A Student of My Own Ignorance

Fascinating.

That’s the word I’ve been using to describe 90% of the books I’m reading lately. I read one book, and think, “this is the most fascinating book I’ve read all year! I have to share this with people!” But before I do, I begin another book and think the exact same thing.

So far, here is a list of the most fascinating books I’ve read this year:

As I put together this list, however, I’m struck by how deeply the description of “fascinating” falls short in describing what these books have meant to me.

For example, this summer my husband was pulled over while driving home (in the car I usually drive). I had re-registered our car several months ago but had forgotten to put the new little stickers on the plates. The officer ran his plates, took a look at his license and insurance, and saw that the car was indeed current on its registration. He then sent him on his way with the warning to make sure he “got those stickers on ASAP.”

The next day, I dug them out of the glovebox and put them on the car, chalking it up as one of those “whoops” moments. Not until a week later did it hit me square in the chest, when another young black man was killed in a scarily similar type of encounter. As I read through books like Between the World and Me, I began to understand more deeply my own (disgusting) privilege–that my husband got pulled over and all I did was say, “whoops,” while some other wife or mother got the worst phone call of her life. THIS IS NOT OK. This is worth standing up for and standing out against, whether you’re an NFL player or an ordinary American. And I know there are amazing law enforcement officers out there who are just as grieved by this as we are, so please don’t see this as  an attempt to point fingers. There is a deeper issue at work here, one that we can no longer argue against or ignore.

These books have opened my eyes to so many things I’ve been ignorant about. And my list called “Next” just keeps growing.

What about you? What books have made you excited, or angry, or curious lately?

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