2023 Holiday Picks - Society / Culture / Politics


Society, Culture, Politics

Black AF History: The Un-Whitewashed Story of America by Michael Harriot. Columnist and political commentator Harriot offers a searing and often hilarious retelling of American history that corrects the record and showcases the perspectives and experiences of Black Americans. Combining storytelling with meticulous research, Harriot removes the white sugarcoating from the American story, placing Black people squarely at the center. With incisive wit, he speaks hilarious truth to oppressive power, subverting conventional historical narratives with little-known stories about the experiences of Black Americans.

Democracy Awakening by Heather Cox Richardson. One of our most consequential political commentators begins her new book with a clear, on-the-money premise — over the decades, a small group of wealthy people have weaponized language and promoted false history in order to create a disaffected population, then promised to recreate an imagined past where those people could feel important again. She examines this authoritarian threat to democracy with a historian’s keen eye and offers a compelling alternate roadmap forward. 

Going Infinite by Michael Lewis. This is an extraordinary account of Sam Bankman-Fried, the brash young founder of the cryptocurrency company FTX whose fraud trial has just ended. Lewis, author of The Big Short, Moneyball, and The Premonition, among others, met Bankman-Fried in 2021 and managed to gain fly-on-the-wall access to his subject for the next two years. The result is an unprecedented insider look at a high flying business maverick - and con man found guilty - who’s gone from billionaire to bankruptcy in less than a year. 

How to Know a Person: The Art of Seeing Others Deeply and Being Deeply Seen by David Brooks. The longtime New York Times columnist and PBS political commentator offers a guide to the art of truly knowing another person in order to foster deeper connections at home, at work, and throughout our lives. He draws from myriad sources to present a hopeful and integrated approach to human connection. In doing so, he seeks to help readers become more understanding and considerate toward others. It's fair to note that Brooks approaches his subject from the prism of privilege and educational opportunities, but his concerns and goals are heartfelt. In the polarized environment we currently are living through, we’ll take it. 

Prequel: An American Fight Against Fascism  by Rachel Maddow. Political commentator Maddow shines a harsh light on a clandestine network that flooded our country during WWII with disinformation aimed at undermining our war effort and persuading Americans that our natural alliance was with the Axis, not against it. This was a sophisticated and well-funded campaign to undermine democratic institutions, promote antisemitism, and destroy citizens' confidence in their elected leaders, with the ultimate goal of installing authoritarian rule. When the goings-on were exposed, the involved power brokers fought law enforcement efforts, and Maddow underscores how the the results of those intimidation tactics inform modern-day political playbooks. 

50 Years of Ms.: The Best of the Pathfinding Magazine That Ignited a Revolution edited by Katherine Spillar. This splendid celebration of the groundbreaking and influential magazine offers up the best of 50 years of writings, photography, magazine covers, and more. The book's content is divided into decades, and the magazine's activism and influence is reflected throughout. While the book is a salute to past accomplishments and changes wrought by the feminist movement, it also serves as an important cautionary tale at a time when renewed assaults on equality and womens' rights are rampant. A great gift for a new generation.