The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life

Individualism, taken too far, leads to tribalism. Hannah Arendt noticed the phenomenon decades ago (in The Origins of Totalitarianism). When she looked into the lives of people who had become political fanatics, she found two things: loneliness and spiritual emptiness…They revert to tribe. Tribalism seems like a way to restore the bonds of community. It certainly does bind people together. But it is actually the dark twin of community. Community is connection based on mutual affection. Tribalism…is connection based on mutual hatred. Community is based on common humanity; tribalism on a common foe…Tribalism is community for lonely narcissists.

        from The Second Mountain

Publisher: Random House


Founding Partisans: Hamilton, Madison, Jefferson, Adams and the Brawling Birth of American Politics

H.W. Brands

What Washington deemed an awful crisis, Alexander Hamilton accounted an opportunity. Some of the difference was temperamental. Washington preferred calm, while Hamilton thrived on uproar, to the extent of creating his own when circumstances didn’t provide enough. But some reflected the different arcs of their careers. Washington expected that his days of great accomplishment were over; he currently enjoyed all the esteem his ego desired. Hamilton’s career had hardly started, his egotism was far from sated, and every crack in the status quo afforded an avenue he might exploit to advance himself.

            from Founding Partisans

Sun House

David James Duncan
Little, Brown & Company

The summer before his graduate program started, Dave landed a decent-paying job at a Portland, Oregon, branch of the Pioneer Trail Bank chain. And there, at a college pal’s wedding, he met the sexy, hard-partying Irish American Moira O’Reilly. A loyal product of parochial schools, Moira was thrilled by the long-haired liberal priests of the era who held that while birth control is a mortal sin, the “rhythm method” was not a sin if confession absolved the rhythmic sinners.

                       from Sun House

Poverty, By America

Matthew Desmond
Crown/Random House

This is who we are: the richest country on earth, with more poverty than any other advanced democracy. If America’s poor founded a country, that country would have a bigger population than Australia or Venezuela. Almost one in nine Americans—including one in eight children—live in poverty…Our gross domestic product is larger than the combined economies of Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, India, France and Italy. America’s poverty is not for lack of resources. We lack something else.

from Poverty, By America

The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder

David Grann

“Nothing was more frequent than to bury eight or ten men from each ship every morning,” Millecamp wrote in his journal. Altogether, nearly 300 of the Centurion’s some 500 men were eventually listed as “DD”—Discharged Dead. Of the roughly 400 people on the Gloucester who had departed from England, three quarters were reported to have been buried at sea…Byron tried to offer his deceased companions a proper sea burial, but there were so many corpses, and so few hands to assist, that the bodies often had to be heaved overboard unceremoniously.

from The Wager

Empire of Trees: America's Planned City and the Last Frontier

Hal Calbom
Columbia River Reader Press

Signs of trouble appeared well before the stock market crash in October, 1929. Two years earlier a sharp drop in construction nationwide had rocked the lumber industry. Unsold inventory crowded the docks […] Most people clung to the single-minded belief that—despite resolutely insisting it was no mere Company Town—in the end the Company could and would support them. It was a dangerous co-dependence. Besides acting as employer and financier, the company was expected to be chief educator, city manager, church and community organizer, all-purpose supplier and savior. Until it wasn’t.

fromEmpire of Trees

Demon Copperhead

Barbara Kingsolver
Harper Collins Books

“Poor Demon,” she said quietly. “Can’t they find anybody to adopt you?”

She’d only ever called me Damon before, like Mrs. Peggott and Aunt June, to show she was taking their side. I didn’t want to be poor anybody. But I felt like kissing Emily. Or throwing up, from how mixed up I was. Possibly both. You’d want to do it in the right order, though.

         from Demon Copperhead

The House in the Cerulean Sea

T. J. Klune
Tor Books/Tom Doherty Associates

“Why are (the townspeople) like this?”

“I don’t pretend to know the minds of men,” she said, hands tightening on the steering wheel as a woman on the sidewalk appeared to shield her chubby, squawking children away from the car. “They fear what they don’t understand. And that fear turns to hate for reasons I’m sure even they can’t begin to comprehend. And since they don’t understand the children, since they fear them, they hate them. This can’t be the first time you’ve heard of this.”

from The House in the Cerulean Sea

Everything That Rises: A Climate Change Memoir

Brianna Craft
Lawrence Hill Books

The people I worked for had polluted the least, suffered the most, and lacked the resources to deal with the consequences of the crisis. The forty-eight Least Developed Countries had contributed less than 1 percent to the world’s cumulative greenhouse gas emissions. Less than 1 percent. On average, the billion people living in these countries emitted 0.3 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. The average American, meanwhile, emitted 16 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. So those who polluted the most suffered the least and used their resources to keep the worst impacts at bay. Climate change was such an unjust mess.

             from Everything That Rises

Gender Queer/Beyond Magenta

Gender Queer: A Memoir
Maia Kobabe, Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out
Susan Kuklin, Candlewick Press

When the doctors confirmed that I was intersex, I thought, Wow, I’m that whole other gender! It proved what I had been feeling all along. I was not only emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually both sexes; I was physically both sexes too. This is who I am. My mom was still in denial. She kept asking why I didn’t have a boyfriend.

             from Beyond Magenta