By October 21, 2008 0 Comments Read More →

A Partisan Book Group

Four years ago, when Bush won reelection, I was crushed; I was an emotional zombie for weeks. A friend of mine who was similarly effected decided to start a book group so that progressives could get together and emotionally and intellectually cope with four more years of the Bush administration. The object of the group was also to help us think of ways we could learn about politics, big and local, and how we could turn our rage and confusion into positive change and engagement.

We started by discussing George Lakoff’s Don’t Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate. It was a good place to start, as it helped us reflect on the rhetoric used in contemporary politics, and it provided some background on the idealogical underpinnings of both the Democratic and Republican parties.

From there we went on to Paul Rogat Loeb’s book of essays, The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen’s Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear

Then Cornell West’s Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism. I enjoyed West’s book a lot, as it incorporated the ideals and writings of Herman Melville and Ralph Waldo Emerson, among others, into a discussion of the corrosive politics of 21st century America. West calls for  “Socratic questioning,” “prophetic witness” to the justice and love that are absent in political discourse, and offers a “tragicomic hope” for our future.

We also pledged to read chapters of Howard Zinn’s The People’s History of the United States every month.

Additionally, we did personal reading and shared it with the group. I read Paul Wellstone’s book, The Conscience of a Liberal: Reclaiming the Compassionate AgendaWhile I found his death in 2002 so upsetting, I found that reading about his life was inspiring. Wellstone was a maverick in the true sense of the word.

The book group created a space for all of us to discuss, vent, explore and learn. It was the right book group at the right time. It didn’t last but a year, and I was, I must admit, a fairweather member. But I was thankful for having that resource. My apologies to any readers out there who may not share this feeling with me, but I dearly hope that progressives have no need for a book group of this kind come November.

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About the Author:

Misha Stone is a readers' advisory librarian with The Seattle Public Library. Follow her on Twitter at @ahsimlibrarian.

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