Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Three Amazing Books I Read in 2011

Lisa Bloom wrote in her book Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World:
If you can't name three amazing books you've read in the last year, you're not reading enough.*
I am happy to say I had no trouble coming up with three this year. They are:

Adrian Nicole LeBlanc's Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx:
LeBlanc was introduced to the characters in the book while covering the drug trial of 'Boy' George, a 23 year old drug dealer, who ends up sentenced to life without parole. Through George, LeBanc meets Jessica one of his girlfriends and spends the next 11 years documenting Jessica’s life along with other family members living in their impoverished Bronx neighborhood. The book includes the obstacles, daily chaos and violence the members of this family encounter as they go about living their lives. I previously wrote about this book here.

The characters in this book stayed with me months after finishing the book. So much so that whenever I hear the name Foxy or Coco I immediately think of them. This book not only belongs on my list of amazing books for the year, but of all time.

Matt Taibbi’s  Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America:
In my post Searching for the Truth, I wrote this was the most eye-opening book about what is really going on in this country that I have ever read. The book provides a somber picture of the financial and political situation in the US after the 2008 crisis including why Alan Greenspan is the biggest asshole in the world, the truth about the mortgage crisis, the commodities bubble, health care reform and Goldman Sachs. While I found the entire book to be an important read, the chapter I talked about the most throughout the year was “The Trillion Dollar Band-aid.” In order to get health care reform passed Obama had to pander to the pharmaceutical corporations and the health industry. Also, he was unable to change or repeal the McCarran Ferguson Act, a law originally intended to be temporary, that exempts the business of insurance from most federal regulation, including federal anti-trust laws — including the laws against collusion or price fixing. So basically insurance PPO's in the Milwaukee area are going to continue to be a monopoly with the ability to charge the consumer exorbitant prices and there will be nothing we can do about it.

Iris Chang's The Rape Of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust Of World War II:
I read this book after seeing it listed on both Lisa Bloom's recommended reading list and on Sarah at Citizen Reader's list of 100 Bestish Nonfiction Titles: History.  This book tells of the horrific tragedy that occurred in what was then called Nanking, China during the Japanese invasion in 1937; hundreds of thousands of Chinese were raped, tortured and murdered by Japanese soldiers. Though I am embarrassed to admit I had not heard of Nanking or the atrocities that occurred there prior to reading the book this may not be my entirely my fault. Despite strong evidence that the order to kill was a military order and that the emperor and government were likely aware of the policy, many Nanking perpetrators not only went unpunished after the war, but went on to play key roles in Japanese government and business. In the years following the war, Nanking and what occurred there was down played by the media, the history books and even by China itself. 

* Lisa Blooms amazing reads were The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson, Freedom by Jonathan Franzen and Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.

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