It is a somewhat shattering moment when we realize that our lives are made up of the particulars of what we do every day.
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I initially intended to write a somewhat light-hearted, if still seriously intended, Taster Flight of short ebooks to read to shore you up to resist the harmful actions of the new administration in the White House. But then, those actions got even more ominous. Friday's executive order on immigration was useless in increasing our safety, needlessly cruel in its extent, and sloppy in its implementation. News that White House political strategist is going to be on the National Security Council is simply breathtaking. It is unprecedented, and for good reason. Decisions on national security should not be made for political reasons. The fact that Stephen Bannon, the particular strategist in question, is a white nationalist just makes the decision even more galling, and frankly, terrifying.
So I can't muster the light-hearted tone I intended. Still, I have some reading recommendations for you, if you're interested.
If you read only one book on this list, make it An Etiquette Guide to the End Times. It is a fun book to read, and we could all use some fun right now. But it is also a really good book to read to think about what individual people can do when everything falls apart, and you find yourself in a world with different rules than before. This book is set in a time after global warming has destabilized and changed governments. The protagonist is just an ordinary person, trying to get by. But then she is faced with a difficult decision about just what she'll do to continue getting by. I recommend this book right now for its reminder that even if we cannot change the course of events, we can control how we respond to them and how we treat people caught up in them.
To think more about what you'll do in the face of this unfolding crisis, consider reading The Rescuer, by Dara Horn. It is the story of Varian Fry, who risked his life to rescue European intellectuals from the Nazis, and also a meditation on what makes people step up to help in times like that.
I have seen a lot of my fellow white people saying how unprecedented this all is. In one sense, they are right. This President seems unusually, perhaps even uniquely, uninterested in actually making America a better place. However, in another, important sense, they are dead wrong. America has always been capable of immense cruelty to segments of its citizenry. To remind yourself of that, consider reading Kai Ashante Wilson's beautifully written but hauntingly heart-breaking story, The Devil in America.
Among other things happening right now, there is also news that the new administration supports both the Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL pipeline. If you haven't thought much about the issues surrounding pipeline projects, I recommend Tony Schwartz' Boom. Schwartz drove the length of the Keystone XL route, meeting people and asking them about their views on the pipeline. It is a really informative book, and I recommend even if you already have a strong opinion about these projects.
There are no doubt more books in my archives that I could recommend, but those four are a good start. And also don't forget to just read for fun, too. We are in for a long, hard fight, and it is going to get even scarier than it already is. It is good to have a book to escape into from time to time. So in a couple of weeks, I'll put up a list of some of my favorite books for fun escapism. Stay tuned!