It’s embarrassing that it’s taken me this long to write about Future Perfect, which I read almost as soon as it arrived in the mail in September. It was also a book that I seemed to read exactly the right time, a book that articulated a new-to-me political philosophy at a moment when the limits of a two party political system were starting to wear me down. Future Perfect is an exploration of a political worldview that is deeply optimistic that progress is still possible and that new solutions will emerge as we all learn to work better together.
Before I went outside to unearth my car from the frigid drifts, I got to spend the morning reading a book. I’ve gotten in a nasty habit of starting my day out with television instead of reading, which has been good for keeping up on my shows, but not so good for my reading life (or, frankly, my mental health — reading helps keep me sane). It was nice to spend a few hours with a cup of tea, a big fuzzy blanket, and a fun book — Taft 2012 by Jason Heller.
For many people — artists and art consumers alike — the measure of good art is its aesthetic appeal. This emphasis on aesthetics and a measure of quality comes from and is maintained by the art world. This same art establishment promotes an idea that for artists to be politically engaged is to threaten or sabotage their careers as artists. Or, artists who do use their work to comment on social issues find their work “re-positioned as an aesthetic statement,” explains activist, critic and art historian Susan Noyes Platt in her book Art and Politics Now: Cultural Activism in a Time of Crisis.
I read The Victory Labback in September when I was going through a political books phase. However, I put off writing anything about it long enough that my election excitement turned into election exhaustion and I didn’t want to think about the book anymore, despite the fact that it was really very good. Admittedly, The Victory Lab is a little on the dry side for even the most hard-core political junkie — it’s hard to make political polling and microtargeting sexy — but Issenberg gives it a pretty decent shot by profiling the people who have helped develop the data-driven methods that have been used recent political campaigns.
In the 2008 recession, three-quarters of the 7.5 million jobs that were lost were lost by men. Women occupy just over half of the jobs in the United States, and more women than men are earning college degrees. The world has we know it, the world shifting to a post-industrial economy, is slow reforming itself to better suit women than men – at least that’s the argument that Hanna Rosin tries to make in The End of Men.
One Sentence Summary: Game Change is a gossipy, inside politics style narrative of the 2008 election, from the historic primary between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to the Republican vice presidential selection process, concluding with the general election between Obama and John McCain.
One Sentence Review: Game Change wonderfully captures the grand ambition and theatrical failures that come with a bid for the office of President of the United states.
What are the top ten issues that candidates should be discussing during this election, but won’t be because of the economy? How is Ron Paul’s run for president like Friday Night Lights? What are five ways we could reform Congress to make it work better? If those questions or their answers intrigue you, then The Gospel According to The Fix by Chris Cillizza is a book you should get your hands on as soon as you can.
One Sentence Summary: Opposition researchers Alan Huffman and Michael Rejebian share details about their work, digging through public records to reveal the secrets that political candidates and their opponents may or may not use during the course of a campaign season.
One Sentence Review: Huffman and Rejebian’s book suggests dark secrets but delivers a slightly bland celebration of opposition researchers as relentless truth seekers with no control over how their work is ultimately used (or misused).
Since I hosted the first BAND discussion last July, we’ve passed discussion around to a bunch of awesome bloggers. In my first discussion, I asked about your favorite type of nonfiction. This month, I want to go the other direction…