Author Topic: Proposed MMM Book Club, focused on moving forward post-election  (Read 2217 times)

lhamo

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Proposed MMM Book Club, focused on moving forward post-election
« on: November 10, 2016, 12:59:10 PM »
I know many of us are feeling like we want to do something to make a difference in this post-election environment. Including developing a better understanding of what would lead people to vote the way they did.

I'd like to propose we start an MMM book club to focus on the social issues around inequality and civic engagement in the US (and in the world, but I think given what has happened many of us US folks will want to start here).

My suggestion for the first book:  Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. 

Here is the link on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Hillbilly-Elegy-Memoir-Family-Culture/dp/0062300547

And a the summary from the back cover, also on Amazon:

"From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class through the author’s own story of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town.

Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of poor, white Americans. The disintegration of this group, a process that has been slowly occurring now for over forty years, has been reported with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. In HillbillyElegy, J.D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hanging around your neck.

The Vance family story began with hope in postwar America. J.D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually one of their grandchildren would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that J.D.’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, never fully escaping the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. With piercing honesty, Vance shows how he himself still carries around the demons of his chaotic family history.

A deeply moving memoir, with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country."

My hope is that by starting with a book like this we can "seek first to understand, then to be understood."  Vance comes from the community he writes about, but has entered the privileged elite.  His story/perspective may provide a useful, empathetic, but not uncritical angle from which to understand what is happening in our country.

Let me know if you'd like to join me in reading/discussing this book over the next few weeks.  I'm also open to other suggestions, but this is the one I am most keen to read.  So much so that I am going to print out my 15% off coupon and run over to B&N to buy it today.



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tonysemail

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Re: Proposed MMM Book Club, focused on moving forward post-election
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2016, 01:25:50 PM »
i tried reserving this in my library.
20 out of 20 holds.
Wow, this book is very popular all of a sudden!

lhamo

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Re: Proposed MMM Book Club, focused on moving forward post-election
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2016, 01:33:59 PM »
It has been on the NYT best seller list for awhile.  But, yeah -- I think a lot of people are going to be requesting it now.

I don't typically buy books anymore, especially hardbacks, but in this case I'm making an exception.  I have a gift card that will cover it.  It is a couple of dollars more than the kindle version, but this is one I want to have a physical copy of.
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Hadilly

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Re: Proposed MMM Book Club, focused on moving forward post-election
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2016, 02:51:42 PM »
I just checked it out. I'd love to read and discuss.

Also, what about The Gilded Rage: A Wild Ride through Donald Trump's America by Alexander Zaitchik?  Heard him talk on NPR, it sounded interesting.

iris lily

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Re: Proposed MMM Book Club, focused on moving forward post-election
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2016, 08:50:45 PM »
This book has its own thread elsewhere. I bought it too,  even though I buy bery few books. I  didnt want to wait dor a library copy. iread it once and was skimming it again last weekend.

Vance's discussion of his life in the Marines, and what it did for him, was interesting. I know that the armed services has the reputation of making boys grow into man,  but I didnt realize the level of personal care they give to their men. Vance talks about going to buy a car, and his commamdong officer sent and older, wiser Marine  with him to make sure he bought a practical car, didnt exceed his budget, and got reasonable finance deal. That Marine showed Vance how to shop around for interest rates and Vance had no idea they varied.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2016, 08:54:24 PM by iris lily »

FIFoFum

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Re: Proposed MMM Book Club, focused on moving forward post-election
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2016, 09:43:19 PM »
I'm interested!

But I would need to borrow the book from someone with a copy or who has it snagged from library (I put in hold request but there are a lot of those).
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Freshwater

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Re: Proposed MMM Book Club, focused on moving forward post-election
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2016, 05:18:46 AM »
I didn't think my local library network in 'Straya would carry the Hillbilly book but it has 2 copies! However, they are both out on loan.

Here's an interesting read for later: The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Society Stronger by Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett (UK academics).

It was written just after the 2008 recession, came out about 2010.  It has a global view and a solid base of facts and figures and some nice graphs. The US pops up a lot as out of all developed economies it unfortunately doesn't rank well on equality. The book contains a section on building for the future which might provide some ideas and hope and also a rebuttal section countering political objections to the original work.

NewMustachian

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Re: Proposed MMM Book Club, focused on moving forward post-election
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2016, 05:51:26 AM »
I'm interested as well (in the book club and this book in particular) - just put my name down on the holds list at the library.  I also liked the Trump book suggestion. 

gatortator

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Re: Proposed MMM Book Club, focused on moving forward post-election
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2016, 04:24:47 PM »
i am interested though I am now #98 on the holds list at my library (23copies)

my library also suggested." White Trash" as something which might interest me.

https://www.amazon.com/White-Trash-400-Year-History-America/dp/0670785970/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1478992452&sr=1-1&keywords=white+trash

it does.  I am now #5 on that hold list.

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Moonwaves

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Re: Proposed MMM Book Club, focused on moving forward post-election
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2016, 07:26:18 AM »
Just read an article that has a good few book recommendations in it that might be interesting for this thread.
What So Many People Don’t Get About the U.S. Working Class - the article itself is an interesting read, perhaps especially for those who, like me, aren't from the US.

pachnik

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Re: Proposed MMM Book Club, focused on moving forward post-election
« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2016, 07:41:38 AM »
I put a hold on Hillbilly Elegy at my local library about a month ago when the first thread popped up.  After checking online yesterday, I am now 17th in line.  However, if I read it right, the library has 15 copies of the book. 

Freshwater

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Re: Proposed MMM Book Club, focused on moving forward post-election
« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2016, 03:19:47 PM »
Just read an article that has a good few book recommendations in it that might be interesting for this thread.
What So Many People Don’t Get About the U.S. Working Class - the article itself is an interesting read, perhaps especially for those who, like me, aren't from the US.

I did find it interesting, thanks. I also watched the movie Trumbo last night about the Hollywood blacklist, which gave me another piece of the puzzle in trying to understand the US.

vern

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Re: Proposed MMM Book Club, focused on moving forward post-election
« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2016, 10:59:56 AM »
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Re: Proposed MMM Book Club, focused on moving forward post-election
« Reply #14 on: November 19, 2016, 02:49:33 AM »
Relevant to this thread:
25 Works of Poetry and Fiction for Anger and Action: A Reading List for Resistance

This article seems like it was tailor made for this thread; it could basically be the syllabus for this proposed book club.  :P
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Re: Proposed MMM Book Club, focused on moving forward post-election
« Reply #15 on: November 19, 2016, 08:16:29 AM »
Just read an article that has a good few book recommendations in it that might be interesting for this thread.
What So Many People Don’t Get About the U.S. Working Class - the article itself is an interesting read, perhaps especially for those who, like me, aren't from the US.

This article was interesting - it has offered insights into some of the older generation of person I have had discussions with. Thank you for sharing.
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deborah

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Re: Proposed MMM Book Club, focused on moving forward post-election
« Reply #16 on: November 22, 2016, 01:00:02 AM »
Perhaps we could comment on Hillbilly Elegy in a couple of months, when everyone has a chance to get it from their library (I'm 35th in the queue). Is there something a bit less popular at the moment that someone can suggest as a first read? For instance "The Grapes of Wrath" should be readily available, although it's set in the 1930s, not in current times.

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Re: Proposed MMM Book Club, focused on moving forward post-election
« Reply #17 on: November 23, 2016, 07:50:14 AM »
Perhaps we could comment on Hillbilly Elegy in a couple of months, when everyone has a chance to get it from their library (I'm 35th in the queue). Is there something a bit less popular at the moment that someone can suggest as a first read? For instance "The Grapes of Wrath" should be readily available, although it's set in the 1930s, not in current times.
their poverty series
Have you already worked your way through this? Lots of mentions on the other threads.
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tonysemail

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Re: Proposed MMM Book Club, focused on moving forward post-election
« Reply #18 on: January 27, 2017, 05:18:02 PM »
I finally got Hillbilly Elegy from the library and read it.
It was a good read which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Parts of it made a lot of sense and made me reflect on my own family dynamic.
My main thought was that it's really unfair to judge those who have no money.
Poverty is corrosive and I feel that it can permanently alter someone's personality.


their poverty series
Have you already worked your way through this? Lots of mentions on the other threads.

thanks for sharing this.  I'm currently making my way through this and it's very well done.
The story of Benjamin and Jane Franklin is great.
I like how there's this whole other side to the story of rags to riches and one that we're rarely told.

Metric Mouse

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Re: Proposed MMM Book Club, focused on moving forward post-election
« Reply #19 on: January 27, 2017, 08:39:21 PM »

their poverty series
Have you already worked your way through this? Lots of mentions on the other threads.

thanks for sharing this.  I'm currently making my way through this and it's very well done.
The story of Benjamin and Jane Franklin is great.
I like how there's this whole other side to the story of rags to riches and one that we're rarely told.

Yes, definitely worth sharing and working one's way through.
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Libertea

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Re: Proposed MMM Book Club, focused on moving forward post-election
« Reply #20 on: January 29, 2017, 08:58:35 AM »
I just finished reading the book at the recommendation of several people from this site, including on this thread.  I'm not sure it really gives much insight into the election per se, but it was a good read. 

I would like to propose something coming from the opposite side, a book that offers a reason for hope and optimism: The Moral Arc, by Michael Shermer.  It's his book detailing how human morality has improved over the last couple of millenniums, from society finding it acceptable to oppress women, own slaves, and kill people of other races/religions, to our (admittedly still not perfect) modern society where none of these things is any longer considered acceptable.  It's long and a bit dense, but worth the effort.

arebelspy

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Re: Proposed MMM Book Club, focused on moving forward post-election
« Reply #21 on: January 29, 2017, 02:42:04 PM »
I would like to propose something coming from the opposite side, a book that offers a reason for hope and optimism: The Moral Arc, by Michael Shermer.  It's his book detailing how human morality has improved over the last couple of millenniums, from society finding it acceptable to oppress women, own slaves, and kill people of other races/religions, to our (admittedly still not perfect) modern society where none of these things is any longer considered acceptable.  It's long and a bit dense, but worth the effort.

I really like the quote that the title of the book is named after, MLK Jr.'s "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."

To that point, though, I've also disliked how it encourages a sort of apathy--things are getting better, so why do I need to do anything?  It'll inevitably bend towards justice. That was the part I didn't care for about the quote.

Thus why I really liked this sign from the recent marches:
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Metric Mouse

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Re: Proposed MMM Book Club, focused on moving forward post-election
« Reply #22 on: January 29, 2017, 08:20:06 PM »
I just finished reading the book at the recommendation of several people from this site, including on this thread.  I'm not sure it really gives much insight into the election per se, but it was a good read. 

I would like to propose something coming from the opposite side, a book that offers a reason for hope and optimism: The Moral Arc, by Michael Shermer.  It's his book detailing how human morality has improved over the last couple of millenniums, from society finding it acceptable to oppress women, own slaves, and kill people of other races/religions, to our (admittedly still not perfect) modern society where none of these things is any longer considered acceptable.  It's long and a bit dense, but worth the effort.

I'll have to add that to my reading list. Great find!
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Mezzie

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Re: Proposed MMM Book Club, focused on moving forward post-election
« Reply #23 on: January 30, 2017, 01:01:12 AM »
I'm #7 at my library; shouldn't be too long a wait.
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deborah

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Re: Proposed MMM Book Club, focused on moving forward post-election
« Reply #24 on: January 30, 2017, 01:51:11 AM »
I'm now #20 - so 15 further up the queue in 1.5 months = another 2 months to go. I actually am amazed at how fast the queue goes down - but our library system only gives people books for 2 weeks if it is in high demand (4 weeks normally), and it does get extra copies. I'm in 2 minds about this. A lot of the books recommended here are US books, rather than Australian ones, and I'd actually prefer that the library gets fewer of the US books, because they aren't necessarily suitable for Australian conditions.

Dee18

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Re: Proposed MMM Book Club, focused on moving forward post-election
« Reply #25 on: January 30, 2017, 06:02:16 AM »
I'll propose another book: The Wisdom of Sustainability by Sulak Sivaraksa.  My daughter had to read it for a college class and shared it with me.  Just 100 pages long, it made me realize that I never really examined the model of "economic growth"  that I learned growing up in the US.

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Re: Proposed MMM Book Club, focused on moving forward post-election
« Reply #26 on: January 30, 2017, 06:29:50 AM »
I am currently on chapter five of Hillbilly Elegy, after waiting three months on the hold list. It is good! I haven't completely understood the why people feel that in brings a lot of insight as to what happened in the election. It does however highlight the lack of hope that is so pervasive in the rust belt. And it reminds me what my mom always told me "you can't start on third base and brag that you hit a home run when so many people can't even get up to bat".

Another book I read this year after a suggestion on another thread here was Evicted:Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond. It really highlights the income divide and how hard it is for those in poverty to improve their lives.