At the January meeting we will be discussing Give People Money by Annie Lowrey.
The books we will read from January through 2019 are listed below. If you have suggestions or comments, send them to email@example.com.
Please join us for the discussion. Whether or not you have read the book you are welcome to join in. We meet on the second Tuesday of each month.
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. You will receive the address in response.
1 January — Lowery, Annie. Give People Money: How a Universal Basic Income Would End Poverty, Revolutionize Work, and Remake the World.New York: Crown, 2018. 272 pp.
A brilliantly reported, global look at universal basic income—a stipend given to every citizen—and why it might be necessary in an age of rising inequality, persistent poverty, and dazzling technology. Imagine if every month the government deposited $1,000 into your bank account, with no expectations. It sounds crazy. But it has become one of the most influential and debated policy ideas of our time. In this sparkling and provocative book, economics writer Annie Lowrey examines the UBI movement from many angles. She travels to Kenya to see how a UBI is lifting the poorest people on earth, India to see how inefficient government programs are failing the poor, South Korea to interrogate UBI’s intellectual pedigree, and Silicon Valley to meet the tech titans financing UBI pilots in expectation of a world with advanced artificial intelligence and little need for human labor.
2 February — Orange, Tommy. There There. 2018. 304 pp.
Orange’s debut is an ambitious meditation on identity and its broken alternatives, on myth filtered through the lens of time and poverty and urban life. Its many short chapters are told through a loosely connected group of Native Americans living in Oakland, Calif., as they travel to a powwow. They are all, as in Chaucer, pilgrims on their way to a shrine, or, as in Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying,” an extended family crossing the landscape. The novel is their picaresque journey, allowing for moments of pure soaring beauty to hit against the most mundane, for a sense of timelessness to be placed right beside a cleareyed version of the here and now.
3 March — Roy, Arundhati, The God of Small Things. New York: Random House, 2008. 333 pp.
Compared favorably to the works of Faulkner and Dickens, Arundhati Roy’s modern classic is equal parts family saga, love story, and political drama. The seven-year-old twins Estha and Rahel see their world shaken irrevocably by the arrival of their beautiful young cousin, Sophie. It is an event that will lead to an illicit liaison and tragedies accidental and intentional, exposing “big things [that] lurk unsaid” in a country drifting dangerously toward unrest. Lush, lyrical, and unnerving, The God of Small Thingsis an award-winning landmark that started for its author an esteemed career of fiction and political commentary that continues unabated.
4 April — Boyne, John. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Oxford, England: David Fickling Books, 2007. 215 pp.
Bruno is 9 years old. His father has a cool job, he’s in charge of a lot of stuff. He runs a big place, with a huge wire fence, and a lot of people—men and boys—on the other side. They are skinny, they work hard, they are all very dirty, they are all wearing what looks like striped pajamas. There are soldiers, who poke at and laugh at the men and boys. Bruno has overheard his parents talking, and knows that his father’s boss, “The Fury,” arranged for them to move to the new home. Bruno’s older sister tells him that the place is called Out With.Bruno is not allowed to approach the camp, or the fence. But, since he plans on becoming an explorer when he grows up, he decides to go exploring. And on the other side of the fence he sees a speck. A tiny thing that, as he gets closer, reveals itself to be a boy. Perhaps a boy for Bruno to play with. This book is startling, horrifying, and yet the story is told in a charming way. Bruno and his friendship with Shmuel through the fence is just the story of two boys, but also a story of a Jewish Concentration Camp, told through the unaware eyes of the son of the man in charge of the camp. Bruno’s naivete brings humanity into the story.
5 May — Hope, Jahren. Lab Girl. New York: Vintage, 2017. 290 pp.
Acclaimed scientist Hope Jahren has built three laboratories in which she’s studied trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. Her first book is a treatise on plant life—but it is also so much more. Lab Girl is told through Jahren’s remarkable stories: about her childhood in rural Minnesota with an uncompromising mother and a father who encouraged hours of play in his classroom’s labs; about how she found a sanctuary in science, and learned to perform lab work done “with both the heart and the hands”; and about the inevitable disappointments but also the exhilarating discoveries of scientific work. Central is a relationship Jahren forged with a brilliant, wounded man, who becomes her lab partner and best friend. Their adventures in science take them from the Midwest across the U.S. and back again, over the Atlantic to the ever-light skies of the North Pole and to tropical Hawaii, where she and her lab currently make their home. Lab Girl opens your eyes to the beautiful, sophisticated mechanisms within every leaf, blade of grass, and flower petal.