You'd have to be living under a rock buried somewhere halfway down to the center of the earth in order not to be aware that in recent years our beautiful world has been shaken up by a number of crises the likes of which I, at least, have not experienced in my entire lifetime -- I can't remember any other time when I have so consistently felt the urge to put on blinders and wrap myself in a giant comfort blanket approximately 10 seconds after opening a newspaper (or its online edition), or 10 seconds into listening to the news. Obviously playing ostrich has never done anybody any good, but God knows, it's getting hard not to succumb to the temptation.
So what does a book lover do in order to keep her sanity, equip herself to separate fact from fiction (in news reporting, politics, and plenty of other places) and deal with rat catchers and fire mongers? She turns to books, of course.
I've decided to build a "Freedom and Future" personal library, which will contain books which (1) have either deeply impacted my personal thinking or that I expect will come to do so in the future, or which (2) provide valuable food for thought in today's social and political debate, both nationally and internationally; be it based on a profound analysis of the issues at stake (as a matter of principle or long term), or because even though they may not be of lasting significance, they contain a thought-provoking contribution to the current debate (even if they were not written with that express purpose in mind -- e.g., books about historic persons or events or books by long-dead authors). I'm not expecting to binge-read the books added to this library, but I'm looking to add them to the mix with a bit more focus than I've been doing of late.
In the past couple of days, I've trawled my own bookshelves for books to add to the library, but this is one area where, even more than anywhere else, I'm looking for suggestions -- I can already see that I'm at risk of falling back on my old standbys, and that's the last thing I want to do here.
So, tell me: What books have recently made you sit up -- or which are the books that you've come to turn to and trust for guidance and inspiration?
These can be fiction or nonfiction, and books from any or all types of genres (I only draw the line at splatter punk). As the first part of my new library's title indicates, liberty and freedom rights are a focus, but I'm really looking for food for thought on all the issues that I think are going to determine the path human society will be taking (hence the "future" part); including, in no particular order:
* Liberty and freedom(s) (of opinion and press, movement, association, worship, the arts, etc.),
* Equal access to justice and judicial independence and impartiality,
* Equality and empowerment (gender / sexuality, race, etc.), and the plurality of society;
* Poverty / the increasing gap in the distribution of wealth,
* Education (general, political, etc.);
* Funding and freedom of research and science,
* Protection of the environment,
* Democratic institutions and processes and how to safeguard them,
* Xenophobia, war(mongering) and the preservation / restoration of peace,
* Persecution, migration, and internal displacement,
* Free trade and globalization,
* Technological advances,
* Ethics -- in all of the above areas.
I'm adding a few books to this post to give you a rough idea of what sort of things I've so far added to this library -- please take them as very approximate guidance only, though. It can be something totally different ... really anything that's jogged your brain or made you reevaluate your perspective on any of the above issues.
Thanks in advance!