Irene’s Book Nook
10 books now available at Irene’s Book Nook
Irene’s Book Nook volunteers have compiled a list with synopses of 10 new books of interest to First U members and friends. Topics include racism, voter suppression, Native dispossession, classism, and more. The group includes fiction, non-fiction, poems, meditations, and reflections. To order any of these titles, contact Betty Finn. Irene’s Book Nook, First U’s own bookstore formerly know at the Atrium Bookstore, is open on Sundays before and after the church service in its usual spot in the Atrium. Profits from book sales are donated to First Unitarian.
A timely, crucial, and empowering exploration of racism – and antiracism – in America. This is NOT a history book. This is a book about the here and now. A book to help us better understand why we are where we are. A book about race. The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, to create dynamics that separate and silence. This is a remarkable reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning, winner of a National Book Award. It reveals the history of racist ideas in America and inspires hope for an antiracist future. Stamped takes you on a race journey from then to now, shows you why we feel how we feel, and why the poison of racism lingers. It also proves that while racist ideas have always been easy to fabricate and distribute, they can also be discredited. Through a gripping, fast-paced, and energizing narrative, Jason Reynolds shines a light on the many insidious forms of racist ideas and on ways readers can identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their daily lives.
The Night Watchman, $18
Winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Based on the extraordinary life of National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich’s grandfather who worked as a night watchman and carried the fight against Native dispossession from rural North Dakota all the way to Washington, DC, this powerful novel explores themes of love and death with lightness and gravity and unfolds with the elegant prose, sly humor, and depth of feeling of a master craftsman. In The Night Watchman, Louise Erdrich creates a fictional world populated with memorable characters who are forced to grapple with the worst and best impulses of human nature. Illuminating the loves and lives, the desires and ambitions of these characters with compassion, wit, and intelligence, The Night Watchman is a majestic work of fiction from this revered cultural treasure.
The Pulitzer Prize–winning, bestselling author of The Warmth of Other Suns examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions. “As we go about our daily lives, caste is the wordless usher in a darkened theater, flashlight cast down in the aisles, guiding us to our assigned seats for a performance. The hierarchy of caste is not about feelings or morality. It is about power – which groups have it and which do not.” In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.
Let My People Vote, $23
Desmond Meade survived a tough childhood only to find himself with a felony conviction. He further survived hardships that led him to the brink of suicide. Finding the strength to pull his life together, he graduated from law school and married. When his wife ran for state office, he was filled with pride—but not permitted to vote for her. He spearheaded a movement to restore voting rights to felons who had served their terms, and in November of 2018, Amendment 4 passed with 65% of the vote. Today, Desmond continues his justice work, including fighting back against new restrictions placed on Florida voters, restrictions that have been likened to Jim Crow laws. In this book he tells the story of his battles on all fronts and of his undying belief in the power of a fully enfranchised nation.
Shelter in This Place, $8
2020 was a year unlike any other. A year of masks and marches. A tale of two pandemics: COVID-19 and the deep-rooted pandemic of white supremacy and structural racism. Shelter in This Place, the 2021 volume of the inSpirit Series, is an anthology of poems, prayers, and reflections from Unitarian Universalists about their experiences of 2020—offered as a testament to our collective grit and grief, rage and resistance, love and loneliness. With readings that come from a variety of perspectives, identities, and geographies, and were written throughout the long year, Shelter in This Place captures the complex reality of 2020. Editor Meg Riley writes in her introduction, “My deep hope is that this collection of writings allows each one of us to know that, even in the separateness of our masked and socially distanced grief, we are not mourning alone.” And yet despite the grief and loss collected in these pages, the writers describe resilience and joy too. They take solace in the birth of ducklings and the unfurling of new leaves. They persevere. May this book contain words that heal, comfort, and inspire you in the days ahead
Our Time is Now, $18
“This is a narrative that describes the urgency that compels me and millions more to push for a different American story than the one being told today. It’s a story that is one part danger, one part action, and all true. It’s a story about how and why we fight for our democracy and win.” Celebrated national leader and bestselling author Stacey Abrams offers a blueprint to end voter suppression,empower our citizens, and take back our country. A recognized expert on fair voting and civic engagement, Abrams chronicles a chilling account of how the right to vote and the principle of democracy have been and continue to be under attack. Abrams would have been the first African American woman governor but experienced these effects firsthand, despite running the most innovative race in modern politics as the Democratic nominee in Georgia. Abrams didn’t win, but she has not conceded. The book compellingly argues for the importance of robust voter protections, an elevation of identity politics, engagement in the census, and a return to moral international leadership.
Unlocking the Power of the Covenant, $16
The 2021 Commission on Appraisal report, Unlocking the Power of Covenant examines the nature, substance, and structure of covenants within Unitarian Universalism. Drawing from focus groups, interviews, and surveys, the Commission describes and interprets the role that covenants do, can, and should play in the individual lives of Unitarian Universalists, as well as in our relationships with other congregations, other faith traditions, and the Unitarian Universalist Association. With its recommendations and resources, Unlocking the Power of Covenant is a powerful must-read for all looking to tap into a richer, fuller utilization of covenant.
White Fragility, $16
Groundbreaking book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when discussing racism that serve to protect their positions and maintain racial inequality, antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo first coined the term “white fragility” in 2011. Since then it’s been invoked by critics from Samantha Bee to Charles Blow. “White fragility” refers to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially. These include emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors including argumentation and silence. In this book, DiAngelo unpacks white fragility, explaining the underlying sociological phenomena. She draws on examples from her work and scholarship, as well as from the culture at large, to address these fundamental questions: How does white fragility develop? What does it look like? How is it triggered? What can we do to move beyond white fragility and engage more constructively?
“Joy is not made to be a crumb,” writes Mary Oliver, and certainly joy abounds in her new book of poetry and prose poems. Swan, her 20th volume, shows us that, though we may be “made out of the dust of stars,” we are of the world she captures here so vividly: the acorn that hides within it an entire tree; the wings of the swan like the stretching light of the river; the frogs singing in the shallows; the mockingbird dancing in air. Swan is Oliver’s tribute to “the mortal way” of desiring and living in the world, to which the poet is renowned for having always been “totally loyal.”
Be Still and Know
The beloved teacher and founder of the International Plum Village Community died on January 22, 2022. In his acclaimed national bestseller, Be Still and Know: Living Buddha, Living Christ, renowned thinker and scholar Thich Nhat Hanh explores the deep connections between Christianity and Buddhism. Be Still and Know uses selections from his groundbreaking work to create a handbook of meditations and reflections that reawaken our understanding of both religions and enrich our daily lives through personal contemplation. It is an inspiration to all who embrace its universal message of peace – a profound and moving work that illuminates the world’s greatest traditions of spiritual thought, written by a man who was considered by many to be a “living Buddha.”