Well, here we are. The beginning of a new year with the conclusion of a turbulent presidential campaign behind us. Dare I say that most of our heads are still spinning? Some with glee, others with, what?, political angst? Over the past weeks there has been much written about our divided nation, including BookBrowse's encouraging message of helping us come together by reaching for the bookshelf.
I am not a well-traveled person, having spent all of my life within the confines of North America. But I have traveled extensively via books. Whenever possible I reach for a book about someone who lives or has lived in a country or era that I am unfamiliar with. Books have given me a worldview I think even world travelers can easily miss out on. Especially those who travel abroad but never venture far from their 4-star hotel. It's one thing to "see" a country, quite another to "live" there vicariously through a book.
This brings me to my purpose. I'd like to throw out a New Year's challenge to you, my reading friends. I am challenging you to read a book by an author from an opposite political ideology to the one you currently embrace. If you're a liberal please read a book by and about those who hold a conservative position. If you are a conservative please read a book by and about those who are liberal. Lists of recommended books abound on Google, Goodreads and Amazon to name a few websites.
My personal recommendations are Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance. I'll throw in another recommendation just for its communion value: Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild.
Please do "reach across the aisle" as they say and open your mind to visit a perhaps vastly dissimilar point of view. I have done it and mentally went "hmph" a lot, wrote exclamation points in the margins, jotted disputed "facts" in the margins and came away a changed person. Not necessarily a changed mind (sadly, I am a lifelong ideologue on many issues) but with a changed point of view on the mindset of those who hold opposing social and political opinions.
You have a readers' rational mind and I would love to hear whether you took my challenge and then hear your thoughts about it. I hope that by Inauguration Day you will have dipped your mind into the spring of knowledge about your social and political opposites.