Thomas Jefferson famously stated: “I cannot live without books.” If you feel similarly, you are in luck! The Divided We Fall Editorial Staff has put together the 2020 Holiday Booklist to help reclaim civility and restore sanity to our politics. Sit down by the fire this holiday season and grab any one of these books to help save the Union.
- The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, 2018. Lukianoff and Haidt argue that the great “untruths” of intellectual and physical safety-ism have interfered with childhood social, emotional, and intellectual development. They demonstrate how these untruths have led to the hyperpolarization, dysfunction, and intellectual homogeny on college campuses today.
- Identity: Contemporary Identity Politics and the Struggle for Recognition by Francis Fukuyama, 2018. Fukuyama dissects how modern identity politics—based on attributes like race, ethnicity, religion, and gender—and “demands for recognition” have overtaken liberal democracy and prescribes methods to reshape identity in a way to support rather than undermine democracy.
- Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, 2020. Sacks diagnoses our “divided times”—including polarized politics, uncivil discourse, family breakdown, and drug abuse—to a loss of a shared moral code and the elevation of self-interest over the common good.
- Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist by Eli Saslow, 2018. Washington Post journalist Eli Saslow documents the unbelievable transformation of a renowned white nationalist from a life of hatred to one of tolerance. Saslow describes how Derek Black; godson of David Duke, a far-Right politician and former grand wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan; eventually renounced his family’s racist ideology through civil discussion and engagement.
- Where Do We Go From Here? Chaos or Community by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 1967. In a timeless work, Dr. King diagnoses the political and socioeconomic troubles of the Civil Rights Era, proscribing a path forward for Americans towards a community of justice and equality, the lessons of which are particularly salient in 2020.
- Breaking Bread with the Dead: A Reader’s Guide to a More Tranquil Mind by Alan Jacobs, 2020. In a defense for reading books in the digital age, Jacobs argues that we can stay sane in the present by engaging with the voices of the past.
- Dawn to Decadence: 1500 to the Present — 500 years of Western Cultural Life by Jacques Barzun, 2000. Barzun discusses the evolution of Western thought from the Renaissance and Reformation to the present day and pushes back on projections of Western decline.
- Dead Center: How Political Polarization Divided America and What We Can Do About It by Jason Altmire, 2017. Three-term member of Congress, Jason Altmire, respected as a political moderate working across both sides of the aisle, provides solutions to the polarization and gridlock in Washington.
- Why Cities Lose: The Deep Roots of the Urban-Rural Political Divide by Jonathan Rodden, 2019. Rodden diagnoses the Democratic Party’s difficulties winning state and national legislative majorities despite overwhelming victories in the popular vote. He dissects the Left-wing coalition of urban interest groups and proposes methods of reducing urban-rural polarization.
- #Republic: Divided Democracy in the Age of Social Media by Cass R. Sunstein, 2017. Sunstein shows how the Internet drives political polarization and extremism through confirmation bias and “polarization entrepreneurs,” and proposes practical and legal changes to make the Internet friendlier to democratic deliberation.
If you enjoyed this booklist, you can see our 2019 Holiday Booklist here.
I am very hopeful to read a few of these books over the next few weeks. Thank you for the ideas.