It’s Election Day tomorrow. Tonight, I’m going to an “End of the World” party. Tongue-in-cheek party name? I really hope so.
Most people have made up their minds already regarding the upcoming US election. I don’t want to get on a soap box. The world is slippery with soap boxes already. I also don’t want to tell anyone what to think. I just want people to think.
As a writer and a lover of books, Facebook and Twitter are not places that I go for my political information. Not that I don’t love the jokes and pithy commentary. (I really do! And I get the irony of using a social media platform to comment about the shortcomings of social media.) I am not saying social media can’t be used for good. But, I am saying it shouldn’t be the only source for information if you want to have a real understanding of issues. (There really should be no one source at all, right?)
On that note, I’d like to highlight the power of reading books and thoughtful articles to make you think about the world beyond twitter (I know, it exists right? Crazy). This is just a small list of a few pieces of writing that may make you think about now and what the world could be in the next 2, 10, 20 or 50 years. (Or until we reach the Singularity and transfer our consciousness into machines, solving the majority of our problems. Sheldon from the ‘Big Bang Theory’ says it’s going to happen soon!)
History repeats itself, even if we learn about it, apparently
The famous saying goes that unless we learn history we are doomed to repeat it. Do you know who said this? George Santayana, Spanish philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist. That’s right a novelist gave us this oft-used piece of wisdom. So my question is, we learn history in school and through reading. Why do we continue to repeat it? Here are some suggestions it keep us learning.
- The Rise of Athens: The Story of the World’s Greatest Civilization by by Anthony Everitt
- ROME: Roman Empire: Ancient Rome & The Rise & Fall by Roy Jackson
- BBC – The Fall of the Roman Republic by Mary Beard
- Salon.com – 8 striking parallels between the U.S. and the Roman Empire by STEVEN STRAUSS
- Hitler: The Ascent by Volker Ulrich
- New York Times – How democracy produced a monster
“egomaniac who ‘only loved himself’ — a narcissist with a taste for self-dramatization …characteristic fondness for superlatives.” – Excerpt from the New York Times Book Review of Hitler: The Ascent by Volker Ulrich
- The Less You Know, The Better You Sleep: Russia’s Road to Terror and Dictatorship under Yeltsin and Putin by David Satter
“How does a democratically elected leader become a dictator? First he gets elected, then he behaves like a dictator.” – American Enterprise Institute
Novels, fiction and non-fiction, can teach you thinks too
I write fiction and, therefore, it’s probably not a surprise that I feel fiction, and it’s non-fiction cousin memoirs, can sometimes be a better mirror of our successes and failures as humans than even our own history. Here are a few books that opened my eyes to the world. Perhaps they will do the same for you.
- 1984 by George Orwell
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Side note: If you think this book is far-fetched and nothing like this could ever happen in America, think again. Ironically, a school recently sent home a permission slip to read the classic, thus applying censorship to a book about the censorship of books.
- Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
- Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Now, let’s all get to 11/9 in one piece, OK?