I’ve been on a reading rampage this week. According to my screen time, I spent over 48 hours reading this last week, which is more than usual. I was wondering why I hadn’t finished more books, but it’s because I’ve become interested in more and more topics. Enjoy this week’s list of 6 books, and next week, I’ll be covering some new subjects I’ve been diving into.
Also, I’ve been waiting for months for this new book from social science professor and best-selling author Nicholas Christakis titled Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live, which comes out tomorrow on the 27th. Just putting that out there in case anyone wants to read it as well.
Each of the links to the books are affiliate links, so if you use my link to purchase any of these books, some comes back to support what I do (and it also helps fund my reading habit).
Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do About It by Richard V. Reeves
I learned about this book from the amazing book The Cult of Smart by Fredrik deBoer, and I binged it in pretty much one sitting. This is a short read, but Reeves did a phenomenal job explaining how the Upper Middle Class is a major part of the problem with inequality in the United States. Yes, the extremely wealthy 1% are an issue, but many of us don’t want to recognize our own privilege while many people are struggling. This book covers everything from education, to the problems with meritocracy, and more. If this book makes you want to take action, I highly recommend that you not only consider the solutions Reeves offers but also read The Most Good You Can Do by Peter Singer.
I can’t stop reading books about how flawed meritocratic systems are, and this book was a fantastic analysis of why it doesn’t work. In short, Christopher Hayes’ thesis is that we over-estimate the advantages of a meritocracy and overlook the flaws. Ideally, meritocracy works, but the problem is that we have yet to see it prove to do so. People are born on third base, and Hayes discusses how these people are then put into power only to make terrible decisions. These awful decisions are for their own self-interest and further increase inequality and the wealth gap.
Much like the other books I love on this subject, their arguments are solid, but I’m always left feeling like there isn’t a great solution that’s been presented yet. I absolutely recommend reading this book because although I don’t feel like anyone has put out a good solution, we need more people recognizing that there’s a problem so we can toss around more ideas.
Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy by Robert Frank
The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good? by Michael Sandel
I’ve been skeptical about Anand for a while now since following him on Twitter for a few months, but I’ve restrained forming an opinion until I understood his views a bit better. After reading this book, he has me sold. This was a fantastic book discussing how our capitalist society has allowed people to rise to elite status, and then we rely on them for their philanthropy. Their hope is that we’re grateful for their donations to society and that we’ll ignore that they’re part of the reason we need philanthropy in the first place.
I really enjoyed this book because although I’m sure it’s been said before, I hadn’t thought of it like this. Recently, I’ve been torn about multi-millionaires and billionaires donating money while simultaneously spending the average American’s yearly salary on silly things. So, although I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I’m curious how Anand personally lives his life to make this world a better place.
After the events following the death of George Floyd, I made it a goal to better understand what other communities go through. As a half-black straight man who looks white, I decided to read a lot of books to educate myself about what half of my family members go through, but I wanted to learn about women too. My girlfriend is a feminist, and I’ve always done my best to understand what women go through as many of my friends are women. I kept seeing this book by Kate Mann pop up, so I got it and binged it in about a day.
It’s a phenomenal book, and I think what sold me on picking it up is that she’s a moral philosopher. She has some extremely enlightening chapters that I feel many men need to read, and her chapters about incels make me fear for women. As a father of an 11-year-old son, I feel it’s part of my responsibility to educate myself so I can educate him.
But, although this book is top-notch, chapter 9 was not well-argued at all. Even though I disagreed with 99% of what she said in this chapter, I think it’s important to realize we’re not going to agree with everyone on everything. Overall, it’s a great book that I highly recommend, and I look forward to reading her first book Down Girl about misogyny.
This book is the perfect blend of psychology, philosophy, and biology, and I don’t feel like I can do a review of it justice. The book discusses so many topics about love and relationships that I haven’t heard mentioned in any other books I’ve read. As a recovering drug addict, I’m always wary of how an author will talk about the use of psychedelic and traditional medications because some tout them as a cure-all and don’t think about the ethics, but these authors surprised me with their views. They did a great job diving into a wide range of topics from heteronormative relationships, to homosexuality, to BDSM and polyamory. They did so in a professional, well-thought-out way as well, and I think everyone should read this book.
I’m a Social Democrat, and I believe there are many of us progressives who don’t try and have a better understanding of other political views. In the last couple years, I’ve done my best to educate myself, and I’m still learning. I stumbled across this concise book by Jason Brennan, and it was great. I thought I had a wide view of political philosophy by better understanding conservative vs. liberal values through the books by Jonathan Haidt, but this book helped me learn even more. This is a great book to start with, and I wish I read it first. If you want to better understand various political ideologies, definitely get this book. It looks at political philosophy beyond the realm of Democrat vs Republican.
The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt
Why We’re Polarized by Ezra Klein
If you need help with your mental health, I highly recommend the service I use, BetterHelp. They’re an affordable online therapy service, and by using this affiliate link, you help support The Rewired Soul.