It’s election season again…get out your tums, aspirin, and a bottle of your favorite flavored brandy – your election survival kit, as we like to call it here at Sacred Chickens. The other thing we do here to keep calm and decide how to vote is read. No surprise.
Here’s a list of some of the books we find intriguing. Some of these books bring insight to current events, some we ingested long ago, and they have become part of our internal political microbiome. All of them illuminate some aspect of political life we think you’ll find helpful or at least interesting. What books are you going to read this election season?
Julie - I’ve read quite a few books over the last decade or so that have influenced my thought processes on politics. A couple that I read nearly ten years ago stuck with me and I still refer to them. Even though these books are not new releases, they still resonate. In fact, in a way, I think they’re even more interesting now than they were then because they provide some insight into the underpinnings of our current political landscape. I don’t mind skipping around in time a little. (On my current reading list I have a couple books, one much older, Chaos and Community, by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and one extremely current, Why We’re Polarized, by Ezra Klein.) But the time period represented by the two books I’ve chosen is one in which I was changing, and these books gave me a lot of insight into the systems that molded me.
The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
2010 (new edition released in 2020)
Written by a civil rights attorney and legal scholar, the book explores the racist underpinnings of the American justice system with fact after fact, statistic after statistic. Her clear, rational prose leaves no room for escape. The system is broken, broken on purpose, and it damages us all. This book makes a compelling case for change based on a heart-rending exploration of the past and present foundations of incarceration in this country. Whatever you think you know about the justice system, you will be surprised at what Alexander turns up in this thoughtful and harrowing book.
By Bill Sheffield
Review by Roy Peak
Bill Sheffield is a guitarist, slide player, and vocalist from Atlanta, Georgia who doesn't just dabble in the blues, he lives it. From his days of fronting the Eastside Blues Band and opening up for blues greats such as Big Mama Thornton, John Lee Hooker, and T-Bone Walker, to his stint singing with Roy Buchanan, to his solo performances reinterpreting classic blues by the likes of Charley Patton, Mississippi Fred McDowell, and Blind Willie McTell, Sheffield has most definitely learned and owned his craft.
by Jarad Johnson
This is based on a paper that I wrote about book Zoo City by Lauren Beukes. As it happens, I have already reviewed this book for Sacred Chickens. You can read the review here.
You may have noticed that sometimes we get a little sidetracked when we review books. Occasionally, this is for political reasons, sometimes we find a thread back to something else we’ve read. However, if you read through all of our posts, the most likely reason is that we got sidetracked by gardens, herbs, and/or witches. Recently, we discussed the use of plants and witchcraft in Horticulture and Witchcraft: Women and the Power of the Earth (which you can read here) an addendum to our review of the book The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane (check that out here!) The book’s narrative was shaped by the lore of the female healer and all of the baggage that comes with it. But European and by extension American culture is not alone in ascribing medicinal and magical power to plants. One of the other books we’ve previously reviewed, Zoo City, by Lauren Beukes, is set in an entirely different cultural context, and the traditions it references shape the narrative in a different way.