Lockdown has given me a lot of time to do all sorts of nonsense, from making pasta, playing way too much Red Dead Redemption 2 and reading… yes, reading! That age-old thing that our grandparents enjoy. Reading has been something that has helped ease anxieties and worries during the lockdown, I’m a big fan of non-fiction so being able to escape into a topic that I love or am interested in has been a real treat. And, as a content executive, I’ve kinda gotta keep reading to ensure I stay sharp. So in my blog today I thought I’d share with you some of the books that I have particularly enjoyed these last 4 months, days, years who knows?! Time is just a flat circle at this point.
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
After the murder of George Floyd at the hands of two white cops, there was rightful anger, exhaustion and outrage from the Black community across the globe. This civil unrest, which is still happening, forced white people to accept and examine their privilege no matter how up on racial injustice issues they think are. I myself took time to reflect on my whiteness and the inherent privilege that comes with that and saw a lot of people sharing this book so thought I would give it a go myself. In very simplistic, brutal ways DiAngelo shows all the ways in which white people become so automatically defensive when the subject of race is brought up. The book is so comprehensive in its examples, it surpasses class, education levels or income and shows that all white people become prickly when being told they have privilege. It wasn’t a happy read but it’s not meant to be, it’s brutally honest and at times painful to read. I learnt a lot from it and I think the white people reading this will do too.
The World As It Is by Ben Rhodes
As former Deputy National Security Advisor during the Obama Presidency, Ben Rhodes has quite a lot to say about his time working for #44. In his book, he charts his history working with Obama from foreign trips abroad to one particularly fascinating story about the secret meetings Rhodes and his team held with the Cuban government in Canada. Meetings which resulted in a cooling of tensions between the countries and a visit by the President himself. One anecdote that stuck out for me was that minutes before Obama was due to give a speech in Berlin in front of the Victory Column, Rhodes was told by the translator that ‘Eine Schicksalsgemeinschaft’ (a phrase Obama was going to use in the speech) was the title of one of Hitler’s first speeches… close shave right? It’s an incredibly detailed, at times policy heavy book that is forensic in its reexamination of the foreign policy undertaken by the Obama government. Rhodes is openly critical about aspects that he found frustrating too which is refreshing. Be sure to check out if American Foreign Policy is ya thing.
Jog On by Bella Mackie
As well as reading I’ve recently dusted off my running shoes and enjoyed hitting the pavements now and again – it’s great for my mental health and has been nice to push my body. Now, I find people who talk about physical fitness quite nauseating but the great thing about Bella Mackie is that she isn’t a ‘runner’ she is just someone who runs and enjoys the benefits that come with it. In her book, she documents, with brutal honesty, how the unexpected breakdown of her first marriage led her into a depression and anxiety spiral from which she never thought she’d return. Then, she started running. At first, it was down an alleyway by her house (which by all accounts nearly killed her) but as time went on, her mile count went up along with her confidence. It’s a really inspiring, honest and relatable book about a normal person finding solace in running. If the idea of running makes you want to vom, this is the book for you.
Utopia For Realists by Rutger Bregman
Historian and all-round cool Dutch dude Rutger Bregman details in this book several different policies that could be implemented so that people could enjoy what would be considered a Utopian society. Bregman breaks down the idea of Utopia in a way that makes it seem incredibly feasible. From Universal Basic Income (where we do away with the benefit system and instead give every single person over 18 a set amount of money each month, around £1200-£1400, regardless of current wealth status) to a reduced working week Bregman goes through each one with a fine-tooth comb and a sarcastic wit which makes this an easy to read book. If you’re bored of current politics and want something that looks into the beyond where Brexit, Trump and COVID are all just distant memories then this book is certainly worth checking out.