  • Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few by Robert Reich (review | buy | Goodreads)
  • Seven Bad Ideas: How Mainstream Economists Have Damaged American and the World by Jeff Madrick (review | buy | Goodreads)
  • The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper and Fairer Healthcare by T.R. Reid (no review | buy | Goodreads)


Balls: It Takes Some to Get SomeThis category is going to include books I’d recommend on gender, race, sexual orientation, any kind of diversity. If you can take anything away from the books below, I hope it’s a greater sense of empathy. I know I did. The list could be twice as long, but here are some of my favorites:

  • Balls: It Takes Some to Get Some by Chris Edwards (review | buy | Goodreads)
  • The Perils of “Privilege”: Why Injustice Can’t Be Solved by Accusing Others of Advantage by Phoebe Maltz Bovy (review | buy | Goodreads
  • Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson (review | buy | Goodreads)
  • The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya (review | buy | Goodreads)
  • The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell by W. Kamau Bell (review | buy | Goodreads)
  • Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West (review | buy | Goodreads)
  • Project Fatherhood: A Story of Courage and Healing in One of America’s Toughest Communities by Jorja Leap (review | buy | Goodreads)
  • Suspicion Nation: The Inside Story of the Trayvon Martin Injustice and Why We Continue to Repeat It by Lisa Bloom (review | buy | Goodreads)
  • We’re Going to Need More Wine: Stories That are Funny, Complicated and True by Gabrielle Union (no review | buy | Goodreads)
  • Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss and the Fight for Trans Equality by Sarah McBride (review | buy | Goodreads
  • Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (no review | buy | Goodreads)
  • White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo (review | buy | Goodreads)
  • Maeve in America: Essays by a Girl from Somewhere Else by Maeve Higgins (review coming | buy | Goodreads)

General Issues

Lies, Inc.These books cover multiple issues well. All are alarming, but also hopeful. We can improve our country, but not in the way we are currently moving. The more people are educated on the facts (not alternate facts) the stronger we are and the more possible change becomes. I recommend all of these:

  • Losing Our Way: An Intimate Portrait of a Troubled America by Bob Herbert (review | buy | Goodreads)
  • Lies, Incorporated: The World of Post-Truth Politics by Ari Rabin-Havt, Media Matters for America (review | buy | Goodreads)
  • The Fix: How Nations Survive and Thrive in a World in Decline by Jonathan Tepperman (review | buy | Goodreads)
  • Moranifesto by Caitlin Moran (review | buy | Goodreads)
  • A Force for Good: The Dalai Lama’s Vision for Our World by Daniel Goleman (review | buy | Goodreads)
  • Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies by Chris Kluwe (review | buy | Goodreads


Another Day in the Death of AmericaMost people who know me, know what a hot-button topic this is. The extent of mis-information, misleading information and downright lies that propel the NRA and its supporters is abysmal. Ignoring or denying global trends and evidence is simply burying one’s head in the sand. And as a result, the number of needless deaths due to murder, suicide and accidents in this country remain unacceptable. We should be arming ourselves with the truth, not tools designed specifically and only for killing. The following share overwhelming information about guns and their realities, but you’ll also find content about guns in several of the titles in the General Issues category. Sadly this issue permeates so much of our society. 

  • Bullets Into Bells ed. by Brian Clements, Alexandra Teague, Dean Rader (review | buy | Goodreads)
  • Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives by Gary Younge (review | buy | Goodreads)
  • The Way of the Gun: A Bloody Journey in the World of Firearms by Iain Overton (review | buy | Goodreads
  • Do Guns Make Us Free? by Firmin DeBrabander (review | buy | Goodreads)

Criminal Justice Reform

Incarceration NationsSadly, there are so many problems with our system that’s supposed to provide justice to its citizens. Without question there is institutional racism and our penal system, which is supposed to rehabilitate criminals, is laughable. It’s only created a revolving door. Recidivism rates are out of control, and even when we say a person has served their time–they’re fit to re-enter society–we throw up every roadblock imaginable to allow them to do so. In addition, we seem to have lost track of the idea that if you treat people like animals, they will behave as such. Why is anyone surprised when that’s exactly what happens? Finally, the fact that we have an overwhelming need for the Innocence Project should scare us all. The following list offers some evidence of our broken system, and it also offers solutions if we’re open to learning: 

  • Ghost of the Innocent Man: A True Story of Trial and Redemption by Benjamin Rachlin (review | buy | Goodreads)
  • A Stone of Hope by Jim St. Germain (review | buy | Goodreads)
  • Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America by James Forman, Jr.  (review | buy | Goodreads)
  • Incarceration Nations: A Journey to Justice in Prisons Around the World by Baz Dreisinger (review | buy | Goodreads)
  • Wanted: A Spiritual Pursuit Through Jail, Among Outlaws, and Across Borders by Chris Hoke (review | buy | Goodreads)
  • Injustices: The Supreme Court’s History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted by Ian Millhiser (review | buy | Goodreads)
  • The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist: A True Story of Injustice in the American South by Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington (review coming | buy | Goodreads)
  • The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton and Lara Love Hardin (no review | buy | Goodreads)
  • A Little Piece of Light: A Memoir of Hope, Prison and a Life Unbound by Donna Hylton and Kristine Gasbarre (review | buy | Goodreads)


Stay tuned for updates!

One comment

  1. Sheryl Jeffries says:

    Thank you for posting this thought-provoking message. I’m a crime/mystery reader buff, but I also read a lot of nonfiction books that deal with social issues. I have read a few that you have listed above. I also read “It’s not a Crime to be Poor”, “Privatizing Prisons” and “I Can’t Breath” about the gentleman who was murdered by a plainclothes officer who illegally used the chokehold on him and left him to die on the sidewalk a few years back in Long Island. I’m listening to a podcast right now about women janitors who are being raped on the night shift who are afraid to come forward because they are poor and afraid to lose their jobs! It’s awful, the “Me Too” movement seems to focus on Hollywood and other women who hold high profile jobs that have buffers, they are getting harassed these poor women janitors are getting raped and treated like trash. I wish I had more time to get the authors names for the books I listed but I’m off to the grocery store. I was just checking my e-mail before I left the house and I saw your blog and I wanted to thank you for posting it. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one who is feeling so uneasy about what’s going on in our country, it’s up to us citizens to help those who have not voice.

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